Those who love plants want their house to be an ecosystem. They want to have enough potted plants to give their indoors a fresh boost of oxygen. However, bringing plants home can be a nightmare, especially in a house with pets and children.
Does your dog like digging and peeing on your potted plant? Is your cat using it as a litter box? Does your toddler play with the soil and make the entire house a muddy mess?
If you face any of the above situations, consider growing plants without soil by using a hydroponic system!
Why Grow Plants Hydroponically?
Most people think that plants can’t grow without soil. In reality, plants mostly need water, sunlight, and nutrients to grow. They also need something to uphold their structure and keep them upright. Soil does that for them while also giving them access to nutrients.
The word hydroponic means ‘water-work’ in Greek. Hydroponic gardening eliminates the use of soil and grows plants solely in water.
The water used for the hydroponic system is enriched with nutrients to provide plants with the essential nutrition they need for growth. Since water helps roots absorb these nutrients quicker, the plants grow faster and look healthier.
Using a hydroponic system to grow plants is a great way to avoid bringing soil into your house. It also reduces the chance of harboring insects in your plant pot. If you have no prior knowledge or experience, consider buying a hydroponic system for beginners.
Types of Hydroponic Systems
Ever heard of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon? They are one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Did you know that these gardens were one of the first places where a hydroponic system was used?
Hydroponic systems have evolved drastically since. Here are seven new systems that are used to grow plants hydroponically.
1. Smart Indoor Hydroponic System
Most people don’t use hydroponic systems because they think it’s complicated. The process and equipment scare them off. However, if you are looking for a solution that is easy and low maintenance, consider using a smart indoor hydroponic system.
These are very eco-friendly as you won’t need to use any pesticides. You will be using less water and fertilizers, which reduces your carbon footprint. A smart indoor hydroponic system is undemanding and easy to use. Some require you to change the water only once a month!
Some of these smart machines come with a light source, AI control, automatic plant state analysis, and many other cool features.
This means now you can have that kitchen herb garden you always wanted, without worrying about the extra time and effort!
2. The Kratky Method
The Kratky method is one of the most basic methods of growing plants hydroponically. It is simple, easy, and requires very few components.
You fill a jar or any container with a nutrient-rich solution and place your plant in it.
Make sure that the only part touching the solution are the roots, as the stem and leaves will rot if they stay in constant contact with water. You need to provide enough support to keep the plant upright so that the other parts remain out of the solution.
Your plant feeding solution must stay nutrient-rich, so you must check its content every once in a while using a TDS or EC meter.
3. The Wick System
The wick system is another simple yet clever method of growing plants hydroponically. You need very few items to make this system and setting it up requires simple steps.
- Fill up a reservoir, jar, or tank with a nutrient-rich solution. With this system, the roots don’t come in direct contact with the nutrient solution. Place the plants in a grow tray that can either support their structure or is filled with a medium that holds them up.
- Place this plant tray above the water reservoir. You need one or a few wicks or ropes made of materials like cotton, wool, felt, or nylon. One end of the wick needs to be in contact with the roots.
- Dip the other end into the tank. The only connection between the solution tank and the plant would be the wick. The wicks soak up the solution and the roots suck it out from them slowly, according to their feeding need.
- A pump may or may not be used in the solution tank to keep the water moving so that the nutrient is well spread out.
4. Deep Water Culture
Very similar to the Kratky method, deep water culture is simply a level up from it. The only thing different here is adding an air pump to the process. You can use any fish tank air pump for this system.
Let’s say you want to grow an indoor herb garden. You need a tank, which you will fill with the nutrient solution. Place your herb plants in a planting tray with the roots drooping into the solution tank.
You need to place the air stone of the pump at the bottom of the tank to provide the air bubbles which will carry oxygen to the root.
5. The Ebb And Flow System
One of the more difficult hydroponic systems, the Ebb and Flow method has a water pumping cycle. This is how it works:
- You need two tanks for this system. You put the solution in one and place the planting tray on top of the other. The plant is kept upright using a growing medium like rocks in the planting tray.
- The water pump floods the planting tray with water when you want to feed your plants. Then, the water is recycled back into the nutrient solution.
- Depending on your plant’s needs, you have to restart the cycle as frequently as every hour or every three hours. You must wait for all the water to drain out before restarting the cycle.
- Most people find it easier to use pipes for the planting tray, especially when mass-growing things like fruits, vegetables, and herbs.
- This is not recommended for your indoor plants as it is complicated and requires more attention than the rest. However, if you plan on creating a large greenhouse at home, this system will work out perfectly for you.
6. The Drip System
A hydroponic drip system is complex. But, if you get a kit that provides all the necessities, you can set one up quickly. Simply follow the manual and you’d be good to go. This system needs almost zero maintenance, save for changing the water every now and then.
Similar to other systems, you need a planting tray where you use any structure media to keep your plants upright. Below the tray is a tank of nutrient-rich water. A pump drips water into the tray using pipes, which feed your plants.
Most kits come with all the necessary items, including an automatic timer that feeds the plants according to schedule. You do need electricity for it, but the lack of maintenance required makes it quite appealing. You may or may not need to provide a light source, depending on the kit.
7. Nutrient Film Technique
The Nutrient Film Technique or NFT is another complicated hydroponic system that is not recommended for indoor use. It combines the components of the Ebb and Flow method, with some minor changes.
For starters, it needs a water pump like the Ebb and Flow technique that brings the water to the tank holding the planting tray. But, this upper tank stays tilted so that the solution comes in and slowly drains back to the solution tank.
The roots are left hanging below the planting tray and come in contact with the ‘nutrient film’ that is created during the flow period. The roots take in as much as they need, without having to stay completely soaked in the solution.
Aeroponics is a hydroponic system that uses both air and water to feed plants. This system is slightly simpler than a few of the others we mentioned but still requires a water pump to create the solution mist.
A simple version of an Aeroponics will need one tank for the nutrient solution, a water pump, pipes, and a mist head that turns the water into mist. The plants need to be placed on a growing tray above this tank with the roots hanging below, without touching the water.
The head sprays the mist onto the root for a few seconds every five minutes, but this depends on what growth stage the plants are at.
You will also need a timer to regulate the system. This is a popular choice for many smart systems, so getting one will make your work much easier!
Plants You Can Grow Indoors Using Hydroponics
Here’s a list of plants that grow well with hydroponic systems.
- Leopard Lily
- Female Dragon
- Peace Lily
- English Ivy
- Money Tree
- Spider Plants
- Jasmine Vines
- Bell Peppers
- Japanese Melon
- Any Indoor Citrus
If you love plants and want to have an eco-friendly atmosphere inside your house, grow plants using hydroponic systems. Now that you know how to grow plants with hydroponics, try experimenting with a simple system. If that works out well for you, move on to more complex systems.
A hydroponic system will help plant lovers become even more loving of the environment and reduce their carbon footprint. If hydroponic methods feel too difficult to figure out, get a smart system that is easy to use and maintain!