This guide will be focused on hydroponics as the method for growing weed indoors. While soil is clearly an option for growing indoors, I have never personally tried it. Because I can’t speak from experience regarding soil, I have opted to not cover it in the guide at this time but that may change later if I decide to give it a go.
That being said, some of the information provided in this guide will be applicable to either growing method such as lighting needs, temperature control, and maintenance routines. There will also be some key differences between hydro and soil which aren’t covered like differing ways to give the plant nutrients and maintaining their pH.
If a soil grow is something you really want to try, then I suggest trying another guide or looking for additional information elsewhere. There is plenty of guidance on the intrawebz or you can also get Growing Elite Marijuana.
Hydroponics vs Soil
Before I even started, I just assumed that marijuana had to be grown in a potted plant with some soil. Fortunately for me, I don’t make too many assumptions on matters I know little about and did some research into various growing systems. I found that there are multiple systems for growing marijuana, and hydroponics in particular caught my eye.
The reason I liked hydroponics is because it had a lot of advantages over a soil-based grow and seemed to be preferred by a lot of experienced growers. These are some of the benefits:
- Larger Yields – Because the roots get direct access to their nutrients through the water solution, you should end up with more final product than a soil grow.
- Faster Growing Time – For much of the same reason as above, your hydroponics system brings your marijuana to maturity much faster than a soil grow, as much as 50% faster. This also means you can end up growing 50% more marijuana in the same amount of time.
- Easier to Maintain – This is probably a little subjective, but balancing water seems to be much easier than soil. It is easy to get nutrients into a hydroponics system as well as pH balance it.
Concerns With Hydroponics
Hydroponics systems aren’t without their downfalls though. There are some sacrifices you make in cost and work when you decide to use hydro instead of soil. Here are some of the major ones:
- Higher Upfront Cost – An entire hydroponics system costs more than a simple flowering pot, so naturally the cost will be a little higher. That being said, I believe the larger and faster yields make up for this especially if you are considering the long term.
- Root Rot – This is a real problem for hydroponics growers that can ruin an entire crop without being able to do all that much about it. Soil grows rarely suffer from root rot because the amount of water is the real driving force. I make sure to talk about how you can prevent root rot later on in the guide.
- Easier to Screw Up – Just as I said before that it is easier to maintain a hydro grow, it is also easier to really mess it up. In other words, if you do the right things, you will get bigger and better results. If you do the wrong things, you could lose your entire crop before you even know what happened. Soil is much more forgiving than hydro, but also can hold back your plant’s maximum potential.
Types of Hydroponics Systems
Deciding which kind of hydroponics system you want to use is mostly a matter of personal preference and I haven’t seen much evidence that one is better than the other. These are the more popular hydro solutions, and you can decide which one sounds the easiest to manage for you.
- Ebb and Flow – This system consists of 2 separate parts: a section that holds solution and another section which holds the plants. Depending on the exact setup, there will typically be a timed interval at which a water pump draws up the solution into the plants to give the roots access to water and nutrients. After 10-20 minutes of water exposure, the pump will turn off. When the pump switches off, the water will drain from the plant section and recede back into the nutrient reservoir. There should also be a safeguard for overflow in this system, so the water doesn’t flood itself out of the system, or worse, drown the plants.
- Water Culture – This system is a self-contained system that provides all nutrients and essential environment in a single unit. The plants will hang above the solution and a water pump will continuously bring the solution to the roots. As the plants grow to a larger size, the roots will find their way into the solution themselves and actually rest on or in the water permanently. This type of system requires the use of an air pump to keep the water oxygenated or root rot will surely strike.
- Aeroponics – This system’s distinction is that it uses mist rather than a standing water nutrient solution. The plants roots will be exposed to the air like the other hydroponics systems, but the way the root gets its nutrients is through a fine mist rather than copious amounts of liquid water.
The Bubbleponics System
After researching various grow systems and understanding what I was going to be capable of as someone whose disabled, I decided to use the water culture system. This is the only system that I have ever used, and it has served me well.
I decided on getting my system from a company called Stealth Hydro which provides a wide selection of hydroponics systems along with a lot of the other important components you will need for growing weed indoors like lighting, pumps, and nutrients.
As you can see from the picture of my setup, I have 6 spots where I can put plants and they are held in place with a couple of different materials, Rockwool and Hydroton. Both of these mediums are widely used in hydroponics.
The Rockwool is a great medium for the marijuana to attach its roots to and gives them a stable foundation. The Rockwool also has great drainage properties meaning your plants will get just the right amount of water and not overwatered like is possible with soil. Hydroton pellets hold the Rockwool in a stable position and like the Rockwool are completely inert meaning they won’t in any way interfere with the PH of the entire system (very important).
The water pump draws the solution into the roots and the Rockwool either holds it or lets it drain out if there is too much water already present. Any drainage goes directly back into the nutrient reservoir to be cycled through the system again.
The plants roots are in direct contact with nutrient solution which means it is extremely important to keep the water highly oxygenated with an air stone and pump or else you will be facing the malevolence that is root rot.
- Decide if you want to use soil or hydroponics to grow indoors. Obviously I think hydro has more advantages, which is why I use that method but the choice is yours. If you decide on soil, you may want to find additional information elsewhere.
- When you decide hydro is the correct choice, you will need to decide which growing system you want to use.
- Get a system that will work for your needs. I purchased most of my hydroponics setup from Stealth Hydro, and I even got a free upgrade on my light reflector because the one I ordered was out of stock (great customer service). If you want to purchase elsewhere or try to build your own, by all means, go for it. Just make sure you take action, so that you can begin reaping your own buds as soon as possible!