Hydroponics is another way to grow plants without soil.
We go over some of the most popular ones in the list below.
Growers use different hydroponic media in several types of systems to achieve a balance between the nutrient solution and supporting plant roots, all while allowing adequate oxygen to reach the plants roots.
In this article we go over the top 5 hydroponic growing mediums that you can choose from. The right choice will depend on your location, experience level, availability, budget, and purpose.
LECA – Lightweight Expanded Clay Aggregate
For over a century LECA pellets have been the quintessential hydroponic medium available to growers around the world. As one would guess they are made by expanding clay to form the porous, semi-round balls hydroponic gardeners have grown to love. They are reusable, lightweight, and cheap to buy.
The fibrous material found between the tough internal shell and the outer layer of a coconut is what coco coir is made off.
Once it is harvested and washed multiple times the pure coco fiber is perfect for hydroponic use. It allows just enough space for the roots to grow and receive oxygen. Coco coir retains enough moisture and nutrients while allowing good drainage while giving the plant good stability.
Peat based mixes known as professional mixes are commonly called soil even though they do not contain any soil at all. They are usually a mix of 75% peat and 25% perlite and/or vermiculite with limestone to adjust the pH of the peatmoss.
Peat based mixes may be the best medium for new growers to use.
It is considered buffered which allows for a wider pH range in the root zone and when preparing nutrient solutions.
Rockwool is a close second to LECA in overall popularity in hydroponics (sometimes used together). It is made from basaltic rock that is melted and then spun into Rockwool. It comes in hundreds of shapes in sizes for hydroponic gardening.
There are some special considerations when growing in rockwool. You will need to pre-soak it for up to a day in pH adjusted water. Once you are growing in rockwool, overwatering, especially in the initial stages of the plant's life may be a concern.
Oasis cubes are rockwools cheaper cousin. These extremely lightweight cubes, wedges or sheets are exceedingly popular with seed starting and cloning.
Designed from the ground up as a porous solution for hydroponic gardening that allows air and water/nutrients to move freely while holding its shape to support the plants or seedlings.
The easily compressed foam cubes need to maintain their form to work correctly. It is important to not squeeze or crush oasis products for them to work correctly.