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Are you ready to start growing your own hydroponic weed? I don’t blame you. First, there are some things you should know about hydroponic setups.

Now that marijuana legalization is widespread and there were bongs in every closet, many cannabis connoisseurs and medical marijuana patients are looking to growing cannabis indoors. Due to limits on space, including the fact that most people are renting apartments and small houses now, many people are confined to a smaller grow space than they would normally use. One of the best ways to save space when growing marijuana is to grow hydroponically. Before you begin setting up your grow room or grow tent, there are some things you need to know beyond how to load a bong.

Which Hydroponic Method Will You Use?

A common misconception among beginners is that there is only one way to grow cannabis plants hydroponically. There is actually more than one type of hydroponics. The concept between each is the same. Your plants grow in a soil-less and sterile environment which is called a medium, which allows nutrients to be delivered to the roots, directly from a nutrient-enriched water solution. Though each hydroponic setup delivers on the same premise, each one differs in the way nutrients are delivered to the marijuana plant. There are six different methods for growing hydroponically. You should be familiar with each before you start your grow.

Wick System

First, there is the wick system. As you would expect, this system uses one or more wicks to extract the nutrient solution from a reservoir into your sterile grow medium. This can be perlite, vermiculite or rockwool. A wick system is the most inexpensive and simple to set up and doesn’t require any complicated pumps or drainage systems. The wick system is ideal for growing in small spaces such as a closet.

Your female plants grow directly in your medium and take up the nutrients as they are needed. One thing to be aware of regarding the wick system is that it is not the most efficient method for getting nutrients to your plants. This means that your system may have issues keeping up with your plants as they grow larger, especially as they enter the flowering stage.

Nutrient Film Technique

The Nutrient Film Technique system (NFT) is the perfect hydroponic setup for a greenhouse or a much larger growing operation than one you would do in your home. NFT keeps your plants suspended in plastic buckets or small rockwool cubes over a set of long tubes/trays. Your nutrient solution then flows through the tubes onto your plants’ roots. The solution then drains back into your reservoir.

This system offers some advantages over other hydroponic systems. NFT uses no tiny drip lines or timers. As such, there are fewer components and thus fewer things that could go wrong. If you need to move your plants for any reason, you can do this without disrupting the flow of your other plants. One possible issue with the NFT system is that a sudden power outage could leave your roots exposed and possibly damage or even kill them.

Image Source: Leafly

Water Culture

A water culture is the hydroponic system that is most commonly used for plants grown commercially, both in the cannabis industry and outside of it. A water culture is very simple to set up. It consists of a Styrofoam tray floating on the reservoir. This system can be used in both large and small hydroponic gardens and is also very adaptable to most growing conditions. One issue with the water culture setup is that it is not ideal for large plants. If you’re looking to grow large cannabis plants, this is not the optimal set up for you.


A drip system employs a complex system consisting of hoses and drip lines, which transports the nutrient solution to each of your marijuana plants. Each individual plant is rooted in a fairly solid medium, for example, the above mentioned rockwool cubes. This helps prevent clogging. This type of system is ideal for larger cannabis plants, and plants that need to grow for an extended period of time before you can harvest. One major issue with the drip systems are both the cost and maintenance of the system. The drip lines, emitters, pumps and paraphernalia can be extremely expensive for a small grower, especially since the lines and hoses tend to clog frequently. This puts the drip system financially out of reach for many.

Ebb and Flow

The ebb and flow hydroponic system uses a timed pump which regularly floods and drains the growing table where your plants are rooted in your chosen medium. The regular flooding keeps your root system well-fed and plenty moist, while the drain cycle guarantees they get an adequate amount of oxygen.

There are a number of benefits to growing using the ebb and flow system. Ebb and flow is not terribly expensive and is easy to maintain. The system does not experience nearly as many issues as other hydroponic setups. Ebb and flow is great for larger greenhouses and grow spaces, however it does not work so well with smaller setups, such as in your closet or spare bedroom. Growing tables and other requisite components of this system are rather immense and not particularly aesthetically pleasing.


The aeroponic system is similar to the NFT, in that it uses bare plant root systems suspended in little or no sterile medium. The main difference is that the nutrient solution is misted on the suspended roots throughout the day. This allows ensures optimal nutrient, oxygen and water intake. The aeroponic system is the most efficient of the hydroponic methods. Unfortunately, it is also the most expensive. The setup is similar to the drip system, in that there are copious amounts of small parts necessary for the system to work, and cleaning and maintenance are paramount to its success. If you can afford to setup and maintain an aeroponic system, this is the one that you should ultimately strive for.

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Which is your preferred hydroponic method for growing weed indoors? Tell us in the comments!


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