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After successfully growing a few plants, you might start thinking about creating a bigger indoor garden.
However, this task is often quite challenging and many gardeners experience the same difficulty – maintaining the indoor garden.
Without proper care, your little indoor jungle won’t look as astonishing as you want it to be.
Many indoor gardeners use hydroponic systems – they are growing their plants without soil and without putting in too much effort.
Your plants will get the needed nutrients, and care and you won’t feel overwhelmed by the work.
This guide will cover everything you need to know about hydroponics – different types, advantages and disadvantages of each and how they work.
Also, we have a few recommendations if you want to purchase one immediately.
What are Hydroponics and How do They Work?
As said, hydroponic means growing without soil.
Typically, plants are placed in a growing mix that has different ingredients. If plants require more water for growing and development, these potting mixes contain substances that trap moisture. Also, many growing mixes have some sort of drainage material.
Soils aren’t always rich with nutrients and fertilizers are often added for an extra boost – with their help, the plants develop bigger and brighter flowers or bigger fruits.
Even though the plant gets enough nutrients, it is putting in a lot of effort to reach them. Roots need to have enough space to grow and get to these beneficial substances.
Also, the soil isn’t playing a large part in feeding the plant. Since the plants produce the food via photosynthesis, all it needs is sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide. A potting mix is only a thing storing water and some nutrients that boost the growth but isn’t necessary.
With hydroponics, this problem is avoided!
The medium in which the plant is growing is filled with nutrients and they are delivered directly to the roots. Water is directly delivered to the plant as well, which means that soil isn’t needed for the process of feeding the plant.
Since the roots do not have to search for nutrients through the soil, without any extra effort, any herb, vegetable, or fruit will get the amount of food it needs for proper development.
Thus, the plant will have even bigger leaves and fruits and more vivid colors.
Okay, so, you are probably wondering how these systems exactly work.
The process is quite simple – hydroponic systems are maintaining the optimal environmental conditions for different plants.
With them, you can regulate the pH levels, or the amount of light the plant needs.
Since different plants require different growing conditions, with hydroponics, all of the criteria can be easily met.
Solutions with nutrients are designed for each plant so it gets what it needs.
All of these parameters such as nutrient flow, pH, and light can be altered to fit the needs of the garden.
Also, with hydroponic systems, you won’t ever have to worry about pests or diseases. Since these are mostly developed in the soil, many of these problems are avoided.
You can say goodbye to different pesticides and enjoy a much healthier garden and its fruits.
Hydroponic Systems Components
To grow big and healthy indoor plants, all parts of a hydroponic system have to be properly set up. Also, you should get familiar with all components so you can easily solve any problem that may occur.
This part will cover some basics – what parts make hydroponics and their functions.
1. Growing media
As already mentioned, these growing systems aren’t based on soil.
However, plants need some base that will soak up the nutrients and support them.
This growing media has two functions.
Firstly, it should hold the plant.
Because the roots are based inside this media, it has to hold the plant’s weight.
Secondly, it is used for transferring nutrients. It holds both a reservoir and a submersible pump and transfers the solution from the reservoir to the plant and back.
Depending on the type of hydroponic system, the delivery system can be a sprinkler or a drip emitter.
Both of these work well but can clog, so they are harder to maintain.
Since soil is not used, the water in which the plants are growing often lacks air.
Air stones making sure that small oxygen bubbles are dispersed through the solution.
Keep in mind that they aren’t creating oxygen. It is typically brought in the solution via air pump or other sources.
Air stones are also making sure that all beneficial substances are evenlty dispersed through the solution.
3. Air pump
Anyone that has owned a bigger aquarium is probably familiar with a function on an air pump.
In hydroponic systems, this part has the same function as an air pump in big fish bowl.
Usually, tubes made of food-grade plastic are connecting air stones and a pump. This material is used because it doesn’t cause the growth of algae.
Both of these parts can be found at pet stores that sell equipment for fish tanks.
4. Net pots
Because these growing systems do not use soil, the plants aren’t sitting in typical gardening pots.
Net pots are used for placing and supporting plants.
Typically, they are made of mesh like material that allows roots to expand, so all nutrients and water can be reached.
Since these pots have plenty of holes, it also gives amazing drainage – less amount of nutrients is lost and aeration is improved.
The size of these pots varies – you can determine the size of the pot by the size of the plant.
Also, if the plant outgrows the pot, it will need repotting.
The reservoir holds water with dissolved nutrients and oxygen.
The nutrients firstly poured in the tank, and along with water through a pump, delivered to the plant.
Typically, the delivery of this solution is automatic and regulated by timers. Many tanks operate without a timer and the solution is constantly recirculating.
Gardeners prefer plastic reservoirs and the material should be lightproof.
If these two criteria aren’t met, the microorganisms could start growing inside the reservoir which means frequent cleaning or even replacement of this part.
6. Submersible pump
These pumps are connected to the reservoir and their only job is to deliver the nutrients.
A submersible pump has a small electromagnet that spins the impeller.
You can find the pumps with and without filters. Choosing the one with filter is better, but it will require proper maintenance.
Timers aren’t necessary, but having time quite helps.
For indoor gardeners they are more important since regulating certain parameters is not as easy.
Indoor plants often grow under artificial lights. Even though the intensity of the light can be adjusted, you will also have to regulate the time exposed to the light.
With one timer this can be easily done – the light will be automatically turned off and on when needed.
Also, certain hydroponic systems need timers for submersible pumps. Others might even need special timers.
If you need a timer for a submersible pump and light, find a one that will work for both. Typically, 15 amps timers do the job well.
8. LED or grow lights
Indoor gardeners typically use different artificial light sources.
Of course, if you have well-litt room with plenty of natural sunlight you won’t need any additional parts such as a timer or expensive LED lamp.
Unfortunately, many indoor gardeners don’t have rooms with enough sunlight and lamps are a must.
These lamps use wavelengths that imitate natural sunlight. That light will induce the photosynthesis needed for growing and producing fruits.
The better the lamp, the better the results.
When the plant is exposed to proper wavelengths, it will thrive!
Advantages and Disadvantages of Hydroponic Systems
Not every gardener will get the needed results. They will depend on the type of system and type of plants you plan on growing.
Before purchasing a hydroponic system, you should get familiar with some general pros and cons so you know what to expect.
✔️Harvest during the entire year
As many gardeners already know, all plants have a growing season.
During this period, the plant is growing the most and producing fruits and flowers.
When the growing season is over, the harvest also stops.
Because these plants depend on conditions you are creating and aren’t growing in soil, they are producing the fruits and flowers all year.
Your indoor garden will always look astonishing.
When the plant is growing in soil, it is putting in more effort to absorb the nutrients and a certain amount of them don’t even get to the plant.
Thus, gardeners never know which amount of yield they can expect.
With these systems, the nutrients and water are directly delivered to the plant and the result is more yield.
Many gardeners claim to get twice as much yield since they switched to a hydroponic system.
✔️It is saving water
Water that is delivered to the plants is always reused.
Once it is pumped from the reservoir, it is brought back to it, and the cycle is constantly repeating.
In this way, gardeners are saving plenty of water.
✔️It is easier to control diseases and fungi
Many diseases and fungi are caused by soggy soil.
Since the hydroponics aren’t using any soil, this problem is almost entirely avoided.
Also, this means that you won’t have to use pesticides or other chemicals and have a garden full of much healthier plants.
Keep in mind that certain parts have to be properly taken care of. Pumps and reservoirs have to be cleaned from time to time because microorganisms and algae could start growing inside of them.
✔️Better results with less effort
Gardeners that are growing plants in soil have more tasks than those that switched to hydroponics.
If you are using a timer for a submersible pump and controlling the light, you won’t have to do much around the garden.
You are controlling the environmental conditions in which the plants are growing which significantly reduces the effort needed for maintaining the garden.
Firstly, even if you decide to build one of the systems on your own, it is still pricey.
The hydroponic systems are expensive, for setting up and maintaining.
If one part isn’t working well, you will have to spend extra money to repair it.
Even though you might save money on water and other things, you will still spend a good amount of money on it.
✖️It can be hard to manage
Not everyone can easily switch from soil-based farming to hydroponics.
Many gardeners struggle with basic tasks such as creating the right environment and keep it constant.
Also, gardeners often don’t realize that certain parts aren’t functioning properly.
If there is a problem in a delivery system and the problem isn’t solved, the plants will start dying quite quickly.
Before purchasing a system, get familiar with all problems that might occur and ways of solving them.
Which system is the best and how to pick the right one
Each system has its advantages and disadvantages, so it isn’t easy to say which one is the best.
One type might work for some plants, but not deliver the wanted results for others.
Firstly, you should choose between a passive and the other one – active system.
While active systems mostly use pumps for moving and delivering the solution, passive systems are relying on the wick and ability of growing media to soak up the water with nutrients.
Also, there are recovery systems in which the water with dissolved substances is constantly recirculating.
On the other hand, the non-recovery systems require adding new solution – once the old one is applied, it slowly starts disappearing.
In the end, it all comes down to how much time you can put into setting up the system and how many plants you plan on having.
For indoor gardeners, all hydroponic systems will work, but some are better than others.
If you do not have too much time for setting up, consider going for a wick system.
Gardeners that want to enjoy a large garden, with a variety of plants, should pick a drip system.
N.F.T is also great for anyone who plans on growing different types of plants.
Basic hydroponic systems don’t work for everyone and some gardeners go for variations.
Before making a final decision and purchasing one of the systems, get to know all of the options.
That is the only way to know that you have made the right call!
Types of Hydroponic Systems and the Best Products
By getting to know each system, how it works, and the pros and cons of it, you will easily pick the one to buy.
In this part, we will talk about six most common types:
1. Wick system
2. Deep Water culture
3. Nutrient film technique
4. ebb and flow
5. Drip system
6. Aeroponic system
Also, we will give you a few recommendations for each system so you can find the one that suits you even quicker.
1. Wick system
One of the simplest hydroponic systems is the wick system.
If you don’t want to spend too much time setting up the system, this one is the best choice.
Firstly, the wick system is the passive one which means that it doesn’t have any pumps. You don’t even have to use any electricity to run it.
The plants are sitting in a growing media placed on top of a tray.
This tray is connected to the reservoir through a wick and it is used for delivering nutrients from the reservoir to the plants.
This simple system is based on a process known as capillary action. Since the wick is made of a material such as rope or felt, it can absorb the water and nutrients.
Once it is connected to the tray with the growing media, it transfers the plant’s food.
If the right growing media isn’t placed on a tray, the system will fail to do its job.
So, choosing the growing media is of utmost importance in this system.
It should consist of materials that can absorb water and have good retention of moisture.
Coconut coir, perlite, and vermiculite are the best choices since these materials are highly porous, have great moisture retention and they are pH neutral.
Vermiculate also has an amazing cation-exchange capacity so the nutrient solution is stored in the media for a longer time.
The one thing you should be aware of is that the wick systems are quite slow. Since there are no pumps or electricity needed for boosting the process, there are some limitations.
Firstly, gardeners with large plants or gardens, might not be satisfied with the results.
Each plant requires its wick that must be near the root system.
Herbs and smaller plants are ideal for the wick systems, while tomatoes and peppers will need heavier feeding and this isn’t the best system for growing them.
- It is super simple to build. Also, you won’t need to put any extra effort once it starts running. If the wick and growing media are made of the right material, the plants will get the needed amount of water and nutrients.
- The electricity isn’t needed, which means that you can place the system wherever you want.
- It is great for growing smaller plants that do not require heavy feeding.
- Growing larger plants is almost impossible since they will need larger quantities of water. Even the best-growing media won’t help since getting the needed amount of water isn’t possible.
- You might have to keep an eye on fungi – the conditions are moist and because of the high-humidity, they develop more easily.
1.1 VIVOSUN Hydroponic Grow Kit
If you do not have too much space for your indoor garden, this hydroponic system is a great choice!
It has three levels that can fit all of your plants.
Thanks to the multiple levels and plenty of holes for the plants, it is suitable for a growing variety of different herbs, vegetables, fruits, and flowers.
The VIVOSUN hydroponic growing kit is quite easy to set up, which means that even beginners can use it.
Because it is made of PVC, you won’t have to worry about microorganisms growing or fungi developing inside the pipes.
What makes this hydroponic growing kit great is the timed circulation – every half hour the pump is delivering the water with nutrients to the plants.
You can also change this period to fit the needs of the plants.
With this VIVOSUN growing kit, you will be saving time, water, energy, and space.
- PVC pipes with square holes
- Suitable for different plants
- Sites for ninety plants
- Three levels
- Water pump with pump timer
- Allows setting the circulation mode
- Square holes provide better stability
- Super easy to assemble
- Circulation mode can be adjusted manually or automatically
- Algae might develop so it does require frequent maintenance.
1.2 KORAM Hydroponics Growing System Kit for Indoor Gardening
If you are a beginner and do not plan on growing too many plants, check out this KORAM hydroponic system.
This is a small indoor growing kit that is quite functional.
The growth of the plants is boosted with constant nutrient delivery and built-in light board.
Also, the system has an automatic wind system. Thanks to this, the air circulation is improved and the problem of rooting roots is resolved – the amount of oxygen in the water is always regulated.
The lighting system uses different spectrums which means that you aren’t limited to growing only one type of plant.
If you decide to grow a new type of plant, you can just switch the light mode and choose the wavelength suitable for that type. In this way, the process of photosynthesis is maximized.
Since the growing kit is super small, it is suitable for any room in the house. Also, you can move it around as desired.
- Requires little space
- Fits 12 plants
- Features a light board
- A smart system that boosted the circulation of air
- Easy to add water and nutrients
- Boosted air circulation
- Adjustable lights
- Rotting of roots is prevented
- Even though you can adjust the wavelength, it still isn’t good enough for growing certain vegetables
2. Deep water culture system
After the wick system, a deep water culture system is the simplest.
You can probably conclude from its name how it actually works.
In a deep water culture system, the plants are placed in water that is full of oxygen and nutrients.
Because the roots are constantly sitting in water, it is highly important to make sure that the water has enough oxygen. If not, the root starts rotting and plants drown.
By adding air stones and pump, the problem of low oxygen is easily resolved. These will keep the oxygen level high enough and also boost the circulation of nutrients.
Keep in mind that only the roots should be placed in the water, while stems and everything else should be above water level.
If you are using air stones, you don’t even have to place roots inside the water – keep them about an inch over the waterline and the bubbles created by air stones will easily reach them.
Since roots are placed in the water, this system is great for any plant that needs heavy feeding.
Even bigger plants with large root systems can grow in these conditions.
All plants that get direct exposure to nutrients will grow rapidly.
The only thing you should be aware of is the root diseases – because of the moist growing conditions, they can easily develop, so check the roots frequently. Changing the water frequently could prevent these diseases.
- It is super easy to take care of. There aren’t too many extra parts you have to clean. The only thing you have to clean from time to time is the air pump to maintain the constant oxygen flow. Also, to avoid dirty conditions in the reservoir, changing the nutrient solution every two weeks is highly recommended.
- A deep water culture system is easy to assemble which makes it great for beginners.
- The water with nutrients is recirculating which means less waste.
- This is one of the cheapest hydroponic systems.
- This isn’t the best choice for plants with longer growing periods.
- The roots might be affected by diseases.
2.1 Hydrofarm OX20SYS oxyCLONE
Hydroponic systems are great for propagating plants as well. With this small, yet functional deep water culture system, you will easily turn any room of the house into a garden.
It is a super small system, that won’t take too much space, so you can place it wherever you want – on a table or a shelf. In this way, you can grow any plant during an entire year.
The oxyCLONE has places for 20 plants and the maximum aeration is granted.
It features an air pump that has a constant flow of oxygen, so the roots don’t start rotting. Also, this good aeration is boosting the growth of the root system and the entire plant.
Thanks to foam inserts, only the roots are placed inside the water and the other parts are entirely protected.
These inserts are also resistant to fungi and bacteria, keeping the plant and roots healthy.
Also, they are quite strong, so the plant is protected and firmly sits in its place. After the growing season, and when the new cuttings arrive, the same foam inserts can be used.
- Has places for twenty plants
- Features an aqua air pump
- Comes with a 4” air diffuser
- Foam inserts are reusable
- Has venturi vales for creating air bubbles
- Offers maximum aeration
- Root diseases, fungi, and bacteria are prevented
- Holding the plants softly and firmly
- For certain plants, the air pump is weak
2.2 TurboKlone T24 747400 Cloning System
This is another great DWC system, made by TurboKlone.
It can fit 24 plants, and it is perfect for cloning plants and growing them from cuttings. Also, it allows the growth of the plants during the entire year, not just through the growing season.
On the reservoir’s side, a fan system is placed. Its job is to ensure the constant oxygen flow so the roots have enough of it for growing. Furthermore, you won’t have to worry about overheating.
Thanks to the fan, there are no cords or other extensions you have to worry about.
The design of the growing chamber has a few benefits.
Firstly, since it is small, you will easily find a spot for it in your home.
Secondly, with the round design, the growth of the bacteria in the corners is reduced. The water inside the chamber will stay clean for a longer period.
- 24 plant sites
- Fan for delivering oxygen and dealing with overheating
- Modern, round design
- The submersible pump ensures constant water flow
- A small size that saves space
- Easy to clean
- Growth of microorganisms is prevented
- Overheating is prevented
- The submersible pump ensures a good water and nutrient flow
- The spray nozzles might leak
2.3 Hydrofarm RS5GAL4SYS Root Spa
If you are only starting with indoor gardening, and want to try out the deep water culture system, this bucket system is a great choice.
There are only four buckets in a system, which is great for beginners.
The buckets can hold even larger plants so you aren’t limited to the type of plant it can grow.
It is quite cheap and super easy to use.
The air is delivered to the plant via a pump placed on the bucket’s bottom. Its main purpose is delivering the oxygen that promotes the growth of the roots.
All of the extra parts are tightly placed on the side, and you don’t have to worry about leaks.
The tube is translucent, so you can track the left amount of nutrient solution and easily add extra if needed.
- 4 buckets in a set
- 10” buckets
- Air is delivered through the pump on the bottom
- Features grommet fitting and elbow fitting
- Black color
- Great for beginners
- It can hold larger plants
- Easy to use and easy to assemble
- It is easy to track the level of nutrient solution
- There might be some leaks where the tube meets the elbow
3. Nutrient film technique systems
The nutrient film technique system is always referred to as the N.F.T system.
If you plan on growing a variety of different plants, N.F.T will easily meet the criteria of all types you own.
Compared to the deep water culture system, this one is a bit more complex.
Instead of just sitting in water, the water is flowing over the root system. In this way, the plant is getting both enough water and oxygen, since it isn’t drowning in the solution.
With the N.F.T. system, plenty of problems are avoided – the roots aren’t constantly exposed to water, so they are less prone to different diseases, their rotting is prevented and the water won’t dampen them.
So, how does this system work?
The plants are placed inside channels, that is slightly tilted on one side and the water is flowing through the channels, providing the needed nutrients for plants.
The nutrients solution can only reach the tip of the roots, and since the channel is tilted, it is coming back to the reservoir.
Once it reaches the tank, it gets aerated and the cycle is repeated.
As you can conclude, this is a recovery hydroponic system – type that many gardeners prefer.
However, even this recycling has a few downsides.
If the reservoir isn’t cleaned from time to time, the plants will start getting dirty water, which can cause certain diseases.
Also, when the slope is too big, the water is only rushing through the channels, and the roots aren’t picking up too many nutrients.
Keeping plants inside net pots is recommended, so if they do not come in the growing kit, you should consider buying them separately.
When it comes to the growing media, it isn’t necessary for this system.
If you were wondering which plants you can grow with this system, it is best to go for lighter plants – larger plants such as cucumbers might not be able to stand firmly in the tilted channel.
- As said, this is a recovery system, and the water with nutrients is constantly cycling through the channel and reservoir. This means that you won’t have to use too much of the nutrient solution.
- The accumulation of salts is avoided.
- There are no extra expenses on growing media.
- It is great for large indoor gardeners since expanding channels and adding additional reservoirs is super easy.
- In N.F.T systems, pump failure is quite common. If you don’t spot it on time, you might lose your entire garden. That is why it is recommended to use different pumps for different channels and reservoirs.
- The channel can easily become clogged. Always leave extra space between the plants, so that their root systems have enough room to grow, without interrupting the water flow.
3.1 LAPOND Hydroponic Grow Kit
If you want an N.F.T. system that can fit plenty of plants than check out this one.
This LAPOND hydroponic grow kit has three levels and enough places for 108 plants.
Since it is super easy to set up, it is great for beginners as well!
The system consists of pipes, made of food-grade materials, so you don’t have to worry about pollution or toxicity.
All of the pipes have square roots that promote stability and placing net pots is much easier.
It also features a timer, adapter, and 12V pump.
Thanks to the timer and powerful pump, the constant water flow is granted!
The pump works 5 minutes and the break lasts for half an hour.
This hydroponic grow kit is perfect for indoor gardeners since it doesn’t take up too much space and allows you to track the progress of the plants.
It is ideal for growing different types of vegetables, herbs, fruits, and flowers. All of the leafy plants will get the needed nutrients as well as enough oxygen.
- PVC pipes
- 12V brushless DC pump
- Has 3 levels
- Fits 108 plants
- Square holes and net pots
- With square holes, stability is granted
- A timer ensures constant water flow
- Pipes are made of food-grade, non-toxic materials
- Saves water and money
- The reservoir isn’t included in the kit
- You might need to purchase additional pumps
3.2 INTBUYING Hydroponic 36 Sites Grow Kit
This INTBUYING hydroponic grow kit is ideal for anyone that wants to grow a different kind of leafy vegetables.
Since it is easy to assemble and use, even beginners can try it out.
Because it is made of PVC-U material, it is non-toxic, producing high-quality healthy and tasty vegetables has never been easier.
Also, the system uses a water pump and the water is constantly circulating which means fewer expenses.
Even though it fits only 36 plants, it has four levels, so there is enough space between the plants and the forming of clogs is prevented.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t come with a timer, reservoir, or net pots, and you will have to purchase these parts separately.
- PVC-U pipes
- Fits 36 plants
- Has 4 levels
- 110V water pump
- S style flow
- Easy to set up
- Great for beginners
- Perfect for growing leafy vegetables
- There might be some leaks from the pump, so using tape is recommended
3.3 OPCOM Farm GrowWall
This OPCOM Farm Grow wall is great for anyone that doesn’t have too much free space, yet wants a large garden.
The system fits 75 plants and has five levels – suitable for all passionate indoor gardeners that want to enjoy a variety of plants.
It is an N.F.T. system so the plants are constantly getting the needed nutrients, water and oxygen.
This OPCOM Farm Grow wall comes with a grow light as well – it has an adjustable height and angle, so the process of photosynthesis is boosted.
Also, thanks to the smart grow, the energy is saved and you don’t have to manage the lights manually. The timer will turn the lights off and on, so the plants get an optimum amount of light during the day.
The water flow is also regulated with a timer which means that you won’t be overwhelmed by the work.
Grow sponges along with the seedling kit and pH adjuster will help you with taking proper care of plants.
- 75 growing places
- 5 levels
- Adjustable LED lights
- 27L reservoir
- Timer for the smart growing
- Grow lights are boosting the photosynthesis and growth of the plants
- Uses almost 90% less water
- Easy to maintain
- It is a bit hard to set-up
4. Ebb and flow system
This system is also known as a flood and drain system.
Unlike with N.F.T system, the plants aren’t constantly exposed to water flow.
This is one of the most popular systems, because of its versatility – every gardener can easily adjust the system to fit its needs.
Firstly, let’s talk about how it works.
The submersible pump is connected to the reservoir and its work is regulated by a timer.
When it goes on, the grow bed on top of the reservoir, is filled with water and nutrients.
The pump is delivering these substances as long as the timer is working.
Once it stops, the gravity pulls down the water.
Thanks to the overflow tube, there is no flooding, so the plants aren’t damaged by excess water.
Between two floods, the roots are drying out and getting the required oxygen.
Many gardeners struggle with choosing the right grow bed. Since the plants are getting the food only during the flood, the size of the bed plays a significant role.
For a grow bed, you can use any net pot. The only criteria it should meet is the depth. The bigger the root system is, the bigger the grow bed the plant will need.
Besides the size of the grow tray, there aren’t any other limitations.
You can grow any type of vegetable, fruit, or herb with this system, as long as the depth of the net pot is proper.
Another thing you can experiment with is growing media.
The more porous it is, the better since it will hold moisture for a longer time.
Clay pebbles are the most recommended growing media for the ebb and flow system, as well as grow rocks.
- The system is adaptable. It works well for both smaller and larger plants, so you can experiment with different types.
- They are easy to set-up. Even beginners can easily grasp how this system works, and how to assemble one at home.
- This system is a recovery system which means that it saves water and energy.
- If the timer doesn’t start the pump, the roots can quickly dry out. This will lead to the death of the plant.
- The wrong grow bed can cause multiple problems. For starters, diseases can occur, along with mold or different insects. Also, it may drain water too fast, so the plants do not get enough of the nutrients.
4.1 Giraffe-X Hydroponic Grow Kit
This ebb and flow system by Giraffe-X is one of the best for beginners.
It has enough plant sites, so you can grow a large garden indoors, while still being super easy to assemble.
The pipes are made of food-grade PVC-U, so they are non-toxic. Also, thanks to the great choice of material, they aren’t prone to growing microorganisms inside.
Your plants will be protected from different diseases, pests, insects, fungi, and algae!
The system has 9 pipes, separated into three levels, so each plant has enough room for growth, and roots have space for proper development.
Since it is a recovery system, the water is going through the pipes and coming back to the reservoir – you will be saving water and money.
Keep in mind that the tank isn’t included, so there are some extra costs with this model.
- Non-toxic, PVC-U pipes
- Fits 108 plants
- 3 levels
- Round holes
- Features an inner blocking design
- Suitable for beginners
- A recovery system that saves water
- Saves space
- Easy to assemble
- Net pots are clear, so they require more maintenance
4.2 Big Smart Hydroponics Growing System
This growing system will do everything for you!
With almost zero effort, you will have an astonishing garden, full of healthy flowers and tasty fruits and vegetables.
Since almost all functions are automatic, even beginners can use this system – it is great for learning the basics of gardening.
This E SUPEREGROW hydroponic system has spots for 27 plants.
All plants are placed in a growing tray on top of the tank.
It has several timers that will remind you to add water, and that will turn on the pump and deliver water to the plants.
Also, the timer will notify you when the nutrients are low, so you can easily add them and continue with regular feedings.
The only thing that this growing system is missing is the grow lights.
Since there aren’t any LED lights and different lighting modes to boost the process of photosynthesis, you will have to place the system near the window. A well-lit office, balcony, or roof are all options.
Even though the reservoir is big and there aren’t multiple levels, the growing system can support larger plants also, so you aren’t limited to the type of plant you can grow.
Enjoy tasteful fruits and vegetables, you have grown on your own!
- Suitable for any indoor space
- Fits 27 plants
- Has climbing trellis
- Alarm for both water and fertilizer shortage
- Suitable for all plants
- The alarms will remind you when to add water or nutrients
- Thanks to smart gardening, you don’t have to put in too much effort
- It can support both larger and smaller plants
- It doesn’t have air pumps or stones
5. Drip system
Indoor gardeners are often switching between different plant types.
If you plan on growing vegetables one season, then a certain herb the next, the drip system will easily adapt to these changes.
Let’s dig deeper into how the system works and what are the benefits of using a drip system.
This hydroponic type uses pumps for delivering water with nutrients. It consists of tubes that are delivering the solution to each plant separately.
The water is delivering slowly so the roots don’t become damped or too soggy.
When purchasing, you can choose between two options – recovery and non-recovery.
The first type is generally more popular, especially for indoor gardeners.
Because the water is constantly cycling between the growing media and reservoir, it is a great option for anyone who is ecofriendly.
In the second type, the solution that leaves the growing media becomes waste and the reservoir has to be filled with water more frequently.
However, if you own a larger garden, your plants will benefit more from the non-recovery drip system than a recovery one. The latter type is much more suitable for smaller gardens.
The one thing many gardeners struggle with is the change in the solution’s pH.
This problem is more common in the recovery drip system. Whenever the water leaves the growing media and goes back into the tank, the pH is altered.
Because of that, you will have to check the pH balance frequently and alter the solution to maintain a neutral pH.
Also, you might struggle with oversaturated growing media. This problem is easily resolved with frequent washing and cleaning.
- The system is adaptable. Indoor gardeners love to experiment, and having a hydroponic system that can adjust to any plant is ideal.
- It can hold a large amount of growing media. Thus, there is much more you can do – if you want a larger plant, all you need to do is add a bit more growing media and adjust the nutrient solution and water flow.
- It is easy to expand. Many gardeners start with smaller gardens because it is easier to learn basics. With a drip system, it is much easier to expand the garden – all you need is a few extra tubes, pumps and a new, bigger tank.
- It is easier to control the amount of nutrients and time of watering.
- The recovery system requires more maintenance. pH has to be constantly monitored as well as the moist of the growing media.
- The pipes can become easily clogged, so the delivery lines have to be checked as well.
- On the other hand, the non-recovery system is causing much waste since the water drained from the growing media isn’t recycled.
5.1 Big Power Automatic Drip Irrigation Kit
You can take care of your garden even when you are away from home.
This drip hydroponic system is entirely automatic and does all work for you.
The system can be connected to up to 15 plants. Each plant will get the amount of water it needs to thrive.
You can determine the watering cycle and set it for hours or days. For up to thirty days it can track the work of the pump and deliver the nutrients to the plants.
All settings can be changed whenever so the system is easily adaptable.
The only thing you should keep an eye on is battery life – if you haven’t connected the timer to the USB charger, check the battery level before leaving the house.
Since it has a large memory and remembers all previous settings, it is ideal for travels – whenever you are away from home, it will keep the garden healthy and plants fed.
- 800ml per minute of water supply
- Suitable for up to 15 plants
- A timer can be charged via USB charger
- Uses 4 AA batteries
- 32ft hose and 15 irrigation drippers included
- Great for gardeners that are frequently traveling
- The timer ensures regular watering
- It isn’t suitable for larger plants because of the weaker water pressure
5.2 Wisfor Watering System
The Wisfor Watering System is super easy to assemble, and it will adjust to any change you decide to make.
You won’t be spending a lot of time maintaining the garden yet enjoy a healthy garden and tasteful fruits.
This hydroponic system can water up to 10 plants at the same time.
The irrigation tube is long enough to reach all of the pots, and the system is super easy to set-up.
Since many tasks are automated, it is even suitable for beginners.
The reservoir isn’t included, so you should prepare one of your one.
When this is finished, just attach it to the tube and timer and the pump will do the watering.
You can set the interval to up 15 days and watering time for up to 99 seconds.
Also, if one part of the system is not working properly or the battery starts dying out, you will be informed, so that you can quickly resolve the problem.
- 10m tube
- Suitable for 10 plants
- The adaptable interval time and watering time
- Uses AAA batteries
- Made of ABS
- Easy to use
- Great for beginners
- The timer controls the frequency of watering
- Batteries might need frequent change
5.3 Homend Indoor Hydroponic Grow Kit with Bubble Stone
If you don’t want an entirely automatic system, this is a great choice!
This Homend hydroponic grow kit is great for growing plants from seeds, cuttings, or for propagating plants.
It is made of PVC-U that is non-toxic and prevents the growth of microorganisms.
The water with nutrients is transported directly to the roots, and you are allowed to adjust the environment that best suits the plants.
Because it is easy to set-up, and air stones with air pumps are included – besides the nutrients, the plants are getting the required oxygen also.
Planting sponges come with the system as well, so you won’t be having any extra costs.
- Made of non-toxic PVC-U material
- Fits 11 plants
- Net pots and planting sponges included
- White color
- Silicone hose
- Better aeration
- Suitable for growing from seeds
- Easy to assemble
- There might be some leaks
6. Aeroponic system
Out of all six basic hydroponic systems, the aeroponic system is the most complicated one. Even though assembling this system is a bit harder and time-consuming, many gardeners still prefer this one over the others because of the great results.
The system is quite similar to a tent in which you are placing the plants.
The reservoir is placed below the tent or tower, and with nozzles, the solution is dispersed in the air.
Typically, the nozzles are placed on top of a tower, and the mist is then distributed all over the plant.
There are some variations. For example, there are aeroponic systems similar to N.F.T. systems that have nozzles placed around the roots.
Also, some are similar to the ebb and flow systems, and the nozzles are activated by a timer.
One advantage of this system is that it doesn’t need the growing media. This means less waste and less cost.
Also, because the plants are in the air, the roots are getting the needed oxygen without air stones and pumps.
In the end, this means faster growth and healthier plants.
If you are eco-friendly and want a system that won’t use too much water, this is the best choice.
The aeroponic system is the best system for water-saving.
Many indoor gardeners prefer this system because it is saving plenty of space. Because the plants are placed vertically, it is easy to fit the system in any corner of the house.
When it comes to plants suitable for aeroponics, tomatoes, eggplants and other vine plants will thrive.
You can also grow other vegetables such as lettuce or different herbs but stay away from fruiting trees or plants with big root systems.
- The plants are getting plenty of oxygen which is additionally boosting their growth.
- This system is saving space and can be easily moved around.
- Aeroponics the least water-consuming type.
- This is the most high-tech system and setting it up is a hassle.
- They are quite expensive because they have plenty of extra parts.
- You have to check the nozzles for clogs.
6.1 AeroGarden Bounty Basic Indoor Hydroponic Herb Garden
This AeroGarden hydroponic system allows you to carefully monitor all environmental parameters, without putting in too much effort.
It is perfect for indoor gardeners that want a smaller garden to grow a variety of plants. Any herb and flower will thrive in this hydroponic herb garden.
The system is suitable for up to 9 plants and has an adjustable height. As your herbs grow, it will follow their development.
It features LED grow lights that use wavelengths which will boost the process of photosynthesis and growth of the plants.
The lights can be automatically switched on and off.
There is also an alarm for water and nutrient shortage, so the plants never run out of food. Whenever it needs refilling, you will receive a mobile notification.
- 30Watt Grow lights
- Digital display for accessing all settings
- Fits 9 plants
- 24” height
- Reminder for water and fertilizer
- Easy to use
- Adjustable wavelengths and light intensity
- Easy to refill
- It may not connect with the mobile app
6.2 AeroGarden Harvest Elite Indoor Hydroponic Garden
This is another great hydroponic garden by AeroGarden.
It is smaller than the previous one but just as functional.
With this model, up to 6 plants can grow simultaneously, and it is designed for smaller plants – once they reach the height of 12 inches, they will need repotting.
It features a digital display with all settings, and you can alter any as you wish. Before leaving for work or traveling, adjust the parameters and the system will maintain your garden.
There are also 20Watts LED lights.
Thanks to these lights, the process of photosynthesis is promoted and the plants are growing faster than ever.
The lights can be easily controlled with a timer that is turning them off and on.
- Up to 6 plants
- 20Watts LED lights
- 12” height
- LCD control panel
- Has a vacation mode
- Easy to use
- Easy to adjust the parameters
- Continues with regular watering even when you are away
- LED lights are boosting the growth
- The tank needs frequent refilling
6.3 Viagrow VCLN24 Clone Machine
Once you have the cuttings, you can’t wait to see them grow into adult plants.
With this Viagrow Clone Machine, their growth process will be much faster and you will have healthy plants.
This aeroponic system fits 24 plants and because of the small dimensions, it is ideal for indoor gardening – you can place it in any corner of the room or shelf.
Besides the nozzles for misting, it comes with air pump and air stones that will keep the water aerated so the growth is additionally promoted.
There are internal filters designed to prevent clogs.
Collars are made of neoprene, and come in three different colors – this is helpful for gardeners that plan on growing different plants in one garden.
Thanks to the great choice of materials and design of the garden, the temperature of the water is kept constant.
- Neoprene collars
- 24 sites
- 2 Gal reservoir
- Has a clone pump and internal filters
- 2 extra misters
- Easy to assemble
- Easy to keep track of different herbs
- Clogs are prevented with filters
- The lid isn’t sturdy so be gentle while assembling
For some gardeners, these six basic types aren’t what they need.
If you want more options, check out these variations – they might be exactly what you need.
Keep in mind that most of these systems are DIY and it might take a while to assemble them.
1. The Kratky Method
This is a variation of a deep water culture system.
Indoor gardeners often struggle with keeping the pumps and timer running. If you don’t want to use electricity for running your garden then this is a great replacement.
This system consists of a reservoir, lid, net pots and growing media.
As you can see, it is pretty simple.
If you haven’t bought one online then you will need to create holes in the lid by yourself. The hole should be the size of the net pot.
In the Kratky method, some parts of the plant are below the water, and the rest is exposed to air.
In this way, the plant is getting everything it needs for growing.
The water will slowly be drained by the plants, so you will need to constantly check the water level. Typically, during one growing season, it will need one refilling.
This system is great for plants that are fast growers and smaller gardens.
As said, aeroponic systems are one of the most expensive and complicated.
Beginners often struggle with assembling them and keeping them running.
That is why many are turning to this replacement.
Just like aeroponics use mist, these systems use foggers.
With fogponics, an entire plant is exposed to the air. All parts are placed above the water level and foggers are delivering water, oxygen and nutrients they need.
Also, this system is water-saving, because the water is constantly recirculating between the reservoir and foggers. Just like aeroponics, this is another eco-friendly system.
The major disadvantage of this system is the clogging problem. Nozzles in aeroponic systems can easily get clogged as well and the problem isn’t avoided in this variation.
Another problem that might occur is the salts from the foggers. They can easily build up and damage the plants.
Keep in mind that this system is still expensive compared to other variations, yet cheaper than aeroponics, which is why gardeners often choose it over the original.
Still, with fogponics, you can grow a variety of different plants easily. There are no limitations when it comes to plant species or size.
It is also amazing for cloning.
3. Dutch Bucket
If you want a variation that will easily adapt to any changes then consider building or buying a Dutch bucket system.
This system is especially popular among gardeners that are growing tomatoes. This fruit is especially suitable for this type because it is a vining plant that it can easily support.
Firstly, there are two different types of systems.
Just like other hydroponic systems, it can be non-recovery and recovery.
Gardeners that don’t want to waste water and prefer the recovery system use one drain line that is connected to the buckets and reservoir.
The water is constantly circulating between the reservoir and buckets.
However, this recirculating has one big disadvantage – the pH balance of nutrient solution is easily changed.
If not monitored correctly and adjusted, the unbalanced pH can cause the death of the plants.
The only way to solve the unbalanced pH is to change the nutrients often which is extra work.
Also, the Dutch bucket system does require a growing media.
Whichever system you plan on using (recovery or non-recovery), both should have a growing media made of perlite or vermiculite. These materials along with clay pellets will do a good job of trapping moisture and provide constant watering.
Another thing you should add is the air pump and air stones. Since the plants are sitting in growing media, they aren’t exposed to enough oxygen.
With air stones and pumps, the water will be well-aerated and the oxygen will boost the development of herbs and other plant species.
When it comes to the number of buckets, this is entirely up to you. The more buckets you use, the bigger tank you will need.
It is also recommended to use several reservoirs if you own different types of plants or a large garden.
The biggest disadvantage of this system is the diseases. In a humid and moist environment, the roots are prone to different diseases and rotting.
You should frequently check the plant, to find any indicator of an illness.
Also, this method will require more maintenance and it does depend on electricity.
What are the best plants to grow in hydroponic systems?
Different hydroponic types offer different possibilities.
Some can support both large and small plants, while others are suitable only for certain species.
Each type does offer some versatility, and lucky for all gardeners, certain plant species can grow in all systems.
Still, before growing an entire garden, you should test a few crops. In this way, you will learn the best how the system works and see the results.
Here is a list of plants that are best for hydroponic gardens:
So, if you are a beginner, it is best to start with growing lettuce.
This vegetable is super easy to grow, especially in hydroponic gardens, so you will learn all of the basics and easily move on to other species.
The growing time for lettuce is about 30 days and it grows in pH between 6 and 7.
Because the pH can go slightly below the neutral, you don’t have to strictly monitor it.
If you are wondering which type to go for, you can grow any: romaine, Iceberg, or Bibb.
Lettuce is great for growing in a hydroponic system because of its shallow root system. Delivering the nutrients, water and oxygen is super easy.
Also, these are shallow plants, so they won’t take up too much space and even those smaller hydroponic gardens will work well for them.
If you already decided to purchase the N.F.T. system, then buy a few spinach seeds along with it.
It will grow well in other systems that have good exposure to oxygen such as aeroponic ones.
Another thing you should be aware of is that this plant prefers less water, which is why the aeroponic system (or its variation fogponic) is a great option.
The growing time of spinach is slightly longer than of lettuce – about 40 days, and the pH of the solution can vary also.
It is best to keep the pH around neutral, but it can grow well in pH that is slightly below or over 7 as well.
Gardeners that prefer sweeter spinach should only adjust the temperature of the room. As long as it is between 65 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit, the spinach will be sweeter.
Gardeners avoid growing strawberries because they are seasonal fruits. Waiting for one year to eat them isn’t worth the hassle.
However, growing them in a hydroponic garden is an entirely different story – you can enjoy these tasty fruits during an entire year.
The growing period of strawberries is 60 days, and they require a pH below neutral – keeping it between 5.5 and 6 will give the best results.
They will grow in all the systems. However, the ebb and flow system work the best.
If you own a deep water culture system or an N.F.T. system, you might only get small crops.
When it comes to varieties, there are no limitations – each specie is welcomed.
4. Bell peppers
This plant great for growing in hydroponic gardens, however, it isn’t for everyone.
Beginners might struggle with growing it, and it is considered for an advanced plant.
It has the longest growing time of 90 days, which means more work.
You can still grow it next to the lettuce or spinach since all of these vegetables require the same pH – between 6 and 6.5.
When it comes to the best hydroponic type, ebb and flow are recommended, as well as the deep water culture.
The one thing you should keep an eye on is the exposure to light.
This plant requires almost eighteen hours of light each day, so it is best to purchase one of the systems with built-in LED lights.
Also, go for a system that has an adjustable height of the lights, since there should be a 6-inch distance between the plant and the light.
Most hydroponic gardens, especially smaller ones are specially designed for growing herbs.
Some models even come with a few seeds of different herbs such as mint, basil, or parsley.
The grow time varies between the species, and pH as well.
Herbs are great for hydroponic systems because they can easily adapt to indoor conditions.
You can use any hydroponic garden for growing them.
Also, if you are just starting, by growing herbs you can test the garden – you will easily spot any flaws and fix the problems before planting other species.
The only thing you keep an eye on is a growing medium.
It will need regular flushing and replacing after some time because of the excess nutrients that have accumulated.
So, there you have it – everything you needed to know about hydroponic systems.
Hopefully, now you can determine which type works the best for you and which one you should buy.
As you can see each system has some advantages, so it all comes down to your experience, and what plants you plan on growing.
If you have any further questions, ask them in the comments.