Grow Flowers With Hydroponics

Photo © Lori Greig/Moment Open/Getty Images

Flower gardeners spend a great deal of time thinking about the soil. We turn it, tend it, amend it, admire it, and curse it. Rich, black, loamy soil is at the heart of everything we grow, and if we had 10 dollars to spend on gardening, most of us would spend nine dollars on the hold and one dollar on the plant. 

Therefore, few flower gardeners consider hydroponics gardening as a serious alternative to conventional gardens that grow in containers or in the ground. Hydroponics systems are something one ponders at a science exhibition; curiosities that consist of a maze of tubing with unknown chemicals piped throughout. 

In fact, hydroponics gardening systems have some advantages over conventional soil culture. Furthermore, you can even maintain soil-free flower gardens with organic hydroponic nutrients, similar to those that you would use to enrich your soil. 

Hydroponic Flowers

Flowers that are popular in the florist trade are usually good candidates for hydroponic culture. Why is this? Flowers like carnations, gerbera daisies, snapdragons, and lisianthus are picky about their growing conditions, and frequently suffer from fungal diseases like fusarium wilt. A second benefit of hydroponics is the fast rate of growth, giving you cut flower materials for the vase up to 50 percent faster than the same plant growing in the ground would. Finally, a hydroponic system eliminates site and soil problems, like clay soil, slopes, and pH issues. 

Hydroponic Systems

If you're new to hydroponic gardening, you may consider a complete hydroponic system as an introduction to soil-free flower culture. A hydroponic system is a self-contained growing unit that may consist of a growing container, a water reservoir, growing media, and a pump that recirculates the water. Some hydroponic kits also include a grow light for indoor gardening. You must add the hydroponic nutrients and flowering plants. 

Hydroponic kits vary widely in size and price, but most systems accommodate a static number of growing pots. This means if you purchased a kit that only features 12 growing stations, you can only grow 12 plants at a time. Unless you have severe space restrictions, buy a hydroponic system that grows at least 24 plants or more so your hobby doesn't outgrow the system too quickly.  

Hydroponic Nutrients

Unlike the complicated chemical soups hydroponic gardening suppliers offered in the past, most companies now recognize the value of growing plants using naturally derived nutrients. Hydroponic fertilizers may come in a liquid or powder form that you dilute and add to your growing system. Organic ingredients are similar to what we use in the soil, including such additives as earthworm castings, blood meal, fish meal, kelp, or guano. 

In addition to fertilizer, hydroponic gardeners must add the trace elements normally found in healthy soils, as the growing media will be inert. Look specifically for products that advertise trace mineral content on the label. If you're growing plants that have a fussy pH range, you can also alter this with a sulfuric acid preparation or dolomite lime. 

Growing Medium

Even though the focus in hydroponic gardening is on water plants still require a growing medium to anchor their roots. Some of the growing media are the same materials flower gardeners might use to amend their soil, while others are used specifically for hydroponic applications. You can use perlite, coconut fiber, rock wool, or even sand. Whatever you choose, you will enjoy one of the advantages of hydroponic gardening, which is the ability to dodge soil-borne diseases.