Are you a budding cannabis connoisseur who’d like to treat your friends to some “homegrown?” Hydroponic growing is likely the best way to go if you’re cultivating cannabis at home.
But like any DIY project, you must prepare to do it correctly and safely because dangers and potential pitfalls abound. The last thing you want to do is get your friends sick with flower that has unsafe levels of powdery mildew, yeast, or mold.
Why is hydroponic growing the best method for cannabis? And what tools do you need to grow cannabis correctly with your hydroponic setup? Read on to find out the essentials.
What Does Growing Hydroponically Mean?
Hydroponic plants are grown with no soil. Rather, these plants depend on a light-growing medium. Growing media are essentially porous, fibrous substances that may look like soil but don’t actually provide any nutrients. These substances support each plant’s roots and help the plant better absorb nutrients like phosphorus, nitrogen, and calcium through enriched water.
Rockwool, lightweight expanded clay aggregate and coconut fiber are among the most popular growing media, according to the plant experts at Everest Fernandez.
Exposure to light and oxygen allows the plants to grow without planting a seed in soil.
Why use a hydroponic system to grow plants like cannabis?
According to the U.S. National Park Service, using the hydroponic method is “a better way to grow food” for multiple reasons:
- Bigger yields
- Less water use
- Smaller footprint
- Year-round growth
As water use becomes a more heated issue in the U.S., thanks to climate change, using a method like hydroponics can be a game-changer. The NPS says hydroponic systems use “as much as 10 times less water” than traditional soil growing methods.
Are There Different System Types for growing Hydroponic Cannabis? Which Is Best?
Yes, but it would take far more words than we’ve budgeted to explain. The National Park Service website describes the different types of hydroponic systems — everything from Wick to Air-Gap, Raft, and Ebb and Flow.
And as the experts at High Times say: “Your hydroponic setup can be as complicated or as simple as you like — it’s up to you. You can incorporate pumps, aerators, valves and switches, or you can fill a bucket with nutrient solution and simply pour it over your soilless growing medium.”
What Tools Do I Need?
Experts like Happy Hydro Superior Gardening Products recommend a range of products — and you’ll likely find five of these 10 items listed on many websites recommending products to buy. Companies like Urban-Gro will even build customized hydroponic systems for just about any space.
Here are some of the “essential tools” for every indoor hydroponic cannabis grower, according to Happy Hydro:
- LED loupe light: This is a magnifying lens with an attached LED light. It will allow you to keep a close eye on your plants, track their growth progress, and monitor for diseases, mildew, mold, and yeast.
- Grow room glasses: Grow rooms are very bright. They have to be to provide the nutrients the cannabis plant needs to grow to its full potential. Depending on your setup, glasses with a green or blue lens are the best way to avoid blinding yourself and to ensure you’re not missing tell-tale signs of pests and disease.
- Automatic pH reader: PH testing is critical to ensuring your plants grow big and healthy. Even though no soil is involved, keeping track of the Ph levels ensures suitable nutrient availability. And watch out, because optimal pH levels are different for plants grown in soil than those produced hydroponically.
- Plant Yo-Yos: These handy tools help your plants grow in the direction you desire.
- Automatic environmental monitor: These smart systems can connect to Wi-Fi and phone apps to allow you to observe the hydroponic environment and make adjustments.
- Hanging bud-drying rack: Cannabis must be dried and cured to provide the full effects most people want when consuming the plant. Drying is the first step — use one of these racks to maximize space.
- Trimming scissors: Much work goes into pruning cannabis into the beautiful nugs you see on the dispensary shelf. It all relies on the tool used to do the trimming. Depending on your type, they can run you anywhere from $30 to more than $100. They come straight and curved. It all depends on your personal preference.
We’ve given you the basics. Please explore the links we’ve provided to get the complete picture because it takes time, practice, money, patience, and experimentation to get it right. But we know you can do it!