From the Greek words hydro (water) and ponos (labor) come the growing method of hydroponics for avid gardeners and serious plant collectors. Hydroponics not only helps you completely control the way a plant grows, it also ensures crops are pure and nutrient-rich. Almost any plant can be grown with hydroponics, the easiest method for beginners or those without a lot of space or on a tight budget.
Obtain transplants or what you want to grow with the hydroponics system. Vegetables, herbs, decorative houseplants and fruits are ideal, particularly lettuce, peppers, orchids, tomatoes and berries.
Decide if you are using natural sunlight or grow lights. For smaller systems, position the hydroponics in a sunny corner of a house. Alternately, invest in grow lights for adequate exposure.
Pick a growing medium for your hydroponic system. The most common for crops and flowers is a cheaper multi-use growing medium, which will save you money. Hydroponic pebbles are common for large amounts of crops. For a one-time use medium, vemiculite is most common and durable. Choosing a medium depends on what you are growing. For example, lettuce and tomatoes work best with a multi-use medium, while onions grow best with pebbles.
Fill the system's nutrient reservoir with water and add the nutrient solution, following the package instructions.
Add the growing medium to the bin, filling as directed on the instructions and depending on the variety. Usually the medium is filled within about 2 inches of the riser extension (the top of the water level where the plant roots will be).
Carefully set the transplants on top of the growing medium, filling more medium around the roots and edges to make the plants more secure as they grow. Set up the pump to the circulation necessary for your plants.
Check on your hydroponic system every day and make sure to refill water that has evaporated. Flush out the system twice a month (every two weeks) with fresh nutrient and water solution.