What is Hydroponic pH?

What is Hydroponic pH?

If you have a hydroponic system at home and the plants growing in it do not grow well. Then the 95% chances are the problem is with the hydroponic pH. The pH of the nutrient solution directly impacts the nutrient absorption rate of hydroponic systems.

You should measure the pH of the solution with a pH measuring kit every day. The pH kit has a pH scale in it. The scale starts from 0 and ends at 14. pH reading below 7 means the solution is acidic. Above 7 means the solution is alkaline. And 7 pH is the neutral value, this means the solution is neither acidic nor alkaline. It is a balanced solution.

pH 5 is more acidic than 6 and 9pH is more alkaline than 8ph.

In this article you’ll learn why the nutrient pH is changing and how does it impact the hydroponic systems. What you can do to keep your system healthy and how to adjust pH?

First of all, we will start from the basic knowledge

Why is pH So important in soilless growing systems?

Every plant on the earth grows in a different environment and has different growing needs. You cannot grow warm crops in the winter season.

But,

You will be surprised to know that their pH requirements are almost the same. Most of the plants need slightly acidic soil or water to grow. The ideal range is 5.5 to 6.5 pH. Whereas some plants can tolerate 5.0 to 7.5 pH.

Therefore. We can say that the ideal pH range for 97% of the plants is between 5.0 to 7.5.

If due to any reason the pH of the nutrient solution is outside the range. Then the plants become unable to absorb nutrients from the water. This results in slower growth and weak plants. In most cases, plants die in hydroponic systems due to disturbed pH levels.

If the hydroponic pH is below 5.5 then the plants start suffering from a lack of calcium. Calcium is necessary for the good health of plant roots.

If pH drops below 4.0 then the chances are your plant will get killed by Aluminum and manganese toxicity.

On the other side, if the pH goes above 7.0 or 7.5. Then the plants become able to produce enough chlorophyll and they also start losing their green color. Because the higher pH reduces the absorption amount of Iron, Phosphorous, and Manganese.

Insufficient chlorophyll means not sufficient food for the plants. They start dying slowly due to no more food.

pH-Scale

     You May Also Like: Hydroponic Systems, Uses, and Care

How to measure the hydroponic pH?

Hydroponic pH can be easily measured by 3 different methods.

Litmus paper

Liquid pH kits

Digital pH meter

Litmus paper method

This is the old technique of measuring pH. Most of us know how to use litmus paper. We all did a litmus paper experiment in our science lab.

Note: Blue litmus turns red when dipped in acidic solution.

In this method, dip the single strip of paper in the hydroponic nutrient solution. We left it for 30 seconds and it changes its color.

In the next step, we held it against the pH chart and determine the reading. This method is not good for measuring hydroponic pH. It is good to teach kids in schools.

Liquid kits

These kits are a little expensive than the litmus paper. First of all, we take a sample of the solution in the test tube. Then add few drops of the liquid tester. The solution changes its colour. We match the color with the pH chat. In this method reading the chart with color is easier than the litmus paper method.

Digital meters

These are the expensive pH measuring meters. If you have a hydroponic system then you should definitely invest in a digital pH meter. There is an electrode attached to the meter. You need to turn the meter ON and dip the electrode in the solution. It will tell you the digital reading on its display in less than 20 seconds.

You should buy an extra electrode in case the first one breakdown. You can reuse digital hydroponic pH meters as many times as you want. This makes them economical even after having a high price.

litmus papaer test

How to adjust the pH of the hydroponic solution?

You need to measure the Hydroponic pH every day specially if you are growing expensive crops. When the plants absorb nutrients from the water. They do not absorb all the nutrients in equal amounts. Sometimes they need more nitrogen than Phosphorous. This leaves the empty ion which disturbs the pH of the solution

To adjust it you should use pH UP and pH DOWN.

Read the instructions written on the bottles. Because every brand has a different concentration of the solution and has instructions accordingly. There is no specific brand better than others. Buy which is in your budget.

Note: If you are using hard water in your hydroponic machine then do not use ordinary pH adjusters. They are made for soft water. Hard water needs a high amount of acid to adjust the pH. This disturbs the nutrient percentage of the solutions.

For hard water always use pH adjuster solutions that are made for hard water.

Hydroponic Systems, Uses and Care steps

Hydroponic Systems, Uses and Care steps

Hydroponic systems are the easiest method of indoor gardening; it boosts the plant growth by 30% than soil

and give 50% more yield with low production cost.

Today I will share every single detail about hydroponic systems. The types of systems, working mechanisms, care routines, etc.

Let’s find out more about Hydroponic gardening.

What are hydroponic systems?

Hydroponics is a new method of growing plants indoors. This latest growing technique uses water to grow plants instead of soil. It is 100% possible to grow plants by supplying them only nutrient-rich water.

This system uses the nutrient-rich solution, all you need to do is take the normal tap water add the liquid nutrients in it, fill the reservoir with it and your system is ready to work.

The water pump pushes the water to circulate into the system. Plant roots get in touch with this water continuously. Roots absorb the nutrients when the plant demand from the roots to suck them from the water.

The remaining nutrient solution comes back into the reservoir. This circle goes continuously like this throughout the entire life cycle of a plant.

 Rockwool, clay pallet, hydroton is the main growing mediums that most of the growers prefer to use with Hydroponics systems.

Why hydroponics is a better method than traditional growing techniques?

This is the easiest method of growing plants indoors and is a low cost, low maintenance growing system with high efficiency and ease of use. It delivers the nutrients directly to the plant roots without any supporting medium.

In these systems, plants get nutrients and water at the same time with fresh oxygen.

The roots of plants remain smaller in size in hydroponic systems. This allows you to grow more plants at the same time in the same growing system.

Also, the system is designed in such a way that it can fit into the small spaces without any problem. The electric consumption of the hydroponic systems is very low and anyone can afford it.

Hydroponic plants grow at a much faster rate than soil grown methods.

Growing without using soil means growing hygienically which reduces the problem of pest attacks and keep the various diseases away from the growing plants. The entire system of the Hydroponics is automated, controlled by the timers.

The equipment you need to form an excellent hydroponic system is a one-time investment. So, you need to buy a branded hydroponic system from a reputed manufacturer. Don’t make the mistake of buying each piece of equipment separately this will cost you hundreds of Pounds.

Go to Amazon and choose the complete Hydroponic Kit according to your needs.

Types of Hydroponic systems in the UK?

You will be surprised to know that 5 types of hydroponic systems are available in the market that is perfect for Home growers. Sometimes people combine different hydroponic systems to form a hybrid growing system. But I do not recommend such kind of system. You can damage the parts if you don’t have hydroponic experience.

Below are the main types of hydroponics

DWC (Deep Water Culture)

This is the low-cost type of hydroponics and is also called the reservoir method. Because this hydroponic system uses a reservoir to store the nutrient-rich water. The roots of plants are suspended in the nutrient solution for entire plant life cycles. As we all know plants also need oxygen to grow therefore, an air pump is used to give oxygen to plant roots. The pump also creates bubbles in the water to keep its oxygen-rich freshwater.

Before using DWC Keep one thing in your mind that you have to completely seal the reservoir to prevent the light from entering into it.

Once the light gets to enters the container it triggers the formation of algae and contaminates the entire system. If this happens to you throw the nutrient water and cleans your system to start a new beginning.

Drip System

As the name suggests the system is based on the dripping system. No experience is necessary to grow with Drip hydroponic system. In this system, drippers are used to supply the water and nutrients to the plants.

Slow and Faster drippers are available. Fast drippers are made for commercial use and for home use slow dripping system is perfect.

In a slow dripping system, drippers give water to plants at a very slow rate. So, rockwool cubes and coco coir are the best growing medium to be used with this kind of system. Because both these growing medium holds the nutrients for a long time.

The problem with this Drip system is the drippers get clogged easily, you have to keep eye on them. This happens more often when we use organic nutrients for plants because organic nutrients have small nutrient particles that can clog the dripper pipes.

This problem reduces to a great extent if plants are feeding the synthetic nutrients. So, it is totally up to your choice. For organic nutrient supply do not use this system or if you do not have enough time for your growing system like people do busy jobs do not have time. Then do not choose a drip hydroponic system.

Nutrient Film Technique

When you have a large growing area then this system is best for you. In NFT continuous supply of nutrients is given to the plants. So that they can absorb more nutrients and oxygen from the system and grow fast.

 Only the tips of roots come in contact with the solution (this increases the oxygen intake of the plant which helps in photosynthesis).

Growers observe a faster growth rate after shifting to the NFT system. This technique is good for commercial gardening and home gardening.

Ebb & Flow

Ebb &Flow hydroponic system flood the plant roots with the sudden high amount of nutrients which drain at a very slow rate so that plants can absorb in meantime.

In this method instead of a continuous flow of nutrients, nutrient flow is controlled by a timer.

Here timer plays an important role in the efficiency of the system is highly dependent upon it. You can set the timer according to the type of your plant. Growing indoor is not an easy job number of growing methods make it hard to choose the best hydroponic system. But don’t worry I will help you to choose the best hydroponic system for your home garden.

Ebb & Flow is best to grow plants that required continuous supply of high amount of nutrients.

AEROPONICS

This is the latest and more advanced hydroponic system specially designed to grow herbs and salads. The technically advanced system gains stylish looks and inbuilt grow light. Aeroponics hydroponic system misted the roots with the nutrients while the roots are hanging in the air. It reduces the wastage of nutrients by up to 95 %.  Aeroponics does not require much maintenance. It is a costly system but is perfect to grow basil, mint, lettuce, etc.

Aero Garden is the reputed manufacturer of Aeroponic growing systems of different sizes. You have to pay a little extra for this technology but it comes with years of warranty and great customer support.

pH Level and Hydroponics

What is the pH level in Hydroponic systems?

pH stands for potential hydrogen level, maintain the pH level of hydroponics nutrients to grow healthy plants. pH is a measure that tells us about the acidic or alkalinity of a solution. For example, the pH level of water is 7 means water is neutral neither acidic nor alkaline. This pH scale starts from 1 and goes up to 14 pH levels. Reading below the number 7 indicates the acidic nature of the solution and the above readings mean the solution is alkaline in nature (no acids present).

Hydroponics gives more control over the pH levels as compared to the soil. When we grow in soil, we do not have options to adjust the pH level of soil but in hydroponics, it is extremely easy to up and down the pH of the nutrient-rich solution.

Normally the hydroponics pH level should be between 5.5 and 6.5. It is important to adjust the pH level because it affects the plant growth, the absorption rate of nutrients, and block the uptake of essential minerals and vitamins. 

What causes the sudden fluctuation in the pH level of hydroponic nutrients?

Plants do not absorb all nutrients at once sometimes they need more iron than copper or magnesium. When they absorb more ions of one material, they left positive or negative charges behind which increase or decrease the pH level in minutes.

These sudden changes in Hydroponic systems are normal and this happens to all soilless growing systems.

How to check pH reading in the Hydroponic system?

Checking pH is a very simple process. There are three different methods available to test the pH level of any solution.

STRIP METHOD

In this type of method, we use Litmus paper or Litmus strips to test the pH of the solution. Take out one strip and dip it into the nutrient solution. The strip will show a change in the color, match the strip color with the given guide and you will get the results. This method is not 100% accurate and we do not advise you to choose this technique to test your nutrient pH level. This method of checking the pH level is suitable for chemistry labs to educate students. Not helpful in real life.

pH solution

This method of pH testing is more accurate than litmus paper. A pH solution kit is required to test ph. Take out the nutrient solution into the beaker and add a few drops of this pH liquid into it. The solution will change its color, now match the color with the given color chart and know the pH level of your solution.

Again, this method is not 100% accurate.

Digital pH meter

This is the best way to test the pH of any solution. The meter gives you an accurate reading when you dip the diode into the solution and press the start button. With the digital reading you will know the exact value of pH

How to adjust pH UP and DOWN of Hydroponic solution?

Adjusting the pH of a solution is a very easy process. All you need to do is buy a pH-adjusting solution from the market and follow the instructions. This is the cheap and best method to control the acidic or alkalinity of a solution.

There are many other methods which help you to keep control over the ph. But those methods are not easy to use. Some required you to make a solution by yourself and for which you need to have a good knowledge of chemicals and their reactions after mixing. While other home-based methods are not reliable.

pH Up solution and pH Down solution is the only best way to increase and decrease the pH of solution easily in seconds. These read to use solutions are very affordable.

How to maintain your hydroponic system?

Maintaining your hydroponics systems is extremely important. Experts advise growing food in the well-cleaned area. Below are the main steps which you can follow in order to keep your soilless growing machine clean and effective.

The temperature of the nutrients: 65-75 degrees is the ideal temperature range for hydroponics nutrients. If due to some reason the nutrient temperature goes too high than the recommended limit it will result in root rot. In this condition, the roots of the plants rot which is a deadly situation for a plant and sad news for grower.

If the temperature goes below the right level, this results in a slower growth rate of the plant. This is the reason why people use water heaters inside the nutrient tank to keep the temperature under control in extreme cold weather conditions.

Change water

Many people ask us when to change the water in hydroponics. Personally, we believe one should change it bi-weekly if do not have an EC meter. EC meter is a digital meter that tells us about the percentage of fertilizers in water. It does not give information on individual nutrients; it just gives the overall reading of remaining fertilizers in the nutrient-rich water. Which is more than enough to check whether our plants are getting enough nutrients or is there something wrong.

If we do not change the water and remain it as it is then the chances of mineral build-up go up to 90%. So, it is best to change the water once every 2 weeks to avoid any discomfort.

Add or Clean Filter: If your system does not use a filter then add it to your system right now because it blocks the plant matter and debris from getting into the reservoir. Only DWC systems do not need filters.

Why it is important to clean your growing area?

The very first benefit of a cleaned grow room is you will get clean and healthy fruits. We all know eating healthy food is extremely important for human health.

cleanliness also improves the health of your plants. If we don’t keep the growing area neat and clean, this will invite many diseases and fungal infection. An only healthy plants can give healthy fruits.

Steps to sanitize and sterilize the hydroponic growing system

What are sanitation and sterilization?

SANITATION: Normal cleaning is called sanitation. This includes removing dead plant leaves, mopping up spills, removing stains, cleaning with water or soap.

STERILIZATION: It is the process that is used to kill bacteria and fungus and other harmful microbes. It is as important as sanitation in hydroponic.

NOTE: Remember many microbes are living in our atmosphere, not all of them harmful to our plants.

If you want to keep disease and pests away from your growing plants then sanitation and sterilization is the only option. Some people use Lysol to clean the area, it is good because this kills the bacteria but they forgot the sanitation.

Both the processes are highly recommended for indoor growing to avoid diseases and gain healthy foods for our loved ones.

Food grade Bleach and hydrogen peroxide are the best to use for sterilization. First, you have to decrease the reservoir or other nutrient supply pipes for which you can use any branded degreaser.

For those who like to eat and use organic products, they can use vinegar as a sanitation agent.

Do not add bleach into the system when you have a plant it this will damage it permanently. But you can add a little amount of peroxide because it will not affect your plant in any way.

How to clean a Hydroponic Grow Room?

Start your cleaning from the grow room. Clean the walls, floor and mats keep your working space clean and hygienic this will reduce the chances of a bacterial attack on plants.

Then clean your system and all equipment that you use to work with plants. For example, we use thermometers, scissors to cut the plants for cloning. Your scissor can spread the diseases to all of your plants if you do not clean them after every use.

Clean your complete system including water holding tank, drippers if you are using a dripping system.

DAILY MAINTENANCE ROUTINE for Hydroponic Growers

Hydroponics required some daily maintenance, follow the below-written steps will keep your system working for many years. There is a total of five requirements of plants that you have to take care of or monitor when growing them indoors (water, light, nutrients, temperature, and oxygen).

Monitor your system once a day or after a day this will keep your system healthy and efficient.

Daily Checklist

  1. Keep the humidity levels under control by giving them a nicer mist of water.
  2. Make sure there is no clogging in the system this will cause blockage and the system will shut down the nutrient supply which results in the death of plants. Small particles that form when we mix nutrients with water often block the supply pipes. So, keep eye on your hydroponics.
  3. Water has a tendency to evaporates, your nutrients solution also gets evaporates at high speed especially in summers. Add water to your reservoir on time to slow down the evaporation process and continuous the nutrient supply.
  4. Look at your plant and notice any sudden change, check the color of leaves if it turns yellow then there is something wrong with them.
  5. Check the intensity of grow light, if you are using LED grow light then you do not need to worry.
  6. Check the pH level of the nutrient solution.
  7. Keep tracks of temperature
  8. Check your ventilation system and duct fans
  9. Take a close look and monitor the health of your plants if notice any change in their behavior take action quickly.
  10. Give a continuous power supply to your growing system.