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Hydroponic Growing Systems

Hydroponic Growing Systems

There are a variety of hydroponic systems for you to choose from. Each has its own advantages and which one you choose is down to personal preference.

Most hydroponic shops will offer complete kits with good advice. If your budget stretches to this then they are ideal. However you will ultimately end up buying equipment that you don’t really need. It is relatively easy to construct your own systems following the basic principles.- The art of growing marijuana with the roots dangling inside a light and water tight box and small emitters producing a fine mist on a regular basis. The mist creates a humid but aerated environment with nutrients.


Aeroponics – The art of growing marijuana with the roots dangling inside a light and water tight box and small emitters producing a fine mist on a regular basis. The mist creates a humid but aerated environment with nutrients.


Continuous Flow / Top Feed System – A great hydroponic system that produces a ‘continuous feed’ of nutrients into the top of the grow medium. It is also quite similar to the Ebb and Flow system and the NFT system.


Deep water Culture (DWC) / Recirculating Direct Water Culture (RDWC) / Bubbleponics hydroponic system – This concept is different to most, whereby the roots system is actually swimming in the nutrients solution. To help provide adequate oxygen an aeration stone, similar to one use in aquariums is used to blast air around the roots. This can all be done over a plastic water tight drum.


Drip irrigation hydroponics – Another totally different hydroponic system to grow marijuana. Small emitters drip feed your marijuana plants from the top, near the trunk. The nutrient solution drips down into the medium and feeds the plans. Very water efficient, low evaporation issues too.


Ebb and Flow hydroponics – A basic but functional system with your pots situated in a tray above the reservoir. The reservoir pumps the nutrient solution up and into the pan which ‘flows’ past the pots and in turn feeds them. The nutrients solution is then allowed to ‘ebb’ away back into the reservoir.


Nutrient Film Technique (NFT) – More efficient than most and keeps aeration of the plants roots in order. Your plants are held in aggregate above a slightly tilted tray, with a thin film of nutrients flowing from top to bottom past the roots of your marijuana.


Wick System – A really basic system that is great for a couple of plants or if you are just starting out as there is no need for pumps, timers or aeration systems. Simply connect your pots with thick ‘wick’ dipped into the reservoir and capillary action will do the rest!


Sea of Green – A Dutch growing method which produces a Sea of Green heads (kolas), we love it.


Screen of Green – This is a Dutch growing method similar to Sea of Green, exciting stuff if you want to go more hard core.



Continuous Flow / Top Feed Grow Systems


Top feed systems use an emitter to feed each individual plant at its base. These emitters are attached to a single, multi-valve unit which in turn is pump-fed from the reservoir. Any run-off from the plants is fed back into the reservoir via a drainage hole. Top feed systems will require some adjusting to get the quantities right, but as with the ebb and flow system above, 15 minutes feed 3 to 4 times a day is a good starting point.


Ebb and Flow Grow Systems


These low maintenance systems are ideal for growing in Rockwool and are the system of choice for many amateur growers. Plants are placed in their pots, in a tray that can hold up to around 6” (15cm) of nutrient solution. A timed pump periodically floods the base of the tray from a reservoir, start with 4 times per day for as long as it takes to pump enough solution the base of the plant stem. When the pump switches off, the solution drains back down the same tube with the remainder staying behind in the medium which the plants then utilize. To avoid flooding, an overflow pipe is fitted in the tray at the required level (just lower than the base of the plant stem) which feeds solution back into the reservoir. Remember to always keep your growing area higher than the reservoir. This way, when pumps are off or they are accidentally left on the solution will still drain back down into the reservoir and you should eliminate the chance of flooding.

Timings for watering vary according to the size and strain of your plants. A good starting point would be to flood the growing tray for 15 minutes, 3 to 4 times during the plant’s daylight cycle.


Wick Grow Systems


A wick system works passively. That is to say that there are no pumps needed to move the water but usually one to keep the solution aerated. The nutrient solution is pulled up to the plant via a wick (you can use thick acrylic cord) by the force of capillary action. This way the plant will take only the amount of liquid that it needs. Simply have the top end of the wick buried in the plant’s growing medium and the bottom end hanging in a reservoir of your nutrient solution.  Wick grow systems are ideal for beginners as there is no way to overwater the plants and no chance of leaks or floods as the main reservoir sits below the plants.


The Reservoir

Nutrient solution reservoirs should be as large as possible. These are the vessels that hold the water and nutrients which are usually pumped through to your plants. Really you should consider having a reservoir that can supply at least one if not two weeks of nutrients. Plants inhale the nutrients and you will also get some evaporation if you don’t have a lid. Think about where you will locate the reservoir? The reservoir should be located as close to a source of water as possible, like the garden hose or if you are carrying buckets of water to it then it should be easily accessible like at the front of the room. Often growers have another reservoir or standing area for water as water straight from the faucet can have the wrong pH level while water that has been left to stand over night will often let chlorine dissipate.

Use a sturdy, clean plastic container fitted with a lid to prevent evaporation. Top up with clean water when necessary and completely change the solution and clean the reservoir once per week. You must consider the temperature learn about reverse osmosis and pH.

The best way to insulate a reservoir is to raise it off the ground with brick or polythene so air can flow under it. You could also consider wrapping the sides of the reservoir using Styrofoam, foam rubber or even newspaper.


Essential pieces of hydroponic kit

Hydroponic nutrients for vegetative and marijuana flowering stages, a meter for measuring pH, and a meter for measuring EC. An EC meter will tell you the concentration of your nutrient solution and most commercially available solutions will require you to check this.

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How to Grow Marijuana Forum - Growing Marijuana Indoors & Hydroponics

32 thoughts on “Hydroponic Growing Systems

  1. M.Geiger says:

    A beginner and want to grow 6-8 plants from clones, limited space. What are my best options, getting a complete kit or buying individual products? How many stages from clone to full plant and time line please?

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  2. Rambo carter says:

    How do I get seeds and get started with the process…

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  3. DJ says:

    Thanks for so much great info! Hydroponics is an especially good way to grow leafy plants like cannabis!

    My advice: Automate as much of it as you can. Even simple christmas light timers can take care of your water pumps, lights, fans, etc.

    I made a controller that reads sensors in my growing area and activates relays to control the environment.

    example: if the grow medium is too dry, run the pumps–even if it isn’t watering time.

    Or, if the water is too low, send me a text message,

    Or if the pH is out of range, send me a text message.

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  4. Moses says:

    So if you grow it on soil and do a good job in sunlight why is sunlight important?

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    Rating: -2 (from 2 votes)
  5. john peers says:

    why not just buy a tent and grow them in soil i have done it twice up to now an d the weed was pucka i i couldnt keep up with the buyers i am just in the proces of doing a fresh grow just got to get the cuttings and im away

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    • H2O says:

      Soil makes for better tasting weed and lots of people prefer it because it is more natural. But hydro produces bigger yields and thats a fact. Hydro is a great system for those who want complete control over their plants, and of course, bigger buds.

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      Rating: +3 (from 3 votes)
      • Wolf-Gang says:

        “But hydro produces bigger yields and thats a fact”

        You are confusing fact and myth my friend. Fact is, you get higher yields with more experience, and usually, there is only a correlative connection between growing on hydro and higher yields. Many people have learned this, when they made the full cirlcle, returning from hydro to soil, only to find, they have the same result. Only benefit is a (much) shorter veg time.

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        • Keemistry Londiie says:

          I agree i prefer complete control over my plants environment

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          Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)
  6. curt says:

    What system and lights grow the best bud? I need to be able to grow bud with red hairs and rich greenery. Plus how much does a set up smell? Thanks

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    • H2O says:

      It depends on what you want – quality or quantity? Hydro will grow bigger yields but most people think that soil grows better quality. Although you can grow excellent quality either way so its kinda splitting hairs.
      You should take time reading through reviews of the different strains available to you. This site has some lots under the Seeds button. The amount of smell generated is all about the strain you choose. SOme are really stinky and will alert the whole street. Others are subtle and mellow and should not cause a problem. Read up about odor control. Again, this site has a good section, just put odor control into the search bar.

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  7. kid says:

    How do u know what a good female seed or plant look like

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    • H2O says:

      You can’t really tell from the seeds. To find out if your plant is a female, check out the sexing marijuana section of this site.

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      Rating: +2 (from 4 votes)
  8. steve says:

    where can i get the equipment for the ebb and flow and what kind of money am i talking about. THX STEV

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    Rating: +2 (from 4 votes)
    • JamacianSaviour says:

      The system itself can be fairly inexpensive, by simply using a plastic tote, and going off of that. not including nutrients it would run you maybe around 80-120.

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      Rating: +5 (from 5 votes)
      • Gary says:

        There are many cheap, inexpensive methods! You just have to be creative and resourceful!

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        Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)
  9. justin says:

    wow im new to this sounds very worth it

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  10. Wanda Johnson says:

    I would like to know where to find the prices of all growing systems and single “Do it yourself” parts etc. Thanx

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    Rating: +3 (from 3 votes)

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