Hydroponics is a popular method for growing cannabis indoors. It’s a water-based system with many advantages over soil-based systems, such as improved yields and faster plant growth. With its popularity booming amongst cannabis users, we’ve decided to give you a rundown on these systems.
Keep reading to find out how to use hydroponics with cannabis and which system is best to grow indoors.
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The Basics of Hydroponics Systems
As its name suggests, the main feature of all hydroponics systems is water. Unlike traditional growing methods, hydroponics eliminates the use of soil and uses other mediums to help suspend the plant’s roots in water.
There are six types of hydroponics systems for growing cannabis:
- Deep Water Culture (DWC)
- Ebb & Flow
- Nutrient Film Technique (NTF)
These systems are categorized as active or passive based on the mechanics needed to manage them during the growing process. Here are details about each system and how they’re used for growing cannabis indoors.
Passive Hydroponics Systems
These simplified hydroponics systems use less energy since they don’t require additional tools to deliver the water solution to your plants.
- Deep Water Culture (DWC)
The most popular hydroponics system for growing cannabis is Deep Water Culture (DWC). It’s also the simplest passive system to set up. DWC completely submerges plant roots in nutrient-rich water while the plant is suspended above the solution. Air is provided via a pump inserted into the water—sometimes called an active system due to the air pumps.
Many beginners experimenting with how to use hydroponics with cannabis start with this system because of the simplicity. It’s a great option for growing indoors since you only need one bucket to fit in a small space.
An alternative method of this system is the Kratky method. This alternative doesn’t fully submerge the plant roots but allows them to touch the water surface lightly, offering lots of air room for the roots.
This hydroponics method is set up similar to an Ebb and Flow system. It’s passive since it relies on using a wick (string or other fabric) instead of a pump to transfer water from the reservoir into your growing tray. It can be set up as a recovery system—the water drains back into the reservoir and is recycled back through the wick.
Due to limits of water transfer via wick, this isn’t as popular for growing cannabis. Cannabis plants need much more water and nutrients to reach their full potential.
Active Hydroponic Systems
Systems categorized as active require moving parts to help make them function properly. These systems vary from simple to complex.
- Ebb and Flow
This method may also be called the Flood and Drain method, which gives a better idea of how it functions. It’s an active hydroponics system that periodically floods your main growing tray with a nutrient-rich water solution for your plants to drink before draining back into a separate reservoir container.
It’s an active system because it requires a pump to provide water to your plants from the reservoir. It works on a timer to give plants just enough water before a period of air between cycles.
The Drip hydroponics system is a way to deliver water to your plants automatically. A drop system is routed to your plants and tickles water on a timer for the exact quantity needed.
This active system requires some skill to set up the correct drop functionality.
- Nutrient Film Technique (NFT)
The NFT method is one of the most complex hydroponics systems for growing cannabis. It works similarly to an ebb and flow system, except it uses a tilted growing tray to drain the water back into the reservoir below. The tilted growing tray holding your plants eliminates the need for a drain timer since a measured amount of water is pumped into it to allow for drinking.
This method is uncommon for small indoor grows due to its complexity.
This is a special kind of hydroponics system that’s one of the most complex to design. Cannabis plant roots are suspended in the air and receive frequent sprays of nutrient-rich water to keep them moisturized. To create this system, you need timers, a spray fountain, and accurate targeting for delivery.
Since these require lots of active equipment, indoor growers with a small amount of plants avoid this method.
Getting Started With Hydroponics
Anyone can get started with using hydroponics systems to grow cannabis indoors. There are two ways: build your own or purchase a kit. The DIY method of building your own hydroponics system can be exciting, and you can customize it to your exact specifications. Cannabis plants vary in size depending on the strain, and you can tailor your setup for each grow.
We recommend beginners start with a kit to ensure you have all the basics. These kits come with equipment to hold the water, cannabis plants, and may contain other tools like nutrient solutions.
You can weigh your options based on the costs to build the system, the size you need for your indoor grow, and your skill level.
Get started with your hydroponics system using our premium cannabis seeds.