The Ultimate Guide to Growing Marijuana Using Hydroponics
Cannabis growing has come a long way since then as people have experimented and perfected the best ways to produce marijuana. A modern way is through hydroponic weed planting. Hydroponic weed is fast becoming one of the most popular ways to grow cannabis. In this article, we will tell you everything you need to know to get started growing your own hydro weed.
So, what is hydro weed growing? This process is when you plant in an inert material, such as coco coir or water reservoirs, instead of soil.
Want to know more?
- The History of Hydroponics
- Advantages of Growing Hydroponic Weed
- Is it Expensive to Grow Hydroponic Weed?
- What Materials Are Needed for a Hydroponic System for Weed?
- Choosing a Medium for Growing Hydro Weed
- Choosing a Hydro Grow Setup
- Getting Started at Home
- Hydroponic System Maintenance
- How to Choose the Best Hydroponic Weed Strain
- Home Growing Mistakes to Avoid
- Differences Between Hydroponic and Soil-Based Cannabis Cultivation
- Why Growing Hydroponic Marijuana is Extremely Rewarding
The History of Hydroponics
Hydroponic planting has been used almost as long as cannabis, although the first plants harvested this way weren’t necessarily weed.
The Hanging Gardens of Babylon, one of the Seven Ancient World’s Wonders, are believed to have used hydroponic growing in 600 BC. You can also find evidence of this process in the 10th and 11th centuries AD in Aztec culture to produce crops near Lake Texcoco.
Marco Polo wrote about hydroponics in his expedition to China in the 13th century AD. Recently, this practice became popular through William Frederick Gericke of the University of California, Berkeley. He grew a 25-foot tall tomato plant with only water and added nutrients.
Gardeners of all kinds became fascinated with hydroponics. Soon, cannabis harvesters experimented and found plants could grow faster and stronger because the roots have access to nutrients without working through the soil to find them.
Hydroponics for weed continues to be a favorite method among cannabis growers today.
Advantages of Growing Hydroponic Weed
You might already have a fantastic setup with soil that’s producing good quality marijuana. Perhaps you’re thinking, “why should I grow with hydroponics?” There are many benefits, and we’re going to list the top four.
- Faster growth. When you use the hydroponic weed growing method, the plants don’t have to work as hard. There’s little resistance in the water, so the roots move freely and rapidly. Your plants will grow 30-50% faster than in soil.
- Larger yields. NASA reported that hydroponic growing techniques have an 80% better yield than soil-based methods. The nutrients are absorbed directly into the plant’s roots, so it’s bigger and stronger. Overall, you can get 2 to 4 times the amount of product in the same amount of time as you would with soil planting.
- Easy nutrient feeding. The roots are directly exposed to the food and have ample water supply. Hydroponic weed plants are never searching for more nutrients, so you won’t have to check up on the sprouts constantly.
- You can create a more controlled environment for your cannabis using hydroponics, which is ideal for those who are selling.
Is it Expensive to Grow Hydroponic Weed?
The expenses of hydroponic cannabis growing depend on how much you want to invest. There are cheap and expensive ways to do it.
The lower-cost option will be to use materials you already have at home and engineer them independently. Old tarps can create a growing tent. Your dorm room fan can be the ventilation system. Recycle take-out plastic containers for your reservoir.
This can be a fun way to start, but the results won’t be optimal. The DIY approach is sufficient for recreational growing.
On the other hand, if you’re growing to sell, you can invest some more money, as the yield will be worth it. You can buy supplies at the gardening store or a specialized cannabis growing shop.
Some hydroponic weed starter kits can be anywhere from $50 to $1,000. The price range is determined by size, quality, brand name, and other factors. A person on any budget can get started with hydro marijuana growing.
What Materials Are Needed for a Hydroponic System for Weed?
If you’re interested in switching to soilless growing, you might be asking, “what materials do I need for my hydroponic garden?” You’ll likely need to make a trip to your local gardening store, but not too much equipment is required.
If you don’t have an indoor setup already, you’ll need to construct one. You can make these with a standard camping tent, DIY tarps, or purchase a grow tent. You’ll need a ventilation system to regulate humidity and heat.
All plants need light for photosynthesis. In indoor environments, natural sunlight is low. A grow light ensures the fast and healthy growth of your marijuana.
3. Hydroponic reservoir or tank
Now, you’ll need something to hold the water or growing material. You can find these at a gardening store, dispensary, or you can craft one yourself.
If you’re going to use water, you’ll also want to have a pH meter to test the acidity. You can use other materials like coco coir or clay pebbles as well.
Hydroponic nutrients for weed help the plants grow. For cannabis, the essentials are nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. You should look for cannabis food that contains these, along with calcium, magnesium, sulfur, iron, chlorine, manganese, boron, zinc, and copper.
The last material you’ll need is the marijuana strains you want to grow. Put the seeds into the water or planting material with nutrients. Within a week, you’ll begin to see small roots form.
Choosing a Medium for Growing Hydro Weed
You can do hydroponic planting with just water and nutrients or use another medium. Wondering what else you can use? Let’s go over a few options.
– Clay pebbles
You can purchase clay pebbles: they help keep the marijuana plant robust but still allow water access. They’re reusable, so they’re perfect for those on a budget.
Rockwool is thin rock fibers made by bringing rock to a very high temperature and spinning it. This process results in tiny threads that can retain moisture well. Make sure you soak it before using it to determine the pH is correct.
Perlite is a white and porous substance. Look for larger pieces for hydroponic growing. The pores can absorb water and nutrients, which keeps the plants fed.
– Coco coir
Coco coir is a material from coconut fibers. It retains moisture and assists in protecting roots from infections.
Choosing a Hydro Grow System
You can perform hydroponic growing with many methods. Depending on the size and style of the reservoir, you can determine which setup is best.
DEEP WATER CULTURE (beginner friendly)
Deep water culture is suitable for beginners. It’s one of the cheaper options and relatively easy to maintain.
The drip system uses a growing medium.
– Plant seedlings in clay pebbles, coco coir, or another substance.
– Add the nutrients through the constant dripping.
– The liquid is then drained and collected so you can recycle it.
EBB AND FLOW
Ebb and flow is also known as the flood and drain system. You’ll need many buckets suspended above a tray with pumps that let water in and out.
The wick system is like the drip system, but the water comes from below as opposed to above. The roots are in a reservoir with a growing medium. At the bottom, some wicks extend into the nutrients.
Aeroponics systems don’t use any grow media. Instead, the plant’s roots are suspended in the air and misted with a nutrient solution. The roots are kept separate from the rest of the plants using an opaque tray to prevent light damage, and the nutrient solution is kept in a reservoir located beneath the cannabis plants.
Aquaponics is a type of hydroponics marijuana growing system that combines aquaculture, such as fish.
This hydroponic system allows growers to drain a nutrient solution onto an angled tray, creating a film that flows through the plant’s roots.
The solution is kept in a reservoir like the ones used for ebb and flow systems, but it is pumped through the tray continuously and drained out the bottom. Cannabis plants grown using this technique will form a dense root mat at the bottom of the tray, allowing them to fan out and absorb nutrients more efficiently.
Since the nutrient film technique was one of the first hydroponic systems developed for home growers, there are plenty of options available for hobby and commercial growers alike. These systems are compact and simple, so they’re perfect for small spaces.
The nutrient solution flows through the small holes in the bottom of the pots, gets absorbed into the clay pellets, then filters out through the drain at the bottom to be adjusted and reused.
Clay pellets are perfect for this application since their uneven texture oxygenates the water, and they retain moisture and nutrients very effectively, allowing growers to maximize the time between feedings and making the plants more likely to survive if something goes wrong.
Getting Started at Home—The Hydroponic Way
By following these steps, it’s possible to produce a healthy, great-tasting product that you’ll be proud to call your own.
Step 1. Prepare your materials
Irrespective of the set up chosen, the initial preparation of the set up will be the same. For instance, all the materials must be sterilized to kill bacteria. This is normally done using a mixture of peroxide, water, and alcohol.
Once the materials are sterilized, you can follow the instruction of the particular system to prep accordingly. Once the system is prepped, the plants can then be placed to start the growth process.
Step 2. Build a grow node.
A grow tent with a white interior will reflect the light your plants need while keeping them enclosed and pest-free. A dedicated grow tent makes temperature monitoring simpler, and it helps to prevent the pungent aroma of cannabis from filling the room.
Step 3. Select the containers in which the plants will take root.
Put the seedlings in Rockwool to start. A dark bin will keep light from seeping in. An 18-gallon bin will hold six plants. Make six evenly spaced holes in the netting so the roots can grow through.
Step 4. Set up the fan and light system.
We suggest using LEDs as they create little heat and are relatively inexpensive to operate. There is a wide range of options from which to choose, and the decision will likely depend on your budget and performance requirements.
Step 5. Fill the container with water and create a nutrient blend.
It’s important to monitor the amount of oxygen going to the plants’ roots, and an air stone/water pump combo makes it easy to do. You’ll also need to monitor nutrient and pH levels, to ensure the plants’ health and vibrancy.
Step 6. Use clones for the best results.
Step 7. Hit the lights.
Your clones should have strong roots and leaves that are ready for the light. Set the grow room’s lights to remain on for 18 hours per day for the first 28 days. The length of the vegetative state and the amount of light needed depends on the plants’ strain and growth pattern. Cannabis plants are very good communicators; if there’s something wrong, they’ll tell you right away!
Step 8. Trim the plants carefully.
By supporting outward growth, you’ll use the limited space to its fullest potential.
Step 9. Get ready for the flowering stage.
This typically takes place about 4 weeks into the grow, but again, it’s strain dependent. Set the lights to stay on for 12 hours per day; this diverts energy from height and leaf production into bud growth.
It’s usually a good idea to give the plants more nutrients during the flowering stage, but it’s possible to give them too much of a good thing. Nutrient burn may cause the plants’ leaves to turn brown or yellow at the tips.
When the buds have grown big enough, give the plants three weeks to flush out any remaining nutrients. Feed them only pH-balanced water for the perfect balance of taste and potency.
Step 10. Pick, trim, and dry the buds.
When you’re planning a home hydroponic grow op, it’s important to set aside enough space for harvesting, trimming, drying, and curing the buds. A slow, steady drying process gives the flower the smell and taste for which it is known.
To prevent mold from infecting the crop, dry the buds in a well ventilated, dark area. Trim the plants with sharp scissors, taking care to remove the leaves closest to the buds. Then, remove the buds from the plant stems.
Step 11. Cure the buds.
To cure cannabis, put it inside glass jars with airtight lids. Every day, for approximately 10 minutes, open each container to let fresh air in and to let moisture out.
Hydroponic System Maintenance
All types of planting require maintenance, and hydroponic for weed growing isn’t different. These systems tend to stay cleaner because of the constant water filtration, but you’ll still have to keep up with a few things.
– Monitor pH
The ideal pH level for a hydroponics weed system is a little acidic. You can build a reverse osmosis system to generate neutral water or buy it distilled. When you add the nutrient solution, it should be slightly acidic, between 5.5 to 6.5 pH.
You should have a pH tester kit and frequently check to ensure your plants are healthy.
– Keep water temperature around 20°C (68°F)
The temperature of your water is vital because 68°F is ideal for nutrient absorption. There’s also little algae build-up.
– Feed appropriate nutrient quantities
To ensure you’re feeding your cannabis the proper nutrients, you should buy solutions at a store. On the package, it’ll describe how much to give based on how much water. This can vary depending on the nutrient’s potency.
– Keep a clean environment
It’s a good habit to clean everything every two weeks. This includes your tools, the reservoirs, and the area around the plants.
Even the slightest contamination can result in pathogens attacking and killing your plants.
How to Choose the Best Hydroponic Weed Strain
What is the best hydroponic marijuana strain? Hydroponic growing requires specific strains of weed because of its unique qualities.
Compact and smaller strains are perfect for this process because you can keep them at a manageable size. We’re going to recommend the best cultivars to use for your indoor hydro weed system.
Mochalope is easy to grow and Indica-dominant strain. This provides a more psychoactive high than other types.
It’s short and has a thick stem. The leaves and hydro buds are refreshingly dense. The stocky stature of Mochalope makes it an excellent option for hydroponic planting. It grows to about 12 inches and yields 600 grams per plant.
– Lemon Garlic OG
Another Indica-dominant strain, the Lemon Garlic OG is a particular breed of the OG Kush family. It’s a blend of about 80% Indica and 20% Sativa with a very low CBD content of only 0.1%.
It grows to about 8 to 10 inches, and you harvest about 400 to 600 grams per plant.
– White widow
White Widow is a hybrid strain with 50% Sativa and 50% Indica genes. It’s an ideal combination of a psychoactive and calming experience.
The plant’s height can grow from 23 to 40 inches, making it remarkable among hydroponic marijuanas. It’ll yield 550 to 600 grams per plant in about 8 to 9 weeks.
– CBD Shishkaberry
CBD Shishkaberry is heavier on the CBD than other strains. There’s a 1:2 hydro THC to CBD ratio. This results in a calmer high with many relaxation benefits. People commonly use it for medical purposes.
The plant needs to grow for 8 to 10 weeks, and it yields about 300 to 500 grams per square meter.
Home Growing Mistakes to Avoid
Now that you’ve bought all the equipment and watched some tutorial videos, you may think it’s easy to grow hydroponic weed.
While YouTube videos may make it seem simple, there are a few mistakes to avoid.
- Temperature. It’s best to avoid temperatures that are too high or too low. Keep the water flowing through the system at about 65°F to prevent algae buildup and facilitate the absorption of nutrients.
- Humidity. Depending on the growth stage they’re in, cannabis plants have varying humidity requirements. For instance, seedlings need 60-70% humidity. Once they’ve entered the flowering stage, however, they’ll only need about 40%.
- Lighting. The type of grow room lighting you choose depends on how much space you’ve set aside and the distance between the lights and the plants. LEDs are best for small grow rooms, while larger ops will benefit from HID (high-intensity discharge) lights.
- pH levels. A plant that’s not grown in the right pH range will fail to thrive. Aim for a pH range of 5.5-6.5 for the best results. If the pH level is too high, use white vinegar to bring it down.
- Ventilation. Don’t try to grow hydroponic cannabis in a room without proper airflow and ventilation. Protect the plants’ health by placing fans to cover the entire growing area. With proper ventilation, it’s easy to maintain the proper room temperature and ensure adequate air exchange.
- Electrical conductivity. EC is a measure of the level of dissolved solids in the water. A reading that’s too high may result in plant damage due to an excess of nutrients, while a reading that’s too low means the plants aren’t getting enough nourishment.
Differences Between Hydroponic and Soil-Based Cannabis Cultivation
Other than the media in which they are grown, soil-based and hydroponic cannabis gardens have a few notable differences.
- One of the most significant is the nutrients you’ll provide. Typically, soil-grown and hydroponic plants need slightly different types of nutrients, but there are universal systems that work across growth media.
- Another big difference lies in the appropriate pH level. The optimal pH level for a soil-based garden is 6.0-7.0, while a hydroponic garden does best when the pH stays around 5.5-6.5. Even if you are using a soilless potting mix, you’ll need to use the hydroponic pH.
- Finally, these cultivation methods differ in the level of effort required. The hard work of hydroponic cannabis cultivation starts after the system is up and running, while soil-based growers are working hard from day one.
Regardless of the method you choose, you’ll still have to take certain steps to ensure the health and vitality of the crop. These include pH testing, inspecting the equipment and the plants, and looking for signs of disease.
Why Hydroponic Growing is More Cost-Effective Than Soil-Based Cultivation
For thousands of years now, the soil has been the growth medium of choice for gardeners all over the world. However, one significant development is designed to save money, save time, and increase crop yields: hydroponics. Where the soil vs. hydroponics debate is concerned, the latter offers much more than a soilless way to grow cannabis crops. Not only does this cultivation method help growers save effort and money, but it also helps them eliminate the hassles that come with the use of conventional growth media. In the sections below, you’ll find a few reasons why today’s cannabis cultivators are turning to hydroponics.
Growing Hydroponic Marijuana is Extremely Rewarding
Like all things in life, who doesn’t want something faster and bigger? Hydroponics can speed up your growing time and yield.
Getting started might require some investment and work, but once perfected, it’s a straightforward way to grow marijuana. It’s less dirty, more controlled, and gives a great product.
If you’ve been toying around with the idea of having a hydroponic marijuana system, why not give it a go? Now you know what supplies you need, different system styles, and the strains to use, it’s time to start building and growing with hydroponics now!