Hydroponic is one of the most ancient growing techniques. This subset of hydroculture entails growing plants using a solution of mineral nutrients suspended in a water solvent, as opposed to cultivating the plants in soil.
The soilless setup uses air, water, and mineral nutrients to ensure the robust growth of plants. In cannabis cultivation, most growers prefer hydroponic culture because plants grow up to 30 – 50% and produce more yield compared to soil-based cultivation.
But for cannabis to flourish in a hydroponic setup, there are certain things you need to take care of. Read on for a comprehensive guide on hydroponic cannabis growing.
Cannabis plants in a hydroponic setup
Top Cannabis Growing Mistakes to Avoid
One of the most common cannabis growing mistakes is choosing the wrong soil. Thankfully, that’s a mistake you’ll never make, now that you’ve decided to go the hydroponic way.
However, there are a few more mistakes you must avoid to ensure that you reap maximum yield from your hydroponic farms? The following are some of them.
Using bad genetics
Overfeeding or underfeeding the plants
Inappropriate positioning of the grow lamps
Inappropriate pH balance
Growing the plants under extreme temperature or humidity conditions
Ignoring the safety rules
Harvesting your plants too early or too late
Some of these mistakes are quite easy to avoid. For instance, you don’t need a professional that would guide you to buy cannabis seeds of superior genetic makeup.
However, certain aspects of hydroponic cannabis cultivation may be a bit technical, thereby requiring further research. For instance, you’ll need to invest in in-depth research to uncover the right pH, temperature, and humidity conditions under which to cultivate your plants. And while at it, you’ll also learn a lot about the benefits of the numerous cannabis compounds out there. Equipping yourself with knowledge on the various aspects of cannabis is the first step in guaranteeing a bumpy harvest from your hydroponic cultivation efforts.
Cannabis almost ready for harvesting
Top Hydroponic Cannabis Cultivation Tips
Sterilize the Tank and All Equipment
A tank is a fundamental requirement for hydroponic cannabis growing, as it’s where the plant roots will be suspended. Other tools that you’ll need for this project include pipes and filters, fluorescent lights, hydroponic nutrients, pH testers, etc.
If you can, buy a new tank. But if you’re planning on reusing any equipment, sterilize and disinfect it first. Dirty equipment may provide a breeding ground for bacteria and other hazardous microorganisms, which might cause the plant roots to decay. One can shop at weedsmart & ensure a high quality product at pocket friendly rates.
Also, remember that sanitization shouldn’t be a one-off thing. Therefore, always have several bottles of hydrogen peroxide and isopropyl alcohol handy for regular sterilization of all the other equipment to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria.
2.Identify the Right Medium
By medium, we don’t mean the soil. Instead, a substance that will support the roots and stems as they establish themselves in the growing area. Examples of mediums include rock wool, coco coir, pebbles, and perlite.
Generally, go for a static medium that allows the free flow of air to the top of the roots. You may need to experiment with all of the available options to find your ideal medium.
3.Choose an Appropriate Hydroponic Setup
There are numerous hydroponic setups that you can experiment with. Examples include the following;
Deep Water Culture – In this system, you fill a bucket with nutrient-supplemented water and then place your plants in it. The lower levels of the bucket are normally supplied with an air pump that ensures a steady supply of oxygen.
Drip System – Here, you place your cannabis plants in a large tray. You then attach a separate drip pipe to each plant, which supplies water to the plant from an external water tank. This system ensures that the roots get an adequate supply of air, while the medium you use lets out excess water to the tank.
Aeroponics – In aeroponics, you use a water mist that you sprinkle on the plants to increase air exposure while seamlessly hydrating them. Ensure the tank is 25% full of water, then attach a pump to it. The pump supplies water through a mister beneath each plant.
4.Monitor the Temperature, Humidity, and pH
The ideal hydroponic temperature for cannabis cultivation should be between 18 and 24 degrees Celsius. At this temperature, your plants can absorb maximum nutrients. You can always monitor the air temperature using a water thermometer.
Humidity levels tend to vary, depending on the growth stage of your cannabis plants. Initially, you might start with a humidity of around 60 – 70%. But as the plants begin to flower, the level comes down to about 40%. You can effectively regulate humidity by use of a humidifier and dehumidifier.
The water that circulates through the hydroponic level should be neutral (pH of 7). You can either use distilled water or install a Reverse Osmosis system to achieve a pH value of 7. At times, achieving a pH of 7 may be a tall order. But even then, always ensure the range is between 5.5 and 7 throughout the plants’ growth cycles.
5.Install Proper Grow Lights and Monitor Electrical Conductivity
There are numerous varieties of grow lights that you can use in your hydroponic cannabis farm. Choosing a grow light will depend on the size of the farm, the distance between the lights and the plants, and your budget needs. For larger grow rooms, you might try High-Intensity Discharge (HID). Compact Fluorescent lights (CFL) and Light Emitting Diode (LED) are more suitable for smaller rooms, though the latter is a bit costly. For optimal growth of your cannabis plants, choose a grow light that can produce light ranging from 400 to 700 nanometers.
As you monitor the amount of light exposure your plants get, you’ll always want to track the electrical conductivity of the water. PPM EC meter will enable you to determine how much organic and inorganic substances are dissolved in the water. During the initial growth stage, the water’s electrical conductivity should range from 0.5-1.3, before advancing to 2.5 as plants bloom.
Hydroponics cannabis cultivation is easier than most people imagine. And any enthusiastic grower can easily implement the tips we’ve discussed here. Also, remember the unwritten rule – always keep records throughout the growth cycle of your plants.