Hydroponic Weed: What Is It?
If you consider yourself au courant to the world of growing weed, you’ve likely heard endlessly about hydroponic weed. Cannabis growers can deliberate between growing cannabis in soil or through hydroponics. There are a variety of differences between the two and with that, differing pros and cons. Most cannabis connoisseurs are very familiar with the ins and outs of cannabis soil growth. Hydroponic growth has started to become more well-known across the cannabis growing market as an optimal alternative to cannabis
Peaked your interest? Read on for our guide on the pros and cons of hydroponic weed and why it could be the ideal way to grow your weed.
What Is A Hydroponic Weed System?
and hydroponics is the system of growing cannabis soil-free. Instead of utilizing natural soil and nutrients, the hydroponic system involves developing its own nutrients through a cannabis growth process. Essentially, hydroponic growth systems have the cannabis plant grow in a water system or in a coco coir
, which is a growth medium for weed that provides the benefits of growing soil-free, including less pests and expedited growth. The hydro process is far less likely to attract bugs. However, it can also expose the roots to some damage if the water pump fails or the system is drained of water.
Hydroponic growth can also require more maintenance than soil-growth. The reason is because more mistakes can occur such as a lack of water for the plants or changes in the pH levels which can harm the crops. That’s why it’s critical for new hydroponic cannabis growers to embark on this new process as a beginner to prevent the likelihood of crop failure.
What Are The Pros and Cons Of The Hydroponic Weed Growth System?
With any growth system, there will be incredible advantages as well as limitations and challenges. With the hydroponic weed growth operation, some hydro growers consider hydroponics to be the superior cannabis development method. Hydro growers claim that because the grower has more outright control of the nutrient process, the system accelerates cannabis growth and even makes the flavour of the flower more plentiful. Here are the pros and cons of hydroponic weed growth:
Pros Of Hydroponic Weed Growth
- Cannabis plants in hydroponic systems often grow at a much quicker rate in their vegetative state than soil-grown weed
- Hydroponic systems are far less likely to attract pests than soil
- The buds of hydro grown cannabis plants can feel more potent
- If you’re growing your hydroponic weed in a reservoir, you do not need to worry about watering the plants when they dry out, over watering them or removing runoff water
- Growing in a reservoir system, you may be able to use a far more efficient amount of nutrients and only rid of old water after the weed plants have consumed most of the nutrients
- Hydro growers may have more control over the plant’s nutrient levels, PPM and pH than soil-growers
Cons Of Hydroponic Weed Growth
- Hydroponic weed systems can be more time-consuming and require more detailed set-up effort than soil-growth systems
- Hydro grown buds develop without additional nutrients and thus may have a less strong weed smell than naturally, soil-grown cannabis
- If you fail to protect the roots of the plants effectively with the appropriate supplements and equipment, the cannabis plants can rot at the root
What Are The Different Kinds Of Hydroponic Growth Systems?
There are a number of different hydroponic weed growth systems with their own advantages and drawbacks. The setups for hydro growth are designed to deliver nutrients to the plants as a substitute for natural plant nutrients found in soil. The hydro nutrients are applied to the hydroponic system via active and passive methods.
The passive hydro method involves the use of a medium. The medium is essentially a soil substitute which holds the nutrients, water and oxygen to support plant growth.
Active hydro method growth is slightly more meticulous. The hydro grower will have to play a more active role in the entire growth process. They apply the nutrients and recycle them. You can also have a non-recycled hydro system but these setups are considered dangerous to the environment.
Intermediate Growth Difficulty: Drip System Or Top Feed
The drip system is arguably the most common setup system for hydroponic weed growers. This is due to the fact that it is swift and rather straightforward. Each plant will receive the same amount of nutrients. These hydro nutrients are deposited via a spaghetti tube drip mechanism inserted into the top of the pot.
The plant roots will have these nutrients delivered based on a timer from the submerged pump and any excess nutrients will not continue to be absorbed by the plant root or leaves which allows the nutrients to be reused at another time. The drip system requires more frequent maintenance due to noteworthy shifts in the plant pH and strength of the nutrients.
Advanced Growth Difficulty: Nutrient Film Technique
The Nutrient Film Technique (NFT) involves the cannabis being planted with netpots into a rockwool type medium. The netpots sit at the top on an angled channel, usually made up of PVC pipe to allow the nutrients to be administered in one direction. The roots of the plant will flow down to the rockwool and the netpots into one angled channel so the nutrients are poured over while excess nutrients flow into a reservoir for recycling. NFT offers the cannabis plants a consistent flow of nutrient solution pumped directly into the grow tray, over the roots and back into the reservoir.
The NFT does not require a timer as the system has a submersible pump. The growing medium, made up primarily of air, can be highly susceptible to pump damage or failure, power outages or other incidents that cause the plant roots to dry out. It’s also just as important for the hydro growers to ensure the plant roots are protected from sunlight exposure. Primarily experienced hydro growers will opt for the NFT medium as the process is difficult to maintain and requires ample fine tuning.
Beginner Growth Difficulty: Ebb and Flow System
The Ebb and Flow hydroponic system functions by flooding the grow tray with ample nutrients to drain back into the reservoir. The system utilizes a timer to operate the setup’s submerged pump and make it susceptible to pump damage, failures and power outages. This is considered a beginner system because of how easy it is to maintain.
The Ebb and Flow has a reservoir that is drained several times a day and filled back up. This allows the plant’s nutrients to absorb the nutrients as well as the oxygen. Individual pots filled with the medium are placed onto a growing table filled with about one to four inches of nutrient solution.
This system required heavier mediums as the plant pots need to sit in a solution with stability. Rockwool may be the best medium in this case. The system relies on proper timing for nutrient administration. If there is timer damage, the roots of the plants will be negatively affected. That’s why it is so vital that the pump system is operating infallibly at all times and the tray is not flooded with nutrients for more than a half hour.
Beginner Growth Difficulty: Deep Water Culture
This hydroponics growth system involves the nutrient solution hanging below the plants. An air pump is used to release air to the air stone which discharges nutrients to the plant’s roots to provide it with oxygen. The weed plants are placed in a small pot, then to a larger pot and suspended to ensure it is not touching the inside of the larger pot. The cannabis plant then dangles, which helps the roots grow through the bottom of the small pot into the larger pot and soak in the nutrient solution. Most Deep Water Culture growers keep an air stone administered with oxygen into the nutrients at all times.
When you choose this method, it’s important to allow suitable dry time for the roots to ensure they are not always submerged in water and restricted from oxygen.
Beginner Growth Difficulty: Wick System
The wick hydroponic system requires no moving parts and is considered quite simple to set up and implement. As a relatively hassle-free method, the system involves the grow tray receiving nutrients through the wick. Made up of either cotton or yarn, the wick transfers its nutrient solution to the cannabis roots. Smaller plants should be grown using this system as larger plants will need more water supply and nutrient solution. Although this system is the easiest, it is considered less efficient and could result in insufficient levels of oxygen.
What Are The Hydroponic Weed Mediums?
Media are soil substitutes used in hydroponics. The hydroponic weed growth system is made up of a variety of substance types which can be placed in the pot to hold oxygen, nutrient solutions and water. The mediums are inert, which means that they do not react with the nutrient solution to impact the plant’s roots. Some of the growing mediums, including rockwool, gravel and perlite help the plant grow and react to the nutrient solution. Let’s take a look at the hydroponic weed mediums:
Air can be a highly effective hydroponic medium as the roots require significant amounts of oxygen for it to grow effectively. However, the air medium requires consistent humidity to prevent root dry out. Air is most often used in aeroponic systems as well as the NFT system.
Water naturally is not the most ideal medium for growth. However, with the DWC system, water can be a useful medium. Hydroponic growers just need to remember that water must be aerated with a pump or air stone so the roots of the plants have sufficient oxygen.
Rockwool medium is extremely popular for hydroponic weed growth. The medium holds water and air easily and is a stable medium for the plant roots to be held in. The disadvantage of rockwool is that the pH of the plant is high so it may require more meticulous maintenance and balancing.
Expanded clay or hydroclay are small, round clay pellets with small holds to contain the nutrients and air. Considered an excellent medium, the cannabis plant roots will tangle by harvest time. The hydroclay is also a reusable medium which can be sterilized by soaking it in water and hydrogen peroxide.
The perlite medium is constructed from volcanic glass or sand. The medium holds air and nutrient solution, is very light and does not buffer much as it cannot hold onto the nutrient solution for an extended period of time. This material is quite fragile and can wear down after use making it a great medium for inert and non-inert hydro growth systems.
The vermiculite medium holds water extremely well and is recommended for growers that want to plant cannabis clones to root. The material has Silicon, Magnesium, Aluminum and Phosphorus traces. However, it’s generally advised to avoid construction grade vermiculite as it contains harmful toxins to your cannabis plant.
- Nebula Haze, How To Grow Hydroponic Cannabis At Home. 2021. Available at: https://www.growweedeasy.com/how-to-grow-hydroponic-cannabis-at-home.
- Nebula Haze, How To Grow Cannabis In Coco Coir. 2021. Available at: https://www.growweedeasy.com/coco-coir.