How to Install and Maintain Hydroponics

Overview

Hydroponics is a method of growing plants that does not require soil to provide nutrients as the plants grow. Instead, in hydroponics, a solution containing the nutrients required for plant growth run along the roots of the plant, giving life without soil. Hydroponic systems can be installed in the home with little need for room, as the space requirements for a fully functioning system is less than traditional soil gardens. Soil-free systems can be installed on shelves, making it possible to have a vertical system tucked away in the corner of a spare room.

Nutrient Solution

Step 1

Choose the plants you wish to grow in your hydroponic system. This will determine what nutrient solution you will need to buy.

Step 2

Order your required nutrient solution online or from a garden center.

Step 3

Dilute your nutrient solution according to the label and test the solution's pH level to make sure the level is between 5 or 6. PH testing kits can be bought from fish or pool supply stores and some specialty garden centers.

Choose the System

Step 1

Choose an aeration system for the most simple installation. Aeration systems use an air bubbler to move the nutrient solution over the roots of your plants, which sit in foam that draws in the nutrient solution.

Step 2

Paint the inside of your fish tank black to prevent sunlight from ruining the nutrient solution.

Step 3

Cut a piece of foam large enough to sit at the top of the fish tank. Cut holes into the foam that will hold the plant you wish to grown.

Step 4

Place your air stones at the bottom of the fish tank and hook them up to your air bubbler. The air stones will move the solution throughout the tank.

Step 5

Fill the fish tank with your nutrient solution, leaving enough room for your foam at the top of the tank. Place your foam on top of the nutrient solution and place vermiculite into the holes in the foam to hold your plants in place.

Nutrient Upkeep

Step 1

Replace your nutrient solution every two weeks as the nutrients will be used up over this time.

Step 2

Fill the nutrient tank with water if the level of the nutrients evaporate. Nutrient solutions, as they evaporate, concentrate to the point where the roots of your plants may burn. Do not add more nutrient solution; instead, dilute with water.

Step 3

Look for discoloring in your plants, as some nutrients may be used up quicker than others. Spray the leaves of your plants with an all-purpose foliar fertilizer. Change your nutrient solution every week if this continues.

Things You'll Need

  • Nutrient solution
  • Air bubbler
  • Foam
  • Fish tank
  • Black paint
  • 2 air stones
  • Vermiculite

References

  • Arizona University: Six Systems That You Can Build
  • Virginia Cooperative Extension: Home Hydroponics
Keywords: hydroponic design, hydroponics system, hydroponics maintenance

About this Author

Cleveland Van Cecil is a freelancer writer specializing in technology. He has been a freelance writer for three years and has published extensively on eHow.com, writing articles on subjects as diverse as boat motors and hydroponic gardening. Van Cecil has a Bachelor of Arts in liberal arts from Baldwin-Wallace College.