Hydroponic growing and hydroponic systems have been gaining in popularity lately in the gardening industry, and its easy to see why!
A hydroponic system allows you to grow plants indoors, regardless of environmental factors like weather. This makes it appealing for both larger scale farming and for home gardeners alike.
Today, we’re covering what exactly is hydroponic gardening and how to hydroponic systems work! If you’re interested in how to select a hydroponic system for yourself, check out our blog post on the Best Hydroponic Grow Systems for Beginners in 2020.
If you need to make a quick decision, our overall pick for the best hydroponic system is the Ivation Indoor Hydroponic System, although Aerogrow also has a number of good options as well!
What is hydroponic growing?
Simply put, hydroponics is a method of growing plants without soil. Yes, you heard that right – no dirt required! Instead of soil, nutrients are delivered directly to plants roots via water. You simply place seeds into “pods” in a system with a growing medium to support the plant, and the roots will receive all the nutrients via a stream of water running below the plant.
Frequently Asked Questions
How does a Hydroponic System work?
Hydroponic plants grow by having nutrients delivered to the plants roots directly via water. The hydroponic system will do this in a number of different setups. The most common one for beginners or for at-home systems like the Aerogrow offers is called deep water culture hydroponics, or DWC systems.
In a DWC system essentially suspends the roots of a plant in water that is rich in both nutrients and oxygen. The hydroponic system will add oxygen via air pumps (or some similar method). You’ll add the nutrients directly to the system for it to disperse automatically (note this process could vary from system to system).
How Do You Plant in a Hydroponic System?
Most systems provide a small pot or basket for you to place the seeds in. You’ll place the seeds in your basket and then place the basket itself in the hydroponic system. The system will be set up with spaces for each basket. Most home systems come with anywhere from 4 to 12 spaces, though you can get larger than that too!
Some brands of hydroponic systems also offer seed pods that are super easy to place directly into the hydroponic system with no fuss. Aerogarden is a brand that makes it super easy for beginners to get started growing hydroponic plants.
Can I grow larger vegetables in a hydroponic system?
Yes, and no. Vegetables and fruits larger than herbs can be grown hydroponically, but you need to be sure your system has the space to accommodate them. You can grow peppers and tomatoes, and even more in a relatively small indoor hydroponic system, but you’ll need to check and be sure that you have the space to accommodate the plants before planting.
Benefits of Growing Hydroponically
Fresh Produce Year Round
There are many benefits of growing hydroponically. The first being that it allows you to grow your plants year round regardless of weather conditions. This means that you can have fresh herbs and vegetables at any time of the year.
More Harvests from One Plant
Since there’s no firm start and stop to a grow season, you can grow plants for extended amounts of time using hydroponics. Throughout the plant’s life, you can also harvest more produce along the way. This means that a hydroponic tomato plant will produce more tomatoes than a typical tomato plant will.
Reduce Water Usage
Bet you didn’t see that one coming! Because of the compact-ness of hydroponic systems and constant filtration of the water, you actually use LESS water when planting hydroponically.
Drawbacks of a Hydroponic System
The main drawback of hydroponic gardening is the cost of the initial system. A good system will range anywhere from $100 to upwards of $500. With the $500 being a very large system, and probably not one you need as a beginner.
However, given that you’ll have fresh produce from the system for many months or years to come, it may be worth the initial investment. Stay tuned for more on this in future posts!
Do you love your hydroponic system? Why or why not? Let us know in the comments below!