Hydroponics is a major improvement over conventional gardening methods. Hydroponics means growing plants without using soil, i.e. using alternative growing mediums. The word ‘hydroponics’ literally means growing plants in water but now it is applied to growing plants in any other medium besides soil. Hydroponics has been taken further for growing plants in stone wool, coconut fiber and cocoa. It is now being increasingly tried in household gardens. Gardeners are using hydroponics to grow plants that needed hard-to-maintain soil conditions. Absence of soil means a lesser degree of dependence on providing plant food or purchasing fertilizers. However, being a recent development, the science of hydroponics is not clearly understood. This is particularly applicable to the subject of plant nutrition in Hydroponics. It is misconception that plants grown via hydroponics don’t need any kind of nutritional supplements. Garden hydroponics too needs additional supply of nutritional elements, although to a lesser extent as compared to soil-based gardening.
Hydroponics Nutrient Types
1. Organic Nutrients — these are the most common form of hydroponics nutrients. They are similar to nutrients used in organic gardening. However, for hydroponics gardening, the organic nutrient should be free from any deposit-like formations. This helps it to be easily absorbed by the plant roots.
2. Plant Boosters — these have been recently introduced in the market. They are meant to speed-up the uptake of nutrients in plants. This helps to fasten the plant’s growth. Some advanced hydroponics nutrients can induce quicker flowering in garden plants. You should resist using these complex products unless you have a vast experience in gardening. Ideally, boosters should be used under professional guidance.
Purchasing Hydroponic Nutrients
You should buy hydroponic plant nutrients that are retailed with a proper explanation of how and when the ingredients have to be used. The packaged nutrient should have a detailed chart of the various elements it contains and the ideal application method. This is because, unlike common fertilizers, hydroponic nutrients have to be applied in a specific manner or the plants won't be able to absorb them. You should resist from exploring too many varieties of plant nutrients. Most of them contain similar combinations of essential and trace nutrients. It is more important to systematically apply the nutrients and be patient.
Nutrients You Should Know About
When checking-out a retailed hydroponics fertilizer, you should be able to recognize the nutrient combination that is being offered. All plants need a mix of macro- and micronutrients. Macronutrients are essential for the plant’s growth. Macronutrients form the core of plant nutrition and they are added throughout the year. Micronutrients are also called trace elements. They are added in minimal quantities and their use is occasional.
Common Macronutrients — Nitrogen, Potassium, Phosphorus, Oxygen, Magnesium, Sulfur, Hydrogen and Calcium.
Common Micronutrients — Nickel, Molybdenum, Manganese, Iron, Chlorine, Cobalt, Sodium, Silicon and Zinc.
Plant Nutrients and pH
If you use water as the growing medium, then remember — the absorption of added nutrients is also affected by the pH level. For this, ensure that the container is free of any form of debris. Using a pH meter for monitoring the water’s chemical nature is recommended.