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The Only Hydroponic Growing Media Guide You Need

Growing hydroponically is soil-free, this does not suggest that there is nothing to support our plants.

In most hydroponic systems, growers use different types ofhydroponic mediato assist support their roots and maintain a great water/oxygen ratio.

In this guide, I’ll offer you a breakdown of the most popular types of hydroponic growing media. Every hydroponic garden enthusiast has their own choices, so I’ll provide you the advantages and disadvantages of each medium so you can select the one that works right for your situation.

Coco Peat/ Coco Coir

Hydroponic Growing Media Coco Coir
Ground Coconut Husks/ Coco Coir

What is Coco Coir?

Coco coir is rapidly ending up being a favorite amongst hydroponic garden enthusiasts. It’s made from ground up coconut husks and represents a giant leap in hydroponic growing media.

To comprehend why ground coconut husks are becoming so popular, let’s take a look at what a coconut husk provides for a coconut. Coconuts are grown in tropical regions, and often times they fall under the ocean when they are ripe. The husk safeguards the seed and flesh from sun and salt damage. Most significantly, the husk serves as an excellent growing medium for the coconut to sprout and create new trees.

Now apply these advantages to hydroponics. The ground up coco coir will serve as a great hormonal agent abundant and fungi free medium for our plants. In the exact same way that it helps the coconut to sprout, it will help all of our seeds and seedlings to start strong. Coco coir has a great air to water ratio, so we don’t have to stress over drowning our roots. Most importantly, it’s entirely renewable. Coconut husks would usually go to be or lose composted if they weren’t used in hydroponic applications. Here, we’re taking what was when a waste item and re-purposing it to grow more plants!

Check out the thorough coconut coir guide here.

Growing Tips

When combined with fabric pots moisture problems can be avoided.

Built up salts can frequently be a problem, but there are numerous lines made particularly for coco that allow for easier flushing. Attempt using Canna Coco and Smart Pots.

Advantages of Coconut Coir

  • Generally natural
  • Sustainable
  • Compactable (buy compressed, broaden at house … conserves cash on shipping).

Drawbacks of Coconut Coir.

  • Holds a lot of water and might drown plants.

Expanded Clay Pellets.

Hydroponics Growing Media Hydroton
Hydroton Expanded Clay Pellets.

What Are Expanded Clay Pellets?

Probably one of the most popular media to utilize in days past has actually been hydroton broadened clay pellets. The finest part about them is the reality that they launch nearly no nutrients into the water stream and are pH neutral.

In my experience, the only 2 downsides to utilizing hydroton pellets has been their weight and their draining ability. In certain hydroponic systems, like ebb and circulation, filling an entire flood table loaded with hydroton is going to leave you with an extremely heavy system. Since there is much more space in between each pellet than other hydroponic growing media, they likewise dry and drain pipes out very fast. They can be utilized to great result to line the bottom of an growing tray, when draining is an issue. Besides these 2 downsides, hydroton pellets are a fantastic, re-usable media to utilize!.

Read the in-depth expanded clay pellet guide here.

Advantages of Expanded Clay Pellets.

  • Reusable.
  • pH Neutral.
  • Do not compact.

Downside of Expanded Clay Pellets

  • .Heavy.
  • Drain and dry extremely quick, roots might dry.
  • Strip mined (environmental concerns).

Reader Experiences.

Endlessly reusable, however heavy and drain improperly– can dry roots. Works great as a recyclable medium and permits for easy plant and root removal. Roots in some cases get knotted in the pellets but usually they are easily cleaned.

Sure To Grow.

Hydroponic Growing Media Sure to Grow
Sure To Grow.

What is Sure to Grow?

Sure to Grow is the leading business offering a plastic-based growing media. There are 2 camps here: one side loves STG, and the other can’t stand it. STG’s marketing recommends that it’s a wonderful growing media that has a plethora of advantages over other growing media, however the gardening neighborhood seems to be on the other side of the coin.

Reader Experiences.

Simply don’t truly like this, I seem like they re branded a fundamental plastic medium as some magic media..

In the industry we call this stuff sure-not-to-grow since it sucks. Spun cotton types algae and makes me truly mad..

I currently use it in Ebb & & Circulation and my experience with it at first was generally unfavorable. As soon as my plants got older I began to see the benefits of it and now for long term grows, I actually choose it to most other medium..

Advantages of Sure To Grow.

  • Roots embed deeply into the medium and the plants and medium turn into one.

Downsides of Sure To Grow.

  • Pricey, not re-usable.
  • Need to have a top layer that stays 100% dry or it promotes algae growth.

Sanctuary Cubes.

Oasis Cubes.

What Are Oasis Cubes?

Sanctuary Cubes are comparable to rockwool cubes. If you’ve ever gotten flowers in that odd green foam-like substance, then you have an excellent concept what oasis cubes are like. It’s a low-cost media that you can utilize for the germination and seedling grow phases.

Reader Experiences.

I definitely ENJOY the brand-new oasis cubes. They reformulated their blocks a number of months earlier and the new stuff ROCKS. It no longer crumbles however squashes instead..

It is an inert media like rockwool however a fraction of the price. From the very first couple of trials we have seen no germination or growth distinction in comparison to rockwool and it is available in lots of various sizes and shapes, and needs no presoaking..

Benefits of Oasis Cubes.

Downsides of Oasis Cubes.

  • Not sustainable.
  • Not natural.
  • Helpful for germination only, not as a complete growing medium.


Hydroponic Growing Media Perlite
Perlite– Light as Air

.What is Perlite?

It’s a soil-free growing medium that has assisted to include aeration to soil mixes for years. It has one of the finest oxygen retention levels of all growing media due to the fact that of how porous it is.

Its weight can be a downside in specific hydroponic systems where water communicates straight with the growing media, triggering it to move around and remove. Perlite is seldom ever used alone– typically it is blended with coco coir, soil, or vermiculite because of this.

Read the extensive perlite guide here.

Advantages of Perlite.

  • Lightweight.
  • High oxygen retention level.

Disadvantages of Perlite.

  • Too lightweight for certain hydroponic systems.
  • Strip mined (environmental issues).
  • Potential particle inhalation risk.

Growing Tips.

Straight perlite growing is among the tried and real approaches of hydroponic production. With essentially no cation exchange this media is a fantastic alternative for longer term crops; particularly in drain-to-waste circumstances. You have to watch out for moisture deficiencies as it holds definitely no water!

Starter Plugs.

Rapid Rooter Starter Plugs
Quick Rooter Beginner Plugs.

What Are Beginner Plugs?

A brand-new and innovative entry into the hydroponic media area is what I will call a sponge start. It’s made up of organic garden compost and does not disintegrate like soil due to a naturally degradable binding product.

For those who are concerned about sustainability and organics, sponge starts are a great method to begin seeds and incorporate them into your hydroponics system. I utilize these extensively for my seedlings and clones and I need to say that they are the most basic and hassle-free method to begin out large amounts of brand-new plants. You just place them in trays and the roots grow straight downward towards the opening in the tray at the bottom. This is valuable when transplanting into any kind of hydroponic system, where roots growing out to the sides aren’t as advantageous.

Benefits of Starter Plugs.

  • Compact.
  • Great for beginning seeds.
  • Relatively sustainable.

Disadvantages of Beginner Plugs.

  • Only suitable for starting seeds or cloning.
  • Costly.

Growing Tips.

The gnats will contaminate the plugs if they stay damp and fungus gnats are an issue in your area.


Hydroponic Growing Media Rockwool
Rockwool Cube.

What is Rockwool?

Rockwool has been around for decades and is popular in the hydroponic growing community. It is made by melting rock and spinning it into incredibly thin and long fibers, similar to fiberglass. They take these fibers and push them into cubes of differing sizes.

Rockwool has all of the benefits of most growing media, with some pretty serious disadvantages. It’s not easy to deal with– thin fibers of melted rock will last essentially forever when disposed of. Additionally, they normally come at a high pH and need soaking. The fibers and dust developed in the compressing and spinning process can be harmful to eyes, nose and lungs. As soon as you take it out of the bundle, you can avoid the dust by right away soaking rockwool in water. Due to the fact that of these downsides, rockwool is quickly being replaced by starter plugs as a dependable method to get seeds growing in your garden.

Benefits of Rockwool.

  • Fantastic water retention.
  • Easy to deal with.



Hydroponic Media - Growstones

What Are Growstones?

I came throughout growstones a while back at a hydroponic expo and fell in love. The one drawback I ve run into is that you usually can’t reuse it since roots will stick to it after harvest and destroy sterility.

Benefits of Growstones.

  • Lightweight.
  • Excellent air to water ratio.
  • Sustainable.

Disadvantages of Growstones.

Reader Experiences.

Simple and cheap to utilize..

One downside is that due to their irregular sizes is that you need to mound more of them as much as avoid light from entering your reservoir. Also if you tend to move plants from one medium or grow area to another as they get larger (like I do), Growstones tend to grip the plant roots too much and cause root damage. For this reason they are best utilized in a long-term grow bed..

Rice Hulls.

Hydroponic Media - Rice Hulls
Rice Hulls.

What Are Rice Hulls?

These are the shells that surround rice. They enable good drain and retain little water in general. Rice hulls are an item that would typically be discarded, so putting them to additional use in hydroponics re-purposes something that would otherwise be discarded.

Advantages of Rice Hulls.

  • Utilizes a by-product that would otherwise be squandered.
  • Maintains little water.

Downsides of Rice Hulls.


Hydroponic Media - Pumice
Pumice Stones.

What is Pumice?

Very similar to perlite. Lightweight mineral that is crushed and used in some hydroponics systems.

Benefits of Pumice.

  • Light-weight.
  • High oxygen retention level.

Disadvantages of Pumice.

  • If bought as little pieces, too lightweight for some hydroponic systems.


Hydroponic Media - Sand

What is Sand?

Among the most abundant types of media on the world! Sand is exceptionally cheap (or totally free!) Sand is low-cost and easily offered. It’s a terrific method to begin, however it is relatively heavy, need to be disinfected frequently, and has low water retention. Perhaps the earliest hydroponic media, holds no water or nutrient load and can worsen shortages rapidly.

Benefits of Sand.

Drawbacks of Sand.

  • Heavy.
  • Low water retention.
  • Small size might impact particular hydroponic systems.


Hydroponic Media - Gravel

What is Gravel?

This is the same material that is utilized in fish tanks. As long as it is washed, you can utilize any type of gravel. Easy and relatively inexpensive to clean. A fantastic Do It Yourself starter media if you’re short on cash!

Benefits of Gravel.

  • Extremely inexpensive.
  • Easy to clean up.
  • Drains well.

Downsides of Gravel.

  • Heavy.
  • Plant roots may dry.
  • Not ideal for particular hydroponic systems.

Gravel Growing Tips.

Functions extremely well as long as it is not in contact with the water or it can cause PH swings. Great medium because it is readily offered and cheap. It can be reused however due to their small size, it prevails that they get extremely twisted in the plant roots that makes it not worth cleaning up and eliminating because it is already so inexpensive.

Wood Fiber.

Hydroponic Media - Wood Fiber
Wood Fiber.

What is Wood Fiber?

Just wood. Great and effective media for hydroponics. If you desire to go genuinely natural with your growing media … you can’t get any much better than wood chips! Furthermore, some studies have shown that wood chips minimize the effect of plant development regulators, meaning your plants might grow a little bigger.

Advantages of Wood Fiber.

  • Organic.
  • Holds structure for a long time.

Drawbacks of Wood Fiber.

  • Eco-friendly.
  • Might not be sterile.
  • May attract insects.

Brick Shards.

Hydroponic Media - Brick Shards
Brick Shards.

What are Brick Shards?

Name says it all: crushed up bricks. Very similar in impact to gravel. However, they may affect the pH as they are not pH neutral, and likewise need extra cleaning to eliminate brick dust.

Advantages of Brick Shards.

  • Inexpensive.
  • Easy to clean up.
  • Drains pipes well.


  • May affect pH.
  • Requires more extensive cleansing.
  • Heavy.
  • Plant roots might dry.

Polystyrene Packaging Peanuts.

Hydroponic Media - Polystyrene Packing Peanuts
Polystyrene Packing Peanuts.

What are Polystyrene Packaging Peanuts?

These are the basic packing peanuts utilized in the shipping market. Hard to utilize exposed outdoor due to their light weight … the typical usage is in Nutrient Movie Strategy systems.

Benefits of Loading Peanuts.

  • Low-cost (frequently totally free).
  • Really lightweight.
  • Drain well.

Downsides of Loading Peanuts.

  • Just polystyrene will work– eco-friendly packing peanuts will turn to slush.
  • Possible for plants to soak up styrene.


Hydroponic Media - Vermiculite

What is Vermiculite?

It retains more water than perlite and can wick (draw) water and nutrients upwards. Often used in combination with other types of media to produce a highly tailored media for particular hydroponic applications.

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