We all love to add some green in our life. Having plants around not only enhances the beauty of the surroundings, it is also great for our mental and physical well-being. If you want to have a cute hydroponic garden in the corner of your living room, go for it.
Hydronics, in a nutshell, is the method of growing plants in a nutrient solution. It is a gardening method that does not require soil. The word literally translates to Hydro=water and ponos=labor. Growing media like vermiculite, perlite, and coconut coir are widely used in hydroponics.
There are different hydroponic systems that you can use to grow your plants. Not every system works for everybody. Each system has its own pros and cons.
Some systems are more complex than the other. We will describe all the major types of hydroponic systems and the advantages and disadvantages of each.
Types of Hydroponic Systems
The major seven types of hydroponic system are listed below in no particular order:
- Wick System
- Kratky method
- EBB and Flow (Flood and Drain)
- Deep water culture (DWC)
- Nutrient Film Technique (NFT)
- Drip system
1. The Kratky Method
This is the most basic hydroponic system. You can hardly even call it a proper hydronic system, but the truth is it covers all the principles of hydroponic gardening.
It is extremely simple for all the beginners who just want to experiment with growing plants using hydroponic system. For this particular method, you just need a tank or a jar with your nutrient solution.
The roots of the plant are simply dipped into the solution with its areal part outside the tank. Please make sur that the stem and the leaves of the plant are outside the container getting their oxygen from the air.
You can do it in any container having a narrow neck. For example, a vase will do just fine. Sweet potatoes can be grown in vases using Kratky method. It is the most simple way of growing plants.
Obviously, it has its limitations. You can grow only certain kind of plants using this method. It is used for growing plants in small containers to place them on the kitchen shelf etc.
2. The Wick Hydroponic System
As the name tells you, the wick system depends on a wick. It requires a grow tank, one or more wicks, a reservoir, and a growing medium like coconut coir, expanded clay etc.
It is a straightforward procedure in which you do not require a water pump. The wicks can be ropes or any spongy material. What you need to do is you simply dip the wicks into the reservoir and the other ends into the grow tank.
Fill the grow tank with the solution and make sure the tips of the wicks are merged into the solution. Pour the growing medium in the tank and there you go.
Plant whatever you want to plant in it. The mechanism behind the wick hydroponic system is capillary action. The water will regulate itself and constantly spread from where there is more to where there is less.
The wicking system is good because the nutrients are the water are well transported and distributed. Perlite, vermiculite, and coconut coir are top choices for growing media in the wick hydroponic system.
The hack that can make the wick system very efficient is to place the grow tank on top of the reservoir and drill a hole in the bottom.
In this way, the excess solution in the tank will get recycled and you would not have to worry about stagnant water or bad smell.
3. Deep Water Culture
The name itself explains the principle of the method. The plants are grown in a tank filled with water and growth media. It is a very old method that is appreciated by many because it very easy.
In this system, you have a reservoir or a tank with your nutrient solution in it. The roots of your plant are dipped in the solution.
An air pump is used to provide oxygen to the roots. The air pump is used with an air stone so that your plants do not drown in the water.
The roots get proper nutrients and oxygen because they are dipped into the tank. The plants are placed in net pots and growing media is added in the net pots. This provides a steady supply of nutrients and water to the roots of your plants.
Deep water culture system allows you to grow more than one plant and it is better than the wick system. Like any other hydroponic system, this hydroponic system has its benefits and drawbacks.
4. Ebb and Flow (Flood & Drain)
You might not hear a lot about this process, but it is still efficient. The ebb and flow system offers a solution to the major problems you faced with the deep water culture system or the wick system.
The roots of your plants are not continuously dipped in water and nutrient solution in the Ebb and Flow system. Plants grow in a tray filled with growth medium.
The nutrient solution is poured in the tray few times a day. This allows your roots to get the nutrients and have the time to breathe and get aeration.
This way the roots get irrigated without being in water all the time. The equipment you need for Ebb and Flow system is simple yet more complex than the above-mentioned methods. You need a reservoir, a grow tank, an air pump, a timer, and pipes to transport the nutrient solution to and from the grow tank.
Using a growing medium is option in this hydroponic system. It is said to improve the entire set up if you use the growing medium, but you can work without it.
The ingredients get mixed in the reservoir and the timer will help you know when it is time to pump the solution into the grow tank and when to drain it. Five minutes is the minimum irrigation phase, but it all depends on facts like temperature, plant size, water requirements of the plants etc.
5. Drip System
Drip systems are common in commercial use as they provide great aeration and nutrient supply. The concept behind the drip system is to use hoses, pipes, and growing medium.
The nutrient solution is given to the plants using hoses and pipes. As pipes and hoses are flexible and economical, it is effortless to irrigate your plants using them.
It is a very convenient method to use at a large scale. The nutrient solution is used efficiently in drip system. Usually, irrigation is done in cycles so you will need a timer.
The other things you will need to set up drip system is an air pump, pipes and hoses, water pump, a reservoir, and growing medium.
This system works in two ways. Either you continuously irrigate our plants through dripping with proportionate amounts of nutrient solution or you opt for long irrigation cycles.
The choice depends on the type of plant, its requirements, the climate etc.
6. Nutrient Film Technique
Nutrient Film Technique works by providing a film of solution at the bottom of a very deep tank.
The idea behind it is to provide nutrients and water to the lower part of the root and aeration to the upper part of the roots.
There is no growing medium used in the nutrient film technique. You can say air is the only growing medium.
In NFT, there is a growing tray in which plants are grown. The tray is supplied with nutrient solution from the reservoir through a tube. The nutrient solution after flooding the plants gets drained into the reservoir.
There is also an air pump with an air stone to provide proper aeration. Plants are placed in net or plastic pots and the roots hang into the tank to get the supply of nutrients.
It is highly effective as the nutrient solution gets recycled in this hydroponic system.
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We know the name sounds straight out of a science fiction movie and you might think it is an advanced system. The truth is it has been around for a long time.
It is actually very high tech but the concept behind it is simple. There is an aeroponic chamber in which you grow your plants.
The aeroponic chamber contains a nutrient pump. The nutrient solution is sprayed on to the roots of the plants hanging in the air.
If they do not get sprayed after short periods of time, they get dry so you need a timer. There are two types of pressure systems used in aeroponics.
There is High Pressure System and Low Pressure System. In high pressure system the roots get irrigated after every five seconds to five minutes.
Growth medium is not used in this hydroponic system. It is relatively more efficient than all other systems depending on your requirements.