Hydroponics consists of growing plants in a water solution, rather than soil. The water solution is usually fortified with nutrients from minerals and other fertilizers. The plants are often provided with a growing base for the roots to attach to throughout the stages of growth. There are several different types of hydroponic systems to choose from depending on the plant type. Seed germination is a necessary part of the growing process. The following is a discussion of considerations for seed germination in hydroponic settings.
Seed germination takes place when an embryonic plant takes in water and hydrates the nutrients, which then causes it to begin growing. However, for the seed to survive and grow into a healthy plant in a hydroponic setting, an optimal water temperature and oxygen level is necessary. The recommended temperature and oxygen amount varies between plant species, and should be researched on a plant-by-plant basis. Conduct planting in a clean environment to prevent contamination. The seed will eventually grow roots and a shoot as it matures.
Select a growing medium before starting to germinate seeds. There are several options to choose from depending on the variety of plant. Porous media, such as coconut coir, rockwool, lightweight expandable clay aggregate (LECA), perlite and vermiculite are best because they offer better drainage. Growing media like peat moss offer a place for the seeds to germinate and add nutrients at the same time.
The first few days of germination should take place in the dark. Once the plant begins to emerge from the seed, it is time to add light. An adequate light source is required for optimal growth. However, excess light can damage plants. Ultimately, plants need a cycle of light and darkness to survive.
Temperature and Humidity
One of the most important things a novice hydroponic plant gardener may not consider is the temperature at which they are germinating the seeds. It’s a common mistake to think that room temperature in a home is optimal for plants. However, just a few degrees up or down can make a huge impact on the outcome of the seed. The correct temperature will depend on the variety of plant. Consequently, it’s best to research specific conditions that are optimal for the particular species. Plants also need varying degrees of humidity, so be sure to check those specifications as well.
Even after all of the above factors are considered, there are supplies that can help to make hydroponic seed germination easier and increase the success rate. Germination machines can also help to produce larger quantities more easily than traditional methods. Germination machines have a capacity anywhere from 24 to hundreds of seeds.