Hydroponics is merely growing plants without the use of soil. A variety of hydroponic gardening techniques exist, and nearly any plant can be grown with hydroponics. Hydroponic gardening is not at all difficult; in fact, many teachers actually use this method of gardening with their students for science projects.
There are a variety of benefits associated with hydroponic gardening. Unlike traditional gardening practices, when plants are grown using hydroponics, the roots do not find it necessary to search for required nutrients. Instead, nutrients solution is provided directly to them, resulting in more abundant plant growth. With hydroponics, you can also control important growing factors such as light, temperature, humidity, etc. Since there isn’t any soil, there is less maintenance involved with hydroponics as well. There is no need for weeding and no worries of pests or soil-borne diseases.
Hydroponics is always a soilless culture, but not all soilless cultures are considered to be hydroponics. Many types of soilless cultures do not use the nutrient solutions required for hydroponics. The two main types of hydroponics are solution culture and medium culture. Solution culture does not use a solid growing medium for the roots, just the nutrient solution. The medium culture has a solid growing medium for the roots such as sand, gravel, or perlite culture. Hydroponic plants are grown in a number of ways, however, each supplying nutrient solution to the plants one way or the other.
The easiest technique uses the passive method, which determines when and how much water the plants receive. For instance, hydroponic wick systems make use of Styrofoam trays containing a growing medium, like sand, which anchor the plants in place. The trays then float on top of the nutrient solution as the roots absorb the necessary amount of nutrients and water they require. This method is especially suited for moisture-loving plants. The flood and drain method of hydroponics is another commonly used technique. With this method, trays or individual pots containing a growing medium are used, and a pump is required as well. These are flooded with the nutrient solution and drained back into a separate holding tank or reservoir. Drip systems also require the use of a pump as well as a timer. Plants are provided nutrient solution as the timer turns the pump on, which then drips the solution onto the plants. Another type of hydroponic system is called the Nutrient Film Technique (NFT). With this method, plants are provided with a continual flow of nutrient solution. The plants do not require any type of growing medium but hang down directly in the solution itself. In aeroponics, the roots of a plant are suspended or hung in a darkened chamber and periodically covered or sprayed with a mist of nutrient solution every few minutes. No solid medium is ever used with this method.
Hydroponics can be used to grow plants anywhere, even in your own backyard, and nearly anything, from garden crops to flowers, can be grown using hydroponics. Hydroponic gardening is a clean and effective method for growing plants. There is less mess and less maintenance. Hydroponic gardening eliminates the need for weeding and cuts down on pests and diseases. This form of gardening also adapts well to indoor environments and can, therefore, be used throughout the year to grow all of your favorite plants. The greatest advantage to hydroponics is the overall outcome of the plants, which are healthier and of better quality.