Plan your hydroponics system – You need to have your equipment and water source close to hand and somewhere next to the system that you can prepare nutrient solution or clean your equipment. If you are growing inside, think about what might happen if there is a leak. Is your floor waterproof, or could you put down a drip tray.
Hydroponic growing is a more technical skill than growing plants in soil. You can learn a lot from reading books and articles, and watching instructional videos. However, one of the best ways to learn is from our mistakes. Thankfully, I’ve made plenty of mistakes while growing plants with hydroponics over the years.
Read my article about growing media and you won’t go too far wrong.
The best options for testing pH are to use a pH testing kit or a pH testing meter. I generally recommend getting a decent quality electric pH testing meter, as it makes pH testing quick and easy.
The choice of growing media is huge and there are many factors to consider when making a choice. I have another entire article dealing with choosing the right growing medium if you want to learn more.
Various features of your system can also cause excess stress to your plants which can make them more susceptible to disease.
The challenges of growing plants with hydroponics are totally worth it. Hydroponics has so many benefits and is such a fun hobby. However, If you try to run your system too long between flushing it and changing the nutrient solution, the chance of having problems, or even ruining your crops will increase significantly. The longer you go between changes, the more likely you are to run into problems with disease, pests and nutrient solution issues that you cannot correctly treat.
The pH level of your nutrient solution is one of the most crucial aspects of hydroponic growing. When growing plants in soil, the soil itself acts as a pH buffer and prevents rapid changes in the pH level. This means that pH issues are slower to develop and can be dealt with more easily.
To prevent disease in your hydroponic plants, you should try to avoid conditions that pathogens will thrive in. This means avoiding excessively high temperatures and humidity levels and trying to ensure that your plants receive some direct sunlight or good quality artificial light.
This article highlights the most common problems with hydroponics systems and how you can either prevent or solve these easily.
Listen to this post on the Epic Gardening Podcast
- Can you describe, in as much detail as possible, the problem in your garden?
- What was the exact date and time the problem occurred?
- Where are your plants in their lifecycle?
- How many plants are affected? If more than one, did it happen all at once?
- What do the plants look like (leaves especially)
- What part of the plant is affected (leaves, roots, stems, etc)?
- Are there any pests on the plants? If so, where and what?
- In the last 24-48 hours, have you changed anything in how you care for your plants?
- Have you treated your plants with any products (fungicide, insecticide, foliar sprays)
- What are the dimensions of your growing room?
- What type of lights are you using, and how many?
- What growing medium are you using in the garden?
- What is the air temperature throughout a 24hr period?
- What is the temperature of your nutrient reservoir?
- What is the pH of your nutrient solution, and your growing medium (if applicable)
- What is the PPM / EC of your nutrient solution?
- What type of nutrients are you using?
When I run into problems like this, I always opt for #2. Go with someone who’s done it before and can explain exactly what’s going on with your plant. This is almost always the better choice, because you’ll gain a deeper understanding of why the problem occurred.
Gardening in general is a tough hobby to get into. But when you take it indoors and start to experiment with hydroponics, it can get ever more complex.
Sooner or later, one of your plants is going to have a problem that you just can’t figure out how to solve. When you inevitably run into this, you can do one of two things:
There are many more questions to ask, but you’ll find that answering even some of these may cause you to realize the solution to your problem yourself! Asking these questions also forces you to more deeply understand what you are doing and how you are growing, so you can avoid mistakes in the future.
More specific questions to ask
Here’s a good list of questions to start from:
A lot can go wrong when growing hydroponically – lighting, water, nutrients, pests…the list goes on. Here's how to troubleshoot your hydro garden.