- How Does Aeroponics Work?
- Aeroponics Defined
- The Advantages of Aeroponics
- Drawbacks of Aeroponics
- How Much Does an Aeroponics System Cost?
- Equipment Considerations
- What Can You Grow with Aeroponics?
- Aeroponics -simply defined
- How to Make a Simple Aeroponics System
- How to Grow with Aeroponics
- How to Clone with Aeroponics
- Instructional Video
- What is Aeroponics?
- Why Use It?
- Best Plants for Aeroponics
- Basics to Get Started
- Aeroponics: How It Can Be Used to Your Advantage When Growing Cannabis
- How Do Aeroponics Growing Systems Work?
- High-Quality Versus Low-Quality Aeroponics
- Aeroponics Advantages and Disadvantages
- Quality of Cannabis Grown with Aeroponics
- Harder to grow
- Growing With Aeroponics: What Is Aeroponics
- Growing with Aeroponics
- DIY Aeroponics for the Personal Aeroponic Enthusiast
- How Aeroponics Works
How Does Aeroponics Work?
A simplified diagram of an aeroponic system. By Lilkin / .com.
Aeroponic systems nourish plants with nothing more than nutrient-laden mist. The concept builds off that of hydroponic systems, in which the roots are held in a soilless growing medium, such as coco coir, over which nutrient-laden water is periodically pumped. Aeroponics simply dispenses with the growing medium, leaving the roots to dangle in the air, where they are periodically puffed by specially-designed misting devices.
In aeroponics systems, seeds are “planted” in pieces of foam stuffed into tiny pots, which are exposed to light on one end and nutrient mist on the other. The foam also holds the stem and root mass in place as the plants grow.
The Advantages of Aeroponics
Who knew naked roots could survive, much less thrive? It turns out that eliminating the growing medium is very freeing for a plants’ roots: the extra oxygen they are exposed to results in faster growth. Aeroponic systems are also extremely water-efficient. These closed-loop systems use 95 percent less irrigation than plants grown in soil. And since the nutrients are held in the water, they get recycled, too.
In addition to these efficiencies, aeroponics’ eco-friendly reputation is bolstered by the ability to grow large quantities of food in small spaces. The approach is mainly employed in indoor vertical farms, which are increasingly common in cities – cutting down on the environmental costs of getting food from field to plate. And because aeroponics systems are fully enclosed, there is no nutrient runoff to foul nearby waterways. Rather than treating pest and disease with harsh chemicals, the growing equipment can simply be sterilized as needed.
Drawbacks of Aeroponics
Aeroponics systems require a bit of finesse to operate effectively. The nutrient concentration of the water must be maintained within precise parameters and even a slight malfunction of your equipment can cause the loss of a crop. If the misters don’t spray every few minutes – maybe because the power goes out, for example – those dangling roots will quickly desiccate. And the misters need regular cleaning to keep them from becoming clogged by mineral deposits in the water.
There is also one major drawback, environmentally-speaking: aeroponic systems rely on electrical power to pump water through the tiny misting devices. And while they can be employed in the natural light of a greenhouse, they are more often used with energy-intensive grow lights. Solar power or other alternative energy sources can be harnessed to eliminate this drawback, however.
How Much Does an Aeroponics System Cost?
DIY models can be made for less than $100, but good quality professional systems with automated nutrient monitoring and a backup power supply start in the four-figure range.
All aeroponics systems require an enclosure to hold in the humidity and prevent light from reaching the roots (this is typically a plastic bin with holes drilled for each plant), plus a separate tank to hold the nutrient solution. Beyond these basic components, there are a few other things to consider in devising an aeroponic system to suit your needs.
Some aeroponics systems are designed to be used horizontally, like a traditional planting bed. But towers and other vertical approaches are increasingly popular – since the roots need to spread out, this is a clever way to save space. Vertical systems are also popular because the misting devices may be placed at the top, allowing gravity to distribute the moisture.
Another dichotomy in aeroponic equipment: high-pressure versus low-pressure systems.
Low-pressure systems, which rely on a simple fountain pump to spray water through the misters, are inexpensive and suitable for DIY construction. This approach is sometimes called “soakaponics,” as low-pressure misters are capable of producing only a light spray, kind of like a tiny sprinkler, not true mist.
For true mist – meaning moisture floats in the air and more effectively delivers nutrients to the roots – you need higher water pressure than an ordinary pump can provide. Thus, professional aeroponics systems rely on a pressurized water tank capable of holding 60 to 90 psi, along with top-quality misters capable of delivering the finest possible puff of moisture.
Hydroponics suppliers increasingly stock a full-line of aeroponics equipment, from the nutrients, pots, pumps, timers, and tubing you need for a DIY system to fully-automated turnkey aero-farms.
What Can You Grow with Aeroponics?
Anything, in theory. In practice, aeroponics systems are primarily used for the same applications as hydroponics systems, including leafy greens, culinary herbs, marijuana, strawberries, tomatoes, and cucumbers. One exception is root crops, which are impractical in a hydroponic system, but well-suited to aeroponics, as the roots have plenty of room to grow and are easily accessible for harvesting.
Other vegetable crops are possible but have more complex nutrient requirements. Fruiting shrubs and trees are impractical in aeroponics systems due to their size.
Aeroponics -simply defined
Aeroponic systems are set up to nourish plants with nothing more than nutrient-laden mist. The concept builds on the premise of hydroponic systems, in which the roots are held in a soilless growing medium, such as coconut coir, over which nutrient-laden water is periodically pumped. See what Gartner Callaway is doing in Nigeria Aeroponics simply dispenses with the growing medium, leaving the roots to dangle in the air, where they are periodically puffed by specially-designed misting devices. This completely eliminates the use of soil, reduces the chances of soil borne nematode diseases such as root knot diseases.
In aeroponics systems, seeds are “planted” in pieces of foam stuffed into tiny pots, which are exposed to light on one end and nutrient mist from the other. The foam also holds the growing stem and root mass in place as the plants grow.
Who knew naked roots could survive, and even thrive? It turns out that eliminating the growing medium is very freeing for a plants’ roots: the extra oxygen they are exposed to results in faster growth especially the roots as they do not have soil particles inhibiting their growth. Aeroponic systems are also extremely water-efficient. These closed-loop systems use 95 per cent less irrigation water than plants grown in soil,since all they require is mist. And since the nutrients are held in the water, they get recycled, too!
In addition to these efficiencies, aeroponics’ eco-friendly reputation is bolstered by the ability to grow large quantities of food in small spaces. The approach is mainly employed in indoor vertical farms, which are increasingly common in cities which are already crowded enough – cutting down on the environmental costs of getting food from field to plate. This also ensures that people in the cities do not necessarily have to wait for the farmers in the rural areas before they can meet their won nutrient need. And because aeroponics systems are fully enclosed, there is no nutrient runoff due to erosion or leaching,to foul nearby waterways. Rather than treating pest and disease with harsh chemicals, the growing equipment can simply be sterilized as needed. Aeroponics saves a lot.
If you are going for a DIY model it costs nothing more than $100, but good quality professional systems which comprises automated nutrient monitoring and a backup power supply start in the four-figure range. See Alibaba’s prices here
Anything, in theory. But in practice, aeroponics systems are primarily used for the same applications as hydroponics systems, including leafy greens, culinary herbs, marijuana, strawberries, tomatoes, and cucumbers. The latest is the root crop yam which has been practiced with hydroponics which is great news
While the concept of the aeroponic system is quite simple, it’s actually the most technical of all 6 types of hydroponic systems. However it’s still fairly easy to build your own basic aeroponic system, and a lot of home growers like growing in them as well, and even get really good results using this type of hydroponic system.
Like with any other type of hydroponic system, you can use many different kinds of materials to build it, as well as many different types of design setups to fit in your space. Your really only limited by the space you have, and your imagination.
Some advantages to using an aeroponic systems are they typically use little to no growing media. The roots get maximum oxygen, and the plants grow more rapidly as a result. Aeroponic systems also generally use less water than any other type of hydroponic system (especially true aeroponic systems). Also harvesting is usually easier, especially for root crops.
However there are a few downsides to aeroponic systems as well. Besides being a bit more expensive to build. The mister/sprinkler heads can clog from build up of the dissolved mineral elements in the nutrient solution. So make sure to have extras on hand to swap out when they do clog while you clean them. Also because the plants roots are hanging in mid air by design in aeroponic systems, the plants roots are much more vulnerable to drying out if there is any interruption in the watering cycle. Therefor, even any temporary power outage (for any reason) could cause your plants to die much more quickly than any other type of hydroponic system. Also there’s a reduced margin for error with the nutrient levels in aeroponic systems, especially the true high pressure systems.
What you’ll need to build your own basic Aeroponic system:
- Container to hold the nutrient solution (a reservoir).
- Submersible fountain/pond pump.
- Tubing to distribute water from the reservoir pump to the mister heads in the growing chamber.
- Enclosed growing chamber for the root zone.
- Mister/sprinkler heads.
- Water tight container for the growing chamber where the plants root systems will be.
- Tubing to return the excess nutrient solution back to the reservoir.
- Timer (preferably a cycle timer) to turn on and off the pump.
How the aeroponic system operates is a fairly easy concept. First the purpose of the roots hang in mid air is so they can get the maximum amount of oxygen that they can get. The high volume of oxygen the roots get allows the plans to grow faster than they would otherwise, and the main benefit to this type of hydroponic system.
Second, there is typically very little if any growing media is used, exposing all the plants roots. The plants are suspended either by small baskets, or closed cell foam plugs that compress around the plants stem. These baskets or foam plugs fit in small holes at the top of the growing chamber. The roots hang down inside the growing chamber where they get sprayed with nutrient solution from mister heads at regular short cycles. The regular watering cycles keep the roots moist and from drying out, as well as provides the nutrients the plants need to grow.
The growing chamber the roots are in should be light proof, and almost air tight. It does need to allow fresh air in so the roots can get plenty of oxygen, but you don’t want water to spill out, or pests to get in. Also you want the root chamber to hold in humidity. Ultimately what you want is the roots to get plenty of moisture, fresh oxygen, and nutrients. A a well designed aeroponics system provides a good balance of all three of those elements to the roots at the same time.
Lastly, a major factor in aeroponic systems is the water droplet size. Roots sprayed with a fine mist will grow much faster, bushier, and with more surface area to absorb nutrients and oxygen with than roots sprayed with small streams of water like from small sprinkler heads. That translates into the plant canopy growing more rapidly as well. Aeroponic system types are categorized by the water droplet size.
There are three types of Aeroponic Systems
Low pressure Aeroponic Systems (soakaponics)
Also termed “soakaponics” low pressure aeroponic systems are what most people are familiar with when they think of aeroponics. That’s mainly because most all aeroponic systems sold at stores selling hydroponics supply’s are low pressure systems. While the low pressure systems work very nicely, the large water droplet size is much different than in the high pressure systems.
The main reason the low pressure aeroponic systems are so popular is that they don’t require much more in the way of cost or special equipment than other types of hydroponic systems. The simplicity and low cost of low pressure systems makes this type of aeroponic system very attractive to many home growers.
While you don’t need any special equipment or a special water pump. The standard fountain/pond pumps will do just fine. You do however want a pump that’s stronger than you would for any other type of hydroponic system. That’s the main and most important difference. That’s because the pressure in the system will drop some with each sprinkler head you add. Fountain and pond pumps don’t give a psi (pressure) rating, but the more GPH (gallons per hour) it can put out closer to the “max head height” the stronger (more pressure) the pump has.
You will want enough sprinkler heads that the spray overlaps, and completely covers the entire root zone. Even as the plants get bigger and the root mass gets bigger. As the root mass gets big, it’s often hard for the spray from the sprinkler heads to penetrate the thick root mass. If you design your low pressure aeroponic system so the roots are sprayed from above the root mass or near the top of it, the water will trickle down through the root mass much better than trying to spray them from below.
High pressure Aeroponic Systems (true aeroponic systems)
While the low pressure systems are the most common, high pressure aeroponic systems are the “true aeroponic” systems. That’s because it takes the higher pressure (60-90 psi) to properly atomize the water into a fine mist with a very small water droplet size. This fine mist allows the roots to get a lot more oxygen than in low pressure systems. However it’s more complicated and expensive to build a high pressure aeroponic system.
What you’ll need to build your own true high pressure Aeroponic system:
- Accumulator tank (to act as the pressurized reservoir tank).
- Solenoid valve (to open and close the feed line to the mister heads).
- Cycle timer (to open and close the solenoid valve).
- Fine spray mister heads (to spray the roots with a fine mist).
- Small air compressor (to pressurize the accumulator tank).
- Enclosed growing chamber for the root zone.
- A collection reservoir to collect the runoff if you plan to recirculate the nutrient solution.
While the basic design of the growing chamber and plant support can remain the same as with low pressure systems. The water (nutrient solution) delivery system is much different. Because of how often a pump would need to turn on and off (100’s to 1,000’s of times a day) it would ware out very quickly. So the water pump is eliminated in high pressure aeroponic systems.
To do that they pressurize the reservoir. The easiest way to do that is by using an accumulator tank similar to the type used in RO (reverse osmosis) water systems. It’s basically nothing more than a tank with a rubber divider/diaphragm in the center, creating two sides. Water (nutrient solutions) goes in one side, and compressed air goes in the other. The air is filled until the pressure reaches about 60 to 90 psi. That pressure pushes against the rubber diaphragm and pressurizes the reservoir side with the nutrient solution in it to the same psi.
A water line runs from the reservoir to the mister heads in the enclosed growing chamber to mist the roots. A Solenoid valve is used to open and close the water flow through the line to the mister heads. The Solenoid valve open and close timing is controlled by a cycle timer. The cycle timer can open and close the Solenoid for as little as one second, to as long as the grower wants. Typically it’s open/on for just a few seconds at a time, and off for only minutes before it sprays again. The cycle timer opens and closes the solenoid watering the plants roots with mist on this type of “on/off cycle” all day long.
Ultrasonic foggers have also been used to create a mist in aeroponic systems, however with mixed results. Ultrasonic foggers are most commonly used to create visual displays in ponds, as well as on stage. They are also often sold around halloween with the halloween decorations too. While they do create a mist with a very small water droplet size, there is very little actual moisture in the mist/fog.
The mist created from ultrasonic foggers also tends to drop to the bottom of the container. Making it hard to make sure the roots are completely covered by the mist all the time. Another issue with using foggers is that the plates tend to clog with mineral build up. The only plates that have shown to work with any reliability are the more expensive Teflon heads. They can sometimes be cleaned using white vinegar, or water and pH down, and wiping them off with a Q-tip. Some growers have combined using ultrasonic foggers along with the low pressure aeroponic design in the same system.
How to Make a Simple Aeroponics System
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Aeroponics is growing plants in a mist environment. Unlike traditional aquaponics and hydroponics, the plants are suspended without grow medium such as hydroton. Here is the inside of the aeroponics system.
Aeroponics is a really simple and worry-free way to grow and clone veggies and herbs. Aeroponics is growing vegetation without soil, but the roots are suspended and sprayed with water and/or nutrient solution. It is a worry-free way to clone most non-woody stemmed plants from cuttings. You can also grow plants to harvest in the system as well.
The aeroponics system cloning our favorite tomatoes. Tomatoes take around one week to develop roots from cuttings. In two weeks they can be transplanted or continue to grow in the aeroponics system with nutrient solution.
Many folks have seen the aeroponics system we designed at the Garden Pool and we have decided to share our design. It is easy to both build and operate. The project takes about 30 minutes to build and only costs around $70 in materials. If you are cloning, it requires just tap water. If you are growing to harvest, then you can add hydroponic nutrient solution. We have our units sitting on our back patio and have cloned and grown mint, tomatoes, lettuce, and much more. The system we design can be built by anyone for a fraction of the price of comparable commercial units.
How to Grow with Aeroponics
There is no big secret, growing with aeroponics is another form of regular hydroponics. Purchase your favorite hydroponic solution from the hydro supply stores and follow the directions on the label. It is pretty simple to follow. You should be expected to drain the water and add more nutrient solution every couple of weeks as needed. Aeroponics and hydroponics uses more water and resources than aquaponics.
How to Clone with Aeroponics
Cloning with aeroponics is a better method than conventional soil root cuttings. It is quickly becoming the preferred method of cloning. With cloning from cutting with aeroponics you do not need to add any nutrients to your water. You do not have to flush your water as long as the water quality stays clean. It is a much more sterile way to clone than soil cuttings. We just add tap water, let it run for an hour to let the chlorine evaporate, and then start cloning. Here is a detailed video about cloning with aeroponics. The info about aeroponic cloning starts at 5:40 on the video.
- (1) 30 Gallon Tote with Lid
- (6) 3/4″ slip to 1/2″ threaded PVC connectors
- (1) 3/4″ slip “T” connector with 1/2″ threaded top.
- (1) 1/2″ threaded bulkhead fitting with gasket.
- (1) 1/2″ barb to male threaded connector.
- (77″) 3/4″ PVC
- (2) 3/4″ slip “T” PVC connector
- (6) 180 degree 1/2″ plastic head threaded sprinkler heads
- (1) 12″ black flexi-tubing
- (1) 1/2″ hose clamp
- (1) 1/2″ flexi-tubing shut off valve
- (1) 200 gallon per hour (or equivalent) Fountain Pump
- (1) Tube of 100% Silicon Caulking
- (1) 3/4″ slip “cross” PVC connector
- (6) 3/4″ slip “elbow” PVC connector
- (1) Indoor/Outdoor Electrical Timer with 30 Minute Increments
- (6 or desired amount) Hydroponic Net Pots with Rubber Foam Lids – You can use any size and quantity you want depending on the plants you are growing. We used six 3.75″ net pots with lids.
- Caulking Gun
- Saw to cut PVC
- PVC Primer & Glue
- Hole Saw – Appropriate size for desired net pots & bulkhead fitting
- Drill for hole saw
- Teflon Tape
- Tape Measure
- Safety Glasses
- Utility or hobby knife (if you do not wish to use the drill and hole saw)
Class: How to Make a Simple Aeroponics System
Who: Dennis McClung
When: July 21st, 2012
Where: The Garden Pool in Mesa, AZ
Length: 48 minutes
This class was recorded live in a classroom setting. To be a part of our classes in person, join our meetup group. to see pictures from the class.
Decide what size net pots you wish to use. The pots should be spaced a few inches apart. We used six 3.75″ net pots as we will use primarily to clone tomatoes. Use many smaller pots for smaller crops.
Carefully cut your holes for your net pots. You can carefully use an exacto knife instead of the drill and hole saw. The net pots should fit snugly in to the holes and not fall through.
Cut the 3’4″ PVC as follows: (6) 4.5″, (6) 6″, (1) 8″, (2) 3″.
Using the pvc glue and primer, connect the 4.5″ PVC pieces to the PVC elbow connector and the 6″ PVC pieces as shown. the 6″ piece will serve as the riser.
Using the PVC primer and glue, attach the 3/4″ slip to 1/2″ threaded PVC connector. Screw in the sprinkler heads as shown.
Using the PVC Primer and glue, connect two 3/4″ “T” PVC connectors and one 3/4″ “cross” PVC connector as shown.
Connect the two 3″ PVC pieces to the 3/4″ “T” with the threaded 1/2″ top. Also connect the 8″ section to the risers. Screw in the 1/2″ barb to 1/2″ threaded connector.
Place the PVC sprinkler unit inside the tote. Connect the fountain pump to the PVC unit with the 1/2″ flexi-tubing. Make sure there are no kinks in the tubing.
Using the entire tube of silicone caulking, seal the lid on top of the aeroponics system. Make sure that the seal is airtight with no gaps of coverage. Let completely cure and dry before using. Install the bulkhead fitting at the desired location along the bottom of the unit. Attach the shut off valve with flexi-tubing as a drain valve.
Insert the net pots with foam lids. We place our unit on a timed cycle of 30 minutes on and 30 minutes off. Fill with water to just below the sprinkler heads.
The pump and/or air tubing is placed in on of the net pot holes. Your fountain pump should be able to easily fit through the hole. Check before sealing the aeroponics lid. A 1020 humidity dome helps young cuttings by keeping a more humid environment.
Looking for a little adventure in your indoor gardening pursuits? You can do something a bit different by combining technology to your traditional houseplants with aeroponics.
What is Aeroponics?
Though the concepts of aeroponics aren’t all that new, it’s still not a very well-known technique for indoor gardening.
Hydroponics has gotten more attention as of late, and most people are familiar with growing indoor plants in a water solution instead of soil.
Aeroponics takes this a step further. Plants are suspended with their roots literally exposed to the air, and water is delivered by a frequently applied nutrient mist.
And to avoid any more terminology confusion, aquaponics is a system that uses the same type of water solutions as hydroponics, but includes tanks of live fish to create a more complete and self-sustaining ecosystem for your plants.
An aeroponic system usually includes artificial lighting rather than just relying on natural sunlight, allowing you to choose plants regardless of their lighting needs.
You just need a fixture or two of good fluorescent or LED lights to keep everything growing, no matter the weather.
Why Use It?
It might seem a little peculiar to take such a complicated route to growing plants when the old-fashioned method with pots of soil does work well. There are actually several benefits to having an aeroponic garden rather than a “normal” one.
One clear bonus is that aeroponics uses far less water than conventional gardening. When you water your soil-bound plants, most of the water just goes through the pot to collect in the bottom, which is wasted as it evaporates.
Nothing is wasted with aeroponics. Only a small amount of nutrient-laden water is sprayed at a time, and all the excess is collected for using again.
Overall, an aeroponic system uses 2% of the water that a soil garden would. This is why it is a serious interest for NASA as they look for ways to grow plants away from Earth.
By leaving the roots exposed to the air, you eliminate a lot of potential health problems that typically are a concern with traditional gardening.
Water-logged roots are no longer an issue, and neither are any molds or mildews that can develop in or on the soil.
Finally, having your garden indoors protects your plants from all the insects and weather damage that the outside world holds. Of course, any indoor gardening has this advantage too.
Best Plants for Aeroponics
Technically, any plant should grow in an aeroponic system, providing you have the right equipment and large enough system. In reality, there are a few plant that really thrive when grown this way.
In some cases, the plants are just naturally well-suited for aeroponic growth, but sometimes it’s just a matter of being better documented.
In other words, some plants are better for aeroponics simply because so many people grow them and there is much more information on their care.
Lettuce and other salad greens are the most popular plants to grown with aeroponics. It works so well that there are several companies growing lettuce on a commercial scale this way.
They don’t need a lot of special care, don’t grow overly large and can produce a harvest in a month or less.
The key to growing successful aeroponic lettuce is keeping the temperature from getting too hot or exposing the plants to too much light. This will trigger the plants to “bolt,” or go to seed. Once that happens, the leaves get quite bitter.
Lettuce is straightforward since you are just harvesting the leaves. When you move on to fruit, you have a little more to consider because you have to support your plants through flowering and fruiting along with just leafy growth.
A balanced nutrient solution is fine when your plants are first growing but once the flowers develop, you should make a change to a mix that is lower in nitrogen and higher in potassium to help the fruit develop.
One quirk about strawberries is that they will put out runners to reproduce and sprout new plants. These are great if you want to add more plants to your system, but it also means less fruit because the plant is putting too much energy into the runners.
To encourage a better harvest, snip off the runners as soon as they start to form.
Another fruit option for aeroponics is the tomato, and you don’t necessarily have to stick to the small cherry tomato varieties either. They’re easier for the novice but a good aeroponics setup can support larger varieties if you want to give them a try.
You definitely want to avoid the indeterminate or vining varieties that never stop growing. They are unwieldy to manage unless you are very experienced.
Just like with strawberries, you’ll need to monitor your fertilizer use and adjust the mix once your plants have matured and begun to flower and fruit.
You can also tweak the lighting to shift the color tone towards red to encourage better flower/fruit development.
Mint and Basil
Most leafy herbs will grow very well aeroponically since you have no fruit or flowers to work with. It’s also been shown that herbs are considerably more aromatic when grown this way.
In particular, mint and basil are two very good ones to start due to their simple care and rapid growth.
Stick with a nutrient mixture that has a higher nitrogen component to encourage lots of leafy growth, and your pH should be just slightly on the acidic side.
Basics to Get Started
If you are intrigued with the idea of using some aeroponics for yourself, you’ll have to invest in the right equipment. Though you can get started in aeroponics without necessarily spending a fortune, its not the simplest nor the cheapest hobby to experiment with.
At an introductory level, an Aerogarden kit can give you a taste of how aeroponics works as an all-inclusive unit. They come in various sizes from one that will hold a couple of herbs, to a larger “farm” that handles 24 plants. This is a real plug-and-play option that takes care of all the work for you.
For something more hands on, you’ll need several things. A small system can be put together with 5 gallon buckets, a pump, timer, spray heads and mesh pots to hold the plants.
Instructions for building such a system are a little too detailed to outline fully here, but there are numerous guides and tutorials online that can help you out.
42shares 5 Best Plants for Aeroponics (To Put in Your Home Garden) was last modified: June 13th, 2019 by The Practical Planter
Aeroponics: How It Can Be Used to Your Advantage When Growing Cannabis
Aeroponics is a form of hydroponic gardening which is making enormous waves in the marijuana industry. The lack of usable farmland is a global problem. In some cases, it becomes unusable due to environmental factors, or it may be used for non-agricultural reasons. Add in issues surrounding energy and water conservation, and it is clear that we are at a crisis point.
The agricultural sector is requiring innovative ways to maintain crop sustainability, and aeroponics fits the bill.
Marijuana growers who employ this cannabis cultivation system use 95% less water than those who use ‘traditional’ growth methods. On top of this, aeroponic growers can potentially achieve up to quadruple the yield of growers using more conventional techniques.
Aeroponics doesn’t require a growing medium for a plant’s roots. Instead, the roots are suspended in the air. The plants receive their nutrients and water via a system that mists the roots perpetually. Aeroponics is a relatively new form of growing crops discovered in the early 20th century.
The appropriately named Richard Stoner invented and patented one of the first modern forms of aeroponics. Stoner developed a prototype for growing herbs in a greenhouse and later founded AgriHouse.
How Do Aeroponics Growing Systems Work?
With the roots suspended in the air, the water and nutrients are provided via misting. These nutrients and the water combine with CO2 (carbon dioxide), sunlight, and oxygen to ensure your weed is healthy. As long as the roots receive moisture, that is.
An aeroponics system is comprised of the following:
- Planter Bed: This is where you grow your marijuana plants. Typically, it includes three systems: Drainage, misting, and a system that supports and separates the roots from the cannabis plant.
- Reservoir: This is where the water supply is stored. You need to check it for nutrient levels and quality regularly.
- Pumps: These connect the planter bed to the reservoir and continuously exchange the water.
To begin with, you must place a seedling grown in a non-soil growing medium (such as coco coir or Rockwool). Next, place your seedlings in individual pots that separate the interior and exterior of the planter bed.
Place a collar around the stalk’s base to prevent the mist from molding the stalk or evaporating it. The collar is also an effective means of ensuring your plants’ roots don’t become damaged or infected.
The roots should quickly grow out of the growing medium and through the pot. Meanwhile, the plant will grow vertically away from the bed.
You will need to use spray nozzle attachments to deliver the water. The water released from the nozzle is in a fine mist, and it covers the plant’s root systems. Any excess moisture produced is collected on the bottom of the bed, and is drained back into the reservoir.
High-Quality Versus Low-Quality Aeroponics
There are a variety of systems to choose from, and it’s essential to understand what you’re letting yourself in for. A premium quality system will consist of two reservoirs. One, for spraying the water onto the roots, and another to contain the excess water. As a result, you can spray fresh water onto the roots and enjoy a higher degree of control.
A top-notch system also includes special spray nozzles and high-pressure pumps. When combined, they create a fog featuring tiny droplets. These droplets, which are under 50 microns in size, are so small that they are invisible to the naked eye.
When you have a sound system, the roots of your weed will receive an equal amount of water. Also, you don’t have to worry about water escaping from the sides of the basin. When water escapes, it (along with nutrients) gets wasted, and the humidity in the grow room rises.
A low-quality aeroponics system sprays large droplets on the roots. Also, these DIY systems don’t have a proper method of separation between the reservoirs. If this happens, you could end up with an imbalanced pH level. You also will have no control over what gets sprayed on the roots.
Aeroponics Advantages and Disadvantages
Pros of Growing Weed Using Aeroponics
First and foremost, the roots of the cannabis plant remain in contact with oxygen for the entire growing cycle. Also, the nutrients dissolved in the water go straight to the roots, so your plant gains access to them immediately.
Aeroponics ensures that your plants grow close to one another. Therefore, there is no problem with plants desperately seeking soil territory. As a result, you can grow more cannabis in less space than before.
Aeroponics is arguably the most efficient method of growing plants. For a start, it uses up to 90% less water than in-ground farming. It also uses an incredible 40% less water than a hydroponic setup.
One of the most significant issues facing agriculture is a reduced amount of available water. Did you know that up to 70% of the world’s water is used for irrigation? By fully adopting aeroponics, we can benefit from fast and effective crop growth without draining the planet’s valuable water reserves.
As you are not using soil, you can harvest your cannabis crop a lot sooner. Another bonus is your plants are less susceptible to an infestation of pests or disease. In essence, you are no longer dependent on soil quality and agricultural space.
Cons of Growing Weed Using Aeroponics
First and foremost, aeroponics is not for the amateur gardener. If you don’t already possess vast knowledge of marijuana cultivation or agriculture in general, aeroponics is not for you. Despite its many advantages, things can go wrong very quickly when you use an aeroponics system. For example, if you suffer a power outage, your roots won’t receive enough water. As a result, they will dry out quickly, and the entire root system can die.
Your system must remain active twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Issues such as clogged nozzles, broken pumps, and empty reservoirs all ruin your 24/7 system. Did you know that if your root systems go without moisture for an hour, they will start dying?
You can’t be in the room the entire time. Therefore, you must create a system that provides an immediate alert if something goes wrong. You may even need to hire someone to take over if you are absent for any length of time.
We recommend investing in a high-quality timer system and stable wiring. This setup ensures that your spray timer is perfectly synchronized. Rather than spraying the vapor 24/7, make sure you set the timer to spray the mist every few seconds.
Also, make sure the reservoirs are not see-through, because you don’t want the light to penetrate the basin. If it does, algae can grow and block the spray nozzles.
Make sure the temperature for the roots does not exceed 73 degrees Fahrenheit. The ideal temperature range is between 64 and 68 degrees. A water cooler is a handy means of controlling water temperatures. Although it is an expensive item, it could provide massive yields, which more than makes up for the cost.
We also recommend using CFL or LED lights for aeroponics because they make it easier to control room temperature. If the grow room seems excessively warm, use white-colored basins to reflect the rays from the outside. This helps to reduce the water temperature.
Quality of Cannabis Grown with Aeroponics
Although an aeroponics setup is unquestionably expensive, growers agree that the end product makes the investment worthwhile. This combination of indoor growing and the direct application of nutrients to the plant’s roots helps to develop enormous buds.
Ultimately, growers end up with plants that have a high trichome content.
In 2001, a study by the University of Arizona analyzed the effect of aeroponics on two plants. These two plants, burdock, and echinacea are noted for their medicinal properties. The burdock performed spectacularly well when aeroponics was used. This method produced harvests that were almost 1,000% greater than the average yield of field-grown burdock. Also, the lack of soil ensured that the crop was more convenient to harvest, too.
The cannabis industry is at the forefront of efforts to implement aeroponics technology. As well as providing bigger yields and using less water, aeroponics could potentially be used to increase food production. Given the Earth’s rapidly growing population, this may prove an extremely useful application of aeroponics in the future.
If you have ever asked,
“What can I grow with Hydroponics?”
probably, the answer is you can grow anything.
That’s true, but not many will flourish in a water-based environment while others will never reach their full potential.
Well, today I’m going to make it easy for you to choose the perfect plants to start.
Below you’ll find a list of some edible easy-to-grow plants (infographic included) that work very well with the Hydroponic cultivation.
Favorable temp: cool. pH: 6.0 – 7.0
Lettuces, the perfect ingredient for the salad sandwich in your kitchen, are probably the most common vegetables that are grown in Hydroponics. They grow super fast in a hydroponic system and are fairly easy to take care of. Lettuces can be grown in any Hydroponics system, including the NFT, Aeroponics, Ebb & Flow, etc. This vegetable is no doubt a great plant if you just start with Hydroponics.
Favorable temp: hot. pH: 5.5 – 6.5
Many types of tomatoes, including traditional and cherry ones, have been grown widely by Hydroponic hobbyists and commercial growers. Botanically, the tomato is a fruit, but most people whether sellers or consumers consider it as vegetables. One thing to keep in mind is that tomatoes require much light. So be prepared to purchase some grow lights if you want to grow indoors.
Favorable temp: cool. pH: 6.0 – 7.0
Radishes are another vegetable that makes a good flavoring mix with other vegetables. Radishes are one of the easiest vegetables to grow – either in soil or hydroponics. It’s better to start from seeds, and you can see seedlings within 3 – 7 days. Radishes thrive in cool temperatures and do not need any lights.
Favorable temp: cool to warm. pH: 5.5 – 6.5
Kale is a very nutritious and delicious-flavored plant for home and restaurant dishes. It is a great vegetable for a healthy person with proven health benefits. The great news is that people have grown Kale hydroponically for so many years, so definitely you can do it in the water system. And in fact, it’s easy to grow and thrive well in this system.
Favorable temp: hot. pH: 5.5 – 6.0
Cucumbers are a common vining plant that is grown at home and in the commercial greenhouses. They enjoy a rapid growth under sufficient condition and hence give very high yields. There are several types and sizes of cucumbers, including the thick-skinned American slicers, long thin-skinned seedless European, and the smooth-skinned Lebanese cucumbers. All can grow well in Hydroponics. Cucumber is a warm plant so be sure to supply it with enough light and temperature.
Favorable temp: cool to warm. pH: 6.0 – 7.0
The favorite vegetable that can be either eaten raw or cooked in your meal does grow well in the water-based environment. Spinach is a cool plant, so it does not require too much light. You can harvest it all at once or tear off some leaves. You can get up to 12 weeks of continuous harvesting under a good condition of climate and growing environment.
Favorable temp: warm. pH: 6.0
One of the most productive and low-maintenance vegetables that can be grown hydroponically. You can choose the types of beans you can grow, including green beans, pole beans, pinto beans, lima beans. You will need a trellis or something to support the plants if you plant pole beans. Seed germination usually takes 3 – 8 days. Harvesting begins after 6 – 8 weeks. After that, you can continue the crop for 3 – 4 months.
Favorable temp: warm to hot. pH: 6.0
It’s easier to grow chives from a plant in a Hydroponic system. So better to get them from your local garden supplies. Under a standard growing condition, it takes six to eight weeks before it is fully mature. Then you can harvest it regularly – it needs 3 – 4 weeks later to fully regrow. Chive requires lots of light, 12 – 14 hours of light each day.
Favorable temp: warm. pH: 5.5 – 6.5
Basil thrives very well in a hydroponic system, and it is indeed among the most grown herbs in Hydroponic. You can grow basil in NFT or Drip system. Once this plant reaches the mature stage, you harvest and trim it weekly. Basil needs lots of lights. It will undergo a poor growth when you do not provide it with over 11 hours of lightning.
Favorable temp: warm. pH: 5.5 – 6.5
Mints, mainly peppermint and spearmint, have been grown extensively whether in soils and hydroponics. Their aromatic compounds in mints are refreshing, and pungent, which proves their use as a flavor for food and beverages. Mint roots spread so quickly, making it ideal to grow with Hydroponics.
Favorable temp: warm. pH: 6.0
Strawberries are well suited for hydroponic growing. In fact, these fruits are one the most popular plants grown in commercial hydroponic production. They have been grown in large-scale NFT systems by the commercial farms for decades. However, you can still enjoy delicious fresh strawberries to feed all your family by growing them at home and harvesting the fruits all year long.
Favorable temp: warm. pH: 4.5 – 6.0
Blueberries, a great fruit high in vitamins for your meal, can be grown well in Hydroponics. This plant takes longer to bear fruits than strawberries, often until the second years. They are usually grown in an NFT system. It’s hard to plant blueberries from seeds, so transplants are recommended.
Favorable temp: warm to hot. pH: 5.5 – 6.0
Peppers need the same hydroponic growing condition like tomatoes – warm temperature and large amounts of lights. Peppers often take two to three months to mature
You can either start growing them from seeds or plants from the local garden supplier. Recommended varieties for hydroponically growing are Jalapeno, Habanero for hot peppers; Mazurka, Cubico, Nairobi, Fellini for sweet peppers.
Harder to grow
Again this does not mean that you cannot grow these types of plants, they are just more challenging to grow in Hydroponics. But experienced growers have planted them in their soilless systems for years and enjoyed excellent yields.
Plants that take up large spaces.
If space is limited, it’s best to avoid squash, melons, pumpkins, corn and other large plants. It doesn’t mean that you cannot grow these plants, but in a narrow area, it’s harder to take care of plants and the yields are not as good as other places where these plants have rooms to grow.
Deep Root veggies
Again, it’s hard to care for plants that need a lot of depth for root. So this is not recommended for beginners.
Potatoes, carrots, turnips fall into these types.
For root crops, you need a substrate with sufficient length and high depth to support the roots. And these types of plants tend not to give as good results as they are in the soil.
If you have a large growing environment like a greenhouse, patio, you can set up a more advanced system and grow sizeable plants, root veggies, and other hard-to-grow ones. That environment is perfect for you to try with any plant.
As someone new to Hydroponics, it would be smart to go with easy to grow plants that enjoy rapid growth. We have mentioned many examples above. As a consequence, you can get the result and learn the experience fast, then feel inspired to move to something harder.
Experienced Hydroponic gardeners may have adequate knowledge of the Hydroponics systems and the plants’ type they are going to grow. They can strive for other plants like tobacco, large melons, pumpkins, sunflowers, and so on. There are no limits.
A garden requires patient labor and attention. Plants do not grow merely to satisfy ambitions or to fulfill good intentions. They thrive because someone expended effort on them.
— Liberty Hyde Bailey
Choosing a plant to grow in your Hydroponic garden is just the first step. You will need proper knowledge to set up the system. And most importantly, the plants depend on you for their survival. That requires regular huge attention and persistence until you get the yields, just like anything worthwhile in life.
If you want to sum up the main hydroponic plants you can start, I have made a detailed infographic about plants (vegetables, fruits, herbs) that are best suited in Hydroponics.
Growing With Aeroponics: What Is Aeroponics
Aeroponics is a great alternative for growing plants in small spaces, especially indoors. Aeroponics is similar to hydroponics, as neither method uses soil to grow plants; however, with hydroponics, water is used as a growing medium. In aeroponics, no growing medium is used. Instead, the roots of plants are suspended or hung in a dark chamber and periodically sprayed with nutrient-rich solution.
Growing with Aeroponics
Growing with aeroponics is not difficult and the benefits far outweigh any drawbacks. Nearly any plant can be successfully grown using aeroponics, especially vegetables. The plants grow faster, yield more, and are generally more healthy than those grown in soil.
Feeding for aeroponics is also easy, as aeroponic-grown plants typically require less nutrients and water. Regardless of the system used indoors, aeroponics requires little space, making this method of growing plants especially suited to urban dwellers and the like.
Typically, aeroponic plants are suspended (usually inserted in the top) over a reservoir within some type of sealed container. Feeding for aeroponics is accomplished through the use of a pump and sprinkler system, which periodically sprays nutrient-rich solution onto the plant roots.
About the only drawback to growing with aeroponics is keeping everything thoroughly clean, as its continually moist environment is more susceptible to bacteria growth. It can also get expensive.
DIY Aeroponics for the Personal Aeroponic Enthusiast
While growing with aeroponics is typically easy, many of the commercial aeroponic systems can be relatively costly, another downside. However, it doesn’t have to be.
There are actually many personal aeroponic systems that you can make at home for lots less than those higher priced commercial systems. For example, one of the easiest DIY aeroponics systems consists of nothing more than a large, sealable storage bin and PVC pipes and fittings. Of course, a suitable pump and a few other accessories are also necessary.
So if you are looking for another alternative when growing plants in smaller spaces, why not consider growing with aeroponics. This method works great for growing plants indoors. Aeroponics also yields healthier, more abundant produce.
How Aeroponics Works
There’s an abundance of anecdotal evidence supporting the idea that aeroponic growing may be superior to growing in natural conditions. Online message boards among aeroponic devotees will tell you the same.
Academic research has also yielded a torrent of evidence to support this claim. A 1991-92 study conducted in Sardinia, Italy, found that certain hybrid tomato varieties produced abundant “fruit of excellent commercial quality” in a very short time, enough to make the process researchers used viable for commercial use . What did they do? The Sardinian researchers used a high-density aeroponic system (HDAS), with plants grown close together. Since the plants’ roots aren’t competing for nutrients in the same soil, they can be grown in dense plantings aeroponically. Even better, the aeroponic tomatoes were ready to produce fruit four times in one year, rather than the one or two times observed in field conditions.
In 2001, a University of Arizona study looked at the effects of aeroponics on plants prized for the medicinal properties of their roots. The researchers studied two plant varieties, echinacea and burdock, and found some startling results. While the echinacea crop suffered fungal and insect outbreaks, the yields were still comparable to those seen in natural field settings. The burdock greatly outperformed its outdoor counterparts: The root harvests from the burdock plants tested in the University of Arizona study yielded almost 1000 (yes, thousand) percent more than field-grown burdock crops do on average. Even better, the researchers pointed out that the absence of soil made the aeroponic crops easier to harvest.
NASA has come up with similar results: In 1997, the space agency sent a variety of aeroponically grown Asian bean seedlings to the Mir space station while simultaneously observing an aeroponically grown control group on Earth that used an identical growing system. The only variable separating the Mir and Earth crops was gravity. The space beans were grown at zero gravity, while the Earth crop was grown at normal atmospheric conditions. The Mir crops actually grew better than the beans grown on Earth.
The success of the test was of great value to NASA. It proved that food crops could not only grow, but thrive in zero gravity. It also showed that this aeroponics system would come in handy on long space flights and missions. It could also prove useful during for possible colonization of other planets.
So, good, humanity’s saved. We have the agricultural technology available to sustain us. However, plenty of people are using aeroponics right now. Growers who use the technology aren’t just on the cutting edge; their combined efforts may end up saving humanity from packing up to find another home.