As discussed in Part 1, hydroponics is the growth of plants in a soilless medium. As such, the requirements of the medium often make the difference when deciding whether or not the fertilizer or nutrient solution is reused, as well as choosing the type of hydro system in which to grow.
Hydroponic grow mediums each have their own pros and cons, so when deciding which system to use, the type of medium should be chosen carefully.
For instance, some hydroponic grow mediums are less stable in their ability to protect fragile root systems from the toxic accumulation of salts and/or heavy feeding programs.
According to Nico Escondido in his article on growing hydroponically, “The easiest and most widely used hydroponic grow mediums for new hydro growers are soilless mixes.
Beginner growers can use store bought mixes such as the Pro-Mix or Sunshine brands while the most advanced growers tend to buy the essential soilless components and mix their own concoctions to suit their gardens’ needs.
These mixtures, whether manufactured or homemade, generally use the same bases; peat moss, sphagnum or coco-coir.
Additives such as wood chips or lava rock help create an airy medium so that oxygen can get to roots. Other additives such as perlite and vermiculite not only keep the medium loose but also retain moisture long after watering occurs to help prevent roots from drying out and plants from getting thirsty in between feedings.
Even more advanced hydro growers often choose soilless mixes, that frequently include coco-coir as their base medium. The fibrous insides of coconuts that have been processed and sterilized, coco-coir comes in a variety of formats including longer, stringy fibers, to smaller chips or cubes, to more finely ground particles and powder.
It serves as a popular option because it covers the three main hydroponic requirements, by keeping mediums airy while retaining moisture and surrounding and buffering root systems almost as well as soil, without the risk of soil-borne pathogens.
Additional hydroponic mediums include peat, sphagnum, and vermiculite. For more information, check out our previous blog post titled, “Indoor Marijuana Setups for Beginners”.
If you missed part 1, click here.