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Hydroponic Grow Hydroponic How-To for the DIY-er
  • Hydroponic Grow Medium

    Filed under The Basics
    Jul 18

    So what is a hydroponic grow medium? Well in simple terms it is what takes the place of the soil in a hydroponic system. In traditional gardening the soil has two main functions. First of all it provides nutrients to the plants roots. Second it is that holds the plant upright. Now we already know that in a hydroponic system a plant receives nutrients from the water, but it still needs something to allow the roots to grow in and support the plant. Thats where grow mediums come in.

    What can be used as a grow medium?

    Well about anything really as long as it wouldn’t normally harm a plant anyway. Ideally it should be PH neutral and inert meaning it shouldn’t add any nutrient value to the solution. Pea Gravel, perlite and coarse sand are common choices for someone not wanting to have to buy a commercial hydroponic grow medium.

    Commercial Grow Mediums

    LECA (Lightweight Expanded Clay Aggregate) is lightweight material made from kiln dried clay formed into small pebbles. This is typically the first choice by most hydroponic growers. It is reusable many times as long as it is cleaned and sterilized between grows. It is also completely PH neutral and inert so it does not effect the nutrient solution PH. LECA is free draining yet it still has good moisture retaining properties making it an excellent grow medium.

    Rockwool is simply the most widely used medium of all. It is a free draining inert material that is made from molten rock that has been spun into thin hair like fibers and formed into small blocks. It has good moisture retention and the ability to wick nutrients throughout the block. One disadvantage to rockwool is that it has a high PH and may cause your nutrient solution PH to creep up requiring periodic adjustment.

    Coco coir is a 100% natural grow medium that is made from the spongy outer husk of the coconut. It is also known as Coir and Coco peat. It is reusable, but tends to break down over time. This medium is best suited for use in a Drip System.

    Due to its light weight, it is not a recommended grow medium for an Ebb and Flow system.

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