How to Feed Hydroponics

Overview

Hydroponics is a system in which plants are grown without the use of soil. Hydroponic systems can be classified as one of three types of system: a bare root system in which the plant is supported from above and the roots hang in a liquid solution of water and nutrients; an aggregate system in which the plant is grown in a soil-less substrate; and an aeroponics system in which the plant's roots hang in the air of a sealed-off chamber and are constantly misted with a nutrient solution. The one thing all three of these have in common is the nutrient system.

Step 1

Test your water to see if it is hard by dropping soap into a glass of the water. Hard water contains minerals such as calcium that can affect the health of your plant. If the soap does not create suds after five drops, your water is hard.

Step 2

Add 1 tsp. baking soda per 5 gallons of water to soften the water. Do not add too much baking soda. This can cause a buildup of phosphates that can harm the plant.

Step 3

Mix pre-mixed nutrient solution into your water according to the directions on the package.

Step 4

Test the pH of the nutrient solution with a pH tester. If the pH of the nutrients is too high, lower it by mixing a small amount of sulfuric acid with the nutrient mixture.

Step 5

Flood the rooting chamber with the liquid nutrient solution. Soil-less substrate systems will require you to pour the solution into the soil-less chamber. For a tube system, inject the solution into the tubes that hold the roots. Areoponic systems require you to fill the reservoir in the sprinkler system with the solution.

Step 6

Test the pH of the water in the root system daily. The pH in most root systems will raise every two weeks. The pH surrounding larger plants will change weekly. Change the water and nutrients surrounding these plant roots as the pH rises.

Tips and Warnings

  • Don't use too many nutrients in your hydroponic system. Overfertilizing the plant can cause salt to build up and can harm the plant.

Things You'll Need

  • Hydroponics growing system such as a tray or tube system
  • Pre-mixed nutrient solution
  • Liquid soap
  • Baking soda
  • 5-gallon mixing bucket
  • pH tester
  • Sulfuric acid (battery acid)

References

  • History of Hydroponics
  • Growing Tomatoes Hydroponically
  • Hydroponics as a Hobby

Who Can Help

  • Progressive Garden Media Kit
  • Research: Hydroponics
  • Grower's Handbook
Keywords: hydroponic systems, agregate substrate, premixed nutrient solution

About this Author

After 10 years experience in writing, Tracy S. Morris has countless articles and two novels to her credit. Her work has appeared in national magazines and newspapers, including "Ferrets" and "CatFancy," as well as the "Lexington Herald Leader" and "The Tulsa World," and several websites.