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Choosing the Right Medium For Your Hydroponic System

In hydroponics a “growing medium” is what you will use in place of soil to place your plants’ roots. When developing your hydroponic system, it is imperative that you select a medium that matches your needs, will give you the biggest yields, and will be the easiest to maintain. Here are a few of the most popular growing media used in modern hydroponic systems, and the advantages and disadvantages of each.
Rockwool – Rockwool is probably the most popular growing medium used in modern hydroponic systems. It is a material made from basalt rock and which, which is melted and “spun” so the material turns into interconnected fibers. One of the primary advantages of rockwool is that it retains water very well, which means that your plants are less likely to be harmed by dehydration if your pump fails. It also holds a great deal of air, which means that it will make it more unlikely for your plants to be over watered. However, the dust and fibers from this growing medium can be hazardous, so you have to careful when you handle it. Because this material has a high pH level, you may need to pay special attention to the pH level of your nutrient solution to ensure the plants in your hydroponic system remain healthy.

Coconut Fiber – Coconut fiber, sometimes called coco coir, is simply the powdered husks of coconuts. It is increasing in popularity because it is one of the completely organic media available for hydroponic systems. It is known for its large oxygen and water capacity, which means your plants have a better chance of surviving if something goes wrong with your hydroponic system. However, some cheaper coconut fiber is known to contain large amounts of sea salt, which may hurt your crop.

Perlite – Perlite is a form volcanic glass. Perlite is one of the more affordable media you can find, and is often mixed with other media. Because of its price and good wicking action, this is the media usually seen in inexpensive wick hydroponic systems. However, it doesn’t hold water very well, and because it can be hazardous if ingested, you should also use a dust mask when handling.

Expanded Clay Pebbles – Clay pebbles are simply created by baking clay in kiln, creating a bunch of air-filled clay pellets. Expanded clay pellets are one of the more expensive media you can use in your hydroponic system, but they may actually save you a bit of money in the long run because unlike most other growing media, they are reusable. However, clay pebbles do not retain water or oxygen very well, and therefore may require you to mix them with another medium to increase water retention.

Air – Using air as a medium, which is also sometimes referred to as using “no medium,” is very cost-friendly, because it essentially means that you don’t have to buy a medium. Since your roots are constantly exposed to air, you can also always be assured that they are always getting the oxygen that they need. Bear in mind, however, that using air as the medium in your hydroponic system leaves little room for error. If your pump fails, your roots can dry out in a matter of minutes, seriously damaging or even quickly killing your entire crop.


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The Advanced Nutrients Team

Since 1999, Advanced Nutrients has been committed to educating the community and bringing the most up-to-date knowledge to the forefront of grows across the globe. Every article you read here has been curated by Advanced Nutrients’ industry experts, so you can continue raising your bud weight… and your reputation.

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Over time, components within the nutrients settle on the bottom of the bottle. When you pour a bottle without shaking it, you can potentially be pouring out an unbalanced solution. Shaking up the nutrient bottle ensures you are pouring the right blend into your reservoir, giving your crops the nutrition they need.

Usually, it’s not a problem. But some products are incompatible with each other and can damage your plants when they’re used together. For example, bloom boosters with high PK numbers or low-grade silica products can destabilize your nutrient mix and cause nutrient lockout.

Nutrient manufacturers design their products to be used with each other. In doing so, they include specific portions of each nutrient in each product, so crops receive the right nutrition through each stage of the grow cycle. When you stick with one manufacturer, you don’t have to worry about inadvertently destabilizing your nutrient mixture. One example of why you need to stick with only one manufacturer’s products is Advanced Nutrients’ pH Perfect line. These products are designed to keep your crops’ root zone within a specific pH range. When you use them alongside products from another manufacturer, we can’t guarantee your root zone will maintain its optimal pH level.

Yes! If you’re growing with Advanced Nutrients products, you can use our easy nutrient calculator to generate the correct nutrient chart for your crops in seconds. Check out Advanced Nutrients’ nutrient calculator here. Another great resource is our library of free custom-growing recipes. Try our expert grower-tested nutrient schedules here.

You can also download our official BudLabs app to generate nutrient schedules and receive real-time notifications for specific tasks, including feeding your crops. Upgrade to BudLabs Pro to maintain profiles on an unlimited number of crops.

If you are a grower, visit this link to find the closest Advanced Nutrients Authorized Retailer. If you are a retailer, visit this link to identify our official distributors.

Our greatest passion is growing great cannabis—and helping other growers do the same. That’s why we offer complimentary cultivation support 24/7 from Monday to Friday and from 9 AM until 7 PM PST on Saturday… With the same level of advice licensed producers would pay consultants tens of thousands of dollars to unlock.
Just call 1-800-640-9605 or email support@advancednutrients.com. For Spanish-speaking growers, email spanishsupport@advancednutrients.com.

Yes! If for any reason you are not absolutely thrilled with the results you achieve when you use our products, just bring the unused portion, along with your original sales receipt, back to the place of purchase within six months, and ask for your money back. Find out more about our Grower Guarantee here.

Advanced Nutrients has spent many thousands of man-hours developing a technology that automatically balances your pH for you — putting it in the “sweet spot” and holding it there for one week.

And the technology is so “smart” that it can account for many of the aforementioned variables in your grow room. Our proprietary pH buffering agents and stabilizing mechanisms became the foundation of a new system aptly called pH Perfect® Technology. Learn all about it here.

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