Here at National Hydroponics, we receive so many questions on the whats, whys, and hows of hydroponics, every single day. So, we’ve put together a short list of FAQs to help any budding botanists out there to understand the science behind it, as well as its benefits and costs. And once you’ve finished reading our blog, happy growing!

What is hydroponics?

Hydroponics is the term used for a series of methods of growing plants without soil. Instead of the earth, hydroponics uses water as a base for cultivation and sees the nutrients required for plant growth fed to the plant through the water. Whilst the methods can vary, hydroponics as a horticultural system relies on four key components to succeed: air, daylight, nutrients and water. Some methods also use a growth medium to keep the plant secure as part of their process.

Is hydroponics better than growing plants or vegetables using a traditional method?

It’s fair to say that many plants benefit from a hydroponic growth method simply because they need a lot of water and daylight to flourish, and both can be more effectively controlled using this system. Yet some plants will flourish whatever the conditions and so are absolutely fine to grow outdoors. It all depends on what it is you are wanting to grow as to which method will better suit.

What is the benefit to growing my plants using hydroponics?

There are several benefits to using a hydroponic system for plant growth.
Plants will often grow much more successfully when a hydroponic method is adopted, due to the way in which the growth components connect with the plant’s roots. The extra air available in a growing medium, the provision of light on demand and the constant provision of nutrients and water all assist the plant’s developing quickly and abundantly. It’s also environmentally-friendly in its using less water (and that which it does use can be recycled) and fewer pesticides. 

Will my plants grow faster using hydroponics?

A hydroponic plant can grow much faster than the same type of plant grown in soil in otherwise similar conditions; depending on the variety, some plants will grow up to 50% faster. Experts believe this is mainly due to the use of a growing medium, which allows for extra oxygen to reach the plant’s roots and helps them to absorb the nutrients much quicker than they would do if planted in soil.

Are there any risks associated to hydroponically grown vegetables?

There are no known risks to vegetables grown using a hydroponic method.

Are there any health benefits to using hydroponics for growing my own food?

It has yet to be proven that vegetables grown hydroponically have any direct health benefits over those grown in the ground. Although since plants grown hydroponically tend to use fewer (if any) pesticides, it could be argued those grown via this method are of less detriment to one’s health than soil-grown produce. People who grow their own vegetables also tend to eat their home-grown goods as well, therefore sticking to a diet rich in produce which, in itself, is considered to come with many health benefits.

Is hydroponics an expensive hobby?

Like any hobby, you can choose to put as little or as much time and effort into it as you like and your enthusiasm will often dictate the costs involved. Hydroponics is no different, and need not be a costly exercise at all – particularly when you’re first getting started. Our suggestion would be to start with the basics and see how you take to your hobby initially, before parting with too much money. Once your passion grows so can your kit.

What basic items will I need to get going?

If you’re new to hydroponics a starter kit may be worth considering since all of the bare essentials will be available to you ‘out of the box’. Or, depending on which hydroponic method you are choosing to use, you can obtain the items separately. The key components you will need are as follows:
Grow tray – in which your plants sit
Growing medium – this will keep the plants secure, eg. Rockwool
Nutrients – your plant feed
Reservoir – this holds the water which feeds the plants
Pump – this generates oxygen required by the plants
Timer – to make sure the process of feeding the plant happens intermittently
Light – this mimics the sun/daylight necessary for growth

How much does it cost for a basic set up with one light?

Hydroponic kits can cost anything from a few pounds to several hundred, depending on your intended method for growth. If you consider the most basic of kits, including the items we have mentioned above together with one light, we would suggest our setup bundles, which start from £400.

How much power does it use and what is the cost?

The item which rely on power are the pump, timer and light. Collectively, these should only cost you a few pence per day to run since they do not require huge amounts of power to operate. Electricity tariffs do vary from place to place so it is worth investigating the running costs in your area before you proceed.

If you have any questions or would like any information about hydroponics, please contact our knowledgeable team on 01204 370611 or