Guide on Hydroponics Marijuana Growing

Most marijuana growers will say that hydroponic systems will grow plants quicker than traditionally planting them in a soil medium. This can be because plants grown hydroponically receive greater attention and the growers gain better control over nutrients and pH levels needed by the plants to grow. In addition, plants acquire more access to oxygen which tend them to breathe easier therefore, taking them less time to mature. Basically, there are 6 types of hydroponic systems although hundreds of variations are known by combining these 6 basic techniques.

Generally, hydroponic systems are characterized in two ways. First, if it’s either an active or a passive system in reference to the nutrient system used, or if it’s either a recovery or non-recovery type that refers to whether the nutrients are recovered or not after use.

Different Types of Hydroponic Systems

Wick System

So far, this system is the simplest type of hydroponics. This is a passive system in which pumps, timers and aeration systems are not required. Just simply connect your growing medium with a thick wick submerged into a reservoir of nutrients and the plants’ capillary action will do everything.

This type of hydroponic system is suitable for small time growers that cultivate few marijuana plants. However, this is not suitable for large marijuana plants because the wick cannot supply the large amounts of nutrients these plants need.

Ebb and Flow System(Flood and Drain Method)

This system is very popular for home hydroponic marijuana growers. The system works basically as it sounds. The roots of marijuana plants are being flooded with nutrient solution periodically instead of continuously. Your marijuana pots are held in a tray just above the reservoir and with the help of a pump, the nutrient solution goes up into the tray through a tube and allows the roots of marijuana plants to be dipped into the solution. When the preset height of the overflow has been reached, the nutrient solution is then allowed to get back into the reservoir to be used again. The flooding meets the plants’ nutrient needs and the time in between—the ebb, allows the plants’ roots to dry, allowing it to take oxygen and avoid rotting.

One disadvantage of this type of hydroponic system is that it requires frequent system check-up. If left unchecked, a plain pump malfunction or blockages in the pipe can result to damaged plants in no time.

Water Culture System

Of all active hydroponic systems, Water Culture is the simplest. The system works effectively by suspending cannabis’ roots directly into a nutrient solution 24/7. The roots are provided oxygen through dissolved oxygen in the water and air bubbles rising in the nutrient solution. This is ideal for growers new in hydroponics cultivation because it is easy to set-up and inexpensive. There are 3 types of Water culture hydroponic system. We will differentiate each of them.

DWC (Deep Water Culture) – is the basic of water culture system which uses one container (usually a bucket) serving as the reservoir for nutrient solution.

RDWC (Recirculating Deep Water Culture) – is just another variation of DWC however, this works similar to flood and drain method. But in RDWC, the nutrient solution doesn’t drain. It has a central reservoir which supplies nutrients solutions to several buckets.

Top Feed– basically works by feeding oxygenated nutrient solutions on top of the plants above the roots rather than just staying below the roots.

Nutrient Film Technique (NFT) System

Nutrient Film Technique System is a type of an active hydroponics system. The nutrient solution flows continuously in a thin film over marijuana plants’ roots, in which the process ensures marijuana plants get the nutrients and hydration they need without entirely soaking the roots. The purpose of the thin film is to ensure that the upper portions of the roots are completely dry in turn, giving the plants adequate access to oxygen.

NFT systems are very prone to power and pump failures. One simple power interruption at night could ruin the system, dry the roots of the plants and eventually kill them.

Drip System

Drip Systems are the most widely used type of hydroponics system, especially when growing marijuana. It works very simple. Tubing carries the nutrient solution from the reservoir into an emitter which functions to release the solution slowly into the growing media. This can be achieved either by using a pump or just feed by gravity. This system basically requires timer to provide time for the plants to absorb the nutrients and breathe. This can be set up as recovery or non-recovery type. However, when using recovery type, make sure to always check the pH and nutrient strength level. Adjust when necessary.


Aeroponics is the art of growing marijuana with its roots dangling in the air in a grow chamber and with no growing medium. The roots are misted with nutrient solution usually done within every few minutes lasting for seconds. Much like other hydroponics system, the system works through a pump except that this system specifically needs a short-cycled timer that runs every few minutes. This system is advantageous because it uses less water and nutrients compared to other hydroponics system. Likelihood of plant diseases are also lowered when using this type. However, a system failure could dry the roots faster and could ruin the whole crop. Because this specific hydroponic system is expensive, this is definitely not for beginner growers.

Essential Hydroponics Kit

Although marijuana plants are tough plants, factors such as nutrients, pH and temperature are still needed to be monitored to ensure greater yields during the end of marijuana growth phase. Here are some of the must haves hydroponics kit:

Hydroponics Nutrients

Basically, marijuana plants need nutrients to grow. In largest quantity, Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium (N-P-K) are the major nutrients they need to thrive. Fertilizers contain these essential nutrients in specific ratios depending on what stage of growth your marijuana plants are in. Luckily, hydroponic nutrients are available in hydroponics shops where you can get the best advice on what to use on your marijuana plants.

A meter for measuring pH

A pH meter is essential because it measures the acidity of the food you’re going to give your plants. It can also measure the water where you’re growing marijuana in. Maintaining proper balance of pH will ensure that the nutrients are properly taken by the plants.

A TDS meter

Because marijuana plant fertilizers doesn’t only contain N-P-K, traces of elements like calcium, magnesium and other trace minerals also needs to be measured. PPM (Parts per Million) meter gauges how much of this minerals are present in your nutrient solution to control the amounts of each during vegetative until marijuana flowering stage.

EC meter

This is used for measuring the electrical conductivity of the water. As the principle goes, the higher the conductivity, it means greater amounts of minerals are dissolved in the solution. This is particularly important to know if there are little or too much minerals present in the solution. If less, it could affect marijuana plants’ growth, otherwise, if it’s more, it could shock and burn your plants.