Hydroponics is a technique of growing plants without soil. Plants are grown in a soilless medium, such as perlite or coconut coir, and are fed a nutrient solution that is carefully balanced to provide the plants with all the essential minerals and nutrients they need to grow You can grow vegetables, flowers and fruits inside your home!

Growing plants in a jar with water can be considered a type of hydroponic system. However, if you want to grow healthy plants and have better results you should make a better hydroponic system; this can be as easy as a Kratky hydroponic system: In a Kratky system, plants are grown in a container filled with a soilless growing medium, such as hydroton or clay pebbles, and a nutrient solution. The plants are placed in the container in such a way that their roots are suspended in the nutrient solution. It does not require a continuous supply of electricity or pumps to circulate the nutrient solution, so it’s very basic.

How do hydroponic systems work?

Instead of using soil that needs to be watered, the hydroponic system completely replaces soil with the mineral nutrient solution. Not needing soil for plants growing means that hydroponics also has some advantages.

Hydroponic systems advantages

  • hydroponics cultures can be done anywhere, regardless of the environment. Containers can be used to create hydroponic farms in the desert, or in the cold areas. In fact, hydroponics is also used by Nasa to grow plants in the space shuttles.
  • hydroponics use less water than the soil cultures
  • less pests and diseases to worry about as they are indoor systems
  • maximum yields are obtained as the environment is controlled and optimized for plants
  • less space needed (hydroponics can be developed in the so called vertical farms

Hydroponic systems disadvantages

  • produce is less tasty as sun and real soil conditions can’t be replicated
  • hydroponics might use light and electricity from non renewable sources
  • producing the nutrient solution is usually done from petroleum
  • some worries that the artificial nutrient solutions might not be healthy

Types of hydroponic systems

There are more types of hydroponic systems although all share the same principles of feeding the plants from a nutrient solution.

Deep water culture hydroponic systems

In this type of hydroponic system, the plant roots are placed in a solution of nutrient-rich, oxygenated water. This hydroponic system is probably one of the easiest to DIY, as it mainly done by using plastic buckets with the plant placed in a net pot suspended on the lid. The easiest deep water culture hydroponic system is the Kratky method which is a passive hydroponics solution. Kratly passive as it is a non-circulating technique where no additional inputs of water or nutrients are needed after the original application, and no electricity, pumps, or water and oxygen circulation systems are required.

The wick hydroponic system

The wick hydroponic system is using the same idea of putting the plants above the nutrient solution but the plant roots are not placed directly in the nutrient solution. Instead, a system of wicks are bringing the nutrient solution from the bottom reservoir to the above plants.

Ebb and flow (flood and drain) hydroponic systems

As the name suggests, the ebb and flow hydroponic system consists in regularly flush the plant roots with nutrients and air. At regular intervals, a simple timer causes a pump to fill the plants tray with nutrient solution, after which the solution drains.

Nutrient film technique hydroponic systems

Nutrient film technique is a Continuous-flow solution culture. A very shallow stream of nutrient solution is recirculated in a thin layer past a bare root mat of plants in a watertight channel, with an upper surface exposed to air. Unlike with deep water culture hydroponics, a stream (or “film”) of nutrient solution flows over the ends of their roots.

Drip hydroponic systems

This system is similar with the watering drip systems used in regular agriculture. The aerated nutrient solution is pumped slowly through a network of tubes to individual plants. The quantity of the nutrient solution that is dripped is controlled precisely.

Aeroponics and fogponics hydroponic systems

Both aeroponics and fogponics are replacing the immersion of roots in various quantities of nutrient solution with an aerosol of nutrient solution. The method requires no substrate as the roots are suspended in air and the roots periodically wetted with a fine mist of atomized nutrients.

Read more about the various hydroponic systems here

Hydroponics Substrates

All the hydroponics systems, (maybe except aeroponics) require some sort of substrate. The hydroponic substrate is meant as a support for the plant and also has an important role in bringing the nutrient solution to the plant roots.

There are a lot of hydroponic substrates:

  • rock wool is the most widely used medium in hydroponics
  • clay pellets
  • coconut Coir made from the outer husk of a coconut
  • perlite – a volcanic rock that has been superheated into very lightweight expanded glass pebbles
  • vermiculite – a mineral that has been superheated until it has expanded into light pebbles
  • sand and gravel
  • wool and cotton
  • polystyrene
  • sponges and other similar materials

Read more about hydroponic substrates here.

More things about hydroponics

Hydroponics videos

Hydroponic spinach
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Tomato disease
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Hydroponic tomato pests and diseases happen even if the hydroponic systems are cleaner and easier to maintain than growing in soil. There are greenhouse specific pests and diseases, tomato
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Hydroponic pineapple
February 11, 2023

Growing hydroponic pineapples

Growing pineapples hydroponically sounds more exotic than it is. Pineapples are one of the few tropical fruits that can be grown in pots, making it suitable for indoor growing.
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Hydroponic bell peppers
February 5, 2023

Hydroponic bell peppers vs soil bell peppers

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Hydroponic books that you can read on Kindle

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Hydroponic lettuce
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Hydroponic lettuce is by far the most common leafy green grown hydroponically. For commercial growers it makes sense to grow hydroponic lettuce because you can produce up to 4
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January 23, 2023

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7 hydroponic Youtube channels to follow
January 21, 2023

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Sometimes just browsing through hydroponic videos gives you ideas and plants for hydroponic projects. So maybe subscribing to some hydroponic gardening channels is the thing to do 🙂 Hoochos
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Deep water culture hydroponic systems
January 14, 2023

Deep water culture hydroponic systems

Deep water culture (DWC) hydroponic systems are one of the easiest hydroponic systems for hobby growers. Unlike other hydroponic solutions like Nutrient film hydroponic systems or Aeroponics and fogponics,
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December 29, 2022

What hydroponic substrate should you choose?

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Dutch bucket hydroponics

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December 18, 2022

Nutrient film technique hydroponic systems

What is the nutrient film technique hydroponics Nutrient film technique is a Continuous-flow solution culture. A very shallow stream of nutrient solution is recirculated in a thin layer past
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December 17, 2022

Ebb and flow hydroponics

Ebb and flow hydroponics, or flood and drain hydroponics, is a method of growing plants without soil, using a nutrient solution. The plants grow in a container filled with
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Hydroponic systems

Hydroponic systems come in more forms and types, so what would work best for you? You got some fresh basil left and put one in a jar with water
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Hydroponic herbs are a great choice if you want to start in hydroponics at home. First of all, it’s very easy and second you will have fresh herbs grown
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Hydroponic Parsley

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September 7, 2022

Hydroponic Cilantro – how to grow videos

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hydroponic mint growing
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Hydroponic mint – how to grow your own

Hydroponic mint is one easiest hydroponic projects you could start. Mint is easy to start from cuttings, grows quickly and is not very nutrient demanding. They like full sun
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Basil Hydroponics for Beginners
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Hydroponic basil for Beginners with videos

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Hydroponic seeds germination
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Hydroponic seed starting

Hydroponic seed germination is a crucial step in any hydroponic gardening. After all without plants you cant really do an gardening! But can you use any seeds for hydroponics?
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