What is hydroponics?

by Wilben, Last Updated: 2020-02-17

Hydroponics is a method of growing plants without soil, in which a plant receives all the necessary nutrients from a solution in the right quantities and precise proportions (which is almost impossible to do with soil cultivation). Translated from the Greek, the term hydroponics literally means ?working solution?. When using this method, plants do without soil, are in the substrate, which serves as a support for the root system and get the necessary nutrients from the solution.

what is hydroponics
Hydroponic Grow System

Hydroponics is not new. Its history begins with deep antiquity. For example, Hanging Gardens in Babylon ? the first successful attempt to apply the method of hydroponics. Aztec floating gardens in Central America are another good example of hydroponic technology. When the militant neighbors ousted the nomadic Indians living on the shores of Lake Tenochtitlan in Mexico, they invented their own method of growing vegetables and fruits. The Aztecs built reed rafts and covered them with silt from the bottom of the lake, growing fruit trees and vegetables.

Before the hydroponics method, the scientists investigated how the plant feeds. In the course of growing plants in water, they determined which nutrients the root extracts. It was found that the plant requires minerals for normal growth and development. Potassium promotes plant growth. Calcium used for root system formation. Magnesium and iron are involved in the formation of chlorophyll. Sulfur and phosphorus are used to form the nucleus and protoplasm.

The effectiveness of hydroponic methods attracted the attention of landscape designers and revolutionized the creation of an environmentally friendly urban environment. Vertical gardening, roof gardens, and continuously flowering flowerbeds have become an innovation in urban landscaping.

Making sure that the cultivation of flowers and organic products is affordable and simple, gardeners boldly apply Hydroponics in their home gardens, greenhouses, and small room gardens. Compact professional equipment and branded nutrient solutions have turned Hydroponics from progressive technology for large plantations into a remarkable inexpensive system for indoor floriculture.

Hydroponic Grow System Benefits

Compared with the traditional method of growing plants, hydroponics has several advantages.

  1. Hydroponic Systems allows you to avoid both the lack and excess fertilizer and provides perfect and balanced nutrition. The plant receives the entire supply of nutrients in the required quantity. It significantly increases the yield of fruit plants. Intense flowering of ornamental plants also proves the positive effect of hydroponics on their growth. This method helps to provide the plant with all the necessary substances for it. It grows strong and healthy, and much faster than in the soil.
  2. The plant does not accumulate harmful and detrimental to the human body elements contained in the soil. As a rule, these are toxic organic compounds, excess nitrates, radionuclides, heavy metals, and others. This is especially true for fruit plants. Indeed, when using the hydroponic method, plants receive only useful substances.
  3. Reduced water consumption for irrigation. Plants do not need daily watering. And hydroponic water consumption is much easier to control. Each plant requires only an individual approach. Depending on the growing system and capacity, it is necessary to systematically add water ? one plant every three days, another once a month. When soil growing plants often suffer from drying out and lack of oxygen, in the case of overwetting. Using the method of hydroponics is completely excluded.
  4. Reducing the cost of purchasing soil mixtures.
  5. Transplanting becomes a non-burdensome process that does not injure the plant root system at all.
  6. No need to use pesticides. Plants grown in hydroponics are not afraid of indoor plant insects, soil pests, root rot, and fungal diseases.
  7. There is no need to use new soil, which significantly reduces the costs of growing indoor plants.
  8. Earth has the ability to accumulate harmful substances that threaten human life (radionuclide?s, nitrates, heavy metals, poisons). With the groundless method of growing the plant absorbs only what he needs. Fruit plants will be environmentally friendly and safe. In taste, they are not inferior to plants that are grown in the traditional way.
  9. From a practical point of view, such plants are easier to care for, there is no dirt from the ground, there are no extraneous smells, there are no pests that can build up in the soil, and then spread to the room.


  1. Initially, the cost of such a decision will be significantly higher than the acquisition of conventional soil.
  2. You need to invest a little work in order to build the system yourself. It will take a lot of time and effort. And if you buy a ready-made system, you will have to pay a certain amount. The plus is that the initial costs and time and money will pay off with interest since the plant will start to grow several times faster and it will be much easier to care for it.
  3. Stereotypes and public opinion give their own. Many of these methods of growing plants are associated with artificial methods with the use of chemical fertilizers ? that is, toxic chemicals that adversely affect health. However, such judgments arise solely from ignorance of what hydroponics is.

Hydroponic How it Works

The hydroponic method is based on the study of the plant root system, and specifically how the plant is fed. The fundamental principles of hydroponics are the cultivation of plants according to the needs of each particular species. Water enriched with oxygen and dissolved in it, in necessary quantities, with micro- and macro elements and additives are supplied directly to the root felt.

Plant roots are placed in a solution of nutrients or in a special inert substrate, which is used only for support. Through the capillaries of the substrate moisture rises to the roots, irrigates them and delivers food.

Hydroponic System Types

Hydroponic systems can be open and closed, passive and active.

A huge variety of hydroponic systems allows you to choose the most suitable for specific types of plants and targets. All of them are varieties of the main systems, which are:

Each of these methods have certain advantages and disadvantages.

Different hydroponic systems
Variety of hydroponic systems

What plants can be grown hydroponically?

The uniqueness of Hydroponics is that it allows you to cultivate any plant that is grown by seed or by cutting without restrictions from mosses to exotic flowers. When transplanting adult specimens, it is better to take plants with thick and coarse roots. They should be well cleaned from the ground. Hydroponics is not carried out if the plants have a delicate root system.

Plant Transplant Rules

To transplant a plant in hydroponics, it must be removed from the pot and soaked with an earthen ball in a bucket of water at room temperature. After a few hours, the earth is carefully separated from the roots. Then they wash the roots under a light stream of water. Purified roots straighten down and fall asleep with a special substrate, holding the plant. It should not touch the roots of the water layer. The solution will rise through the capillaries of the substrate, so the roots reach the required depth. After transplantation, the hydroponic substrate is poured with plain water, the vessel is filled. In order for the plant to adapt to the new conditions of detention, it is left for a week. When it comes to an end, water is replaced with a solution. Immediately it can not be poured.


In Hydroponics use inert substrates that provide support for plant roots. Their porosity and high capillary conductivity provide power to the root system. Best suited:

The process of transplanting plants from the soil into the hydroponic system

  • Place a plant with a plant root in a bucket and soak for a few hours with water at room temperature.
  • After this time has elapsed, carefully separate the ground under water and gently wash the roots with a light stream of water at room temperature.
  • After cleaning, straighten the roots to the bottom and fill them with substrate. It does not require that the plant directly roots touched the water layer. The solution will rise up through the capillaries of the substrate and reach the roots. After some time, the plants themselves will grow to the required depth.
  • Pour the substrate on top with plain water. Then pour water into the vessel to the desired level and leave the plant to adapt for about a week.

Only after the expiration of this period can fertilizer be added to the water.

Solution concentration

The concentration of the solution is selected according to the manufacturer?s recommendations. The volume of solution in a hydroponic vessel must be maintained at the same level. This can be done by regularly pouring plain water there. It is very important that it is soft (separated or filtered). According to the manufacturer?s instructions, the solution is completely replaced every three months. For insectivorous plants and epiphytes prepare a solution with a lower concentration of 2-4 times. Fast growing plants need to increase the concentration of the nutrient solution by 1.5 times. Annual vegetable crops prefer a concentration that is 1.25 times higher than the average. In the cold season, the concentration of the solution is reduced by 2-3 times. It is equally important to lower the water level.

Acidity of the solution (pH)

5.6 is the optimum pH for most plants. As a rule, all hydroponic compositions are nearing this indicator. Depending on the type of plant, select the required value. 5.6 pH is not suitable for all plants. Gardenias and azaleas prefer a more acidic medium (pH = 5). An alkaline environment is suitable for palm trees (pH = 7). To determine the pH using an electronic pH meter. This device shows exact values, but not everyone can handle it. In addition, it is very expensive. It is better to use special tests for the determination of acidity, which are designed for aquariums. They can be purchased at specialized zoological stores. They give accurate performance and are easy to use. Universal indicator strips are not worth buying. They have a big error.

How to prepare a solution for hydroponics

Hydroponic solution consists of two ingredients. To determine the exact dosage using a medical five-cubic syringe. The first component of the solution is a complex fertilizer (1.67 ml). You can use two types of fertilizers. ?Uniflor Buton? is suitable for fruit crops and flowering plants. For other species, it is better to take Uniflor Growth, contributing to the growth of the green part of the plant. Fertilizer is diluted in one liter of water.

The second ingredient for the preparation of a hydroponic solution is a 25% solution of calcium nitrate (2 ml). He prepares simply. 250 grams of four-water calcium nitrate is diluted in a liter of water. This amount of nitrate is used for soft water. For example, distilled or tap St. Petersburg with a concentration of 100 mg / l. If the water is hard, the amount of calcium nitrate is chosen differently.

Only two simple ingredients and get a solution of normal concentration (1 liter).

Ready systems

Many gardeners are trying to create hydroponic systems from scrap materials. The Internet is replete with home-made schemes, but often the results are very poor. In addition to leakage, in improvised systems it is impossible to observe the correct regimes and the plants die.

Mixing and weighing the components for a solution, wondering about its pH and oxygen saturation, you can feel like a medieval alchemist, and easily make a mistake.

The drone of the pump, the sound of water and bright light create discomfort in the house and spoil the whole impression of the collection of plants.

Ready hydroponic systems are designed specifically for indoor floriculture and work on the principle: set and forget. Reliable, modern equipment will minimize the time to care for even a very large number of plants. They minimize the risks of plant loss and the amount of time and resources spent.

The aesthetic aspect of using hydroponic systems in indoor floriculture is also important. Luxurious plants in unaesthetic bowls, hung with pipes, as patients in intensive care will not make the proper impression. The use of professional systems and ready-made balanced solutions will make caring for plants a real pleasure.

The role of hydroponics in modern agriculture

Few people think about the fact that in a couple of decades the population in the villages will not remain at all. According to the results of research, in 50 years almost all the inhabitants of our planet will live in cities. Who will grow the products? Moreover, today a large part of the soil, which is capable of producing crops, is already involved. Part of it was seriously damaged by the barbaric methods of agronomists. And what will future generations eat?

 To solve this acute problem you need today. It is no less significant than the disappearance of minerals. Only one way out ? to transfer agriculture to the city. This will also resolve the issue of transportation of the crop. The main goal is to collect as much fruit as possible from the smallest area. The world?s leading architects have such an idea ? to create urban vertical farms with skyscrapers for a long time does not give rest. It is not for nothing that fancy projects of urban greening and the construction of urban farms appear at first glance.

 Use of modern technology and science, hydroponic technology in recent years has begun to develop at an incredible rate. In ultramodern hydroponic systems, only plastics are used. Even pumps are made with epoxy resin coating. Due to the durability and safety of this kind of materials, their combined use with neutral substrates is a direct path to success. The use of plastics pushed to get rid of expensive and not convenient to use metal structures of tanks and gutters.

 With the development of pumps suitable for use in a hydroponics system, plastic sanitary fittings, timers, electromagnetic valves and other equipment, hydroponics can now be fully automated, which will reduce the main production costs.

 An equally important achievement in the field of hydroponics was the development of a balanced nutrition for plants. And although research in this area is still ongoing, the resulting developments are already widely used.

 Different countries of the world actively participate in the development of hydroponic technology. Such countries as Australia and New Zealand, countries of South Africa, Italy and Spain, and Scandinavian countries show their interest in this system. In Europe, many vegetables and berries are already grown in a hydroponic system. For example, strawberries grow faster and picking berries is much easier. The use of ultra-modern nutrient solutions makes it possible to significantly increase the yield of crops, as well as reduce the area under their sowing.

 Hydroponic systems are becoming increasingly important today. By increasing demand and increasing the mass market, the production of structures is reduced in price and the cost of hydroponics is reduced. Developments in the field of system design make it possible to grow plants not only compactly placed on the same level but also to fill the volume of premises used for this process, thereby saving working space and significantly increasing the yield of finished products. At the same time, labor costs in the maintenance of plants are markedly reduced.

Reducing the complexity of using hydroponics technology for growing plants is achieved due to several significant factors.

  1. The concept of ?fertile soil? is completely excluded from the growing process. Indeed, the soil in hydroponics is present only in the seedling state of the plant. It is worth noting that the seedlings of plants are grown all the same in the traditional way, and then it is placed in a pot, which is filled with some moisture-permeable granular substrate. For example, perlite coarse sand, crushed expanded clay, fine gravel and other things. The main task of the substrate is to keep the root system of the plant. In this case, all nutrients are absorbed by the plant from a special solution.
  2. Such procedure as ?watering? is completely eliminated. After all, hydroponics implies systematic watering with a nutrient solution of the root system of a plant. This solution has a practically stable composition. The plant is not subjected to either starvation or lack of moisture. And it develops quickly and evenly in comparison with its soil congeners.
  3. The possibility of the appearance of insects, larvae, weeds and competitors is minimized. The seedlings are planted almost in sterilized soil, and then the soil is completely washed out.  
  4. When using the technology of hydroponics there is no need for weeding, loosening and other types of soil treatment. And the system can be completely automated.

And if the technology of hydroponics is well debugged, then the process of growing plants consists directly in growing seedlings and harvesting. It is also necessary to systematically monitor the hydroponic installation and pour the solution.

The hydroponic system turns the process of growing greens, vegetables and spices into a very pleasant experience.

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