Hydroponics’ pros and cons

Hydroponics’ pros and cons

There are many hydroponics’ pros and cons of exploring and using hydroponics for gardening, but for every good thing, there is a downside as well. If you are considering starting hydroponics, you might want to do a lot of research to find out if these gardening techniques are right for you and your commitment level.

Here is a closer look at both the pros and cons of using hydroponics for farming and gardening.

The pros of hydroponics

1. Cost-efficient for the grower

If you are interested in trying hydroponics at home, then you should know that this can be very cost-effective to you. You can purchase a small kit for about $50. If done correctly, you can produce about two hundred pounds of tomatoes per year with this kit, that means your tomatoes are less than three cents a pound.

2. No need to rotate cropsrotate crops

The hydroponic gardener does not need to worry about rotating crops. This is because the nutrients are fed to the plants through the water, and not sought out by the soil.

3. Cleaner way to garden

There is no soil when you grow plants hydroponically. That means that this form of gardening is much cleaner. You do not have to worry about manure, fertilizer, or messy insect repellent. There is no digging, no pulling weeds and it is always controlled and neat.

4. Good lessons for young ones

Kids will be fascinated with hydroponics. Why? Because they can see the root systems and they do not have to wait so long to see results. Hydroponics offers a wonderful lesson on farming to children in schools and in homes.

5. Lots of information

Because many people are interested in hydroponics, you will find a wealth of information out there that can help you learn how to start growing and how to expand your knowledge. You can find books, magazines, and even entire websites solely dedicated to hydroponics.

6. No soil gardening

There are many advantages to soilless gardening. The soil varies all over the world. Some people have the advantage of living in areas where the soil is wonderful for gardening and growing crops. Then there are people that are faced with an impossible task of gardening in areas that are rocky, too hot or cold for growing crops or even areas where there is little to no spare land for growing. Soilless gardening gives people a way to grow fast crops no matter where they live.

7. Speedy results

Another great advantage of using hydroponics is that it yields very fast and efficient results. You can grow a large crop or a very small plant and find that you will get faster and more abundant results using hydroponics.

8. No weeds weeds

You will not get weeds when you grow hydroponically. This means that you do not have to fight weeds or apply dangerous herbicides to your crops. No weeds give you more time and no hard manual labor.

9. Year-long gardening

With hydroponics, you can garden no matter what time of the year it is and you never have to worry about what is in season or not in season. It will let you grow whatever you choose when you want it.

10. Without diseases

Hydroponics means less disease in the plants. When you use soil, it can be contaminated and this is not the case with hydroponics. This produces a superior product.

11. Everyone can grow using this method

Hydroponics brings crop growing to everyone-no matter where they live.

12. Anything can be grown

Except for a handful of woody shrubs, you can grow almost anything hydroponically. That includes herbs, flowers, fruits, vegetables, and houseplants. This gives you a great way to experiment with crops that you like and work with each one.

13. It does not need large land space

Hydroponics brings gardening to apartment dwellers and others where land is a premium or not available at all.

14. pH levels are controlled

When you are in control of the pH levels that your plants get, you are also in control of the taste of your fruits and vegetables that you grow. Did you know that when you garden in acidic soils, it will affect the taste of your crops? You may end up with very bitter tasting tomatoes, for example. When you take control of the pH levels, you can give your crops just the right amount of pH and thus control the taste.

15. Basic kits are affordable

If you want to experiment with hydroponics, you will find basic kits to get you started are affordable, you can also learn how to build your own hydroponics kits that will have you growing your favorite flowers, fruits, and vegetables in no time at all.

16. Rapid technology

The technology for hydroponics is rapidly changing and improving. That makes hydroponics more workable and easier as the idea spreads. In fact, people are starting to experiment more with this type of gardening using easy to use home kits.

17. Use much less water  water

You may think that when you garden using hydroponics and no soil that it would take more water. That is not the case. In fact, this type of farming takes less water because the growing times are lessened. Water is also not lost through the soil and every drop is delivered straight to the source.

18. Certain areas can now have affordable crops

Why are fruits and vegetables sometimes expensive? A lot of the cost has to do with the shipping. If you want a banana, but live in an area where bananas have to be shipped far away, you will pay a premium price. With hydroponics, crops can be grown locally, and this cuts down on costs that are typically passed on to the consumer.

Cons of hydroponics

By now, you know a little more about hydroponics. You know that this form of gardening is growing in popularity and that it can be a cost-effective way to grow crops in any area of the world. There are certainly many benefits of growing using hydroponics, but there are also disadvantages as well.

Here is a closer look at the cons of using hydroponics.

1. Patience is a virtual

When you decide to garden this way, you will need to have plenty of patience. You will need to learn how to use the equipment the right way before you will see any results.

2. Hydroponics will not be forgiving

If you plant crops in the traditional method, you can sometimes neglect them and then sort of “bring them back to life” so to speak. In other words, if you forget to water them and they are droopy, many times that is no problem, simply add water and let it go. This is not the case with hydroponic plants. If you forget to work with your plants and they die, you cannot expect them to recover. Your plants need your TLC every single day and they will not thrive or grow without it.

3. You cannot skimp when you use hydroponics

There are lots of cost-cutting methods that work when you garden the traditional way, but this is often not the case with hydroponics. You do need special lighting, the growing mediums, and the nutrients. That is essential for growing this way. You can’t save money. It is true that once you put out the money for the initial costs, your spending will go down as you farm more and more.

4. Diseases

You have read that diseases are almost non-existence when you grow crops hydroponically and that is true, to some extent. Diseases can attack your plants, but they are different, rather than a soil-borne disease, your plants can get water diseases. The bad news is that water diseases can spread much faster and can be harder to control than soil diseases.

5. Relying on electricity

If you are gardening hydroponically, you are depending on electricity. If your electricity goes out for a long period of time, this could affect your crops. It is certainly something to consider if you are thinking about gardening on a large scale.

6. It is not an exact science

While hydroponics may certainly sound like an exact science the opposite is true. It is not. You can learn how to start your hydroponic garden using step by step guides and it will probably give you a good start. The problem is that is as far as it goes. It does not work that way for everyone and you will have to take the time to learn what works for you and your plants. It may even take a little trial and error to get the results that you want.

7. Take responsibility

You can’t simply throw the seeds in the soil and add water when you use hydroponics. You will need to understand that it does take work and responsibility to get the results you want. You will have to know before you plant anything that you cannot walk away from your crops and expect them to grow. While that may work for some crops grown outside in the soil, you will need to commit at least ten minutes or even more every single day to your plants. Some work and attention are critical in making hydroponics work.

8. Upkeep

As mentioned, maintenance is a big factor in hydroponics. You cannot cut corners. You have to take care of your garden on a daily basis. Before you go out and buy your equipment, you need to make sure you are ready to make that commitment.

9. Cost  cost

Depending on where you live and the plants you want to grow, you might be able to purchase some seeds and stick them in the ground. You might even be lucky enough to not need special supplies or tools and you may further find that your plants will grow and produce crops. That means that the lucky gardener can grow plants with the conventional method quite inexpensively. However, that is not the case with hydroponics supplies. It is less expensive in the long run, but for just trying it out, you will incur expenses. You can make a system yourself or buy a kit, but the bottom line is that you probably don’t have all the tools and materials you need, so you will have to put some money out upfront to get it started. Even the smaller mini-farms can cost up to $100 and even more depending on the hydroponics supply system that you choose to buy.

10. Hydroponics knowledge

You need to take the time to learn about hydroponics before you even start. This is not the knowledge that your grandma passed down to you. It is a fairly new technology and you need to learn all you can before you invest your time and money. You need to learn about the supplies and equipment you will need and you will also need to learn who or where you can turn to for support. Luckily, there are many good sources out there that can help you get the information you need to help you with your hydroponics endeavors. General hydroponics is not too hard to learn, it just takes some time on your part.

As you can see there are many advantages as well as disadvantages of growing plants using hydroponics. Proponents of this growing method will tell you that in the long run, the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages.

Related How To article: 6 Steps to Assess the Advantages of Hydroponic Gardening

Different Types Hydroponics Systems

There are several different types hydroponics systems you can choose when you want to garden hydroponically. The one you choose will largely depend on how far you want to take your gardening. You will often hear about the following:

Homemade systems:

These are hydroponic systems that you build yourself using plans that you can download online or find in books. These are often recommended for starting out or for small scale gardening.

Turn key systems:

These are the kits that you can order and have delivered to your home. These are usually the most expensive, but they are very simple to set up and easy to learn how to maintain. These are great for those who already know a little bit about hydroponics and wish to expand their own hydroponic gardening.

Small kits:

You can also buy small kits that will get your garden started. These range in size and price and may be easy or harder to operate depending on how it works.

Types of kits that you can buy:

As mentioned there are all sorts of kits that you can buy. These will range a great deal in price and size, but the idea is the same. You will purchase these kits that will get you started with a basic garden or crop. It will come with everything you need to get you started. The kits are generally easy to set up and start. There is usually no special equipment you will need right away to get it started.

The following are all popular hydroponic kits that you can buy from online stores and garden centers that specialize in hydroponic gardening:

Aero Garden & Aero Garden Deluxe:Aero Garden

These are two very popular kits that are widely used by people who are interested in experimenting with hydroponics. This kit will allow you to grow all sorts of fresh vegetables including tomatoes, lettuce, and even a variety of herbs. It is small enough to fit in your kitchen, giving you a year round fresh supply of your favorite veggie.

The Deluxe version is a little larger and has twice the light intensity, which will make the plants grow much faster. The deluxe versions will also allow you to grow full sized vegetables and larger plants such as large tomatoes, cucumbers and bell peppers. You can expect to pay anywhere from $150-$200 for one of these kits. The kits are widely available online and through stores that carry hydroponic supplies and equipment.


AeroGarden Pro:

aerogarden pro

This is another version of the AeroGarden and AeroGarden Deluxe. However, this system is a bit larger and give you a microprocessor controlled AGI (Adaptive Growth Intelligence). This will monitor the growth of the plant from germination to advanced growth. This kit will automatically adjust the nutrient delivery and the light cycles so your plants will get just what they need when they need it. This technology will maximize your crop yields. 


Ebb & Gro System:

Ebb & Gro System

This hydroponic kit is a multi-pot growing system and is considered the most versatile of these types of hydroponic kits. You will get 12 growing pots with the basic kit and you have the ability to expand that to up to 48 pots. This will allow you to move your pots around or grow a multitude of plants varieties in one system. It is consistently rated as a top rated hydroponic system.


Power Plant Deluxe:

Power Plant Deluxe

As the technology improves for hydroponic gardening, new kits are constantly being introduced to the consumer. One of the newer kits is the Power Plant Deluxe. This comes with everything you need to get started including a power grow lamp and bulb. The unique feature of this grow system is that it has a rotating surface that will give your plants the nutrients they need. It controls the watering so you don’t have to worry about over watering or giving the plants too much nutrients at one time. This is considered a no fail way to garden using hydroponics. 



Rainforest Aeroponic Systems:

Rainforest Aeroponic Systems

Aeroponics, which is similar to hydroponics, can also be grown from a kit. This kit will allow you to start and cultivate up to 18 small plants or up to 90 cuttings. It comes with a vortex sprayer that will lift and provide oxygen to your plants when needed. There is another system similar to this one called the Rainforest 66 Aeroponic kit. This one is similar but will grow larger sized plants. 


Waterfarm Complete System:

Waterfarm Complete System

This is a new hydroponic kit that is built using high impact plastic, which will give you long-lasting performance both indoor and outdoors. It is shaped in a square and that design will give you maximum efficiency when packing your plants. The kit comes with an air pump, growing container, reservoir, pump column, grow rocks and bottles of nutrients.

The WaterFarm 8-pak system is similar and uses a large reservoir of 13 gallons. This is a highly rated growing system for larger plants.




The Ecogrower is another hydroponic system that will allow you to incorporate an air driven drip system (also called the spider system. It features six inserts that holds pots up to six inches in diameter. This can also be fitted to grow very large plants. 




Along the same lines as the Ecogrower, is the Eurogrower. This system is perfect for someone that is new to growing with a hydroponic system. It is a simple and easy to learn method of hydroponic gardening. This kit comes with a 40 gallon reservoir, eight buckets, CocoTek bricks, Hydroton, a pH kit, a timer and a flora kit that will get you started with your gardening.


AeroFlo 20 System:

AeroFlo 20 System

This is a system that looks a little different from other hydroponic systems. Instead of around planting area or pot, it is rectangular in shape. This kit is highly recommended for those who are growing small plants and vegetables such as small tomatoes, lettuce, peppers and kitchen herbs. This kit is not recommended for plants that have a tendency to grow more than three feet tall. With this kit, you will get everything that you need to get you started. 

You can also purchase the Aeroflo 30. This is a more compact version and will allow you to grow smaller plants using a high performance system. It will grow plants that are up to three feet high.


Easy2Grow Autopots:

Easy2Grow Autopots

These are brand new and are full kits that will allow you to grow your favorite small plants right from your home. These are self watering, which means that you do not have to remember to water your plants every day. These also do not run on electricity, so you can use these kits almost anywhere. The kits cost about $80, which makes them quite cost effective to the beginner. These are also perfect for the lazy gardener or gardeners that are busy and do not want to commit to watering every single day. If you are planning on traveling while growing crops, you can count on this kit to work well for you while you are away.


Emily’s Garden

Emily’s Garden:Want to try your hand at hydroponics? Do you have a child that is interested in learning these wonderful gardening techniques? If so, this kit might be the right choice for you.

Emily’s Garden comes with everything you need to get started. You will soon have the ability to grow small plants such as small tomatoes, herbs and peppers. You can even try certain flowers with this kit.

Hydrofarm Mega Garden:

Hydrofarm Mega Garden

Another very easy to use kit, the Hydrofarm Mega Garden kit will have you growing your favorite plants in no time at all. This is a compact and versatile kit that will allow you to grow up to 15 plants. The system measures 24”x24”, which is much smaller from other system of the same capacity. This kit comes with a pump, nutrient, pH kit, pots, and growrocks. This is a good kit for someone that does not have a lot of space.


Vortex Sprayer:

Vortex Sprayer

The Vortex Sprayer is another hydroponic system that is quite popular. This kit has all the items you need to get a good yield on your plants. You will find that this sprayer will create a highly powerful eddy that lifts and sprays the nutrients to your plants giving them all the water and nutrition they need to thrive for you. There are several brands and types of Vortex sprayers—each one unique to your own use. These are wonderful additions to the hydroponic garden.

As you can see, there are many different types hydroponics systems kits that you can purchase for your hydroponic gardening. The one you will buy will certainly depend on how much gardening you intend on doing and what type of yield you want to accomplish. There are store-bought kits available for every budget in every price range and for every gardener’s needs.

Before you pay good money for one of these kits, take your time to look at them and compare the features of each one. You will find that most of them will come with everything that you need to get you started, however, keep in mind that there will be additional expenses for your garden as you continue.


DIY Hydroponic Gardening


So, you are interested in tackling the world of hydroponics, but you are not too sure about buying an expensive kit. The good news is that you do not have to. You can get plenty of hydroponic plans that will allow you to make your very own hydroponic system out of common items that you may already have, or from things that are easily obtained.

There are several ways to go about building a hydroponic system. The type of system that you build will depend on what you want.

Do you want a small system that grows herbs or cherry tomatoes on your kitchen counter?

Is your child needing a very basic system for school experiment or science project?

Do you already have the hydroponics know-how and are interested in doing more with your garden?

How much time and money are you willing to spend to acquire and build the system for your gardening needs?

Perhaps you already have a kit and now you want to expand. With a DIY hydroponics kit you can do all of these things in no time at all.

You can save your money and build a system that will work for your unique needs. If you have a large greenhouse and want to fill it with all of your favorite flowers, herbs and vegetables, you can do this by building your very own hydroponic system. There are no limits to what you can build when you do it yourself.

What are the various ways that you can go about building a hydroponic system?

Where can you get plans for them?

Let’s explore some of these questions.

Getting the plans:

Many people want to build their own hydroponic gardening system wonder how they can get started. The first step is to determine which system is right for you and then begin your search for plans. There are many plans to choose from—from very small systems to large ones that will fill a greenhouse.

Which plan is right for you?

Here is a closer look at the various plans that you can get to build a hydroponics gardening system.

Dutch pot:

Dutch pot system

A Dutch pot system is also called the Bato bucket hydroponics system. This system is especially good for people that love to grow roses and vegetables. It is an easy to build system that you assemble out of planters filled with the growing medium. This type of system is often called the “poor man’s hydroponics” because it takes common and easy to find items to build it. You will find that this system is lightweight and does a very efficient job at growing your favorite plants.

In order to build this type of system, you will need items such as BATO buckets, PVC pipe, pipe fittings, feed line, a water pump, PVC fittings, a riser, drippers, end camps, and Perlite. There are many plans that you can find online that will give you step by step instructions and help you get started with this project. If you want an easy to build project, this is the way to go.

Hydroponic bubbling planter:

Hydroponic bubbling planter

Another inexpensive and easy to build hydroponic planting system is the Hydroponic bubbling planter. This is a very simple system that works by bathing the plant roots in oxygen infused nutrient. This nutrient stays contained within the planter, making your job much easier. The roots are exposed to a lot of oxygen and this causes rapid growth in plants.

With this system, you can build it with easy to find materials. These materials include a plastic container such as a paint bucket or storage container, several thick plastic cups, an air pump, an air stone similar to those used in aquariums, air tubing, and growing media.

These DIY plans are simple to follow and are widely available on the Internet and in hydroponic books and magazines.

Lettuce Raft System:

Lettuce Raft System

If you love having fresh green lettuce in your home year round, then you may want to consider a lettuce raft system. As with all other do it yourself hydroponic systems, you can choose from a variety of plans to help you.

You will find that this type of system is very easy to build and use and that the parts that it requires are cheap and easy to acquire. This system operates by floating plants above an oxygen infused bath of nutrients, which allows the roots to grow fast and more efficiently.

You can use this system to grow lettuce and herbs for your kitchen.

When you are ready to build this one, you will need a plastic tub or container, nutrients, and a power pump.

Creating your own system:

Of course, you can follow these plans to build your own hydroponic system, but once you get the hang of how to garden this way, you can create your very one style and make a unique hydroponic system.

Look at the plans that are out there and see what is different and similar to each one.

Figure out how large or small you want your system to end up and then construct your plans. You know that you will need a few key parts to make it work correctly.

These include:

  1. Growing medium
  2. Plastic tub or container
  3. Air pump
  4. Air tubing
  5. Nutrients

After you have decided how you want your system to run and how you want it to look, you can begin experimenting with your system.

Many gardeners like to rely on systems they have built themselves. Home made systems are often more reliable and they are much cheaper than the kits that you will buy. In addition, many of the items you need are easy to find at your local home improvement store.

Related How To article: 3 Methods to Build a Homemade Hydroponics System