Hydroponics is intended to support healthy growth of plants just like soil does, and there are many aspects that support optimal plant growth. Although hydroponics is a method of growing without soil, this doesn’t mean that your plants have to suffer by having nothing to grow in.
Doing a good job with your media is important to grow strong, healthy plants. That’s why we use different types of media to support your roots and maintain the right water/oxygen ratio. Some growers choose to use hydroponic rockwool, while others opt for several other types of hydroponic media.
Let’s go over the most common types of grow media. Frankly, it doesn’t really matter which type you use because they all have their strengths and weaknesses. I’m going to show you how to choose a medium using your own preferences as a guideline.
Vermiculite, like Perlite, is an effective nutrient-wicking substance that can be used to increase surface area for optimal nutrient and water absorption. Vermiculite can be purchased in various particle sizes.
These are the type of packing peanuts that are standard in shipping industries. They’re cheap, available everywhere, and drain fairly well, which makes them great for most hydroponics systems. These allow for good air exchange when exposed to the surface area of the hydroponics system but are not recommended for outdoor use due to their lightweight nature.
They are completely natural, and made from crushed up bricks. They do not affect the pH of your hydroponics system. It is just like adding sand to a beach! Crushed Brick is used in many soil mixes and is ideal for use as a drainage layer in hydroponic gardens.
If you like to work with simple, clean materials–check out wood chips! You’re guaranteed a healthy growing environment for your plants. In fact, some studies have even shown that wood chips can be helpful in reducing the effects of plant growth regulators. It all depends on how you decide to use them.
A great choice is aquarium gravel. This type of substrate is regularly used in fish tanks and can be found cheap at a pet store. It is very easy to clean, and if it gets dirty, it’s relatively cheap to replace.
An easy type of hydroponic solution, sand is a great starting point for growing small plants. While not the most popular medium on average, Sand is a great choice for beginners. It’s cheap and easy to come by, and it holds no water or nutrient load.
Montmorillonite pumice, or lightweight mineral that is crushed and used in some hydroponics systems. It’s virtually the same as perlite. You can purchase pumice at your local hydroponics store.
Rice hulls are the shells that surround rice. They allow for good drainage without holding on to much water. Rice hulls are a byproduct that would normally be thrown away, but hydroponics lets us re-purpose something that would otherwise be thrown away into something useful.
I’ve been a growstones fan for years. This is a product that I use in my soil mix because it improves aeration, drainage, and moisture retention. With greater longevity than conventional mulches, bamboo strips require less maintenance and are also a natural and sustainable resource.
Rockwool is a product that has been around for many decades. It’s made by taking a natural mineral and spinning it into extremely thin fibers. Rockwool is an inert mineral material that has been used for decades to create high-quality grow rock for hydroponic growing.
Rockwool has a lot of positive characteristics, but it is a mined product – so raising it’s pH can be expensive and time-consuming. It’s also hard to get rid of, as melted rockwool will stick around forever. Rockwool is a rapidly-decreasing option for starting seeds. It’s replacement, starter plugs, are a safe and reliable way to get seeds sprouting in your garden.
A sponge start system is ideal for first time gardeners. I like to think of it as the spring mix of hydroponics. It contains all the nutrients your plants need to get established, and you don’t have to worry about any compost breaking apart in your reservoir.
For those who want to reduce the amount of chemicals used in conjunction with the growth of cannabis, clones and seedlings are a great way to start out large quantities of new plants. I use these extensively for my seedlings and clones and I have to say that they are the most convenient and simple way to start out large quantities of new plants. These starter plugs provide root growth through the wide bottom opening, so you have less transplanting to do.
Traditional gardeners often turn to Perlite as an ideal growing medium. It’s an air-dried porous volcanic silicate, which is great for retaining water and nutrients that plants need to grow. It’s available in coarse, medium, and fine grades and adds structure to compost as well.
Composed of the mineral silicate that is heated to very high temperatures, perlite can be used to improve drainage in a grow bed. It is hard, light, and fluffy and provides excellent aeration for the roots of plants. It is best used in conjunction with coco coir, live soil, or vermiculite.
Oasis Cubes are just like rockwool. It’s a special type of rock that provides great support as well as allowing for lots of air flow. Just like using rockwool, you can use oasis cubes to start your seeds and seedlings. If you’re growing a few plants for the first time, then oasis cubes are probably your best bet. They’re super cheap and there are no guides for the technology, so you have a lot of freedom to learn something new.
Sure To Grow
If you’re tired of the same old growing media, why not try something different? Sure To Grow is a unique new growing medium that gets you great results but also allows you to connect with other gardeners. It’s perfect for avid gardeners and beginners alike.
Hydroton expanded clay pellets are known to offer consistent performance and can be used in a variety of hydroponic systems including the popular wicking bed hydroponics system. The best part about them is their natural porousness and spherical shape. They help to make a perfect environment for the roots where they get all the nutrients. This way, they get 10 times better than any other regular coco coir in the market.
If you want a lightweight medium that will still allow for drainage, then hydroton may not be the best solution. If this is an issue for you, there are plenty of other hydroponic mediums available. Other than these two disadvantages, Hydroton pellets are a great reusable growing medium to use. They work equally well in hydroponic and top fed aquaponic systems.
Coco coir is non-toxic, odorless, and hypoallergenic. It’s made from the husks of coconuts and represents a revolutionary step forward in hydroponic growing mediums. What are Coconut Husks? Coconut Husks are the brown outer shells of coconuts that are collected, dried, and cut into different sizes.
The husk is the outer covering of a coconut that protects the seed and flesh from sun damage, saltwater, and disease. Most importantly, it makes a perfect growing medium for coconut seeds to germinate and create new trees.
Hydroponic coconut coir is a light and fluffy growing medium that provides excellent water retention, which will leach minerals into the roots enabling your young plants to get off to a good start. Coco coir is a versatile growing medium that can be used for all hydroponics setups from Ebb and Flow to Aquaponics. It’s free of any harmful additives or chemicals, making it ideal for the controlled environment of hydroponic systems.