Growing is of course a rewarding experience.
Why not step it up, make it a little better experience for you and your plants? There are a few different types of hydroponic systems to choose from, and each has its own advantages.
Depending on your personal preference and growing goals, you can select the one that suits you the best. Some hydroponic systems are simpler to use, while others require a bit more expertise. No matter which system you choose, you can rest assured that your marijuana plants will thrive.
Plus, hydroponic systems are often more efficient than soil-based systems, so you don’t have to worry about wasting resources. Additionally, hydroponic systems can help to reduce the risk of pests and diseases that can be found in soil.
Hydro systems often provide better nutrition to your plants, since the nutrients are delivered directly to the roots. Finally, hydroponic systems can save you time, as the plants don’t need to be repotted as often. With the right hydroponic system, you can enjoy a successful and rewarding marijuana-growing experience.
Your other option is to DIY hydroponics systems for cannabis. It is relatively easy to construct your own systems following the basic principles.
This page will discuss the seven most popular hydroponic systems for growing marijuana, plus two Dutch techniques that can be used in conjunction with these systems to improve yields.
Current Culture Under Current Solo 8 Gallon
Single Module Deep Water Culture (DWC) System
The SOLO Single Module Water Culture System is great for hydro beginners and mother plants. It’s available in both 8 and 13-gallon module sizes with interchangeable CCH2O Lid options. The UC Solo is easy to setup and maintain, start growing trees!
The Under Current® features the patented Sub-Current Culture® circulation method. This high-performance water culture system is unmatched in efficiency, layout versatility and ease of use. The Under Current® utilizes negative water pressure to recirculate oxygenated nutrient solution through the plant’s root zone ensuring pH and EC levels are uniform throughout the entire system.
AutoPot XXL System with Water Tank and (9 or 13) Gallon Pots - Self-Watering, Gravity-Fed System for Grow Tents and Hydroponics (4Pot - 9 Gallon - with 12.4 Gallon Tank)
- Self-Watering, Gravity-Fed System for Grow Tents and Hydroponics
As with all AutoPot Watering Systems, XXL operates power-free, without the need for running water, and without pumps or computers to maintain. Immense savings in time, money, and ecology are obvious merits. Such virtues are equaled only by the responsiveness with which plants are fed and watered. The AQUAvalve5s that regulate every module respond exactly to each individual plant’s needs, supplying water and nutrient solution only as and when required, without recirculation or a drop of waste.
Hydrofarm MGSYS Hydroponic Megagarden Ebb & Flow System in a 22" x 22" x 10" size Container,Black
- Get the convenience of an Ebb & Flow System in a 22" x 22" x10" size garden
- Includes fired-clay and pebble grow media; 7-1/2-gallon reservoir, water level indicator
- Includes fifteen 5-inch, plastic grow pots can be filled with soil, or included fired-clay pebble grow media
- Submersible pump and timer for automatic flood and drain irrigation
- Also features seed starter cubes, nutrients and a pH test kit
The art of growing marijuana with the roots dangling inside a light and water tight box and small emitters producing a fine mist on a regular basis.
Deep water Culture (DWC) / Recirculating (RDWC) / Bubbleponics hydroponic system
In this system the roots are immersed in nutrient solution. An aeration stone is used to oxygenate the solution.
Nutrient Film Technique (NFT)
Your plants are held in aggregate above a slightly tilted tray, with a thin film of nutrients flowing from top to bottom past the roots of your marijuana.
Drip irrigation hydroponics
Small emitters drip feed your marijuana plants from the top, near the main stem.
Ebb and Flow hydroponics
A basic but functional system with your pots situated in a tray above the reservoir. The reservoir pumps the nutrient solution up and into the pan which ‘flows’ past the pots and in turn feeds them. The nutrients solution is then allowed to ‘ebb’ away back into the reservoir.
A really basic system that is great for a couple of plants or if you are just starting out as there is no need for pumps, timers or aeration systems. Simply connect your pots with thick ‘wick’ dipped into the reservoir and capillary action will do the rest!
Hydroponics Growing System Considerations
There a few considerations that apply to any hydroponic set-up.
This is the vessel that holds the water and nutrients which are usually pumped through to your plants. When picking a reservoir, keep in mind:
- Nutrient solution reservoirs should be as large as possible.
- Ideally, a reservoir should be able to supply at least one if not two weeks of nutrients.
- Does it have a lid?
- Without a lid, you’ll lose a lot of water to evaporation.
- Where will you locate the reservoir?
- Keep it close to a water source
- Get one (or two) extras.
- Extra Reservoir #1 is good to hold standing tap water for 2-3 days to allow any chlorine to dissipate and neutralize the pH.
- Extra Reservoir #2 is a back-up in case one breaks or springs a leak.
- Make sure it’s sturdy.
You should insulate your reservoir to help control the temperature of the solution. Elevating it one a brick to allow air flow all the way around helps, and some growers insulate with Styrofoam, foam rubber or even newspaper.
Essential Tools for Hydroponic Gardening
Here are a few things you will need for any hydroponic set-up. If you don’t purchase a kit, make sure you collect them all separately.
- Hydroponic nutrients for vegetative and marijuana flowering stages
- pH Meter
- EC Meter
- An EC meter will tell you the concentration of your nutrient solution and most commercially available solutions will require you to check this
Aeroponics is an innovative method of growing plants without the use of a traditional soil medium. Instead, the plants’ roots are suspended in the air and are continuously misted with a nutrient-rich solution. This high oxygen environment encourages beneficial microorganisms to break down the nutrients, making them readily available to the plants. Aeroponics is a great way to ensure healthy and rapid plant growth!
- Aeroponics is a soil-free method of growing plants
- Roots of the plants are suspended in the air, continually misted with a nutrient-rich solution
- The high oxygen environment encourages beneficial microorganisms to break down the nutrients
- Aeroponics hydro systems make nutrients readily available to the plants
- Aeroponics promotes rapid and healthy growth
Pros of growing marijuana with aeroponics:
- Saves on Water
- High Oxygen = Efficient Use of Nutrients
- High Yields
- No Medium Necessary
Cons of an aeroponics hydro system:
- Expensive to Start
- Noisy (not horrible, but not the stealthiest system)
- Vulnerable to Power Outages
Deep Water Culture
Deep Water Culture (DWC) is an ideal hydroponic system for inexperienced marijuana growers due to its simple construction and low maintenance requirements. When setup properly, DWC systems provide reliable and cost-effective hydroponic solutions with larger and healthier yields. Each plant has its own reservoir or bucket full of the nutrient solution, with a container at the top containing the non-soil growing medium. The roots hang down into the solution below and the nutrient solution constantly circulates, providing the plants with the optimal amount of oxygen and nutrients. Additionally, DWC systems are easy to monitor, so you can easily detect any problems with the plants before they become too serious. With the right setup, Deep Water Culture can provide you with a reliable and rewarding hydroponic system.
– Suitable for inexperienced marijuana growers
– Low maintenance and cost-effective
– Nutrient solution constantly circulates providing optimal oxygen and nutrients
– Produces larger and healthier yields
– Easy to monitor, so you can detect problems with plants early
– Reliable and rewarding hydroponic system when setup properly
Pros of growing marijuana with DWC:
- Easy to DIY
- Inexpensive to Set-Up
- Fast Growth
- Large Yields
- Few Pest Problems
Cons of a DWC hydro system:
- Potential for Leaks, System Failures
- Cleaning After Each Grow
- Replacing/Cleaning Growing Medium
Nutrient Film Technique (NFT) Hydroponic System
NFT (Nutrient Film Technique) is a popular system among large commercial grows as it provides the roots of plants with the necessary oxygen and nutrients for optimal growth. The set-up consists of long channels with net pots to hold the plants, and a collar to protect the exposed root mass from light. A thin film of nutrient solution is constantly pumped through the bottom of the chamber, giving the plants all the water and nutrients they need while ensuring they never lack oxygen. It can be a bit complicated to install and maintain for small-scale cultivators, but it is worth the effort for its many benefits.
-Provides oxygen to the roots
-Allows for maximum nutrient absorption
-Gives plants all the water and nutrients they need
-Very efficient and effective
-Popular among large commercial grows
Pros of growing marijuana with NFT:
Cons of an NFT hydro system:
Drip Irrigation Systems
Drip irrigation systems are an efficient and easy way to provide your plants with the nutrient solution they need. With this system, a regulated flow of the solution is fed directly to the plants from the top down. It can be used with both soil and hydroponic mediums, making it a great option for any type of gardening.
– Reduced water usage
– Less time spent weeding
– Improved germination rates
– A minimized need for fertilizers and pesticides
Pros of growing marijuana with Drip Irrigation:
- Water Efficient
- Less Chemical Nutrient Residue in the Environment
- No Wasted Nutrients
- Grow More Plants in Less Space
Cons of a Drip Irrigation hydro system:
- Blockages in Drip Emitters
- Time-Consuming Set-Up
- Use a Lot of Media
Ebb and Flow Grow Systems
The Ebb and Flow system is an ideal choice for amateur gardeners who want a low-maintenance system for growing plants. Plants are placed in net pots filled with Rockwool or another hydroponic growing medium and placed in a tray filled with nutrient solution. A timed pump periodically floods the base of the tray from a reservoir, and when the pump stops, the solution drains back down the same tube. To avoid flooding, an overflow pipe is fitted in the tray, just below the base of the plant stem, which returns the nutrient solution to the reservoir. It is important to keep your growing area higher than the reservoir; that way, if the pump is accidentally left on or off, the solution will still drain back to the reservoir and you can avoid flooding.
– Ebb and Flow system is ideal for amateur gardeners
– Plants are placed in net pots filled with Rockwool or another hydroponic growing medium
– Tray is filled with nutrient solution
– Timed pump periodically floods solution from reservoir
– Overflow pipe prevents flooding by returning solution to reservoir
– Growing area should always be higher than reservoir
Timings for watering vary according to the size and strain of your plants. A good starting point would be to flood the growing tray for 15 minutes, 3 to 4 times during the plant’s daylight cycle.
Pros of growing marijuana with Ebb and Flow:
- You Can Reuse Nutrient Solution
- Easy to Build
- Easy to Maintain
- Inexpensive to Build
- Can Use Any Medium
Cons of an Ebb and Flow hydro system:
- Height Restriction on Plants Due to Size of Reservoir and Tray
- Salts and Minerals Can Build up in the Growing Medium
- Need Additional Source of Nutrients for Small Plants
- The flood height might not reach the roots of small/young plants. You may have to supplement with drip irrigation at first.
Wick Hydroponic Systems
The wick system is a passive growing method that requires no pumps to move the water, although one may be necessary to keep the nutrient solution aerated. This technique works by using the force of capillary action to pull the nutrient solution up to the plant through the wick (typically thick acrylic cord). The plant then absorbs only the amount of liquid it requires, by burying the top end of the wick in the growing medium and having the bottom end submerged in the nutrient solution reservoir. This is an efficient, low-maintenance way of delivering nutrients to your plants!
Wick grow systems are ideal for beginners as there is no way to overwater the plants and no chance of leaks or floods as the main reservoir sits below the plants.
Pros of growing marijuana with Wick Systems:
- Impossible to Overwater
- No Wasted Nutrients
- Simple to Build
Cons of a Wick hydro system:
- Requires Grow Medium
- Can Result in Build Up of Salts
- Large Plants Need More Wicks to Get Enough Water
Choosing the Best Hydroponics System for Grow
Only you can decide which hydro set-up is the best for your grow. It depends on a lot of factors:
- how much money do you want to spend?
- Are you handy?
- What strain will you grow?
- How much work do you want to put in on a daily basis?
- Try a DIY Hydroponics System
Growing marijuana indoors using a hydroponic system is very rewarding.