Before we get into the nitty gritty details, let’s get a high-level overview of this type of system. In a DWC system, a plant’s roots are suspended in a well-oxygenated solution composed of water and nutrients.
How much faster do plants grow in a DWC system?
The longest you should wait before changing out your solution is three weeks, but this is just a general case. It depends on:
Just because you’re growing in a deep water culture system doesn’t mean you need to adapt your pH and PPM / EC. The standard range that most plants prefer (pH 5.5-6.5) is fine, however you will want to customize and monitor this based on what stage of growth your plants are in. When they’re putting on vegetation, you want to keep your pH in the higher end of that range, and when they’re flowering, the lower end.
Subscribe to the Epic Gardening Podcast on iTunes or Spotify
Let’s take a look at one of the simplest and most popular methods of hydroponic gardening today – Deep Water Culture, or DWC.
First of all, make sure that only the root matter is submerged in your nutrient solution — no stem, and certainly no vegetation. You don’t want to completely submerge the roots, either. I personally keep about 1-1.5″ of root above the water line. The bubbles from the air stone will typically pop and water will still land on the roots that aren’t submerged, so you don’t have to worry about them drying out.
5 Gallon Bucket
Also try to keep it above 60°F (16°C). If it goes any lower, your plants think that they’re moving into a new season, typically fall or winter. This means they’ll start to divert more energy towards flowering, which you may not want.
Deep water culture is one of the simplest ways to get into growing plants hydroponically, but it sounds very confusing and complex. Let's break it down!
Besides the traditional Deep Water Culture, as explained above, there are some varieties of this system type.
You can buy these tools at your local hydroponics or gardening supply store or online.
There are a few words about choosing a reservoir. You should not get a lighter color plastic one as light can pass through it. This will encourage algae to grow, affecting the roots’ health.
What you need in a system full of water like the DWC is oxygen. DWC solves the oxygen problem by using an air pump, or falling water so that there will be air bubbles rising up from the nutrient solution, and the dissolved water in the reservoir.
Bubbleponics proves to be useful at the beginning phase of your plants when the roots are still short, and cannot fully reach the water below.
Providing with nutrients and water at this stage helps the roots grow faster, and when they can sink deep into the reservoir’s nutrient solution, there is no advantage anymore.
If you would rather go DIY, here is the equipment you need. You can also find below steps to build this hydroponic system.
In water culture systems and other types of hydroponic systems, air pump and airstone are used to create air bubbles to the nutrient solution.
You should only submerge the root bare into the nutrient solution. Keep the stem expose to the air. And no need to wholly sunk the roots. Keep about 1.5″ of the roots above the water. These dry parts will help take up more oxygen from the surrounding environment.
Get some cheaps low-heat bulbs of CFLs, or the expensive but effective LEDs. You can also go with the fluorescent tubes.
Once your roots hit the nutrient solution, you will witness an explosion of growth.
Thanks to this system, instead of your plant roots having to find water pockets in the soil, they can absorb the nutrients and water right away. If the water is properly oxygenated, the plant roots will have no trouble remaining submerged deep in water for the whole life cycle of the plant.
Deep Water Culture (DWC) is considered the purest form of Hydroponics. Though the concept is simple, there are many ways to use and build the deep water culture using different materials.