Hydroponics is a farming method that doesn’t require soil to grow plants or foods. Soil is not used in this form of farming. Other hydroponic growing mediums are used instead. This article is going to cover the five best hydroponic growing mediums to use for your garden.
Perlite is a volcanic rock that is exposed to high heat to turn it into a lightweight, porous medium. You can mix perlite in with other mediums or use it on its own. This porous medium is well known for its high water retention ability, and it is effective at retaining oxygen due to its porousness. The downside to perlite is that it is lightweight, which can cause it to float in high water settings like with ebb-and-flow systems. It’s better to use perlite in hydroponic systems with draining systems.
Coco coir is one of the hydroponic growing mediums that has become more popular to use. Coco coir is grounded coconut husks and is a reusable medium, which helps create less waste. This medium effectively retains water to help hydrate your plants and is a great medium for beginners since it looks like soil. However, it isn’t soil and still requires nutrients and a controlled pH level.
Clay pellets are another popular hydroponic growing medium because of its porous material. A benefit of using clay pellets is that they are pH neutral, and they quickly soak up excess moisture. Clay pellets are reusable as long as you clean them between every growth cycle. It’s best to use clay pellets when you’re having issues with draining, but be careful clay pellets can drain and dry very quickly, which may dry out your roots.
Starter plugs are a newer hydroponic growing medium that is made from organic compost. This sponge medium is useful when you are growing seedlings or cloning, so you can later incorporate them into your hydroponic systems.
Many hydroponic growers use rockwool as their go-to medium. Rockwool is a melted rock that’s spun to create thin, long fibers, which are pressed into a cube shape. You will have to balance its pH before using it by soaking it in pH balanced water. Since it retains water so effectively, you will have to make sure it doesn’t oversaturate your plants. It’s an effective medium to use to ensure your plants get a majority of the necessary nutrients. However, it isn’t a biodegradable medium, and you do have to balance the pH before each use.
Knowing which hydroponic growing mediums to use can be a tough choice since there are so many options available. If you want to learn more about innovative farming methods, sign up for our microgreens class to learn more! Or, you can become a patron member to See Behind the Greens, where you’ll witness how food can be grown in closets, kitchen counters, living rooms, and more so you can learn how to do it too!