The Best Containers for Hydroponic Growing
With so many options for containers available on the market today, we thought it valuable to compare popular choices for hydroponic growing. By looking at the perks and drawbacks of each option against your specific needs, you can make the best possible choice for your hydro garden.
Growing cannabis hydroponically is an extremely rewarding experience. Not only does hydro expand your knowledge of cannabis horticulture, but you also learn about the many interesting types of cultivation technology in use today. As your proficiency with hydroponic growing expands, you can mix different techniques and technologies until finding the perfect match.
Whether you are growing with nutrient film technique (NFT) or deep-water culture (DWC), choosing the right containers for the job is critical to the success of your garden. To this end, different hydro systems require different types of containers.
Primary Functions of Containers in a Hydro Garden
Whether you have a commercial operation or a personal grow tent, containers serve the same function in every hydro cannabis garden. To this end, containers give support to your plant while also allowing water and nutrients to permeate and make contact with the root system.
At the most basic level, containers are responsible for housing your chosen cultivation substrate. However, please bear in mind that some containers aren’t compatible with certain substrates. To illustrate, mesh net pots don’t work with coco coir. Namely because, the large openings in mesh pots let the fine particulates of coco coir pass through into the water.
Containers are also critical for supporting root balls, as well as the overall structural integrity of your plants. That being said, it's important to match the size of your chosen grow container with the size of cannabis plants you plan on growing. To illustrate, outdoor growers often use 100-gallon fabric pots because they grow such massive plants. Conversely, many indoor hydro growers use small pots that are less than a gallon in size.
Water & Nutrient Uptake
Another important thing to consider when choosing containers for your hydroponic garden is water and nutrient uptake. Importantly, in such hydro setups as flood and drain, it's important that water and nutrients make unobstructed contact with roots.
For example, regular plastic pots work well with top-drip systems, but they are ineffective with most other hydro setups because they have solid plastic sides.
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From massive outdoor gardens to small home grows, fabric pots have grown increasingly popular in the past decade. In fact, many soil growers enjoy fabric pots because they are permeable and breathable. Because they easily let moisture evaporate, fabric pots make it far more difficult to overwater cannabis plants. Importantly, this same permeability makes fabric pots a great option for hydro growing.
Fabric pots work great for hydroponic cultivation for several reasons. Because they don’t have any actual holes, you can use even the finest cultivation substrates in fabric pots without fear of particulates washing away. Finally, fabric pots allow water and nutrients to flow unobstructed to the root zone in most hydro setups.
While fabric pots have several obvious perks, many growers opt not to use them because they are expensive and difficult to clean. It’s also important to note the fabric pots are not rigid enough to work in NFT systems.
Mesh Net Pots
Mesh net pots are plastic pots built exclusively for hydroponic cultivation. Unlike fabric pots that also work with soil growing, mesh net pots work exclusively with hydro setups such as NFT, DWC, as well as flood and drain. Importantly, mesh net pots feature wide gaps that let water and nutrients easily flow through the root zone.
High-quality products like AC Infinity’s Mesh Net Cups make a great addition to nearly any hydroponic setup. Importantly, these types of mesh pots anchor cannabis plants in place while also improving water and nutrient uptake to their roots. Mesh net pots allow for even drainage and stronger root structures in hydroponic, aquaponic, and aeroponic production.
As aforementioned, mesh net pots don’t work well with cultivation substrates with fine particulates, such as coco coir and peat-based mixes. However, mesh net pots do work well with clay pebbles, pumice, and lava rock.
Plastic pots are the most traditional type of container for cannabis cultivation. Whether it be indoor, greenhouse, or outdoor, plastic pots have been an essential tool for cannabis growers for generations.
Plastic pots are durable, affordable, and can be used across a variety of applications. Many growers appreciate the fact you only need to purchase plastic pots once and they will last a lifetime. Even more, plastic pots are easy to clean and store away when not in use.
Finally, plastic pots can house just about any type of substrate you would like to use in your cannabis garden - from soil to lava rock.
The major drawback of plastic pots in hydroponic growing is that they hinder water and nutrients from flowing freely to the root zone. For example, if you were to place a plastic pot in a hydro table or NFT system, water would only be able to penetrate through holes on the bottom of the container. As such, you can count on the fact that plastic pots will only work in top drip or Dutch bucket hydro systems.
No matter what your approach to hydroponic cultivation might be, choosing the correct container for the job is critical to the success of your garden. While fabric pots work great in many flood and drain systems, they don’t provide enough structural integrity to work with NFT setups. Conversely, mesh net pots work great for NFT growing, but won’t support certain fine substrates like coco coir.
Finally, regular plastic pots are only suited for top drip hydro systems.
While there is no single, hard-and-fast rule about which type of pot is best suited for hydroponic cultivation, there are doubtlessly certain parameters that dictate their overall functionality. In the end, your chosen hydroponic system will be the primary catalyst for choosing the correct substrate and container. That being said, choosing what system you are going to use to grow cannabis is the logical first step for honing in on the finer details like pots.
AC Infinity is the foremost name in air delivery systems, designing and developing the latest innovations in cooling and ventilation technology. They offer a suite of quiet inline fans that automate the growing progress and track key metrics. Visit acinfinity.com or contact [email protected] to learn more.