So you’ve decided to check out an aeroponic system to see if it’s a good fit for your grow style, one that could potentially take your cannabis crop to the next level. Perhaps you previously decided to switch from a soil-based grow to hydroponics, or maybe you’ve been growing with another form of hydroponics, like deep water culture or a wick system, and you’re ready for a new challenge.
An aeroponic system could be ideal for an advanced cultivator or Master Grower who wants to harvest a lot of plants within a small space. With this grow method, which is a form of hydroponics, seedlings start their lives in growing media like rockwool, before being move into net cups or pucks once they’re large enough to sit securely in a growing tray.
The pucks, which are placed in the growing tray, sit atop a large tub that acts as a reservoir for the nutrient and water solution to sustain the plants. The roots dangle in the air — hence the name — through the holes in the net pots, a few inches to a foot above the solution in the reservoir. What’s important here is that the system’s sprinkler can reach the roots from every angle so they absorb nutrients evenly.
Rather than sitting in the water as with other types of hydroponic systems, the exposed roots in an aeroponic system are sprayed with a nutrient-rich solution at regular intervals, with the spray usually controlled by a timer. When plants are sprayed, the excess water evaporates as the roots ingest the nutrients, and the water returns to the reservoir where it can be pumped back through the closed-loop system.
The Cons Of Aeroponic Growing: What To Know Before You Commit
Aeroponic systems aren’t for beginners. In general, hydroponic systems require more involvement than growing in soil, and aeroponics represents one of the most advanced types of hydroponic systems on the market.
With aeroponics, you must always be mindful of your nutrient levels.
Plants grown aeroponically need a smaller amount of nutrient solution than plants grown in other systems, but in administering nutrients to aeroponic plants, the grower has to be meticulous about their ratios. This is because without soil or water to absorb excess nutrients, a small miscalculation can be fatal.
The most common problem from overfeeding nutrients to your plants is nutrient burn, which happens when the excess nutrients that the roots can no longer absorb accumulate in your leaves. The first sign of nutrient burn tends to be yellow or brown leaf tips. If nutrient levels aren’t corrected in time, this burn will travel inward, causing the leaves to become crisp and gnarled.
In any hydroponic system, ascertaining and maintaining the right pH and nutrient balance from the start is critical to your plants’ health and survival. Choose a nutrient system that provides everything your plants need, like Advanced Nutrients Grow Micro Bloom, to ensure that they grow strong and yield quality buds.
If you can’t make yourself available to give your aeroponic system near-constant attention, and correct pH and nutrient density imbalances immediately, then aeroponics might not be right for you.
There’s also the financial investment you’ll need to make if you want a well-functioning aeroponic system. Whether you build your system yourself or have a trusted specialist build it for you, you’re looking to shell out at least a few hundred dollars on basic components alone. Also keep in mind that you’ll need to keep the system constantly plugged into an electrical source, and that can seriously gobble up your utility bill — plus, in non-legal states, this may alert authorities to a grow house under your roof.
So What Are The Pros Of Aeroponic Cannabis Growing?
Perhaps the biggest advantages to an aeroponic system over other types of growing methods are the crop maturation rates and yields, with harvests reported as much as 10 times larger than soil-grown plants.
Aeroponic plants also grow faster than plants in other hydroponic systems because, while tricky and time-consuming, the airgrown system allows for maximum absorption of nutrients through targeted, timed feedings.
When aeroponics is done right, big, healthy, high-quality buds are produced. These plants mature covered in ripe trichomes, generally look pretty, and smell great.
As for how marijuana grown this way tastes compared to other growing techniques, that’s really up to the consumer’s personal preference. Many people feel that soil-grown cannabis is best because it provides a more complex flavor that can’t be achieved with hydroponics.
But remember, any hydroponic system, especially an aeroponic one, gives the grower far more control over the crop than soil allows. What you get out of your aeroponic system largely depends on what you’re willing to put into it.