The common nickname for cannabis—“weed” —comes from its ability to grow almost anywhere, under varying conditions and different climates. “Hydroponic cannabis” simply refers to plants grown using a nutrient-water solution and an inert growing medium rather than nutrient-rich soil. This method could be something as basic as hand-watering pots of inert medium with a nutrient solution. As discussed in the first part of this series, sophisticated systems with multiple pumps, timers, and reservoirs can take some of the daily labor out of growing, but they require more maintenance and setup time as well as a greater initial investment.
What Is Hydroponic Cannabis?
Nutrients will come either pre-mixed in a solution or in powder form. While powder form might be cheaper and less bulky, it is best to stick with liquid pre-mixed nutrients if you are a small-time grower as they mix with water easily and are more forgiving.
Nutrients for Hydroponic Cannabis
Another thing to consider is pruning. With hydroponics, your plants can grow extremely fast. This means you need to be diligent about pruning. Removing all the bottom foliage and topping your plant before switching to its flowering cycle will allow your top colas (the large, topmost buds) to receive all the energy they need.
You might be scratching your head trying to figure out how to implement this. Don’t worry: There’s a clever solution to this problem. Read on.
Another drawback to this method pertains to pests—an infestation of critters is extremely difficult to get rid of with the peat-and-perlite growing medium. This is because the uneven surface of the medium is rife with tiny crevices and holes, perfect sites for any critters to hide and reproduce in. If you have an infestation, you’ll actually have to replace the top inch or two of the medium to get rid of the hidden pests that take refuge there from insecticide. These moist hiding places also conceal insect eggs that can transform into the next generation of pests.
Ebb & Flood
This most basic of methods uses a common planting container filled with peat moss and fortified with perlite. This method is the ultimate no-brainer, requiring little or no maintenance for the entire life cycle of your plants—you simply feed them some nutrient solution once or twice a day and watch them explode into lovely green foliage.
While cost is always something to keep in mind, your skill level as a grower is also something that you must consider. First-time growers should use the peat-and-perlite method. This allows you to learn and to improve your grow skills using a very simple and forgiving hydroponic method. While the results won’t be as spectacular as you’d see when using some of the other methods, it’s still a very effective way to grow. You won’t be disappointed.
Peat & Perlite (Soilless Mix)
Basically, a crop is grown in a hydroponic solution (a growing medium is optional).