First, let’s talk quickly about what hydroponics is. The simple definition, Hydroponics is growing in a medium that is not soil. Whether the medium is sand, clay pebbles, coco, or Rockwool, nutrients are added to supplement the loss of nutrients in the soil. With hydroponics, you can specifically target areas of growth to truly give yourself a yield that you’re proud of.

Deep Water Culture Tray Roots

Deep Water Culture

Deep water culture, or DWC for short, is a hydroponics system where the plants sit in nutrient water that is directly below the plants soaking their roots.

An air stone is usually placed to supplement oxygen to prevent root rot and provide ample oxygen to the submerged roots. These systems can be a single 5 Gallon bucket to an unlimited amount of dutch buckets plumbed to a control reservoir. A single bucket system or tray system is excellent for a beginner and can also be known as a bubble bucket.

Larger systems operate best with water flow throughout the system known as running deep water culture (RDWC). An RDWC system has a control reservoir with a pump feeding water into the buckets, while the buckets have a drain system to return the water back to the reservoir. Deep water culture systems are ideal for larger plants that will require ample nutrients for fruit and flower production. Be sure to offer the support needed as you can expect to see rapid growth and incredible yields.

Commercial Nutrient Film Technique System (NFT)

Nutrient film technique

Nutrient film technique, or NFT for short, is a high production system perfect for fast-growing smaller plants. This system works by providing a small, constant film of water containing nutrients to the roots.

A water pump is used to bring water from a reservoir to the system’s planting runs. This water flow is minimal with just enough water to wet the base of the plant runs.

The plant sits in the run right over the small stream of water in order to keep the medium as well as the roots wet. operating the water flow 24 hours a day there is constant access to water and the roots can drink away! NFT systems are recirculating systems, meaning the water and nutrients return to the reservoir.

Commercial Ebb & Flow System

Ebb and Flow

Ebb and Flow, or Flood and Drain, is another system for hydroponics that works by periodically pumping water from a reservoir to a flood tray where the plants sit and drain the water back to the reservoir.

This ebb and flow can occur once a day or every 15 minutes. As long as it is enough to keep the medium moist so that your plants don’t dry up! A timer is a great investment for these types of systems.

The filled water sits in the flood tray, delivering the nutrients to the crops for a designated amount of time. For our display, the tray fills up once a day for fifteen minutes. After the allotted time, the water then empties back into the reservoir until the next flood session. Smaller bushy plants work best in an ebb and flow since you can water dozens of plants at a time. Medium-sized plants work well too, just add the proper support to keep them standing.

Commercial Drip System

Drip irrigation

Drip irrigation is one of the most popular hydroponics systems available. For this system, a reservoir containing nutrients is distributed throughout multiple crops.

Tubing from the reservoir acts as a mainline, bringing water through drip emitters into individual smaller tubing allowing an even flow to the crop medium. At the end of each individual line, a drip stake is attached and placed in the growing medium.

Alternatively, the mainline can be replaced with a drip distributor, like the Jain Irrigation Octabubbler. These systems can be recirculating or drain to waste—just one of the many options for hydroponic growers to choose from. This hydroponic system is perfect for any crop, it just depends on space and the grower. Drip irrigation is incredibly versatile and can be manipulated in many ways but can be the perfect system for beginners.

Wick system

Wick system hydroponics is the most simple hydroponics system that exists. The wicks are something that can absorb water well and deliver to the desired crop, such as the AutoPot AQUAbox.

Coming from the reservoir, one end of the wick soaks up water and carries it through to the other end. The other end of the wick can lead to individual crops or a communal crop area. Placed the wick in the desired spot for maximum uptake. This system will work for any grow medium and any crop desired.

The wick system has taken wide steps over the past few years with the perfection of the bottom watering hydroponics systems. AutoPot is a perfect example of this perfection! Their product works by delivering water and nutrients to trays that the pots sit in. Each individual pot is slotted at the bottom allowing the crop to draw water and nutrients from the tray (wicking the water with the medium in the pot)! These systems work so well because the crop has consistent access to the water and nutrients they love.

Getting started in hydroponics can seem like a daunting task, but never fear because How To Grow is here! Feel free to comment below, email us, or contact us via social media for any hydroponic, soil, or beginner setup advice! We’re here to help you grow like a pro!

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