In simple terms, the word Hydro closely translates to water. By now it should be pretty evident that Hydroponic system relates to the art of growing Marijuana with water. Now one might ask that in traditional marijuana growing techniques, water is one of the necessities by default so what is different with Hydroponic System?
The difference between traditional growing and hydroponic is the absence of soil in the latter system. Marijuana is grown solely in water without using any soil. With a conventional system, the plant has to do the extra work of finding and absorbing nutrients from the ground, which is tiring and time-consuming for the plant, such slowing down the growth process. In the hydroponic system the mineral and nutrients are directly available to the roots of the plant, thus the focus shifts from nutrient search to growing up appropriately and fast, which lands you with a healthier crop faster.
Hydroponic System is a little tough to get the hang of it, but once you do, you get yourself healthier and bigger crops in a shorter span of time which makes it worth the hard work. Experts recommend practicing this art over other plants like tomatoes or any other plant before starting with marijuana.
This gives you a better idea of the Do’s and Don’ts of hydroponic Marijuana Farming. Now if you feel confident and want to go for it straight up, here’s what you need to grow cannabis with the Hydroponic system.
Gear and Accessories required for cultivating cannabis with the hydroponic system:
Accessories needed for a cannabis hydroponic garden:
Place for growing: It’s obvious that you need a place for growing your cannabis. You can grow it inside your house be it in the basement or your room by using a Grow Tent.
- Lamps to replace sunlight: When growing plants inside the house, you do not have the liberty to provide them with natural sunlight so you need to mimic the sunlight by using lamps that can help the herb grow easily.
- Soil substitute like Coco Coir or peat: You need an alternative to the soil for potting the plants and coco coir proves a reliable substitute.
- Pots: To place your seeds in and grow the herb.
- Nutrients: In the absence of soil you need nutrients to be given separately.
- pH tester: To check the water pH level and maintain it so as not to harm the plant.
- Timer: Continuous supply of light might damage the plants; a timer is needed to keep a check on the light to be automatically turned off at an apt time.
- Ventilation: To keep a check on the temperature and odor.
- Seeds: To obtain the plant from.
With a real strain of marijuana, a healthy full-blown plant can provide you with one to three ounces of Marijuana.
Primary outline of how to grow cannabis:
The Sativa variety of cannabis is used for its high and Indica for its calming and healing properties, but whichever type you plan to cultivate, the growth process is the same. Trimming out the tops of the Indica makes it spread out over a wider area, but the method of watering and feeding both varieties of cannabis is the same:
- Make sure the temperature in your room is between the ranges of 80 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit. The temperature should never go beyond 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Avoid the use of chlorinated supply water or water with added fluorine. Make sure you use filtered or water from a pure well to maintain the proper pH of the water which should be a slightly acidic between the range of 5.5 to 6.5. The ideal pH for plantation is said to be 6.15.
- Place your light at an appropriate height from the top of the plant so that the light spreads out evenly especially the reflective surfaces of the Grow Tent lined with Mylar which then ensures the light reaches every nook and corner of the plant to ensure an even growth.
- Do not overdo the amount of light necessary or else the plant growth can be severely affected. The germination stage of the plants doesn’t require any light. Once the seeds have sprouted, ensure the flow of light is no more than 18 hours a day until the plant reaches half of its final height. Following that 12 hours a day of light is sufficient for ample growth of the herb.
- Separate the two sexes of the plant after they have entered the first or 2nd week of the flowering stage. You can identify the female sex by the white hairs and male by the balls. You cannot smoke the male plant as they are only good for pollens if you want to produce seeds, else they should be thrown out.
- To ensure there is no nutrient flavoring, cut down the nutrient supply just two weeks before you plan to harvest them. Just feed them with water, this will ensure the plant doesn’t give out the flavor of any given nutrient.
- For better results, while harvesting, trim the buds with a bud trimmer or if unavailable use your hands and dry them out properly. Use an airtight container to store them for curing to ensure no moisture seeps in. Keep them like that for about two weeks to a month depending upon your choice.
So now you know how cannabis cultivation is carried out, let’s switch to the hydroponics system.
Different types of hydroponic system for Marijuana Cultivation:
- Deep Water Culture (Hydro pots):
For someone who is new to the hydroponic system, hydro pots are an easy and cost efficient option available in the market.
Deep Water culture can be broken into three parts:
- The water-based nutrient solution needs to be stored in a bucket or reservoir depending on your choice.
- To enable proper growth of the roots down to the nutrient solution another basket or mesh sheet with peat or Rockwool (soil substitute) needs to be used.
- To facilitate from air supply to the nutrient solution, Air stone similar to the ones used in fish tank should be used.
A separate deep water culture unit is required for each plant you need to grow. The overall look of the whole setup would give you the feel of a science experiment going inside your room. Near about five gallons of nutrient-rich water filled in a bucket topped by a 2nd basket filled with soil substitute followed by the plant and air bubbling down in the water, tub gives the feeling of a scientist about to achieve his breakthrough in scientific research.
If you plan to grow more than one plant you can even do so by linking each bucket through irrigation tube which will ultimately be connected to a single water reservoir sending out nutrient-rich water to each plant.
To prevent any contamination or possibly of stagnant water make sure the air stone works continuously and avoid any unwanted light or contaminants falling into the water.
For a Novice in deep water culture system, here is the perfect hydroponics system.
General Hydroponics Waterfarm
If a simple and cheap hydroponics water farm is what you are looking for being a beginner in the field of marijuana cultivation then this General Hydroponics Water-farm is the perfect one for you. These units can be connected to each other if you plan to grow multiple plants at once in separate buckets.
The whole package comes with a 2-gallon container reservoir plus a small basket container, clay pellets, an air stone and an air pump to provide a continuous flow of air to the nutrient-filled water, nutrients and the required tubing which also includes the drip feed.
The only precaution to be followed is checking the pH of the water on a regular basis as the plants start to grow. Make sure to follow up every few days to ensure a modest growth.
Deep Water Culture (DWC) Hydroponic Bucket Kit 5 Gallon, 6 inch
If growing the enormous versions of cannabis like Big Bud and Brain Berry Cough, Power grow’s Deep Water Culture with a capacity of 5 Gallon water is the perfect choice for you. Although it takes up huge space in your room, it’s ideal for larger varieties of cannabis.
The 5-gallon bucket comes with a basket lid and is FDA approved food safe. Additional accessories include air pump with air stone, tubing, and Rockwool plugs.
The best feature of this system is the water level marker and bucket drain. This kit provides you with a 1-year warranty. The only thing you have to be cautious about is the Rockwool which is very dry and irritates skin upon contact so make sure you use gloves while handling it until it moistens up.
AutoPot 4pot System Gravity Fed Watering System (Hydroponics incorporated with Traditional Gardening)
Equipped with one large 12-gallon reservoir and four small pots that hold 3.9 gallons of water each, this system lacks air stone and potting medium, but it can be manually added later on. As the setup works on the principle of gravity, nutrient passes on from the main reservoir to the pots only when the plant has consumed the already available nutrient from the water. The only thing to take care of is the contamination of the main tank. If any disease occurs in the main tank, all the plants will have to suffer its consequences.
Besides this natural and cheapest option of Deepwater Culture system, there are many other techniques to cultivate cannabis with Hydroponics.
Ebb and Flow (Flood and Drain)
The Ebb and Flow system of Cannabis cultivation work by soaking followed by draining of the roots. There is no need to use air stones because the water is never stagnant in this method. You need to use a timer with this approach if it isn’t available in the accessories kit. You need to keep your central reservoir clean and contamination free, or this can affect all the plants at the same time resulting in you a huge loss.
Viagrow V4X4COMP Ebb & Flow Hydroponic System Tray, 4′ x 4′
The dimension of this Viagrow Ebb and flow system is four foot by four foot. The system provides you with a complete setup consisting of a tray with a stand, potting medium, timer and pump with tubing. There are total 25 pots available with this setup which holds a maximum of one gallon but can be easily replaced with larger pots if you wish to. Viagrow also provides you with smaller versions of this system because individual countries and states have a limit to the number of cannabis one can grow inside their premises.
Top feed system uses reservoirs just like the Deepwater culture, but a pump equipped with timer send nutrient water solution to the roots of each plant and the excess solution if present is circulated back to the reservoir.
One must take care of the pump and keep at check over its functioning to ensure your plants do not go dry.
Nutrient Film Flow Technique
Replacing moss/Rockwool with capillary mat, this system uses porous mats that keep a continuous flow of nutrients around the roots of the herb. The water flow is maintained in check, and thus the plants are never drowned with an excess nutrient solution, and the water is never stagnant.
Aeroponics with Misting
Capturing the benefits of a humid climate into a cultivation system, this technique of cannabis cultivation uses misting at regular intervals to create a rainforest-like atmosphere for the plants. Unless you have a grow tent, this system isn’t ideal for cultivation inside the house.
The plants grow fast with this system because nutrient solution is directly sprayed over the hanging plants in the basket. But unless a proper pH balance is maintained and the nutrient supply is sufficient, the plants suffer the consequence at the same speed as they grow.
General Hydroponics Rainforest 66 Aeroponic System
Used for medium to large sized plants, the Rainforest 66 Aeroponics System from General Hydroponics comes with a 17- gallon reservoir, a sprayer, six plastic containers equipped with CocoTek liners plus a 3-part flora kit. The nutrient solution used to spray on the roots of plants is aerated before being sprayed.
If your setup isn’t isolated from pests, make sure you watch out for parasites like aphids. The size of the pots is also small about 6 inches in diameter, which can be problematic in future.
Growing mediums for cannabis plants with hydroponics
Hydroponics doesn’t need soil but other mediums to ensure proper growth of the plant. Here is a list of usable mediums for hydroponics.
The most widely used medium for growth is peat pertaining to its cheap cost and mineral-rich texture. Peat moss and Humus are the most commonly used versions of peat.
- Sphagnum Moss:
Although more expensive than peat, Sphagnum works better with hydroponics because of its light weight and water retaining capacity.
- Coco Coir:
Coco Coir is an excellent medium due to its super absorbent property and water retaining capacity. It is made out of shredded coconut husks and sometimes also formed into croutons.
Rockwool, also known as Mineral wool has the unique capability of retaining water while allowing air to enter the roots. It is moulded into cubes or slabs by spinning it into fine fibres. You might need to treat it before using due to its alkaline nature.
- HEC (Hardened expanded Clay):
Although they work great with the hydroponics system, HEC pellets do not contain any nutrients like moss. Due to its heavy weight, the young plants stay in place during watering plus it drains well and aerates the plant roots with oxygen.
- Vermiculite and Perlite:
Vermiculite is a mineral used in conjunction with other mediums as retains moisture and nutrients very well. Often mixed with Coco Coir and Peat, Perlite is another mineral which is also used as an absorbent.
Tips to obtain a healthy plant:
- During the growth stage, the plant doesn’t require much water. Thus watering the plants every alternate day is more than enough. While at the flowering stage you need to water the plants every day once.
- With the help of a Hygrometer make sure the moisture level is at par or if the potting medium seems dry, add water to it to avoid further drying.
- If the leaves seem to be wilting or drooping, it might be an indicator of too much water or too little. Make sure appropriate level of water is maintained throughout.
- Only harvest when half or three-quarter of the white hairs has turned yellowish- brown to ensure good quality cannabis. Also, ensure that the trichomes have changed to white or yellow.
- When close to harvesting period leaves may start to turn yellow or fall off, stop giving nutrients to the plant, only water supply should be regulated before 2 weeks from harvesting.
- More relaxing Marijuana is obtained when the crop is harvested later.
- Marijuana leaves do not contain as much THC as the buds. The leaves should be used to derive cannabis oil or butter.
- If your buds are dry enough, they will snap off easily, but if they aren’t, they will bend.
Testing pH Acid levels:
Unless the water has an appropriate pH level, the nutrients won’t get absorbed properly landing you with a dull crop. A finely balanced pH level ensures a healthy cannabis crop.
Normally pH scale of soil ranges from 1 to 14, with 14 being the highest alkalinity and one being the most acidic. For hydroponics system, you need a slightly acidic solution ranging between 5.5 to 6.5.
Using tester pen, strips or liquid solutions can test the pH level of the solution. One can check the pH level in the solution itself or the soil medium being used. Samples are to be taken from the solution or the soil substitute and tested separately.
Fixing pH level:
There is no need to worry if the pH of your solution varies day to day, the plant can handle it efficiently, but if it goes beyond the range of 5.5 to 6.5, you might need to check on it otherwise all your effort will go to waste.
Professional growers use household techniques like baking soda or vinegar, but it isn’t recommended for novice or beginners. General Hydroponics has come up with a user-friendly pH control kit which also comes with a tester, so you don’t have to buy it separately.
Avoiding Root Rot
Root rot due to fungus can be devastating, more so if your plants are interconnected to each other causing all the plants to be affected. Wilting leaves that turn yellow is a tell-tell sign of Root Rot. When affected with Root rot, the roots will lose their original creamy-white color and move on to a more brownish one emitting a bad rotting smell. This can be avoided by controlling the amount of nutrition and water you supply to your plants. Overfeeding can lead to rotting. Always keep your tank neat and clean and remove any dead matters from the reservoir like leaves or branches of the plant. Always maintain the temperature below 72 degrees.
One also has the option of adding beneficial bacteria to the solution plus products that kill fungus are also available called “Root Controls.” Some experts rely on the method of spraying the roots with copper treatment or olive oil. Using hydrogen peroxide might not be the best option as it kills beneficial bacteria too.
Too much light and heat can damage the plant if any of the plants get sick; remove it from the tank before it can spread to the others.
Nutrients required for healthy Marijuana crop
After coming across the word “Nutrients”, more than 100 times in the article, you must have questions in your mind asking what exact nutrients we need. The best available kit is from General Hydroponics which is also used by NASA to grow plants in space, of course, weed skips the list, but it’s equally beneficial for marijuana as well. It’s all organic and a favourite for people who raise herbs for essential oils.
General Hydroponics General Organics Go Box
Well balanced assortment of Nutrients, this box contains all the necessary elements needed for a healthy growth of various herbs and even marijuana. The box carries well-elaborated instructions on how to use it.
The box has small bottles of nutrients like BioRoot, BioWeed, BioBud, BioMarine, and Diamond Black plus BioThrive Grow and Bloom. This box also contains an 8-ounce sample of CaMg+. Together these nutrients make your plant grow efficiently.
Know your Accessories:
Discover the best Grow Tent for your plant; know which LED lights to provide the brightest light and which trimmer to go for to speed up your harvesting.
We hope you check back soon to find out more reviews and guides about marijuana until then grow legit and healthy weed.