Hydroponic growing systems provide a method of growing your favorite herb or cannabis plants in a nutrient rich, water-based system without the use of soil. Instead of using soil to support your plant root system, hydroponic systems use other substances called growing mediums such as rockwool, clay pellets, peat moss, or perlite.  Hydroponics is becoming an increasingly popular method for growing your own with versatile options that produce high yield of quality, healthy plants.

With the right equipment, some space, and a little patience, it’s easy for anyone to get started growing with hydroponics.

The Most Basic Types of Hydroponic Growing Systems 

There are many variations of hydroponic growing systems, although any method is a variation or combination of the most basic types of hydroponics. The most common methods of hydroponic systems are:

  • Wick System
  • Deep Water Culture
  • Ebb and Flow
  • Aeroponic systems

Each of these methods facilitate a quick growth rate, which is one of the primary advantages of growing hydroponics.  You can improve your growth rate by maintaining your water and keeping it free from impurities. Let’s review the basics of each of these hydroponic growing methods.

The Wick System 

The wick system is a remarkably simple type of hydroponic system to set up, it is a passive system without any moving parts. Nylon wicks positioned around the plant are used to draw the nutrient solution into the growing medium from the reservoir. You can choose from a variety of the most popular growing mediums, typically an absorbent substance such as Perlite, Vermiculite, coconut fiber and Pro-Mix.

While the Wick System is technically a hydroponic system, it is a bit primitive and you risk your plants not getting the nutrients that they need.  In many cases, the wicks simply cannot supply enough nutrient solution needed for larger plants to thrive. Another drawback to the Wick system is that nutrients are not absorbed evenly. This might work for a small herb garden, but we recommend a more advanced hydroponic system if you want to cultivate beautiful cannabis buds.

Ebb & Flow

The ebb and flow hydroponic growing system, sort of a flood and drain system, is versatile and can be used with a variety of growing mediums. Your plants are put into pots in flood trays, which are filled with nutrient rich water that is pumped up from the reservoir. The plants are submersed in water and nutrients for a specified period of time, until the water is drained back into the water reservoir. This allows for the roots to dry and oxygenate before the next water cycle.

Ebb and flow systems are simple and cost-effective as the water is continually recycled, providing a low maintenance, efficient hydroponic growing system for beginners. 

Deep Water Culture 

Deep water culture is a popular and  simple type of hydroponic system, where the plants are secured in a proper position with net pots, and then submerged directly into nutrient-rich water. Rather than utilize a flood and drain cycle, an air stone or diffuser pumps oxygen into the water for a constant supply of nutrients and oxygen. The water culture hydroponic system works well with all types of plants and allows plants to grow very quickly.

One potential issue of this method is root disease which is caused by dirty or contaminated growing conditions. This type of system should be flushed every couple of days so that your plants receive all the beneficial nutrients without risk of root disease.

Aeroponic Growing System

 The aeroponic growing system utilizes a newer technique where the plant roots are suspended in the air, in a mesh basket.  The nutrient solution is sprayed in a fine mist through nozzles positioned below the plants. This sprays a nutrient rich solution directly onto the roots of the plants which receive maximum oxygenation. The aeroponic growing system can be a little more complex to set up but it produces some amazing results. 

You should think about the amount of time and money that you are willing to spend on growing your own and speak with an experienced growing store like Rainmakers Supply. Whichever type of system you choose, remember that lighting is critically important. Standard incandescent lights will not give you the results you expect, it is wise to invest in the right type of high-intensity discharge (HID) lights for best results.

RainMakers Supply provides high-quality hydroponic growing equipment, supplies and support for beginning growers or the experienced horticulturist.  We can help you choose the right type of system that fits your lifestyle and your growing goals.  Contact us with any questions and for the best in hydroponic growing systems in Chicago.