Tips for Growing Plants Successfully in Hydroponics.
Now that you’ve built a hydroponic system, you’ll surely want to grow plants in it. Though growing plants in a hydroponic system is quite easy to do, there are a few other things you will need besides just a hydroponic system, as well as some things you should know to grow your plants successfully. Here are some things you’ll need, and want to know about.
Nutrients for Hydroponic Systems
Hydroponic nutrients are different than nutrients for growing plants in soil. Soil nutrients don’t contain all the micro-elements the plants need. They don’t because the micro-elements are in abundance in the soil, so there not added to nutrients designed for soil grown plants. You’ll need nutrients designed for growing plants in hydroponic systems. There are many brands and types on the market to choose from, and most are just overpriced. While liquid fertilizers tend to be easier to use, dry fertilizers are much cheaper to use because you’re not paying for them to ship all that water in the liquid fertilizers to the stores. For more information about finding economical hydroponic nutrients, and hydroponic nutrients in general.
Why and when to test and adjust pH in hydroponics
The plants can only absorb the nutrients in your hydroponic nutrient solution if the pH of that nutrient solution is within a range the plants can use. If the pH is out of that range, it won’t matter how good your nutrient solution is, the plants will still suffer from malnutrition. You should also test pH daily until you are familiar with how it can change.
For most hydroponic systems you will need a timer to run the water pump. A general purposes heavy duty (15 amp) light timer works fine. We recommend 15 amp timers because in our experience we have had the 10 amp timers burn out, and the 15 amp timers don’t cost but a dollar or so more depending on where you get it. Manufactures generally call timers that can handle 15 amps “heavy duty.” Though it isn’t always necessary, we prefer to use indoor-outdoor timers as well, their grounded and help protect against electrical shorts. Basically their safer to use around water.
Also we would recommend using the less expensive dial (mechanical) timers, rather than the more expensive digital timers. Unless your digital timer takes a separate battery to hold memory when the power goes out. It’s happened to us in the past when even a short 2 second power outage wipes out any memory in the digital timer, then nothing gets watered, even after the power comes back on. Besides the possible power outage, the same thing happens whenever you unplug it for any reason. Like just taking it into the other room to change the settings. Mechanical timers will just pick right back up when the power is restored, and don’t have memory to loose.
How often to water the plants in your hydroponic system
Most new growers tend to try and over-think how much to water their plants, and if they stick to the general rule of thumb (“long enough to get the roots wet, but not so long they suffocate”), they will be fine. That’s why having a timer that gives you flexibility in your settings is beneficial.
If the growing media and roots seem to be getting to dry between watering, increase the frequency that you water them. If they always seem to be very wet, cut back on your watering times and see what happens. You can always increase or decrease it again. Every grower will quickly learn what’s best for their situation, type of system their growing in, growing media, etc., as well as develop their own preferences. Plants are highly adaptable, so don’t over-think it.
Artificial Lighting used for Hydroponics
If you can’t grow your hydroponic plants in natural sunlight, you’ll need artificial lighting to grow them. Electricity isn’t free, so we try and use natural sunlight as much as possible. But if weather conditions, space issues etc. prevent you from being able to do so, artificial lighting would be necessary. There are a wide variety of lighting available for hydroponic plants. Some being better for some plants, and other lighting better for others. But that’s an entire subject all by itself, you can find out a lot more about artificial lighting types for hydroponics, as well as growing plants with them on our page.