When growing hydroponically, you are responsible for providing all of the nutrients necessary for plants to survive. Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P), and Potassium (K) are the three essential nutrients for plant growth known as macronutrients. Additionally, there are secondary and micronutrients that will help the plant develop as well. These include Boron, Calcium, Copper, Iron, Magnesium, Sulfur, and Zinc.
Whether you have grown cannabis before or have no experience growing cannabis whatsoever, hydroponics can be a great way to produce cannabis in any size space. At first it can be confusing and slightly overwhelming, but by learning the basics you will come to understand it’s not as difficult as you imagined.
Hydroponic Cannabis Supplies:
Browse Hydroponic Growing Supplies
Next, you’ll need to balance the pH level. Between 5.5 and 6 is ideal for cannabis to absorb the nutrients. If levels are off significantly, the plants will fail to uptake the nutrients and will suffer deficiencies.
Raising a plant with hydroponics is different in many ways from growing in a soil garden. One thing to consider is the support the plant is receiving. Unlike a plant growing in soil, plants in hydro mediums might be vulnerable to tipping or breaking. Trellising your garden will help to prevent this from happening and will also allow you to train your plants to grow in specific directions.
What Is Hydroponic Cannabis?
Nutrients will come either pre-mixed in a solution or in powder form. While powder form might be cheaper and less bulky, it is best to stick with liquid pre-mixed nutrients if you are a small-time grower as they mix with water easily and are more forgiving.
Another common measurement used is ppm (parts per million) which is another way of looking at how nutrient-dense your solution is. There are two different scales for ppm used in the cannabis industry: the 500 and the 700 scale. The most efficient way to determine ppm is to take an EC reading, multiply it by either 500 or 700 depending on the scale you are using. An EC reading of 2.0 would equal either 1,000 ppm (500 scale) or 1,400 ppm (700 scale). Many readers used to measure EC or ppm will do this conversion for you.
Using hydroponics for cannabis does come with a few minor drawbacks, though. Firstly, you’ll need to spend more on equipment before you can get your system up and running. Then again, working with the right system eventually pays off in terms of saving on water and electricity.
- You can target your nutrition more accurately, because you don’t depend on what happens to be present in the soil. That allows you to set the perfect nutrient mix without losing valuable ingredients along the way;
- Save yourself work: no need to remove weeds, while the system makes sure your plants are fed and watered. Just keep an eye on the water level in your reservoir. Two refill a week will usually do the job. As you can see, hydroponics is perfect for lazy relaxed growers;
- Your plants will absorb the exact amounts of water and nutrients they need; no more and no less. The system simply recycles any excess water, making it a very efficient system too. Obviously, as a plant enthusiast, you care about the environment: life’s good when you can save the world by growing sustainable weed;
- Pest control: hydroponics environments are cleaner than regular soil. That limits the options for pests and bugs – one thing less to worry about;
- Better yields: plants grow better in hydroponics. For cannabis, that means better yields than for weed grown in soil, all other factors being equal;
- Rapid growth: using a hydroponics setup could reduce the growth phase of your plants by three weeks. Roughly speaking, that could mean two extra harvests every year;
- Not dependent on the weather: hot, dry summer? Freezing cold winter? It’s all the same for hydroponics, because all the plants get exactly what they need, no matter the weather. You don’t even have to keep track of the seasons – if you’re growing indoors, that is.
(R)DWC: (Recirculating) Deep Water Culture.
Basically, any plant can be grown using hydroponics. Cannabis thrives on it, but these days, you’ll find entire farms growing lettuce and leeks on water alone. Fun fact: the increasing popularity of growing cannabis at home has been one of the driving forces behind the development of new hydroponics systems used in regular agriculture!
Drawbacks Of Hydroponics
AK Choco Kush
RDWC System without plants.
The second and most important drawback is the tight margin for error that hydro grows offer. Soil has considerable buffer capacity: any surplus of nutrients or lack of oxygen can be compensated in part by the soil and the micro-organisms it contains. Hydroponics barely has any buffer capacity in this sense. Overdosing on nutrients or – worse – power outages will almost certainly damage your plants. That means hydroponics calls for some more vigilance from you as a grower. As long as you know what you’re getting into, though, that should not be a problem.
The Benefits Of Cannabis Hydroponics
Drip irrigation is a popular technique among professional growers all across the agri- and horticulture sectors, but amateur homegrowers will find it very convenient, too. You feed and water your plants using a drip system. Every individual plant gets its own drip nozzle. That allows for very accurate distribution of nutrients, ensuring that every plant gets an equal share. Any liquid not absorbed by the plants flows back into the reservoir for future use.
RDWC is the easiest system to manage, making it a great option for beginners. You put your germinated plants into individual containers, which you then place into a water container. All you add is some hydro pellets to give the roots some added grip. An air pump ensures a constant air supply into the water. Nutrients are added to the water, which the plants can then absorb through their roots. That means roots are constantly exposed to water throughout the growth cycle. The R in RDWC stands for Recirculating, because the water is constantly pumped around the system in a closed loop.