Hydroponics is a great way to take advantage of the benefits of growing plants without soil and might be appealing if you don’t like getting your hands dirty or choose to grow plants indoors.

However, as with any type of gardening, fertilisers are essential for optimal growth and therefore the success of your hydroponics system is dependent on the type of fertiliser you choose to use. To help you decide which fertiliser to use for hydroponics, we have put together this article which outlines the type of fertilisers available for hydroponic system.

Before diving into the subject, it is worth first understanding the importance of soils to plants and how a successful hydroponic system will have to supplement the benefits of soils.

Soil plays a key role in plant health, providing important organic and inorganic nutrients. Soils also contain beneficial microorganisms that act in synergistic ways to help plants fix nitrogen in the soil, break down organic matter as well as assist with soil aeration. But that is not all – soil also plays a key role in anchoring plants providing a solid foundation against the elements such as rainfall, wind and snow.

A successful hydroponic system will therefore need to provide nutrients, have some microorganisms and some means of support for the plants. Fertilisers are often used in hydroponic systems to deliver nutrients. These can be either granular or liquid. Granular might be longer lasting but slow acting while liquids might be faster acting but not as long lasting. At the same time granular fertilisers might result on a build-up of fertiliser concentration in close proximity to the fertiliser granules depending on the circulation of water in the system while liquid products diffuse much faster. Natural-based liquid fertilisers combine the benefits of both types and are a good option to consider in hydroponic systems. In addition many natural-based liquid fertilisers contain essential amino acids that are not only beneficial for plants but also important for microorganisms that make these systems home. If you also choose to grow fish in your hydroponic system, make sure you use a pet-friendly fertiliser product.

Water circulation (and aeration) and the use of porous minerals such as perlite are important to provide oxygen for growth of the roots. Here typical support is provided by perlite and pebbles or other stones to help anchor plants. Lastly you might choose to erect poles for larger plant to provide that extra support required to withstand the elements.

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