21 amazing hydroponics facts

21 Amazing Hydroponics Facts

1. Hydroponics Uses 90% Less Water 

Growing plants the traditional way in soil is remarkably wasteful of water. Hydroponic plants require up to 90% less water to make them grow successfully. A large proportion of the water used in soil based gardening is lost into the ground and not absorbed by the plants.

Most hydroponics systems recirculate any water and minerals used, so that the only losses are from evaporation. Some systems even capture this evaporated water and return it to the system. Hydroponics is therefore a fantastic option for countries where water scarcity is an issue.

2. No Soil Required

 Growing plants using hydroponics means using no soil at all. All you need is water, oxygen and nutrients to ensure that hydroponic plants will thrive. As a result, you can grow hydroponic plants anywhere at all, inside or outside. 

3. Hydroponics Has Many Forms

Hydroponics isn’t just one way of growing plants. In fact, there are at least 6 or 7 main recognized subsets of hydroponics and many more variations of these. The most common forms of hydroponics are;

4. You Can Grow Plants All Year Round

Hydroponics is ideal for growing plants indoors, and grow lights can be used to provide light to plants all year round. This lets you cultivate plants regardless of the season. Imagine being able to harvest fresh fruit and vegetables all year round from your indoor hydroponics system. It’s unlikely to save you much money, but at least you know where your food has come from and it’s so convenient.

5. Plants Grow Faster With Hydroponics

Hydroponic plants have all they need to grow delivered to them with minimal effort required on the part of the plant. Soil based plants have to grow down in search of water and nutrients. In hydroponics, everything is delivered to the plant. This provides optimal nutrition to the plant, so their growth is not limited by the need to search for, or scarcity of essential nutrients or water.

For this reason, plants grown with hydroponics can grow up 30 to 50% faster, allowing you to harvest more crops than when growing with soil. This is one of my favorite hydroponics facts, as many people are amazed that growing without soil can lead to faster plant growth.

6. Plants Grow Larger

When growing fruit and vegetables with hydroponics, your produce can be up to twice as large, due to the efficient growing conditions. Tomatoes, strawberries, peppers and lettuce can all grow considerably larger than when grown in soil, and they taste delicious.

7. Healthier Plant Growth

Hydroponic plants are much less prone to disease, which means that less, or in many cases, no pesticides are required. Many people have concerns about plants grown in fields where pesticides, fungicides and weedkillers have been used. With hydroponic plants, this problem is significantly reduced as it is not commonly an issue.

8. No Weeding Required

Without soil, you aren’t going to have to worry about weeding. One of my least favorite things as a gardener, is to look out the window to see more weeds growing only a few days or weeks since I had the flower beds looking pristine. With hydroponics, weeds won’t ever be a problem, so this takes away a significant chore that comes with raising plants.

9. Hydroponics Gives You Complete Control Over Plant Growth

With hydroponics, you get to have complete control over the entire growing environment. Water, nutrients, temperature, oxygen, humidity and light are all controllable by the grower. These are all adjustable to greater or lesser extents depending on the degree of control that you wish to have.

A simple home hydroponics setup to grow a few fresh herbs may not need a strict approach, but many domestic, and certainly commercial hydroponics growers will be keen to optimize everything they can to optimize plant growth and yield.

10. Hydroponics Is Great For Amateur Scientists

When providing the nutrients to your hydroponics plants, you can purchase ready mixed, or several part solutions, that you mix to the desired concentrations. However, if you are feeling more adventurous, you can mix your own nutrient solution from the individual elements. This gives you complete control to tailor your nutrient selection to your individual plants or growth phase, or experiment to get the best yields from your plants.

11. Added Nutrients Are Essential

In a hydroponics system, everything required for plants to grow successfully must be provided by the grower. When growing plants in soil, you can rely on the nutrients already available in the soil to provide some or all of the nutrients required. Even when fertilizer is added to soil based plants, it is often just the main macronutrients of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium that are used.

For hydroponics, all of the micronutrients, such as iron, zinc, copper, molybdenum etc, must also be provided or your plants will encounter health problems. Here’s a guide all about hydroponics nutrients. 

12. Monitoring Is Required

Monitoring of hydroponics systems, particularly the temperature, pH and concentration of the nutrient solution are important to ensure your plants remain healthy.

Plants get stressed and can die if their growing environment changes suddenly, or strays too far outside their comfort zone. Even worse, most micronutrients are absorbed at dramatically different rates depending on the pH of the nutrient solution. This can lead to deficiency or toxicity of different nutrients, and sometimes it can be difficult to tell them apart.

When growing plants in soil, the soil acts as a buffer to prevent any sudden changes in pH or nutrient concentration in the soil. In hydroponics, the characteristics of the nutrient solution can change significantly over time as the plants absorb the water and nutrients from the solution and as some of the water evaporates. The nutrient solution and plant growing environment needs monitored and adjusted on a frequent basis and changes corrected to ensure your plants remain healthy.

13. Hydroponics Systems Can Cost As Much Or As Little As You Want

Whilst most people assume it is an expensive hobby, it is a fact about hydroponics, that you can make a simple deep water culture hydroponics system out of easily purchased items for no more than $50. For an even more simple setup, you can make a simple wick system out of an empty soda bottle that will cost you almost nothing. At the other end of the spectrum, you can pay over $10 000 for a pre-built system for aquaculture that will produce sufficient produce to feed a large family all year round.

Price really isn’t a barrier to giving hydroponics a go, but it may be a consideration if you want to scale things up to a larger setup. Going down the DIY route is a great option to keep costs low. There are loads of plans and tutorials available online and it’s honestly a lot easier than you think to setup a functioning system at home.

14. Hydroponics Usually Needs Electricity

Whilst soil based gardening relies on nature and maybe some supplemental watering and fertilizing, most types of hydroponics growing setups need an electricity supply. This is used to power air or water pumps to ensure that water, nutrients and oxygen are delivered to the plants in a way that promotes healthy plant growth.

Interruption to the electricity supply can very quickly impact the health of your plants, so it is important to monitor this and to be able to react quickly. 

15. Hydroponics In Space

NASA and other international space agencies have experimented extensively with hydroponics as it will likely be one of the main options for growing food in space for future space missions or for manned missions to The Moon or Mars. There’s no soil in space and weight is a massive factor in launching missions from Earth. As hydroponics requires no soil and 90% less water, it is ideally suited for astronauts who may need to grow their own food for future missions. Of all the facts about hydroponics, I love that I can tell people that I am following the example of astronauts when I am tinkering away with my hydroponics system!

16. The Type Of Water Matters

I always thought that water was water. Tap water, rain water, bottled water. As long as it was fit to drink, I thought it would be fit for plants. However, believe it or not, this isn’t the case. If you live a hard water area, the level of dissolved minerals in your tap water may make it very difficult to use it for growing plants with hydroponics.

The problem arises as there is a limit to the concentration of the nutrient solution that can be provided to hydroponic plants. Very concentrated solutions result in the plant being unable to extract the nutrients it needs from the solution.

If most of the concentration of your water is made up of less useful calcium and magnesium salts, then there will be less opportunity to add essential nutrients that your plants need. Different plants require different concentrations of nutrient solution, and this will vary depending on the stage of growth of your plants, but hard water makes things hard!

This hydroponics fact needn’t make you despair, however, as you can dilute your tap water with sterile water, or use various types of filter, such as reverse osmosis or activated carbon filters to remove some or all of the dissolved solids. This can make even the hardest water suitable for use in a hydroponics system.

17. You Can Raise Fish And Plants In The Same System

Aquaponics is a variation of hydroponics, where fish and plants are cultivated within the same system. The waste that the fish produce provides the nutrients that the plants need to grow. The plants and beneficial bacteria within the system purify the water, ensuring that the fish continue to have a healthy environment to live in.

Aquaponics imitates the natural nitrogen cycle that exists in ponds and rivers in nature. In some ways, an aquaponics system can be easier to manage, as it is possible to achieve a reasonable equilibrium in the system, which will require only slight adjustments from time to time.

On the other hand, fish and plants thrive in slightly different conditions, so a compromise is required to ensure that both remain healthy. This can impact the yields from the plants and limit the types of fish and plants that can successfully be grown together.

18. Hydroponics Has Been Around For Thousands Of Years

From The Hanging Gardens Of Babylon, to the Chinampas of ancient Mexico, hydroponics has existed for thousands of years in various forms. The science behind this technique has really only been understood over the last 70-80 years, but hydroponics in some form has been in use at various times and places for many centuries.

19. Hydroponics Allows Compact Growing

When growing plants in soil, you can’t put the plants too close together, or they will compete for resources and plant size and crop yield will suffer. In hydroponics, an abundance of nutrients, water and oxygen is delivered directly to the plants. This means that up to four times the quantity of plants can be grown in the same area, compared to soil based growing. This makes hydroponics ideal for growing plants in small areas, or when space is at a premium. Hydroponics is very popular in urban areas, where space and soil are in short supply.

20. Hydroponics Is The Fastest Growing Cultivation Technique

The global hydroponics market is forecast to grow by 18% per year between 2018 and 2023, making it the fastest growing method of food cultivation in the world. The size of the market is forecast to be $724 million by 2013. Whilst this is a tiny fraction of the total agriculture market, it is likely to gain significant market share over the next few decades.

21. You Can Stack Your Plants High

With many hydroponics systems, you can grow plants vertically, to reduce the space required to cultivate your plants. There are numerous pre-built systems and DIY setups that allow you to produce a wall of green plants that looks awesome and takes up very little space, whether you are growing plants indoors or outside.

I hope you have enjoyed these hydroponics facts. If you’re new to the subject, hopefully they’ve provided a quick introduction and raised your interest in the subject. This website has loads more information about hydroponics. Why not check out my guide to the different types of hydroponics.