Table of contents:
- Hydroponics at home
- Transplanting plants from soil to hydroponics
- Solutions for hydroponics
- Pros and cons of hydroponic growing
Hydroponics is a method of growing plants without soil, in which all the nutrients they need for nutrition are obtained from an aqueous solution.
For growing plants in hydroponics, a substrate of fine expanded clay is usually used, since it has the best water-holding ability. You can also use vermiculite and perlite. However, in the pores of expanded clay, salts accumulate over time, depressing plants. There are substrates made of granular polyethylene or glass. Of great interest are studies with substrates made of ion-exchange materials, which can be charged with ions of substances necessary for plants that can pass into solution as they are absorbed by the roots.
A filler for hydroponics should have the following properties:
- it is easy to pass air and solution, it is good to be wetted with it;
- do not enter into a chemical compound with solutes;
- have a slightly acidic or neutral reaction.
With proper operation, substrates from granite and quartz are used up to 10 years, from expanded clay and perlite 6-10 years, and from vermiculite only 2-3 years.
Hydroponics at home
1. When a nutrient solution is poured into a container or a special pot and the root system of the plant is placed in it. As the solution evaporates, water is added, and at certain intervals the solution is completely replaced with fresh one, since over time an imbalance in the proportions of nutrients occurs in the solution.
A significant disadvantage of this method is that the supply of oxygen to the roots is difficult, and this is not tolerated by all plants.
2. This method uses two pots, one larger than the other. The roots of the plant are placed in a smaller pot with many small holes and covered with gravel, expanded clay or other material. Then this pot is placed in a larger volume and the nutrient solution is poured, while the roots should be immersed in the solution no more than 2/3. If it is necessary to replace the nutrient solution, take out the inner pot with the plant and allow the water to drain. The outer pot is washed and after placing the pot with the plant in it again, a fresh solution is poured.
The second variant of the hydroponic culture technique is the most popular among flower growers. Hydroponic pots have long been available in specialized stores. At the same time, the outer vessel is completely waterproof, made of various materials and has a beautiful decorative appearance. The inner vessel is usually made of plastic and equipped with a liquid level indicator. This device has marks at three levels - the minimum amount of solution, optimal and maximum. It will be more correct to top up the nutrient solution when the liquid level indicator drops to the minimum point. In this case, you need to add water so much that the liquid level float rises to the optimal value.
The amount of liquid is brought to the maximum value only in cases where the plants are left without watering for a long time, for example, during holidays.
Transplanting plants from soil to hydroponics
The environment in which the root system of a plant initially develops significantly affects its shape. The roots of plants grown in water are lighter, juicier and have more thin villi on the roots, almost invisible to the naked eye. The easiest way to grow a plant hydroponically is from a cuttings rooted in water. But if you transplant a plant grown in a soil mixture to hydroculture, then you will have to fulfill a number of conditions on which the further successful development of the plant will depend.
First of all, it is important not to damage the root system by removing the flower from the old pot, so water the soil well before transplanting.
The removed plant is best placed by roots in a bucket of warm water along with all the earth, which will not separate immediately. Rinse the roots lightly in water, then remove and free the roots from the soil with your hands as much as possible. If the lumps of earth do not come off, then carefully cut them off with scissors. It is very important to completely free the roots from the soil, as well as remove any rotten or damaged areas.
If there are too many damaged roots, then you can not plant the plant on hydroponics on the same day, but place it for 2 days in a pot of warm water with the addition of several tablets of activated carbon (10 tablets per 1 liter of water).
So the plant is ready. Now pour a little washed expanded clay or other filler into the inner pot, set the liquid level indicator. Place the roots of the plant, straighten them, add the rest of the expanded clay to the top of the pot. Place the pot with the plant in an outer vessel, fill it with water at room temperature or slightly higher, until the float shows the optimal liquid level. A plant transplanted from soil does not need to be immediately placed in a nutrient solution, it should stand for a while in ordinary water. It is best to apply the nutrient solution and fertilizers when the first batch of water has evaporated and the level float has dropped to the minimum amount of liquid. This should happen in about two weeks.
Solutions for hydroponics
F. Knop's solution was widely used, which is prepared by adding the following components to 1 liter of water:
|Calcium nitrate (calcium nitrate) Ca (NO3) 2||1 g|
|Potassium phosphate monosubstituted KH2PO4||0.25 g|
|Magnesium sulfate MgSO4||0.25 g|
|Potassium chloride (potassium salt) KC1||0.125 g|
|Iron chloride FeCl3||0.0125 g|
Each substance is dissolved separately in a small amount of water. Thus, there should be 5 solutions. Then, about 700 ml of water is poured into a container for 1 liter, then the first diluted solution, stir well, add the second solution, stir again thoroughly and so on all 5 solutions. After that, water is added to the container to a total volume of 1 liter.
Attention: no sediment must form in the solution! You cannot dissolve all chemicals together, as well as pour water into concentrated solutions, as this will cause the appearance of a precipitate of calcium salts, and the balance of elements will be disturbed.
If it is not possible to obtain a pure solution, and during preparation the iron gives a rusty precipitate, then ferric chloride can be replaced with iron vitriol, but not in the form of a ready-made powder, but in the form of a solution. For its preparation, 1.5 g of ferrous sulfate is thoroughly stirred in 150-200 ml of water, 1.7 g of citric acid are mixed in another container in the same amount of water. Then mix both solutions, bring its volume to 500 ml, adding water. Next, you need to take 5 ml of the resulting solution, and add to the Knop solution instead of ferric chloride.
It should be noted that each hydroponic culture solution is suitable only for a specific group of plants, for example, Knop's solution is only suitable for those plants that need a high calcium content. Some gardeners use highly diluted solutions of complex fertilizers as solutions for hydroponics. However, it will be possible to understand whether the solution is suitable for a plant only after a while, judging by its growth and development.
If you find it difficult to formulate a hydroponic solution, do not despair, the industry produces a variety of fertilizers for hydroponics. You can always choose something more suitable for flowering plants or deciduous plants.
Pros and cons of hydroponic growing
This method has undeniable advantages:
- it eliminates the cost of preparing and changing soil;
- simplifies watering, feeding, there is no need for disinfection and soil heating;
- at the same time, it is possible to create optimal modes of root nutrition differentiated by the phases of plant growth and development.
However, the hydroponic cultivation technique has its drawbacks:
- the need for careful control over the composition of the solution and the state of the substrate, depending on the type of plant and water hardness;
- periodic checks of the condition of the roots and the operation of the water level indicator;
- control over the temperature of the liquid in the pot.