Best way to get into hydroculture for a beginner?

CapnKateDecember 12, 2013

I've been a gardener for a few years, but I've never tried hydroculture before. I have some pothos that I've propagated from cuttings in water, and I'd like to pot them in a no-soil mix. I've been confused by all I've read on this site--some use clay pellets, some use sawdust, some use perlite... What should I use? Also, what about nutrients? I tried using regular houseplant food on a pothos I had growing in a jar of water, but the roots turned to mush! Also, do I need to use a cache-pot and an inside pot, or will one pot be okay? Do I need to use a straw for checking the water level, or not? I'd like to minimize the amount of stuff I have to buy.

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PupillaCharites(FL 9a)

clay pellets is good for general use, perlite if the plants prefer even less humidity in the roots. But generally clay pellets. Houseplant food lacks some micronutrients, get any hydroponic liquid or solid fertilizer at a hydroponics shop or online, or one of those IMO less desirable slow release deals you supposedly forget about for over 3 months. You need the perforated plant pot inside the reservoir pot, or else yoy will be using a major amount of clay pellets and have less room as well as less control over the degree of water saturation which is an important control, and you'd be filling more frequently. The system is sensitive to reservoir level which should be near the bottom so all the hydroculture (passive wicking hydroponics) this works and for that reason you need to know how high the water is. Whether you use a straw or just a tube within a tube and your fingertip,you can make one out of junk most people have around the house otherwise destined for the recycle bin. You don't need to buy anything except the fertilizer, you can make the inner pot by cutting up and just a few slits plus a place to attach the level tube from old plastic yogurt cups, soda bottles, etc., if you don't already have pots will well perforated bottoms to modify. Without the pot in a pot deal the level is hard to know with helpful precision.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2013 at 3:28PM
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PupillaCharites(FL 9a)

Pothos BTW likes a somewhat acidic solution, pH 5.5 is perfect in case you start doing pH, and 80 F as temperature.

Most tap water is alkaline with a pH around 7.7 which is likely to carry through if you aren't using purified water (which has it's own different challenge), so the results won't be that great if the pH is too much off. Your best labeled NPK (N:P2O5:K20) is these proportions 3:1:2, (equally more concentrated fertilizers appropriated diluted) 6:2:4, 9,3,6, 12,4,8, 15,3,10, 18:4:12, 21:5:14, etc.) and your best strength is an EC of around 2.5 mS/cm. That's about 11-12 grams (typically one level teaspoon of many powder hydro fertilizers that don't contain any fill) per GALLON (however if your water is too pure (not at least somewhat hard) you'll need a Cal-Mag supplement fertilizer. That's enough info to efficiently experiment and get the best results. 12 grams per gallon is the same as 3/4 gram per cup so being good with a calculator helps a lot. Do NOT use water that has been treated with a water softener.

This post was edited by PupillaCharites on Thu, Dec 12, 13 at 17:15

    Bookmark   December 12, 2013 at 3:29PM
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A wick setup would probably be the cheapest. Next up from that is a cheap air pump, about $5 US. You could try your experiment that turned to mush again, except this time blow bubbles in the water, and don't let light hit the solution.

I like using water pumps for aeration. The smallest fountain pumps are about $12 US, and you would need a bit of hose or pipe to pump the water up and let it crash down for aeration. It does make a bit of a waterfall sound; air bubble systems are quieter.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2013 at 5:43PM
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nil13(z21 L.A., CA (Mt. Washington))

Or you could just plant the pothos in a regular pot with the Missouri Gravel Bed medium (2 parts pea gravel: 1 part calcined clay (Turface)). Water with a complete hydroponic fertilizer. Tada! You now have a "to waste" hydroponic system.

Hydroculture refers to from where the majority of nutrients come, waterborne. It doesn't require reservoirs and complicated recirculation systems although those can be useful with certain strategies.

    Bookmark   December 16, 2013 at 11:35AM
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The best hydroponic medium is ph neutral, inert, non-organic and clean to work with. Having tested most hydro mediums, the ones I can recommend are Sure-to-Grow (US) and Growfiber (EU). Avoid rockwool if you like your lungs and evironment. And keep in mind: roots eat non-organically and love the usual minerals. Organic hydroponics nutrients are paradox.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2013 at 5:09PM
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PupillaCharites(FL 9a)

Hi 420,

I agree we must be careful with any chemical or fibrous substance we come into contact with. However your comment with respect to rockwool, with all due respect for your personal growing experience, are absolutely ***unsupported*** by current health regulations in the United States and Europe. This is not to say you shouldn't be careful with all the material you use. However rockwool is a very popular medium and has been for many years.

Sure-To-Grow, on the other hand, is ripping off your wallet while it infuses your buds with toxic previously recycled high speed fine polyester spindles breakdown products which you can puke on as well. Just exaggerating on specifically the toxicity, but it is tonly to illustrate the same sort of unsupported statement you made regarding rockwool, which amounts IMO to fearmongering as when the rubber meets the road there is absolutely no scientific basis that will slam dunk one being "safer" than the other, or to single it out as more dangerous than some fertilizers which actually leave residue in the vegetables we eat.

Here is the current regulation regarding rockwool from Grodan. It is a copy paste right off the MSDS:

Animal studies
If fibres are very durable (biopersistent) and present in high concentrations they may lead to disease. This product has been tested in long-term carcinogenicity studies [inhalation and intraperitoneal injection (i.p.) ] with no significant increase in lung tumours or abdominal tumours. Short-term biopersistent (inhalation and intra-tracheal injection) studies have shown that the fibres disappear very rapidly from the lung.
In October 2001, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) evaluated that there is inadequate evidence in experimental animals for this product (high-alumina low-silica (HT) wool).
Experiences in humans (Epidemiological Studie
Large morbidity and mortality studies of both European and North American mineral wool [rock (stone) and slag wool] manufacturing workers have been conducted with the traditional mineral wools. The studies have found no significant evidence of non-malignant lung disease (e.g. fibrosis).
In October 2001, IARC classified rock (stone) wool as Group 3, "not classifiable as to its carcinogenicity to humans". The 2001 decision was based on the latest epidemiological studies and animal inhalation studies that show no relation between inhala-tion exposure and the development of tumors.
This product has not been subject to epidemiological studies but consists of the less bio persistent fibres (low-silica, high-alumina (HT) wool), which will disappear even faster from the lung than the rock (stone) wool fibres.

Europe ��" European Community (EC) Classification:
The product contains Mineral Fibres [Man-made vitreous (silicate) fibres] that are exonerated from classification as a carcino-gen according to Note Q in EU Commission Directive 97/69/EC, and classified as irritating to skin.
This product is exonerated from classification as a carcinogen according to the German Hazardous Substances Ordinance Annex V Nr. 71 as of 1 October 2000.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2013 at 10:55PM
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roots eat non-organically

Can you elaborate on that point? I don't understand. Thanks.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2013 at 2:47AM
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"roots eat non-organically" simply means the plants absorb the nutrients at the mineral level. They don't absorb organic products through the roots. Organic nutrients must be broken down to a mineral level by an outside source; normally bacteria in the medium.
I think the poster was poking fun at people who use organic fertilizers thinking they're eating a healthier plant.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2013 at 11:37AM
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PupillaCharites(FL 9a)

Grizz cleared up that odd comment for me, I think he is right about the motivation of the commentor. Cole has a more robust microbial ecosystem so I figured that is why he asked.

I certainly wouldn't have gone there since that tangent muddies the fact that in hydroculture, organic fertilizers may be of some utility after the politics of them is set aside. The longer step process described to unlock organic nutrients may or may not be a benefit, but it is a growing variable I would not dismiss. It is beneficial if the OP wishes to study what slow release options are out there enabling his passive hydroculture system to sustain growth for 6 months without nutrient additions, organic or inorganic.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2013 at 4:42PM
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