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What is Hydroponics?

How it Works, and its Advantages

Longing for a lush, green garden in the comfort of your home, all year round? This gardening technique has been around for centuries, and now new tech is making it more popular than ever before.  But what is hydroponics, anyway? And is hydroponics faster than soil? Here’s how it works, the advantages over planting in soil, and ideas for the best things to start growing hydroponically.

Table of Contents

Hydroponics and its advantages

What Is Hydroponic Gardening?

Hydroponics is a type of gardening that doesn’t require soil – but instead uses water or a nutrient-rich solution. Not needing soil means that plants and flowers can be propagated indoors, all year round, regardless of outside weather. In addition, this type of gardening gives you more environmental control. Some plants even grow thirty to fifty percent faster than with soil.

What is a Hydroponic System?

In many cases, hydroponics is better than using soil. Multiple systems can be used for hydroponic gardening, such as trays or beds, troughs, pipes, or different materials like sand or stone. The best method for you depends on a few things like what you’re trying to grow, space requirements, growing time, and the cost of the plants and materials.

How Does a Hydroponic System Work?

Plants and flowers use photosynthesis to absorb the nutrients necessary to grow. Usually, energy is spent sifting through soil to find those nutrients and the water. However, with hydroponic systems, plants have direct contact with the sunlight they’re looking for – which helps them produce CO2 faster and eliminates the need for large amounts of pesticides and chemicals.

The Basic Components of a Hydroponic System

Once you’ve determined what you’re trying to grow, your available space, and a budget, you can decide which system is best. 

Specifics can vary, but the core components of any hydroponic system include:

  • Chamber or tray to hold the plants
  • A reservoir to store the water and nutrient solution
  • Submersible pumps
  • Delivery tubes like drip emitters or sprayers
  • Air pumps or aerators
  • Grow lights

Types of Hydroponic Systems

The ability to customize systems to your unique needs and goals is one of the most beneficial parts of this gardening technique. There are many different systems that vary in complexity, size, and materials. Still, each is attainable once you clearly understand the benefits of each.

Vertical Hydroponic System

Net pots (or cups) hold the plants at angles between forty-five and ninety degrees (depending on the specific vertical hydroponic system you use.) A pump pushes water to the top of the system from a reservoir, and gravity does most of the work to finish the job.

Though a bit more tedious to build DIY and maintain, this is an innovative gardening system for when space is limited. AI-powered systems like Gardyn bring all the benefits and joy of vertical methods but without the drawbacks and limitations of DIY.

Deep Water Culture Hydroponic System

Deepwater culture hydroponic systems (DWCs) are another type of system that can save you time and space. Plants are suspended, and unlike with other methods, the roots are submerged in the water at all times. Setting up this system is relatively simple, but routinely monitoring the water for water temperature or pH fluctuations is crucial.

Continuous Flow Hydroponic System

You need a reservoir to hold the nutrient-rich water connected to a pump for this system. Then the plants are separately stored in another tray or individual containers. A benefit to this system is that there’s little room for error once set up, and from there, the constant flow of nutrients can lead to rapid growth rates.

What Can Be Grown in Hydroponics?

The variety of indoor hydroponic growing systems means that it can grow most plants. Houseplants, herbs, and root vegetables can all be grown hydroponically.
There are few limitations on what you can grow with hydroponics in your kitchen, basement, or even within a greenhouse. But, some may yield more substantial results.
Hydroponic herbs are easy but need maintenance

Hydroponic Herbs

Growing herbs hydroponically is relatively easy and efficient, but it does require maintenance. You’ll want to ensure plenty of sunlight and fresh air circulating near the system, which you should be cleaning regularly. You’ll also need to check that pH levels stay between six and seven.

  • Basil
  • Thyme
  • Mint
  • Cilantro
  • Sage
Having fresh herbs can make a huge difference when cooking your favorite foods. This is why growing them can be so rewarding. That’s why it’s best to start with a few herbs that grow well in hydroponics that you’ll love and use.
Hydroponic vegetables are low maintenance and easy for beginners

Hydroponic Vegetables

Growing hydroponic vegetables can be an excellent option for beginner gardeners. Once set up correctly, the vegetables can proliferate. In addition, they are relatively low maintenance to grow this way as long as there is plenty of light and well-maintained levels of humidity and room temperature. One example is an ebb and flow system that works best for growing root vegetables in water.

  • Lettuce
  • Celery
  • Tomatoes
  • Bell Peppers
  • Cucumbers
Fruits that grow best in wet environments are wise choices for hydroponics

Hydroponic Fruits

Growing hydroponic fruits may seem intimidating at first. But, in reality, many advantages make it easy to do, like the flexibility in monitoring and controlling the environment. Fruits that grow best in wet environments are wise choices for hydroponic gardening. Also, picky fruits that require more attention can be easier to grow in this environment because of how easy it can be to manage temperature, pH levels, air circulation, or humidity.

  • Melons
  • Strawberries
  • Blueberries
  • Raspberries
  • Cranberries
Regardless of which type of fruit you decide to grow – be sure they have plenty of light, a well-monitored pH level, and the right system for it.
Make sure your hydroponics have high quality and plenty of lighting

Hydroponic Houseplants

Houseplant hydroponics is an excellent option if you love plants but tend to over or under-water them and are limited on space. You’re likely already familiar with hydro-gardening if you’ve ever cut and propagated a houseplant into another vase.

  • Peace Lily
  • Devil’s Ivy
  • English Ivy
  • Spider Plant
  • Money Tree
Houseplant hydroponics are great for limited space

Hydroponic Flowers

Growing hydroponic flowers indoors is one of the best sustainable hydroponic systems you can bring into your home. Looking to brighten your space? Growing flowers this way can elevate any room and might be especially rewarding if you live somewhere with dreary, cold winters.

  • Philodendron
  • Geranium
  • Orchids
  • Hyacinth
  • Daffodils
Like anything you’re interested in growing, be sure to investigate the needs of each plant or flower thoroughly. For example, most will want plenty of warm light and a slightly humid environment, and you will want to make sure the system you use is clean and free of fallen, dried leaves or flowers.

Is Hydroponics Better Than Soil?

Ultimately, anything you choose to grow hydroponically can be grown in soil. But why are hydroponic gardens better than growing in soil?
First, when plants or flowers are in the ground, they have to work and use energy to filter through the dirt to find the nutrients they need. On top of that, soil gardens and agriculture require vast amounts of water, which is a growing concern for environmentalists worried about climate change. Reducing plants’ effort to find the nutrients they need while using even less water is what makes these systems a great option.
Additionally, the added flexibility to bring your garden indoors without the mess of dirt and soil makes sustainable hydroponic gardening systems an even more approachable choice.

Do Hydroponic Plants Grow Faster?

How fast do plants grow in hydroponics?

Depending on what you’re choosing to grow, it has been noted that plants can grow thirty to fifty percent faster than in soil. They can also grow twenty to thirty percent larger and flourish. Over or under-watering risks are reduced because there’s a direct line to nutrients. You can more easily control the more vital factors to help your garden grow.

Why Hydroponics Is Good: Key Benefits and Advantages

The benefits of a hydroponic gardening system ultimately depend on your goals and ambitions. This type of gardening can bring a flourishing garden into your home year-round. While a garden that uses soil can be set up relatively quickly, it will require upkeep like watering, fertilizing, weeding and clearing away pests. A hydroponic garden system doesn’t need these same steps.

Still, it can be more time-consuming and costly to initially create from scratch without a smart system like Gardyn. Nevertheless, a hydroponic gardening system is a perfect solution for most people to grow the plants, flowers, fruits, and vegetables they love.

Maximize Space

The roots are more contained in hydroponic garden systems, so less space is required for plants and flowers to grow. And because there are so many options and styles of systems, it’s easy to find a solution perfect for your space – whether you have a small apartment or a greenhouse.

Water Conservation

This way of gardening provides a direct line from the nutrients to the flower, which conserves the water necessary for them to grow and thrive. With soil, most water evaporates, and less than one percent is actually absorbed by the roots. Hydroponic gardening conserves water because it is more efficiently absorbed by the plants.

Less Labor

Learning how to grow hydroponic plants can seem overwhelming and labor-intensive at first, but maintenance can be relatively smooth and streamlined with the right system. The ease of monitoring and adjusting light levels, PH levels, and humidity makes upkeep approachable. As an added bonus, you probably won’t get sweaty and dirty on your hands and knees while weeding or clearing away pests.


The grower controls all the variables with a hydroponic garden, including the season. So you can create a micro-environment to have plants and flowers in any season, no matter where you live. And with the ability to monitor your indoor garden consistently, you will know the actual time it will take for plants to bloom.
The unpredictable weather like droughts, floods, or fires no longer has to be a factor in your miniature garden. Likewise, waiting for fruits or vegetables to become seasonal becomes irrelevant when you decide to grow them in your own hydroponic garden.

How To Grow a Hydroponic Garden At Home

Getting started with your home hydroponic garden depends on what you’re looking to grow, your available space, and your budget. Specific plants, fruits, vegetables, or flowers will require different levels of care, and some systems work more effectively than others.
What you need for a hydroponic system to succeed, no matter what you’re looking to grow.
  • Lighting: Sometimes natural sunlight isn’t enough, and grow lights may be necessary. Depending on what you’re growing, you’ll need to investigate the strength and size required for your specific garden.
  • Grow Medium or Substrate: Though you’re not using soil in a hydroponic garden, some roots still need support that soil can provide. Mediums or substrates offer that support and can help hold water and nutrients for growth. Different grow mediums include clay pebbles, sand, peat moss, coconut fiber, pea gravel, and rock wool.
  • Nutrients: Aside from CO2, micro and macronutrients are critical to helping gardens flourish. Typical soil fertilizers won’t contain all the nutrients you need in a hydroponic environment. Look for special pre-mixes that include nutrients like nitrogen, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, zinc, molybdate, boron, sulfur, or magnesium.

Kitchen Hydroponics

With enough light and space, a hydroponic garden can thrive in your kitchen just as well as anywhere else in your home. Growing fresh herbs hydroponically is an excellent option for the kitchen because they will thrive with relative ease and require minimal counter space. However, there might be a need for more space for harvesting fruits, vegetables, or other plants. It will ultimately depend if you have space available.
Hydroponic Gardens can thrive in your kitchen and give your kitchen life

Basement Hydroponics

Starting a garden in your basement is a great option when looking to accommodate many plants and don’t have space in the rest of the home or in a greenhouse. The basement does have some differences that you’ll need to be mindful of compared to what you may experience upstairs, but each has a solution.
Basements are often dryer and cooler than the rest of the home. But usually, they don’t have as many sources for natural light. So if you’re going to start a basement hydroponic garden, you will want a good lighting source. If necessary, humidifiers (and even air purifiers) can help if your basement doesn’t have excellent air circulation.

Tips for Hydroponics Without Sunlight

Hydroponics without sunlight is possible and can yield substantial results if you’re willing to do the work. The critical ingredients of photosynthesis for plants to grow are carbon dioxide, water, and light. The amount of each ingredient will vary depending on what you’re growing, but light plays a critical role in the overall health of your garden. As long as you understand the amount of light needed for your garden, you will be able to keep your indoor garden systems running smoothly.

Get Started With Small Scale Hydroponic Gardening

There are many different hydroponic gardens available for countless plants, so it’s not surprising to feel overwhelmed. It can be even more intimidating if you want to grow your own fruits and vegetables.

With Gardyn, start your small-scale hydroponic garden with ease.

Choose the Gardyn Home Kit 1.0 to get up and running with 30 of the most popular leafy greens, herbs, and fruiting plants. If you’re looking to tailor your home garden, the Gardyn Home Kit 2.0 lets you choose from a variety of starter packs. Get the seeds, tools, and guides necessary delivered to your door so you can get up and growing.

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