Hydroponic gardening can be tricky. One of the areas often overlooked by new hydroponic gardeners is the pH levels in their water. An improper pH level will hinder your plant’s ability to absorb the nutrients in the water.
In this article, we’re covering how to increase or reduce the pH in hydroponics. If you’re interested in hydroponic grow systems, how hydroponic gardening works, or more, be sure to check out our hydroponic section today!
Why is pH important?
As briefly stated in the introduction, having the right pH level will ensure your plant is able to optimally absorb the nutrients you’re adding to the water in your hydroponic system.
What should the pH be?
This will vary depending on what specifically you’re planting, but as a general rule of thumb a good pH level for hydroponics is between 5.5 and 6.5.
What you’ll need
A pH Indicator
This may be the most obvious – how do you know if you need to adjust the pH if you don’t know what the level currently is?
For the most accurate reading, we recommend a digital pH meter as they’re usually the most accurate. You can also use paper strip testers, but those are harder to read and usually less accurate than a digital model.
A pH Adjusting Solution
Now that you’ve tested your water and know if the pH level needs to be raised or lowered, you need an adjusting solution. Because pH levels vary from time to time, we recommend buying a set of both a raising solution and lowering solution.
General Hydroponics offers a kit on Amazon that comes with both a raising and lowering solution, and even additionally comes with a testing solution to help you identify the pH level.
Aside from purchasing a premade solution, you can also DIY it with some home items, but we recommend sticking with a solution to ensure you don’t overdo anything or use ingredients that are not safe for your plants (or you if you’re growing fruits and vegetables).
How to Reduce pH in Hydroponics
Before you start increasing or reducing your pH, be sure you test it either using a digital meter or paper strips. Changing the pH will not do any good without knowing what you need to adjust.
To adjust pH either up or down, you’ll want to use a small amount of the solution. Usually just 1-2 mL per gallon of water is needed, but there will be instructions on the solution you buy. A rule of thumb though is to use any solution very sparingly to avoid overcorrecting.
Add this solution to your water, and stir in to ensure its mixed completely. From there wait at least 15 minutes but up to 1 hour before testing again. If the pH level is still not right after 1 hour repeat the process as needed.
Have you struggled with your pH level in hydroponic gardening? Let us know in the comments below!