Basic Hydroponic system - Water Culture (1/6)
How It Works
In water culture systems, the plant is suspended in pots, baskets, or cups above the reservoir filled with nutrient solution. The roots hang down and are constantly submerged into the nutrient solution. This system uses an air pump to ensure that the roots get the oxygen they need so they don’t suffocate. The best water culture systems provide many air bubbles that make direct contact with the roots. There are actually two different ways to provide the necessary aeration for your plants.
The most common way people provide aeration for their plants is by using air stones and an air pump to create tiny air bubbles in the nutrient solution. The air pump is connected to the air stones with an air hose. The air stones create tiny air bubbles, and the air pump works to send the bubbles up to the roots. Alternatively, you could use a soaker hose to create bubbles instead of the air stones. A soaker hose is a good option because it creates even tinier bubbles, which are better at aerating the nutrient solutions. This is because smaller bubbles can make better contact with the surface of the water, which then works to replace the oxygen-soaked up by the plant’s roots.
It is not typical for home growers to use this system, but it is an effective method of aerating the solution. The higher from which the water falls, the more downward force it has. The deeper the force, the more aeration is provided. This strategy is more often used in commercial hydroponic growing because they have access to and use more water.
Some people also elect to use recirculating water culture systems. Recirculating water culture systems are similar to ebb and flow systems, which we outlined in a previous blog. The difference is that a recirculating water culture system never drains the nutrient solution.
Building Your Own System
In order to build a water culture system, you will need the following:
- A container to act as your reservoir
- An aquarium air pump
- An air hose
- Air stones or a soaker hose to create the bubbles
- Pots, baskets, or cups in hold your plants
- Growing medium of some kind
You will start by drilling a small hole in the side of your reservoir for your air hose. Then, you will thread the air hose through the hole and attach it to your air stone or soaker hose inside the container. Attach the other end of the hose to the air pump, which should be positioned higher than your reservoir to prevent flooding the pump if your system fails. Check to make sure that you are getting plenty of bubbles. After that, your plant is ready to be placed on top of the reservoir with its roots hanging in the nutrient solution. The water culture system is an effective and simple hydroponic grow system.