Most of us will have heard of growing plants by hydroponics but not everyone knows exactly how this works. Plants grown in hydroponics are basically grown in a medium that isn’t soil. In soil, the plant’s roots search for nutrients, water and air but in a hydroponic setting, these elements are directly available to the roots in the first instance.

The energy that the plant would normally use to search for these necessities is put into growth. The results then are taller, bushier plants that grow much quicker.

a hydroponic grow system

Hydroponic grow systems are in affect plants that are generally grown in water but a range of other mediums can be used to create results. Rockwool, for example, is a fantastic, lightweight material perfect for hydroponic growth. Its porous base is ideal for drainage.

Rockwool is fairly cheap to buy and can be purchased in the form of cubes or slabs – whichever you prefer. Cubes are useful – seeds are planted in each cube and if any don’t grow, they can be removed and replanted or simply left dormant.

Rockwool is a sturdy material, excellent for this purpose but be careful to test the pH levels of the water once it is used. Rockwool usually causes the pH levels to stir so a pH kit will be needed.

Rockwool isn’t the only choice available, however. Many other materials can be used such as sand, gravel, perlite or vermiculite. There are advantages and disadvantages to using sand. While plants tend to grow well in it and it is easy to use, it doesn’t deliver such good results in a hydroponic setting as other mediums.

As an option, gravel can be used to create a sturdy medium for plants. On the downside, it must be cleaned thoroughly before it is used and a pump would be needed to allow water and air to flow through the system due to its weight.

If you want to go with a gravel like medium, then perlite may be the answer. This volcanic rock is heated to create lightweight pebbles. Its ability to retain air is great for plants grown in hydroponics as it helps to keep the water oxygenated.

Similar to perlite, vermiculite is another material that can be used. These small pebbles are a flexible, supporting medium for plants grown in Hydroponic grow systems.

In a capillary action, water is drawn in and helps with providing water and nutrients to the plant. Vermiculite holds more water than perlite so would need to be used in moderation. Some people find using a mixture of the two materials creates finer results.

Hydroponic Home Garden

The most complicated of all tasks in hydroponic home garden rests in the mineral and nutrient mixtures. They need to be constantly measured and monitored to make sure that the plants are receiving what they require.

Aside from the three main elements of nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus, hydroponically grown plants also need magnesium, iron, calcium and a host of other nutrients.

Normally, nitrogen has a very huge present in the air. However, the air molecules of nitrogen are different to that of the molecules of nitrogen when acting as a mineral supplement.

a home garden hydroponics

Nitrogen is used by plants for growing leaves. To grow roots, plants need phosphorus. Potassium provides plants with much needed resistance to diseases.

Cell wall growth and ion delivery to various parts of the plants is aided by calcium. Chlorophyll, which is needed in photosynthesis, needs chlorine. Plants also have hemoglobin cells.

Hemoglobin transports oxygen in animals and plants. For hemoglobin to function properly, proper dosages of iron are needed in the hydroponic gardening nutrient mixture.

Fortunately, nutrient mixtures or solutions are available in the market. You just have to figure out which mixture to use for your plants. Plants that are just starting to grow, or cuttings, require a mixture of one third calcium nitrate to a gallon of water. Fully grown and flowering plants require a thicker mixture of three fourths calcium nitrate and a gallon of water.

Temperature is also important. The mixture of calcium nitrate and water must be rationed at room temperature. Any liquid being fed hydroponically to your hydroponic home garden plants should be at room temperature.

There are some dry plants that will not tolerate nutrients. For example, nitrogen can burn some dry plants. This isn’t really a problem with hydroponics because of pre-mixed solutions, but plants grown aeroponically or plants grown in air will suffer.

If you are using tap water for your nutrient solution, it would be wise to let the water stand for twenty four hours. Tap water contains chlorine that can mess up your nutrient solution.

If you let the water stand, the chlorine will evaporate. You can also use mineralized water as it contains calcium that will be useful for your plants.

You need to constantly monitor PH levels of your solution to almost negligible proportions. When plants take in the nutrients, the water undergoes the process where alkaline builds up.

Very small amounts of sulfuric acid will neutralize this build up. If the acid level of your solution rises, you can add sodium hydroxide to neutralize PH.

The problem with growing plants by hydroponic gardening is that the plant cannot properly circulate the nutrients. In regular gardens, plants release nutrients to the soil.

Hydroponic plants release these compounds back into the solution. Hydroponic home garden activities require patience and attention to detail; especially when it comes to monitoring the plant solution.