One of the most interesting ways to grow cannabis is to use hydroponics. This method is all about growing plants in a soilless medium. Aside from marijuana, you can also grow vegetables, herbs and other plants in hydroponics. If you are interested then you might be looking for how to grow high-quality cannabis in hydroponics. And it does not matter if you are growing recreational or medicinal strains, this guide can help you start your own hydroponics setup at home.
Maximum Yields says “an ounce of prevention equals a pound of cure” especially when dealing with cannabis. You may have heard of this adage before but it is still something to think of when growing marijuana. If enough attention to detail is taken during the setup phase of a hydroponic grow operation, then the chances for a successful crop greatly increase.
Growers and breeders use a variety of time-tested techniques to grow more and more yields. Some growers use a special soil when starting marijuana seeds while some use a different fertilizer or nutrients on their plants. However, some agree that the most important way to grow plants is to keep in mind how nutrients and oxygen are delivered to the plant. This is why more and more growers prefer to use a hydroponics system.
What is hydroponics?
Hydroponics is a method of growing top quality seeds with a special system that expose the roots of the plants directly to the nutrients it needs. Hydroponic plants are grown in a soilless environment and are mostly suspended in a nutrient-rich medium. Nutrients used are mostly specific to the plants’ growth. These are fed through the roots and oxygen is provided using an air pump.
There are many types of hydroponic systems. There are simple and complex systems. A simple hydroponics set up could be simply hand watering pots with an inert medium using a nutrient solution. Complex and sophisticated, homemade systems may have a number of pumps, a reservoir, timers, and lights. All these will reduce the daily maintenance of the hydroponic system.
Keep in mind before using a hydroponic system
- You must have enough space to build a hydroponics system on. Because there are different hydroponics design, consider that the amount of space you need to allot depends on the type o and size of setup you want to build and the number of plants you want to grow.
- You should have basic knowledge of how a hydroponics system works and how to maintain it. If you need further training to construct complex systems, do so.
- You must have money to spend on a hydroponics setup. Basic systems can be very cheap while complex ones are very expensive. The cost of the setup includes all the necessary equipment including air pumps, lights, and growing space.
- You must have cannabis seeds which will grow well in a hydroponics system
- You must allot enough time to set the system up. While most hydroponics systems may be fully automatic, you still have to provide at least half a day of maintenance a week to completely maintain your system.
Setting up a hydroponics system
There are many kinds of hydroponics set up and each one has specific supplies and equipment needed. The following are what you need to create a basic hydroponics setup:
- 3 or 5-gallon bucket; you need one bucket for each plant
- Grow table
- Clay pellets; the number of pellets should be enough to fill each bucket
- Rockwool cubes (one 1.5-inch starter plug per plant)
- Reservoir tank
- Water pump
- Air pump
- Air stone
- Plastic tubing
- Drip line
- Drip line emitters; use one or two for each plant
- Construct your hydroponics reservoir.
The hydroponics reservoir is where you will place the nutrient-rich solution. You can make a large or a small reservoir depending on the number of plants and the amount of space you have for your hydroponics setup. The reservoir holds the growing area and the water pump and an air stone. The air pump is connected to an airstone using a simple line. There is also another drainage line coming from the grow table. The reservoir has a line out from the water pump to the drip line while the water pump has a power cord which should be connected to a power outlet.
- Construct your grow table.
Your grow table will hold the excess water coming from the plants. Water will be pumped into the reservoir. The table should have a low section where all the excess water will remain. This low point on the table is where the drain will be placed. The drain will remove water and take it back to the reservoir with the use of a plastic tube.
- Add your 5-gallon buckets with clay pellets.
You can now place your buckets with clay pellets but before doing so, your clay pellets should be soaked overnight so that it will be saturated with water. Create holes at the bottom of the 5-gallon buckets using a small drill. The holes that you will make should be smaller than the clay pellets to prevent the pellets from moving into the holes and causing a clog.
- Run the plastic tube from the water pump to the growing
Take the drip line and create holes in the plastic tubing and extend this to reach the bucket. Afterwards, attach the drip line emitters to the end of the lines.
- Test your system.
Now that you have connected the system, it’s time to test it. Run it without the plants to check if the system is functioning well. You can tell that the system is running smoothly when there is no standing water. The air pump should keep water in the reservoir oxygenated and moving. The 5-gallon buckets and grow table should drain any excess water back to the reservoir.
- Create a nutrient water solution in the reservoir.
Combine a specific amount of nutrients and water to create a good water-rich medium. Once your solution is ready to place your plants inside the system. Take the plants or clones grown in rock wool into the clay pellets. Place the drip line so that the water is at the rock wool as well as the plant roots.
What nutrients do you need for growing cannabis in hydroponics?
The most important nutrients your growing plants need are Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P), and Potassium (K). Other secondary micronutrients like Boron, Calcium, Copper, Iron, Magnesium, Sulfur, and Zinc are also needed but not as important as the three.
It is now easy to create nutrient-rich water for a hydroponic solution. Most of the time, nitrogen-rich nutrient solutions are used during the vegetative stage and phosphorus-rich nutrients are used at the flowering phase.
There are pre-mixed nutrient products available. Nutrients in powder form are cheaper however, growers still prefer to use liquid, pre-mixed nutrients especially if you growing cannabis in hydroponics the first time. When you are mixing nutrients, take a few measurements to ensure that your solution is safe for your plants to use.
Caring for Cannabis Grown With Hydroponics vs. Soil
Using hydroponics is different from growing cannabis in the soil. Always consider your plant’s support. Compared to plants that are cultivated soil, hydroponic plants are vulnerable to breaking or tipping. Using a trellis can prevent any breaking or tipping. This will also let you train your plants using low-stress techniques like the screen of green method, the sea of the green method and using tendrils.
You must also consider pruning your plants. In hydroponics, cannabis plants will be able to grow extremely fast therefore you must be patient when pruning your plants. Remove all the foliage from the bottom of the plant. Consider topping your plant before it is switched to the flowering stage. Prune top colas or the large, topmost buds allow all the energy coming from lighting that your plants will need to grow healthy and strong. Whether you are using an indoor or outdoor hydroponic system you must maintain strong artificial or natural lighting.
Growing hydroponically will let you invest time, money and effort in creating and developing your system. Before you actually starting your hydroponics garden make sure your system works well and you are using only the best nutrients so that your plants will grow healthy and strong. After you are comfortable with using hydroponics, you will be ready to grow the most fruitful cannabis plants and yields.
Hydroponics may be new to you or you have never tried using hydroponics before then this could be the best time to do it. You can grow in soil as well as in hydro and find out the ideal plants that will grow healthy and better yielding come harvest time. Starting marijuana seeds using a hydroponic system may be the ideal growing setup you need to improve your yields.