The last piece of the puzzle for setting up the water tank is a pump timer. Choose one that’s super reliable and has good reviews, and invest in a backup if you can. It’s also a good idea to get an air stone to keep water moving while plants are being fed.
UKOKE Pump Timer
Super Reliable Timer
UKOKE 7-Day Pump Timer
Drip System Hydroponics
A drip hydroponic system works in a similar way to drip irrigation used for soil growing. A large tray table is filled with the growing medium of your choosing (clay pebbles work great) and the plants are placed directly in the medium.
Each plant is set up with its own drip pipe, where water will continuously be fed through at a slow pace from an external water tank that has a pump and air stone to keep things moving. As the water drips through the plants, all excess runoff will drip down from the medium into a wastewater tank.
Advantages of a Drip System for Cannabis
A lot of growers consider drip systems the best hydro option. It’s not necessarily the best for beginners since setting it up takes some work, but it’s really popular among commercial growers since it supports larger plants.
How to Build a Hydroponic Drip System
Although the setup is different, you’ll need all the same parts and pieces for a drip system as you would for an ebb and flow. These are the main steps if you want to grow hydroponically using a drip system:
- Set up tray table, growing media, plants, and water tank with pump.
- Make sure that the runoff is set up to go into a separate waste tank instead of draining back into the main tank.
- Add drip lines to the pump and plants. For optimal growth, you want at least 15% runoff (if 1-liter water gets dripped in, 0.15L should come out the bottom).
The best way to set this all up is to use a garden irrigation kit, which will usually come with everything you need except for maybe the tray table and grow medium.
Podoy Drip Irrigation Kit
Podoy Drip Irrigation Kit
Deep Water Culture
Like ebb and flow, installing a deep water culture hydroponics system is a great starting point for beginners. It’s a low maintenance system that’s relatively easy to set up, plus it’s usually the cheapest way to get a hydroponic system up and running.
In a DWC system, plants are permanently suspended in a water tank. To make sure the plants get enough oxygen, the water is aerated, usually just with a simple air stone connected to an external air pump.
How to Use a Deep Water Culture Hydroponics Kit
Setting this up is easy, especially if you buy a DWC hydroponics system kit. These kits usually come with everything you need, including the buckets, the medium, drain fillings, air stones, tubing, hoses, and air pump.
To use a hydroponics kit, just follow the instruction for setup. That’s the other cool part about buying a kit instead of all the pieces individually; you’re given a detailed instruction manual on how to set it up.
Best Deep Water Culture Hydroponics Kit
Out of all the deep water culture kits for growing cannabis, the best is the 4 Bucket System by Grow Buckets. It comes with literally everything you need to get started, including four 5-gallon buckets filled with clay pebbles.
DWC 4 Bucket Deep Water Grow Kit
Top Deep Water Kit
DWC Deep Water Grow Kit
Aeroponic hydroponic growing is less common, so we’ll keep this brief. With aeroponics, the plants don’t sit in a water solution at all. Instead, they hang suspended in the air with the roots completely exposed.
How Does Aeroponics Work?
Similar to other general hydroponics systems, aeroponic setups use a large water tank, but the roots aren’t actually submerged in the water. The water is filled only to about 25%, and the roots hang over the surface.
Beneath the water tank, there’s a pump that mists nutrient rich water up into the roots. The mist is fine and constantly going.
Plants are placed into the top of a large tank of water filling the bottom 25%. Under the water is a pump that sends water into misters underneath the root systems. This fine mist constantly sprays the roots, giving plants massive quantities of air and water simultaneously.
This is considered a futuristic way of growing hydroponic plants – definitely not a beginner-friendly method.
Best Nutrients for Hydroponic Cannabis
Choosing the right nutrients for hydroponic cannabis is a major part of a successful hydro grow op. First thing’s first, always make sure to choose nutes that are meant specifically for hydro, like the General Hydroponics Calimagic & Flora Gro Micro & Bloom Combo.
General Hydroponics Nutrient Bottle Combo
Popular Hydro Nutrients
General Hydroponics Nutrients
Some nutrients are meant only for soil growing, and mixing these up can turn your crop into a flop. This is because plants draw specific nutrients from the soil, things like boron, manganese, and zinc. For this reason, most hydro nutrients contain more micronutrients than found in soil-based nutes.
Compared to nutrients for soil growing, here are a few more things to look for when you choose a nutrient solution for healthy hydroponic plants:
- Higher levels of nitrogen – N is abundant in soil, but not so much in the water.
- Lower levels of phosphorus – P tends to be more available in hydroponic setups than in soil.
- No organic sources of nutrients – Hydro plants aren’t able to break down organic microorganisms, so there’s more of a risk of “bad” stuff growing when nutes contain organic stuff.
- More often made with chelated minerals – These are easier for hydroponic plant roots to absorb.
Caring for Hydroponic Weed Plants
Caring for your hydroponic plants takes work and a lot of attention to detail. By detail, we mean things like pH, nutrient levels, and regular tank cleanings. Below are a few of the most common questions about caring for plants in a hydroponic grow system.
What should my pH be for hydroponics?
If you think you know all about pH from your last soil grow op, think again. The pH levels in a hydro system should be lower than when you use soil as your growing medium.
You can usually get away with a pH anywhere between 6 and 7 for plants growing in soil, but for hydro, aim to keep the water pH between 5.5 and 6.5 (6 would be ideal).
To stay on top of pH, which needs to be checked every single day, you’ll definitely want to use a digital pH pen. Our favourite is the Bluelab BLU2300E Combo meter, which is easy to use and reads both pH and PPM.
Top pH and PPM Meters Comparison Table