As many benefits as hydroponic systems offer, the growing medium also comes with some potential disadvantages.
A dedicated space indoors is the best location to grow hydroponics at home. In addition to the hydroponics system, you can furnish your garden with supplemental grow lights to maximize the health and volume of the cannabis harvest.
Technology: Hydroponics is a good method for the tech-savvy cultivator who understands that a power outage can spell disaster. Even if the system runs on a back-up generator, an extended outage could leave you watering your garden and administering plant food by hand.
What are the benefits of hydroponic growing?
Besides the two most obvious benefits of a hydroponic garden (easier nutrient delivery and faster growth rate), there are several other advantages for cannabis cultivators to consider.
A good water-based nutrient solution forms the basis of all hydroponic systems. Like other growing mediums, hydroponics requires the other building blocks of ample light, air, and space.
What are the drawbacks of hydroponic systems?
Potency: Once you harvest the buds, there’s a good chance they’ll be more potent than if you had grown them in soil. Some dispensaries even charge a premium for buds grown in hydroponic systems.
It can be time-consuming and expensive for those setting up hydroponic systems for the first time. There are two other main drawbacks to consider before trying this growing medium.
Growing hydroponically does require that you invest a good amount of time and money into developing your system prior to actually starting your garden. Additionally, you’ll want to make sure your system works effectively and your nutrients are high quality so that your plants will flourish. Once you gain a knack for hydroponics, you’ll be on your way to producing world-class cannabis that is well worth the effort.
When growing hydroponically, you are responsible for providing all of the nutrients necessary for plants to survive. Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P), and Potassium (K) are the three essential nutrients for plant growth known as macronutrients. Additionally, there are secondary and micronutrients that will help the plant develop as well. These include Boron, Calcium, Copper, Iron, Magnesium, Sulfur, and Zinc.
Raising a plant with hydroponics is different in many ways from growing in a soil garden. One thing to consider is the support the plant is receiving. Unlike a plant growing in soil, plants in hydro mediums might be vulnerable to tipping or breaking. Trellising your garden will help to prevent this from happening and will also allow you to train your plants to grow in specific directions.
Another common measurement used is ppm (parts per million) which is another way of looking at how nutrient-dense your solution is. There are two different scales for ppm used in the cannabis industry: the 500 and the 700 scale. The most efficient way to determine ppm is to take an EC reading, multiply it by either 500 or 700 depending on the scale you are using. An EC reading of 2.0 would equal either 1,000 ppm (500 scale) or 1,400 ppm (700 scale). Many readers used to measure EC or ppm will do this conversion for you.
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Hydroponic Cannabis Supplies:
Nutrients will come either pre-mixed in a solution or in powder form. While powder form might be cheaper and less bulky, it is best to stick with liquid pre-mixed nutrients if you are a small-time grower as they mix with water easily and are more forgiving.
Note what scale the nutrients you are using are based upon before making any nutrient solutions.
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Various materials all provide slightly different benefits and drawbacks, so some thought should be put into choosing the right medium for your cannabis plants. In this article, we are going to be utilizing the drip line hydroponics technique.
Another thing to consider is pruning. With hydroponics, your plants can grow extremely fast. This means you need to be diligent about pruning. Removing all the bottom foliage and topping your plant before switching to its flowering cycle will allow your top colas (the large, topmost buds) to receive all the energy they need.
1: Substrate; in this case, water containing nutrients. Some systems have plants suspended directly in water, while other favour pots with a top layer of clay pellets for extra support;
Basically, any plant can be grown using hydroponics. Cannabis thrives on it, but these days, you’ll find entire farms growing lettuce and leeks on water alone. Fun fact: the increasing popularity of growing cannabis at home has been one of the driving forces behind the development of new hydroponics systems used in regular agriculture!
Different Cannabis Hydroponics Systems
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Liquid Lunch: Nutrients Straight From The Water
In hydroponics, plant roots are suspended straight in the water rather than in soil. That makes water the substrate or grow medium. Substrate is just a fancy term for ‘bottom layer’ (‘sub’ + ‘stratum’). Such layers can be anything from sand or rockwool to coco fibre, gravel, or clay pellets. In cannabis hydroponics, water is the grow medium; even if there’s a layer of clay pellets in the top section of a (floating) pot for stability. Nutrients are dissolved into the water and delivered straight to the roots. Any water that is not absorbed is recycled by the system for future use. Roots of plants grown in hydroponics tend to be longer and paler than their soil-grown counterparts, with fewer side branches. This is caused by the low oxygen content of water compared to soil.