There are many ways to grow marijuana, hydroponics is one of them. As you might guess, hydro has to do with water and so hydroponics involves growing marijuana in water. Why would one wan to grow cannabis in water, one might ask? This article highlights a few reasons why you should consider this grow option.
What Is Hydroponics?
Hydroponics is the practice of growing plants (such as cannabis) in a water bath that has been enriched with nutrients. The plants are grown without soil but with the use of an enriched medium such as perlite, gravel or coco coir. For this to work, you need to recreate the process of photosynthesis where the plants are supplied with nutrients. In this case, you will add the nutrient directly to the water bath in the required quantities. Because the nutrients go directly to the roots the plants are able to grow faster and the environment is cleaner. Consequently, this method works well for people who:
- May does not have access to fertile soil
- May want a faster harvest
- Want the highest possible yield
- Wish to grow cannabis in a very clean environment
- Have access to plant nutrients
When plants are grown in soil decomposition helps to break down fertilizers or compost to supply nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. When the plant is watered, the nutrients are absorbed through the roots. During this process, a lot of nutrients are lost due to nutrient lockdown, soil contamination and fluctuations in acidity levels. With hydroponics, the nutrients reach the root system directly, with minimal losses. Also, hydroponic systems are immune to pests and contamination as the substrates used in the growing mediums are sterile and inert.
How To Implement A Hydroponic Cannabis Grow Systems
You will need the following:
- A reservoir containing water
- A growing tray
- A small pump with a timer
The plants and substrate are put on the growing tray and the nutrients added. Water is then pushed onto the growing tray (flow) using the pump and the timer is set appropriately. When the timer goes off, the water ebbs back into the reservoir and waits for the next flow. This is referred to as the ebb and flow method.
You will need to refill the reservoir frequently to replace evaporation losses. This method is pretty much straightforward and can be easily used by a beginner. The fact that the process is automated makes it even better.
Here are alternative hydroponic growing systems for your marijuana garden.
This method involves growing cannabis plants in a water-tight chamber where the roots are hanging mid-air. This method does not require a growth medium. The airtight chamber is humid and lightless and a nutrient solution is sprayed directly on the roots. This system requires a misting system, drainage system, a pump for exchanging water and a system for supporting and separating the roots from the plant.
This method allows for maximum airflow and as a result, the plants mature very fast. There is minimal water loss as chances of evaporation are minimized. Aeroponics is an expensive way of cultivating cannabis but the 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
Hydroponic systems may require a substrate, or growth medium to support the plants as they grow. Some of the common substrates used include:
Coco coir is a common substrate used in hydroponic systems. It is made from coconut husks that have been ground. In this form, it can hold a lot of water plus minerals. Additionally, it is resistant to molds and bacteria.
Clay may also be used to provide a substrate for cannabis plants in a hydroponic system. Since the particles are large, it ensures maximum airflow and prevents overwatering. Clay can also be used for multiple seasons.
Rockwool is made of basalt and silica which are cheap and easily accessible. They are designed to retain moisture. However, they can be hard to work with and should not be used by a beginner.
Vermiculite occurs naturally and is used to hold in moisture. It can hold lots of water without making the plants over water. It is best suited for cannabis strains that require a lot of water to mature. Sometimes vermiculite is mixed with other substrates to improve its integrity.
Perlite is made from small rock pebbles that occur naturally. It is a perfect substrate for hydroponic systems because it allows maximum airflow, doesn’t hold too much water and allows for the absorption of nutrients.
Are There Disadvantages Of Using Hydroponic Systems To Grow Marijuana?
Hydroponic systems come in very handy when suitable soil is not available. They also help to speed up the growing cycle and in most cases, they give high yields. However, they are expensive to set up and maintain. Some growers have also noted that weed grown with hydroponics does not taste natural.
- No soil solutions: Types of hydroponic systems. Retrieved from http://www.nosoilsolutions.com/6-different-types-hydroponic-systems/
- Modern Farmer (2018): How does aeroponics work. Retrieved from https://modernfarmer.com/2018/07/how-does-aeroponics-work/
- JWC: The aeroponic approach. Retrieved from https://www.jwc.ca/journal/the-aeroponic-approach/