5 Tips for Hydroponics Gardening

Hydroponic gardening can be an excellent way to grow a large amount of fruits and vegetables in a limited area. However, it's much more than just growing plants in a water-nutrient system without soil. There are many variables, all of which depend on the space available, your budget and how much time is available to spend on maintenance. There then are some tips that will help to make your hydroponic experience pleasant and productive.

Number 1: Get Your Plants Off to a Good Start


When seeds first sprout, they are said to be germinating. In hydroponic gardening, this happens within a growing medium, which can be any number of things. The best choices are composted bark, expanded clay, gravel, peat moss or sand. Rockwool, oasis and perlite are less desirable; vermiculite should be avoided at all costs, as it is often contaminated with asbestos fibers that can have grave consequences for one's respiratory health.

Keep in mind that every type of plant has its own specific needs when it comes to temperature and light. You'll need to check the seed specification in order to determine the plant's unique germination requirements.

Number 2: The Right Light

As mentioned above, different plants have different light requirements - and a single plant has different light needs at different stages. In general, a plant that is in the growth stage needs more red spectrum light, whereas a plant that is flowering or fruiting uses more of the blue spectrum. Metal halide (MH) lights are good for the former, while High Pressure Sodium (HPS) lights work better during the latter stage. Some of the newer LED grow lights can actually be adjusted for different kinds of plants and various stages, however these are more expensive than standard types of light.

Number 3: Proper Nutrition

All plants require some sixteen different mineral nutrients in order to reach their full potential. These fall into the category of either micronutrients or micronutrients.

Important macronutrients include nitrogen (N), which aids in the growth of new leaves; phosphorus (P), needed for root growth and bloom; potassium (K) for disease resistance; calcium (Ca), which promotes the growth of new roots and shoots; and magnesium (Mg), the ions of which are an important component of chlorophyll, the substance that aids in photosynthesis. Minerals such as boron (B), copper (cu), cobalt (Co), iron (Fe) and zinc (Zn) are micronutrients that are necessary in trace amounts.

Number 4: Preventing Disease and Warding Off Pests

Just as with traditional gardening, hydroponics means battling unwanted insects and plant diseases. The best ways to avoid these problems consist of maintaining a clean growing environment, selecting hearty, disease-resistant plants, proper ventilation and temperature control, and constant monitoring for problems. The latter is especially important; most problems are easily cured if caught in their initial stages.

Number 5: Keeping it Pruned

Discolored, insect-eaten or unhealthy leaves and diseased roots should be removed with a pair of sharp scissors. Judicious pruning of your hydroponics gardens will also help your plants to grow fuller and allow it to concentrate its energy on more productive shoots.

5 Tips for Hydroponics Gardening

Susan Slobac is experienced in hydroponics gardening. She has used a variety of grow systems including Deep Water Culture. In her experience the type of grow lights used have the largest impact. She recommends LED Grow Lights, HPS grow lights and MH grow lights for the best results.