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Wondering why someone would grow marijuana using a hydroponic system? Growing marijuana hydroponically means growing in water instead of soil. There are several benefits that come with growing marijuana hydroponically. This article highlights what it takes to grow marijuana in a hydroponic system and how it could help you achieve higher yields in a shorter period of time.
What Is Hydroponics?
Hydroponics is the practice of using a water base to cultivate marijuana —as well as other plants—without soil. However, an enriched medium is used to hold the nutrients as a substitute for soil. Common mediums used include perlite, coco coir, and gravel.
Soil is a source of nutrients and support for plants, so it's important you find a suitable replacement to facilitate photosynthesis and plant growth. In hydroponics, nutrients are added directly to the water bath and are absorbed into the root system. The nutrients are added in a form that is ready to be absorbed and are taken up immediately and used in the process of photosynthesis. Since the plants get maximum value from the nutrients supplied they are able to grow faster. A hydroponic system has the following five benefits:
- Does not require soil; this works well for situations where high-quality soil may not be available
- Nutrients are absorbed faster and there is minimal nutrient loss
- Plants grow faster
- Yields are higher
- Growing environment is clean, minimizing risk for pests and diseases
When marijuana is grown using a soil medium, the process of decomposition helps to break down the nutrients in soil before they can be absorbed. Water that is available through irrigation or rainfall helps to transport the nutrients through the root system to the leaves where photosynthesis occurs. As this process of decomposition and transport takes place some nutrients are lost as a result of nutrient lockdown, soil contamination, and changes in soil pH. Because nutrients are absorbed directly in a hydroponic system, nutrient loss is minimized.
Setting Up A Hydroponic System
Setting up a hydroponic system is simple if you understand how the process should work. If this is not figured correctly you risk making losses.
Here is what you'll need:
- A medium-sized water reservoir
- A growing tray
- A small pump and a timer
- Germinated marijuana seeds
Once you have all your equipment ready it is time to set up the cannabis grow. Here are a few different ways to do it:
Ebb and Flow Method
Place the plants and substrate on the growing tray and add the nutrients. Set the timer and pump and push the water onto the growing tray (flow). When the timer goes off the water will flow back into the reservoir (ebb). When the timer goes on again the water will repeat the ebb and flow cycle. The reservoir is refilled frequently due to losses that occur due to evaporation. Once you understand how the ebb and flow work it will be easy to implement this method.
In an aeroponic system the concept is to grow the marijuana in a water-tight chamber. In this system there is no need for a growth medium. The plants are suspended mid-air in an airtight chamber. The chamber is humid and light-proof. A nutrient rich solution in the form of a mist is sprayed onto the roots and the nutrients are absorbed directly into the root system. A pumping system controls the flow of water in and out of the chamber. Air flows easily through this system and the plants grow at a speedy rate. Loss of water through evaporation is minimized. Setting up an aeroponic system is expensive but the marijuana yields are high.
Deep Water Culture (DWC)
This method is similar to the ebb and flow method. However, the water reservoir is completely sealed and this incorporates the use of an oxygen pump, similar to the ones used in fish pumps. As much as there will be minimal water loss, the water may get heated with time. This method works best with a chiller to maintain the temperatures in the reservoir.
Substrates Used With Hydroponic Systems
Substrates provide the support needed by the growing plants. Here are some of the substrates that are commonly used when growing marijuana in a hydroponic system.
Coco coir is derived from coconut husks that have been ground. Coco coir is a rich substrate that holds water and minerals efficiently. It is also resistant to molds and bacteria.
Clay can also be used as a substrate for hydroponic systems. However, clay has tiny particles and may predispose the plants to overwatering. Clay also limits airflow in the root system.
Rockwool is a substrate that is made from basalt and silica which are cheap and easily accessible. Rockwool holds in moisture and marijuana nutrients. However, it is hard to work with and may discourage a beginner.
Vermiculite is a naturally occurring substrate that has small particles. It is able to retain moisture but also prevents overwatering.
Perlite is also a naturally occurring substrate that is made from rock pebbles. The rock pebbles allow maximum flow of air but may not retain moisture.
Cons of using a Hydroponic System to Grow Marijuana
Hydroponic systems have several advantages; they guarantee higher yields in a shorter span of time. Unfortunately, hydroponics is an expensive system to set up and it is also costly to run. Additionally, the taste of the weed may change and become bland when a hydroponic system is used.
This wraps up our guide on how to grow marijuana using a hydroponic system, it’s now up to you to decide whether this is something that you want to try out.