Ebb & Flow Grow Systems


The ebb and flow system is sometimes called a flood and drain system because the plants are watered by alternately flooding and draining the growing media with nutrient solution. This hydroponic method accommodates different types of growing media and plants.

System Design

The two main components of ebb and flow systems are the nutrient reservoir and the growing table. The plants may be planted directly into the growing table or in pots on the growing table.

Automated System

In a hand-watered system, the gardener fills and drains the flood table by hand several times a day on a regular schedule. Automated systems use a timer and pump to control the watering schedule.

Media Based System

Ebb and flow hydroponic grow systems are media-based systems. The plants are placed in a soilless growing medium that supports them and retains moisture and nutrients.


The ebb and flow system works well for most plants. The amount of water and nutrients can be adjusted, along with the growing medium, to fit the plants needs.


The main drawback to the ebb and flow system is that it relies on regular watering. If a pump breaks down, power goes out or the gardener forgets to water on time, the plant roots quickly dry out.


  • Simply Hydroponics: Basic Hydroponic Systems and How They Work
Keywords: ebb and flow, flood and drain, hydroponic systems

About this Author

Diane Watkins has been writing since 1984, with experience in newspaper, newsletter and web content. She writes two electronic newsletters and content around the web. Watkins has a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry from Clemson University. She has taken graduate courses in biochemistry and education.

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