Do Hydroponic Plants Grow Faster Than in Soil?
The simple answer to this question is yes, plants can grow more rapidly in a hydroponic system than in traditional soil. In fact, one of the main reasons growers choose this method is because of how fast plants do grow in hydroponics. However, as with most processes in gardening, many variables must work together to produce the right conditions for fast growing hydroponic plants.
Hydroponics is method of plant cultivation that uses solution instead of soil as a mechanism for nutrient delivery and growth. Hydroponic plants are usually grown in controlled environments, where the benefits include reducing pests, infestations, and disease; eliminating risks posed by varied conditions like light, temperature, and precipitation; and ensuring the plants receive the necessary nutrients at the needed time. How fast do plants grow in hydroponics? Because they are getting the exact nutrients and environment they need to thrive, plants can grow 30 to 50% faster using hydroponic methods as compared to soil. Growers also devote less time to watering, weeding, and controlling pests with hydroponic systems.
How to Make Plants Grow Faster with Hydroponics
While the potential is clear, how fast plants grow in hydroponics depends on how well you do it. It takes more than simply utilizing the method to meet those expectations. It’s also important for the grower to understand what helps plants grow faster and to follow some best practices for plant growth:
The right system: There are many types of hydroponic systems in the industry. Some of the most common include:
- Deepwater Culture (DWC): In this method, roots are suspended in nutrient solution and oxygenated with a pump typically used in aquariums. This system has few parts, reducing the risk of clogging and time spent cleaning, making it an easy hydroponic growing option.
- Nutrient Film Technique (NFT): An NFT system runs a continuous flow of nutrient solution over plant roots. Using this technique helps improve how fast plants grow in hydroponics because the plants get more oxygen since only the tips of the root are submerged.
- Wick System: This technique uses wicks made of rope, string, or felt to move the nutrients to the roots of your plants. The system also requires a container for holding the plant, something to hold your nutrient solution, and a growing medium like coco coir or perlite to absorb the solution transported by your wick. This is another easy growing method because it doesn’t have complicated, moving parts.
- Ebb and Flow: This approach uses a pump to flood the grow bed periodically, and the nutrients drain into a reservoir. The periods of time where the plants are dry forces the roots to grow in search of water, providing a greater opportunity to absorb nutrients.
The right light: Light is a critical element in all plant growth. Plants need up to 16 hours of light per day to grow, and it is especially important in navigating how to make seedlings grow fast. Plants use different forms of light to support each phase of growth – blue for photosynthesis, red for germination and stem growth, and infrared for the remaining growing process. These spectrums are all found in white florescent (preferable T5) or LED lights, so using them should speed up how fast plants grow in hydroponics.
The right plants. The type can also affect how fast plants grow in hydroponics. Some fast-growing hydroponic vegetables and plants include:
- Leafy greens like spinach, kale, watercress, mustard greens, and Swiss chard can grow in as little as a month.
- Herbs like peppermint, spearmint, oregano, basil, and marjoram can grow up to 25% faster.
- Head lettuce like iceberg or cabbage can grow in six to eight weeks.
- Leafy lettuce like Buttercrunch, Bibb, and Romaine varieties can grow as quickly as three weeks.
It is important to remember that these growing times depend on the genetic strength, age (under one year is best), and overall health of the seed.
With the right approach, you will see firsthand how fast plants grow in hydroponics. Having total control over the environment gives you the best possible harvest.
Located in Sonoma County, California, the heart of the hydroponic industry, the team at Monster Gardens has a collective 30 years of combined experience in hydroponic growing and boasts one of the largest inventories of hydroponic supplies in the country. We travel the world to discover the newest technologies and bring them to you, helping the cultivation of your personal garden. If our experienced growers can guide you or help you find the hydroponic system that’s right for you, please contact us. If you’re wondering how fast plants grow in hydroponics, we’re here to help.