Getting To Know Growing Media

You might think of a plant’s roots as feet because the plant can’t stand up without them. But really, roots are more like the brain. Since this is where your harvest is being programmed, you definitely want to make sure you’re growing in the right medium.

Indoor Gardening with Potting Soil

The components of standard commercial potting soil are not inert materials. While using them for hydroponics is possible, they can mess with nutrient levels. Peat and potting mixes shouldn’t be used with recirculating systems. Peat moss, used in the majority of commercial mixes, is highly acidic.

You can use these easy to find, indoor-outdoor potting soil mixes with the more traditional type of indoor growing.

Hydroponic Growing Media

This is a soilless method of gardening and uses only inert materials for potting. Not only do these potting materials allow for total control of nutrients, but they also have excellent drainage and provide good airflow to the roots.

The type of media you want to use totally depends on which kind of hydroponic system you are going to use. All of these media types work great with both recirculating systems and those that run to waste:

  • Drip irrigation
  • Flood and drain (also known as ebb and flow)
  • Passive

A Word About The NFT System

Being inexpensive and simple to operate, NFT is attractive to those just getting started in indoor growing. It has some distinct disadvantages, like inadequate air availability to your plant roots, which can lead to loss of plant vigor and is a common source of failure for newbies.

Another disadvantage directly related to root systems is that there is no protection from overexposure to air and heat from your grow lights. Should your pump quit working, it won’t be pretty. Like all unexpected problems, this might not be discovered until there is no hope for rescuing the crop. You’ll have less cause for concern about equipment failure if you start out with a better type of hydro system.

Begin with a system that reduces destructive impact due to equipment failure. A growth medium gives your plants temporary protection against irreversible lethal injury.

Other Hydroponic Systems

Hydroponics systems

  • You can use both inert materials and soilless medium using a drip irrigation system.
  • The ebb and flow or flood and drain system take away the drawbacks of the NFT at a budget-friendly cost. Starting seeds can be done with Rockwool starter cubes and then transferred into larger Rockwool slabs. A pod-based system will let you propagate seeds and cuttings in a number of medium types.
  • Passive hydro systems, unlike the others, has no pump. These rely on deep water culture or a wicking system to deliver nutrients and moisture to your plant’s root system.

Most Popular Hydroponics Medium

Clay pebbles have almost universal application and can be used with drip irrigation, flood and drain, passive, and also with some NFT systems. The chunky texture provides the ultimate aeration, and great pH level stability. It is also recyclable and can be mixed with real soil to provide drainage and airflow.

Other Types of Hydroponic Media

Growing media

Some are of organic origin, while others are man-made materials. Determining which you should use depends on the type of plants to be grown, your budget, and what type of system you’re using.

Last updated by Catherine Sherriffs on 30/04/2020.

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Tammy Clayton

Contributing Writer at Garden Culture Magazine

Tammy has been immersed in the world of plants and growing since her first job as an assistant weeder at the tender age of 8. Heavily influenced by a former life as a landscape designer and nursery owner, she swears good looking plants follow her home.