By Marguerite Arnold

Growing cannabis without soil is an increasingly popular way to cultivate your bud. However, it is not easy. It takes a little practice, the right equipment, and a carefully adhered to schedule. A completely sanitised environment is also critical.

That said, once mastered, you will reap the rewards. There are many advantages to mastering this technique.


The first benefit of growing hydroponically is the grow cycle itself. Your plants will grow faster. About 20% faster, in fact. Why? Cultivating your plants without soil is a more efficient way of transferring nutrients to them.

You will also generate bigger yields – between 20-25% more. There are no real explanations for why this is. It is likely caused by the fact that plants can use and access nutrients faster in liquid form.

As a result, you can also grow more plants. Spacing between plants does not need to be as far as when growing in soil.

Benefits Of Growing Without Soil

You will also notice that you will save both space and water. Your hydro grow area is basically a reservoir. Plants take exactly the water they need. The rest stays in the reservoir until they need it. Gone is your daily watering schedule! You will also find that overall, you use less water. Why? The water is not soaked up by any soil. It just goes directly to your plants.

Growing hydroponically is a much more efficient use of it. All you need to do is check water and pH levels.

Organic crops are also much easier to grow this way. They are not exposed to any chemicals you do not want to introduce to the environment. Cannabis is notoriously sensitive to heavy metals and other impurities in the soil. However, when you eliminate the use of soil, gone are the contaminants you cannot see and control. The only thing that your cannabis plants drink in is nutrient-rich, purified water.

And finally, your canna crop will be less susceptible to pests and diseases. The plants are being grown in a sealed, protected environment. Pests simply cannot get in.

Hydroponic Growing


Once you have decided to grow without soil, there are several other decisions to make – namely what kind of hydro system you want to use. Here is an overview of the most widely-used techniques:

  • Aeroponics: This is a form of hydro where the plant is suspended over the reservoir. The roots are enclosed inside a light-tight box. Small emitters then produce a fine mist that surrounds the roots with water.
  • Deep Water Culture: Roots are immersed in a nutrient solution. An air pump and an airstone are then used to oxygenate the solution.
  • Continuous Flow Top Feed System: These are systems which produce a continuous feed of nutrients into the top of the grow medium. There are many kinds of systems like this out there. The Nutrient Film Technique (NFT) refers to a system where the plants are grown on a slightly tilted tray. A thin film of nutrients flows from the top to the bottom of the tray. In the process, it covers the roots with a constant film of nutrients and water. Drip irrigation is a similar kind of process. Small emitters drip-feed the plants from the top of the grow area.
  • Ebb and Flow Hydroponics: This is a hydroponic system where you put your pots over a reservoir. The plants sit on a tray above it, with the roots dangling through the bottom into the water. The nutrient solution is then pumped into the pan. This in turn flows past the roots. Any extra solution is allowed to ebb back into the reservoir for the next feeding.
  • Wick System: This is a super-basic system that is perfect for small grows. There are no pumps, timers, or additional equipment needed. Merely connect your plants to the reservoir with a wick that is soaked in nutrients and runs between the bottom of the pot and the reservoir. Capillary action will do the rest.

Hydroponic Growing System


The right medium makes all the difference. When you choose to grow hydroponically, you still need to root your plants in something. Growers tend to use materials like rockwool. But you can also use sand and gravel. Pop rocks are also a popular grow medium; these are pelleted shale. They hold and transmit water well, and the small pellet balls are easy to clean. However, these can be difficult to find.

The most important aspect of using an alt-medium is to make sure it is completely sanitised.

Lava rocks, another popular grow medium, must be soaked for as long as five days. They must also be completely cleaned between grows.

The right reservoir is also a crucial component to your hydro growing success. When picking a reservoir, you need to keep the following issues in mind. It needs a lid and it needs to be close to a water source. You might need an extra standby reservoir. Try to have at least one more close by. This way, you can pre-filter your water, remove the chlorine, and neutralise your pH before feeding the plants.

Your reservoir will also need to be well-insulated. This will make sure you can control the temperature. By elevating your reservoir with a few bricks, you also allow air to flow around it. Some growers also insulate their reservoirs with Styrofoam or foam rubber.

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