What is the best Hydroponic Medium?
It is sometimes complicated for someone who wants to start hydroponics to know which is the best growing medium among all those that exist. With this article, you will learn more about the different growing mediums, the differences between each of them and the most suitable one for your situation.
Sphagnum Moss for Plants
It is no longer necessary to present: the Sphagnum Moss is a must in gardening. There are more than 3,000 different species of Sphagnum Moss and it is endemic to peat bogs, wetlands with special ecological conditions that have allowed a colonization of this kind of vegetation.
Potting soil is commonly used to enrich the soil in gardens or to repot indoor plants. However, it has far fewer advantages than Sphagnum Moss for Plants. Indeed, the potting soil:
- Does not have a great capacity to absorb water,
- Cannot be re-wetted because its membranes, once dry, break,
- Compacts too easily,
- Does not remain active for more than 4 months.
Advantages of Sphagnum Moss
On the other hand, Sphagnum Moss for Plants has many advantages - which interest us as hydroponic gardeners:
- It has a much higher water absorption capacity than potting soil, about twenty times its weight.
- Its fibers can be re-wetted because, once dry, they do not break due to the presence of internal vertical membranes that act as a reinforcement.
- It is a very elastic material, so it does not compact too much.
- It has antibacterial properties.
- It is an excellent root stimulant, which allows a better recovery of the plants. It has a capacity of absorption of water much more important than the compost, approximately twenty times its weight.
In summary, Sphagnum Moss is an excellent growing medium that will fit perfectly into Passive Hydroponics or even into a Hydroponic Growing System.
Coconut Coir for Plants
Coconut Coir is a totally natural substrate which offers an excellent alternative to Canadian Sphagnum Moss or Rockwool Grow Cubes and can be handled without precaution. It allows a good aeration as well as a good retention of water and nutrients allowing the plant and its roots an optimal absorption while obtaining the oxygen that it needs.
Advantages of Coconut Coir
- It has a neutral pH, ideal of 5.8,
- It allows an excellent root development,
- It does not compact, it remains perfectly draining,
- It has a great capacity of retention of water and nutrients,
- The yield obtained in a substrate containing coconut fiber is often superior,
- It is free of diseases and parasites since it has generally been sterilized,
- It has been carefully rinsed to avoid the salinity it is naturally marked with,
- It can be reused several times in a row, which is very useful in hydroponics.
In summary, the coconut fiber allows an optimal absorption of water and nutrients while granting a good oxygenation. Its low density and light weight make it a real champion of growth substrate in hydroponics.
Rockwool for Plants
The main use of rock wool is insulation, whether thermal or phonic. Since the appearance of agricultural methods, it has made a place for itself in the field, more specifically with horticulturists. It is one of the most popular growing medium for hydroponics.
Advantages of Rockwool Grow Cubes
- It retains its physical properties over time and from one crop to the next,
- It is light, so it is easy to handle and move, and when fully irrigated, it becomes heavy and provides stability for the plants,
- It is manufactured to provide near ideal moisture and aeration in the root zone. This helps prevent overwatering and root suffocation due to lack of oxygen.
- It can be reused for several successive crops because its structure does not deteriorate rapidly with use or with time. A quality rockwool can be reused up to 6 times by sterilizing it with steam for example, to prevent the proliferation of root pathogens.
Plus, Rockwool Grow Cubes are ready to use when purchased. All these advantages make this growing medium a must for hydroponics.
Other Growing Mediums
There are other growing substrates that use non-green materials and perform poorly. However, we have covered the ones that will give you the best results. For best results, we recommend that you:
- Refer to this article and do further research to find out exactly what the best growing medium is for what you are growing,
Pay attention to the differences between systems that use a mandatory substrate (e.g. Kratky Method) and those where a substrate is optional, for example with hydroponics via a Hydroponic Growing System. In this case, you will have to exchange your Hydroponic Sponge for the substrate that you will insert in your Hydroponic Basket.
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