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Hydroponic Methods For Growing Cannabis

INTRO: Growing cannabis the old-fashioned way with dirt, sun, and water will always be a solid option. People have even brought their cannabis-growing projects indoors and like most house plants, keep the plant in a pot of dirt.

In this article, we will consider different, more advanced methods of growing weed for people who have already mastered the initial challenge of keeping cannabis flower alive and are seeking to glow up their grow game. 

Welcome, the wonderful world of hydroponic weed!

What is Hydroponic Growing?

A plant doesn’t need to grow in soil in order to thrive as long as the plant is able to absorb the nutrients it needs through water, or soil-like substitutes. 

All cannabis talk aside, humans are very good at growing plants without soil. The Aztecs were the first to start using hydroponic methods to grow plants nearly one thousand years ago.

Vertical hydroponic gardens have been a thing since 1938 when the idea was patented by Stanley Hart White. In 1978 a botanist named Patric Blanc made the modern-day green wall, which is a wall bursting with plant life often found in cities.

NASA has had astronauts grow and eat food in space using just soil substitutes and water. In 2019 the largest vertical farm was built in Dubai and runs off of 1/250,000th of the same water being used in a soil operation.

So how were all of these incredible feats of gardening achieved? 

5 Different Types of Hydroponic Methods

There are many ways to grow succulents, crops, and moss using hydroponics. But in this article, we are going to talk about the best way to grow cannabis. 

  1. Stonewool Drain-to-Waste Method 

Stonewool is a material spun from rockwool, AKA, volcanic rock. Volcanic rock is full of life-sustaining nutrients! Think of the lush, tropical plant life that thrives on islands which have been formed naturally out of volcanic rock. 

This cotton-candy-esque material comes in little squares. It is recommended that you germinate your cannabis seed between two damp paper towels in a baggie (or between two plates) until the seed shell breaks open . 

From here, you transplant the little sprout into the center of a square of damp rock wool, and place that under grow lights. You will need to water these several times a day, maybe getting a self-timed irrigation system could be helpful.

Rockwool does a great job of holding onto water while also allowing air to circulate and flow easily. Despite all of it’s pros, rockwool does need to be soaked first before use due to an extremely high pH balance. You should also monitor the rockwool if used in a basement or some dark place because it is more prone to mold growth. 

  1. Nutrient Film Technique (NFT)

We’re talking about the original NFT, not a goofy non-fungible piece of internet art or whatever the kids are freaking out about these days. 

The nutrient film technique works by constantly trickling a shallow stream of nutrient-rich water over a row of plant’s roots. These plants are typically nestled in a tube, a long channel, a gutter, or half of a pipe that is kept on an angle. 

The water goes down into a reservoir and then is recirculated using a pump back to the top of the gutter. The flow of the nutrient rich system touches the roots directly, but the roots do not soak in still water because that would lead to mildew and rot.

  1. Deep Water Culture

Deep water culture (DWC) is a setup that involves a bucket with a hole cut in the top of it and an air pump. And a few other things of course. 

The idea is that roots of cannabis plants absolutely love oxygen. The plant begins suspended above the bubbling nutrient-rich water. The bubbles bursting at the surface will lure the roots down into the water. 

The bucket of water must be cleaned and changed once a week, and each time you take off the lid and remove the plant, you will be surprised at the enormous amount of roots. 

The cannabis yield from DWC is massive, so get your clippers and your mason jars ready!

  1. Aeroponics

The hydroponic cannabis system that consumes the least amount of water is the aeroponics system. 

In this growth method, the roots of the cannabis plant are suspended in air, but sealed in a container or a pipe while the nutrient system is delivered to the roots all day and all night. 

Benefits of Growing Cannabis Outside of Soil 

We live in a time where conserving fresh water is becoming more important every year. Figuring out ways to grow plants with as little energy as possible is a great way to reduce our carbon footprint. 

Plus, the nutrient-rich hydroponic water splashing around on all of these cannabis plants, you are about to reap the benefit of that which you have sowed!

It is peaceful for humans to spend time around plants. If you’re already spending time smoking cannabis, maybe the polite thing to do is journey with your cannabis up until that final spark. How exciting! 

In Conclusion

There are many ways to grow cannabis without soil. Some of these methods require more space, some need more electricity, or a constant flow of either air or water. 

The easiest way to get started is to make a decision for which growing method makes sense for you, your space, and your schedule. Some of these methods may yield a higher crop, but also require more work overall. 

It’s amazing to see a plant that we already know and love develop in a totally different environment that we are used to seeing. However you decide to explore hydroponic growing, be sure to have fun with it!