At National Hydroponics, we love our indoor gardening. In fact, we don’t think you’ll find a more green-fingered lot than us! And, what’s just as good for us as watching a plant flourish is seeing the joy this hobby brings to others too.

Yet, some people find it all so complicated, this gardening lark. It needn’t be, with the right equipment and a bit of know-how to give you the confidence necessary to crack on and succeed. So, we’ve put together this Beginners Guide to Hydroponics to help you understand the what, why and how behind it all to get you started.

Hydro WHAT? 

Put simply, hydroponics is all about growing plants without using the earth. It falls within a scientific system known as Hydroculture, so named because of the Greek word for water – Hydro – and its use as a base for cultivation instead of soil. The ‘ponics’ part is all about how things work, in this case, the way in which the nutrients are supplied to a plant so it will grow. Add in another essential for growth – daylight – and you’ve got hydroponics. Simple enough so far?

Why Hydro?

Garden enthusiasts are all about watching things thrive. Whether it’s colourful flowers, hardy plants or tasty vegetables, there’s so much pleasure to be had in tending to a garden. Yet, the good old British climate doesn’t always allow things to run to plan and this puts many people off altogether. Thankfully, hydroponics is indoor-based, so it doesn’t care what’s happening outside and becomes an effective way to reach your horticultural goals regardless of the weather. Goodbye to raincoats and hello to flourishing flora and fauna!

Hydroponics isn’t a new phenomenon, dating way back to the 1600s when a chap called Francis Bacon first dabbled in this technique. Thanks to extensive research and many more years of trial and error, hydroponics has now advanced so greatly that it has reached a state of ‘simple’ in which anyone can participate, whether a large scale food manufacturer or a home horticulturalists.

Hydroponics has other benefits, too, starting with cost efficiency. Investing in kit needn’t cost an arm and a leg, and once you’ve done so then you’re set to go and can use these items again and again. And then there are the health benefits tied to this DIY approach to horticulture, particularly if you plan to eat what you grow. In short, no unknown additives or pesticides – just wholesome, homegrown goodness. And, unlike traditional garden growing, some of your plants will positively relish this method and shoot up in super-quick time too.

How to Hydro?

There are a few variations on offer here and the best one for you will depend on what it is you would like to grow. The underlying principle remains the same for each. You need water, air and nutrients for growth – yet the variant comes in how the nutrient reaches the plant. To give you an idea, we’ve listed some of the better-known methods here, their pros and cons and which suits what type of plant best. 

Wick

Method: Water reservoir sits under the growing medium with a wick drawing the nutrient solution on demand.

Difficulty level: Simple

Deep Water Culture

Method: Water reservoir sits under Styrofoam base. Pump supplies air into the reservoir which then stimulates the nutrient solution into action to feed the plant.

Difficulty level: Simple

Ebb and Flow

Method: Managed by a pump on a timer, the water reservoir repeatedly floods and drains the growing medium with nutrient solution.

Difficulty level: Simple and commonly used

Drip

Method: A hose drips nutrient solution over the top of the plant. Excess solution flows back into the system for its re-use.

Difficulty level: Simple and most commonly used

Nutrient Film Technique

Method: A constant flow of nutrient solution is supplied to the plants.

Difficulty level: Simple

Aeroponic

Method: Nutrient solution mist is sprayed onto the plant at regular intervals

Difficulty level: Advanced/technical

Let There Be Light!

Don’t forget that you’ll also need sufficient daylight to allow your plants to grow. Typically between 14 to 16 hours of direct light to replicate what a plant would receive outdoors. For indoor gardening, this means a fluorescent, LED or HID heat lamp. There are many available for purchase, so it’s well worth having a good think about the types of plant you intend to grow before spending your money.

If you’re keen to get started with your indoor garden and would like more advice on what to grow and how, get in touch with one of our team today at National Hydroponics – your one-stop grow shop.

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