How to Grow High Quality Cannabis in Hydroponics
Growers are usually looking for ways to grow high-quality cannabis. There are a variety of time-tested techniques available. Some growers swear to a particular type of soil while some agree that fertilizer and nutrients count a lot in growing better plants. But still how to grow high quality cannabis, some say that it’s how nutrients and oxygen are delivered to the plant and this is why some say that hydroponics will greatly improve plant quality, healthy and yields.
Hydroponics is a way to grow high-quality seeds by using a special system that exposes the roots of the plant to nutrients. Plants are grown in a soilless environment and are usually suspended in a nutrient-rich medium. Nutrients that are specific to the plants’ growth are fed through the roots while oxygen is also fed through the roots using a water pump.
There are many types of hydroponic systems available and all of these practice a soilless way of growing plants as well. There are simple hydroponic systems as there are complex systems. A simple hydroponics set up could be something as basic as hand-watering pots of the inert medium using a nutrient solution. Sophisticated, homemade systems may have a number of pumps, water reservoirs, timers and lights which will greatly reduce daily maintenance.
Before embarking on creating a hydroponics set up, keep in mind the following
- You need to have adequate space to set up a hydroponics system. The amount of space depends on the type of hydroponic setup you want to install.
- You must have basic knowledge of how a hydroponics system works.
- You must have money to spend on a basic hydroponics setup. This includes all the necessary equipment including air pumps, lights, and the growing space.
- You must have cannabis seeds that will grow well with a hydroponics system
- You must have time to set things up and enough time to maintain a hydroponic setup as well. ￼
￼Cannabis growers have been using a variety of hydroponic methods to maximize yields and speed up growth. Hydroponics growing eliminates the problems encountered in soil growing. With a soilless hydroponic setup, you will never have to worry about recycling soil. You can reduce pest problems and take care of your plants better. You can carefully monitor the pH of your plant roots and provide the ideal amount of nutrients as well.
Hydroponics can also be a great way to produce cannabis in any size or space. You might feel confused and a bit overwhelmed but rest assured that you will be able to breeze through hydroponics growing.
Setting up a hydroponics system
There are many types of hydroponics setup, each with specific supplies and equipment needed. The following are needed for a basic hydroponics setup:
- 3 or 5-gallon bucket (one for each plant)
- Grow table
- Clay pellets (enough to fill each bucket)
- Rockwool cubes (one 1.5-inch starter plug per plant)
- Reservoir tank
- Water pump
- Air pump
- Air stone
- Plastic tubing
- Drip line
- Drip line emitters (one or two per plant)
- Set up your hydroponics reservoir. The reservoir is where the nutrient-rich solution is placed. A reservoir can be small or large and this depends on the grow space and the number of plants. This can hold your grow space and size and this holds the water pump and an air stone. The air pump will have a line to the air stone plus another drainage line in from the grow table. The reservoir has a line out from the water pump going to the drip line and the power cord to the water pump.
- Construct your grow table. A grow table will hold the excess water from the plants which will be pumped to the reservoir. To be able to do this successfully, your table has to have a low section where all the excess water will remain. This low point on the table is where you will place the drain. The drain will take water back to the reservoir using a plastic tubing.
- Now you may add your 5-gallon buckets with clay pellets on the table. Before placing your clay pellets you must soak these overnight to saturate it with water. Place holes at the bottom of the buckets by drilling the bottom to drain excess water from the table. The holes should be smaller than the clay pellets to avoid the pellets from moving into the holes and clogging it.
- Now take the plastic tube from the water pump and run these to the growing table. Use the drip line equipment to create holes in the plastic tubing and extend this to reach the bucket. Then, attach the drip line emitters to the end of lines.
- Test your system by running it without plants just to check if everything is functioning well. The system should not have standing water. The air pump should always be working to keep water in the reservoir oxygenated and also moving. The 5-gallon buckets and grow table drains any excess water back to the reservoir.
- Create the nutrient water solution in your reservoir. You need to combine a specific amount of nutrients as well as water to create the ideal water-rich medium. Once your solution is ready, you may now place your plants inside the system. Take the plants or clones that have started growing in rock wool and place these into the clay pellets. Install the drip line so that the water is reaching the rock wool as well as the roots of the plants.
Nutrients needed for hydroponics growing
Three of the most important nutrients for your plants are Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P), and Potassium (K). These are macronutrients that are needed as your plants start to develop till the time your plants start to make flowers. There are also secondary micronutrients like Boron, Calcium, Copper, Iron, Magnesium, Sulfur, and Zinc. These nutrients will support plant health and growth. It is now easy to create nutrient-rich water that will work for a hydroponic solution. There are now companies that sell hydroponic nutrient solutions designed for specific stages of plant growth. Generally, nitrogen-rich nutrient solutions are used during the vegetative stage while phosphorus-rich nutrients are used during the flowering phase.
You will find nutrients either pre-mixed in a solution or in standalone powder form. Powder form nutrients are usually cheaper but it is still better to use liquid, pre-mixed nutrients especially if you are a first0time grower because these are easier to use and are also generally forgiving. When you are mixing nutrients, take a few measurements just to ensure that your solution is ideal and safe for your plants to use. Technical readings should be made like the EC (electrical conductivity) reading, and pH reading.
The EC reading is measured by a device. It is a reading that will tell you if the solution is strong and how mineral-rich your water is. The more minerals your water has, the higher the EC rating is. A reading between 0.8 to 2.0 is the best for growing marijuana. When the plant is still young, this will need a smaller amount of nutrients compared to when it is big and flowering.
After finding out the EC, the pH level should also be taken. A reading between 5.5 and 6 is ideal for cannabis to absorb nutrients. If the pH is too high or too low, your plants may fail to take in nutrients. You should also continue to monitor your solution by taking readings at least two times a day to make sure everything is okay. Always keep your setup as optimal as possible.
Caring for Cannabis Grown With Hydroponics vs. Soil
Using hydroponics is different from growing in soil. Consider the support the plant is receiving. Compared to plants that are grown in soil, hydroponic plants can be vulnerable to breaking or tipping. Using a trellis will prevent any breaking or tipping and will also allow you to train your plants.
Pruning is another thing you need to consider. In hydroponics, your plants can grow extremely fast therefore you must practice diligence and patience when pruning your plants. Remove all the foliage at the bottom and then top your plant before it is switched to its flowering stage. Allow your top colas (the large, topmost buds) to receive all the energy from light that they need to grow well.
Growing hydroponically will require you to invest time, money and effort in developing your system before actually starting your garden. You will want to make sure your system works well and you are using high-quality nutrients so that your plants will grow well. Once you are comfortable with using hydroponics, you will surely be ready to grow the best cannabis plants and yields.
If you are have never tried using hydroponics then this may be the best time to do it. You can practice growing in soil as well as in hydro and see which plants will grow healthy and better come harvest time.