How to grow cannabis hydroponically
Hydroponics is a technique that helps growing cannabis plants without soil when the plant gets all the necessary nutrients in the right amounts and exact proportions from a specially prepared solution.
This method is especially useful for those who love growing plants because it is not limited by season or climate. You can grow virtually anything any time of the year. With effective hydroponic systems and horticultural lighting, you can now enjoy your hobby of growing cannabis plants where and when you want.
The Benefits of Hydroponics
Hydroponics has many advantages compared to a conventional (soil) cultivation method.
Since the plant always receives the nutrients in the necessary quantities, it grows much faster than in the soil. Thus, the growth of the marijuana plants increases by several times.
During waterlogging, roots of the plant do not suffer from lack of oxygen or dehydration, which happens in soil cultivation.
Since it is easier to control water discharge, you don’t need to water marijuana plants every day. Depending on the capacity of the tank and the type of hydroponic system, you can add water much less frequently, from once every three days to once a month.
There is no problem of lack of fertilizer and its overdose.
There are no problems of soil pests, which eliminates the need to use toxic chemicals.
The process of transplanting perennials becomes much easier because there is no need to clean the roots from the old soil and thus hurt them. All you need to do is to transform the plant into a large bowl and add the growing medium.
There is no need to buy new soil to transplant cannabis plant, which greatly reduces the cost of growing marijuana plants.
Since the plant receives only the necessary nutrients, it does not accumulate harmful substances that are present in the soil (heavy metals, toxic organic compounds, radionuclides, excess nitrates, etc.).
Your hands are always clean; hydroponic containers are light; no unpleasant smells.
The simplicity and low cost.
Types of Hydroponic systems
There are several dozens of known hydroponic systems but the main six are the following:
#1 Wicks system
The wick system is the easiest of all existing hydroponic systems. It is based on the principle of capillary forces. The solution is delivered to the growing medium through the wicks providing the roots with necessary nutrients. As the growing medium, you can use coconut fiber, perlite, and vermiculite.
#2 Water culture
Cannabis plants are fixed on the platform, which is usually made of the synthetic foam. The platform floats above the nutrient solution situated in a tank. The roots of the plant are submerged. In order to ensure that roots get the oxygen, you need to aerate the nutrient solution by an air pump or regularly change the solution. This system is ideal for the cultivation of fast-growing auto-flowering cannabis strains that need large amounts of water.
The roots are embedded in a growing medium and from time to time are supplied with the nutrients, which are then drained back into the tank. The process is automated. When you turn on the timer, the pump supplies the nutrient solution to the tank with the roots. When you turn off the timer, the nutrient solution is drained into the tank, which leads to the aeration of the roots.
#4 Drip system
This is the most common hydroponic system. The water pump is controlled by a timer. Through a network of tubes, the pump delivers the nutrient solution and water to each plant. The solution drips under the base of the plants. It is possible to use individual pots, which facilitates the rearrangement of the marijuana plants as well as adding and extracting them from the system.
This is the most well-known hydroponic system. A water pump doesn’t require a timer, which considerably simplifies the whole process. The system uses the principle of the constant flow of the nutrients, which are pumped from a reservoir into the growing tray.
This hydroponic system doesn’t usually use any substrate other than air because the roots get all the nutrients from the solution. The plants are fixed in small pots with holes for an unhampered growth of the roots. The moist air over the surface of the nutrient layer provides roots with oxygen.
Aeroponics is the most modern hydroponic system. The roots hang in the air and are sprayed with the nutrient solution. High aeration contributes to very high rates of growth. Many growers use aeroponic system for cloning cannabis, because it gives very good outcomes.
Growing medium aerates and supports the plant’s root system and delivers water and nutrients. Different hydroponic systems require different growing mediums. For example, Hydrocorn or expanded shale work well in the ebb and flow system. Since Hydrocorn is a light type of growing medium, a lot of oxygen penetrates the plant’s root system.
Rockwool has become very popular in the hydroponic cultivation of plants as well. It has the chemical inertness and sterility. This growing medium has a good responsiveness and structural integrity and can be used for two years. Rockwool holds up to 14 times more water than soil and accumulates 20% of air. Thus, it can be used in any hydroponic system.
Other most common growing mediums are vermiculite, perlite, and different sand grades. These mediums are stable and hardly affect pH of the nutrient solution. They accumulate too much moisture and thus should be used with the plants that are tolerant to these conditions. These mediums are inexpensive and they work well in wick systems.
Hydroponic nutrients contain all the elements the plants would normally receive from the soil. You can buy these nutrients at any hydroponic supply store. Most of them are highly concentrated, so you need to use from two to four spoons per gallon of water. The nutrients come in dry and liquid mixes with two different containers. The liquid nutrients are more expensive but very easy to use. They quickly dissolve and usually have pH. The dry nutrients need to be mixed more thoroughly as they often don’t dissolve into the reservoir.
Hydroponic systems can be fertilized with either organic or chemical nutrients. The maintenance of an organic hydroponic system is more complex because organic compounds sometimes lock together and lead to the blockage of pumps.
The pH level of the nutrients monitors the available amount of ions necessary for the healthy growth of the plant. The optimal level of pH for most plants is the range from 5.8 to 6.8. Cannabis plants grow well in the hydroponic medium at the pH level from 5.5 to 6.5. It is easier to test pH in a hydroponic system rather than pH of the soil. In hydroponic supply stores, you can buy pH-testing kits to test pH in a system. If it is too high or too low, the plant won’t absorb certain nutrients. You should check pH once a week. If you need to raise pH, simply add a little of soluble Potash. If you need to lower pH, add phosphoric acid.
Certainly, hydroponics is noteworthy. This method allows you to control every step of the growing process, save resources, and produce more viable cannabis plants.