Frequently Asked Questions
What is hydroponics?
Should I add CO2 to my grow room?
How should I choose which hydroponic nutrients to use?
What are the benefits of cloning my hydroponically grown plants?
How do I test the fertility and pH of my soil?
We are located in West Atlanta, off the Howell Mill Rd. exit and Chattahoochee Ave. For information or to find our location, see the store section of our website.
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Hydroponics is the science of growing plants without soil. The plants thrive on the nutrient-water solution alone. The growing medium merely acts as a support for the plants and their root systems while the solution passes freely. The growing medium, if any, is totally inert.
One advantage is that you can grow more plants per square foot in a hydroponic garden because roots are directly fed. Therefore, there is no competition for root space. As a result, you can get higher yields per square foot, per unit of time. Your plants will grow faster because they will be getting all the nutrients they need and in the proper proportions. Their root systems stay smaller, so the plant can concentrate it’s energy on producing plant mass, rather than roots.
Not at all! If you follow directions, you can garden hydroponically. A few simple steps must be followed on a regular basis to insure that your plants thrive. Once you get used to the routine - it’s a snap.
Organic and hydroponic growers have typically regarded each other somewhat suspiciously and the two growing methods were not thought to be compatible. There is common ground, however, and more people are finding that with a little experimentation, they can grow a successful organic, hydroponic garden. Products used for hydroponic gardening include bat guanos, liquefied seaweed products, fish based fertilizers, and an extensive line of organic nutrients, such as General Hydroponics Organics. Contact us for more information on organic, hydroponic gardening.
Anything can be grown hydroponically, but some plants prove to be more space efficient. Some plants we suggest are tomatoes, sweet peppers, hot chilies, lettuce, spinach, squash, cucumbers, broccoli, beans, snow peas, herbs and flowers of all types.
Absolutely. The plants, when receiving everything they need, tend to be healthier, faster growing and generally more productive. You can expect 30% faster growth with many crops.
The taste may be even better! This is simply due to the fact that the hydroponically grown plants are getting everything they need, when they need it. Don’t be fooled by “hot house” produce grown commercially. The grower’s primary concern is shipability and storage, not flavor. When you grow your own vegetables at home, you can expect nothing less than excellent results. Plus, hydroponically grown produce has the added benefit of a longer shelf life.
There is no clear cut answer to this question. Like everything else, this comes down to preference. Different mediums work better for different situations and different crops.
• Rockwool will allow the grower an easy set up, since it is pre-formed and modular. It holds a tremendous amount of water and offers a buffer against drying in the case of electrical outages or pump failures. As Rockwool is disposable, it lends itself to quick end-of-crop clean up. It is also good for starting seedlings and cuttings.
• Coconut Fiber is recently becoming more popular. Coconut fiber is the first “organic” medium to offer high performance in modern hydroponic applications. It can also be added into soil mixtures to increase water retention. Coconut fiber holds more oxygen than rockwool and is pH neutral.
• Grow Rocks (Called Hydroton or Diatatomite) are a super-fired type of baked clay formed to create a porous, reusable hydroponic media. Due to their sturdy nature, grow rocks provide secure support for the plants’ root zone. This non-degradable, sterile growing medium provides the delicate balance between moisture retention and aeration and holds a neutral pH . They are very easy to use.
pH has a range from 0 (acidic) – 14 (alkaline), with 7 being neutral. A proper hydroponic pH range is between 5.5 to 6.2 for most hydroponic crops. For specific crop pH, check out our Plant Guide. pH must remain within the proper range for good plant health, disease resistance, and proper nutrient uptake. pH is maintained by adding pH Up and pH Down to the nutrient solution. For more information, see the Tests section of our site.
Once the reservoir is filled with nutrients, it is time to put your hydro system to work! The ease of hydroponics is automation - automation is achieved by putting the pump on a timer according to your watering needs. The watering cycle depends on growth stage, growing medium and hydroponic system. In an ebb and flow or drip system with rockwool as the medium, seedlings, clones and plants in the early vegetative stage require watering only once a day for 15-30 minutes (twice a day for higher temps). Mature, flowering and fruiting plants require a heavier feed and can be fed once a day for 30 minutes (twice a day for higher temps).
Typically soiless mixes and coco fiber can be watered for about 15 minutes twice a day, and can be adjusted for heavier feeding during the flowering and fruiting stage or higher temps.
ViaStone, Hydroton, Grow Rocks, and Silicate mediums need to be watered more frequently - a constant drip for drip systems, and about 15-30 minutes every 3 hours for ebb and flow systems and can be adjusted for heavier feeding during the flowering and fruiting stage or higher temps.
Aeroponic systems require frequent watering cycles; 30-60 seconds every few minutes or a constant spray.
Nutrient solution uptake will be determined by the type of crop being grown and how heavily they are feeding and the temperature of the grow room (the higher the temp, the more the plants will feed. It is extremely important that you have a TDS meter and a pH meter and that regular testing on the nutrient solution is carried out.
If you follow a nutrient line's feed schedule, they will typically have it based on changing out the reservoir every week. Topping off with nutrients and water is possible, just be sure to do the proper math and use your meters to prevent over or under watering.
Nutrient manufacturer’s feed charts require using 0 PPM (parts per million) water as a starting base for the nutrient solution. A 0 PPM base is achieved with the aid of an RO system. All tap water has natural salts, free chlorine, chloramines and other contaminants so it is often more difficult to adjust the PPM’s of your nutrient solution. It is helpful to know your water. Water test kits can be ordered online and are quick and affordable. Water hardness can often cause deficiencies, imbalances, and and lockouts. It is often advised that organic gardeners using compost tea solutions, beneficial bacteria, fungi and nematodes, mycorrizae, and trichoderma should use purified water.
For information on lighting basics, hid lighting, and more - see our Lighting Basics guide.
For information on grow room size and wattage coverage - see our Lighting Hints guide.
Bulbs need to be replaced every 8 - 12 months for maximum light output. You will notice a drop in growth rate and fruit size so be sure to stay on schedule. A light meter can help you measure light loss, and you can also go by the bulb replacement sticker and date code on your bulb if you purchased it from us.
The indoor garden rule of thumb is 18 hours on/6 hours off for vegetative growth and 12 hours on/12 hours off for fruiting/flowering. Be sure to use a timer so it is automated daily at the correct intervals.
Yes, your bill will go up some, but maybe not as much as you think. Check out Electrical Usage Calculations and see.
Cooling your grow light is essential to keeping grow room temperatures from skyrocketing. Simply attach an inline fan, pulling air from outside the growroom, through the reflector, to outside the growroom. See a helpful diagram in the Tips and Tricks section.
Yes! CO2 and light are the key elements for photosynthesis, the process that plants need to make food for themselves - and is key to nutrient uptake. Ambient CO2 levels in a room are around 300-500 PPM CO2 and you can actually increase levels up to 1500 PPM to see faster growth rate, increased yield, and happier plants. If you can't add CO2 just yet, be sure to have proper ventilation to spread that natural CO2 around.
CO2 can be added when the lights are on and exhaust fans are off. Use the CO2 calculator to find out how much you will need for your room.
What are the benefits of using a carbon filter? How do I determine what size filter/fan combo I need?
Carbon Filter/Fan combos are the best way to sterilize air and eliminate odors. To find out what size you will need for your room and how to set it up, read the tips on the Carbon Filters and Air Purification page.
Ideal grow room temperatures range between 68° and 75°. Water temperature in hydroponics should be between 68° and 70°.
Air exchange should take place every 5 minutes. To figure your grow room exhaust, use the formula Length x Width x Height = Cubic Ft, then Divide by 5 to get your recommended CFM (Cubic Feet per Minute) (Example 8ft x 12ft x 8ft = 768 divided by 5 = 153.6 so you would need at least a 153 cfm fan to exhaust your room).
Generally, indoor environments demand less pesticides for obvious reasons. Hydroponic growing eliminates soil borne pests, as well. However, if pests do become a problem, one can choose to use insecticide soaps, natural pyrethrums and, in some cases, beneficial insects. These controls will be completely safe to use on edible crops and are also environmentally safe.
First, you should decide if you want to grow organically or conventionally. Second, you'll need to decide what type of growing medium/soil/soiless mix your using and if growing hydroponically, what hydroponic system you will be using. For instance, if you are using an aeroponic system, a more liquid nutrient needs to be used as a thick nutrient like Flora Nova will clog the lines. Most formulas are broken down into 2 stages: a NITROGEN-rich vegetative formula that should be used when a plant is in vegetative stage and a PHOSPHORUS-rich bloom formula that should be used when a plant is in bloom stage. Some formulas are better suited for soil and some formulas like the General Hydro 3 part or Dutch Master are better for high performance hydroponic systems. Please contact our sales staff and we help by making a recommendation based on your needs.
All hydroponic nutrients can be used soil crops. Hydroponic nutrient formulas are mineral-based and are instantly available to the plant in any growing medium. But, not all soil nutrients can be used for hydroponics because of the nutrient thickness and release speed of the formula's nutrients. High performance hydroponic systems often have small parts and hoses that can clog easily by thicker formulas like Flora Nova. Often soil nutrients need micro-organisms and time to break down and become available to the plant. By eating the organic material, the organisms present in the soil process the soil nutrient into proper food for the plant. Organic nutrients can be used in a hydroponic system, but we recommend using mediums like coconut fiber or Ready-Gro to provide an environment for beneficial bacteria.