Hydroponics refers to growing plants in water rather than soil; this process is sometimes associated with those who are growing illegal plants that they want to hide from others, but it's also used by farmers and those who are concerned with the health of soil, or who don't have their own plot of land for a home garden. If you've ever considered a hydroponics system, note a few commonly asked questions about this gardening system, so you can determine if it's a good choice for you.
Are plants grown only in water?
Hydroponics is not that simple; water itself does not have enough of the nutrients that plants need to grow and flourish. A hydroponics system will include a mixture of nutrients that you purchase separately and then periodically add to the water bed for plants. You can buy these mixtures at nurseries or online, and the type of nutrient mixture you need and how often it gets added will depend on the plants you're growing.
Do you need special equipment for a hydroponics system?
You can actually grow a hydroponics garden in something as simple as a PVC pipe or even an aquarium. However, again, the system is not quite as simple as you might think; you can't just fill such a space with water and nutrient mix and expect plants to grow. These nutrients need to slowly wash over the plant roots so that the plants don't absorb too many of their chemicals and then wither. The hydroponics system then needs some type of drain, and it's good to have a pump that slowly pushes the nutrient mixture over the plant roots and recirculates it several times, so those roots can absorb the nourishment they need.
Your plants will also need plenty of light, just like any other garden, so if your hydroponics system will be indoors, you might need a grow light. In colder areas, you may also need a heater to keep those delicate plants warm.
Can you grow any type of plant with hydroponics?
As with other forms of gardening, you need to be aware of which plants will thrive in your native environment, given your weather and amount of sunlight, if you don't want to invest in a grow light and heater. You also need to consider that some plants are more delicate than others and may require constant testing of the water's pH and other indicators of their health, and you may not be up to that task. Otherwise, you can typically grow any type of plant, flower, or vegetation in a hydroponics system.