If you’re just starting out with your hydroponic garden, you want to take things slow and easy. One mistake can destroy all the progress you’ve made on your grow. Instead, take the time to understand what your plants expect from you and the conditions they need.
Many problems can arise in a hydroponic garden, but here are the 5 most-common mistakes a hydro gardener can make:
MISTAKE 1 – Ignoring pH Levels
The most valuable measurement for your hydroponic system is its pH level. For the most part, your plants exist almost entirely thanks to a nutrient solution. If that solution is too alkaline or too acidic, your plants will experience nutrient deficiencies or simply die.
Get yourself a top-notch pH meter and monitor the levels at least once a day. If it slides in one direction or another, take immediate steps to bring it back into the balance your plants want.
An off-kilter pH level is one of the most common reasons for plant die-offs in a hydroponic system. It’s incredibly important to monitor pH levels because all your plants live in the same nutrient solution – if your pH is bad for one plant, all your plants could suffer!
MISTAKE 2 – Buying Cheap, Incorrect or Not Enough Lighting
Investing in the right lighting can make or break your hydroponic garden! If you buy too little, your plants will suffer. If you buy the wrong kind of bulb for your plants, they won’t grow. If you opt to buy the cheapest bulbs, they may not perform.
Lighting is one of the most important investments you’ll make as a hydroponic grower, so seek out the best for your crop! This means you should research the kind of light your plants will need because different bulbs put out different energy types.
Also, don’t expect your plants to thrive if they’re set next to a window. That light is often not strong enough to fuel the vigorous growth you expect from a hydroponic plant.
MISTAKE 3 – Using the Wrong Plant Food
It can be tempting to buy a sack of fertilizer from your local garden center for use in your hydroponic system. After all, it’s all about delivering nutrients, right?
Not so! Conventional fertilizer may not dilute entirely through your system. Likewise, it can clog drains and tubes. Instead, invest in fertilizer designed for hydroponic systems. Hydroponic fertilizer, which is available as liquids or granules, meets the growing requirements you need in a soil-less or soil-light garden by providing additional nutrients your plants may otherwise miss.
MISTAKE 4 – Not Focusing on Sanitation
Don’t let your hydroponic garden area become a garbage bin. Your sanitation habits can have a major effect on the health of your plants and your entire hydroponic system.
Some basic cleaning needs that you should address:
- Keeping floors clean and dry
- Sterilizing and cleaning system equipment
- Sterilizing and cleaning tools
- Sterilizing and cleaning containers
- Disposing of plant waste
Without proper sanitation, you can spread plant disease or provide pests with hiding places and sustenance.
MISTAKE 5 – Opting Not to Learn
Modern hydroponic systems have been around since the early 20th century, and in that time a lot of information and guidance has been made available. College courses are taught on it. Hundreds of books are available. You can even find a lot hydroponic growing information here on the Safer® Brand with regular updates in our Articles section.
In short, don’t go it alone! Read up and make a plan for your hydroponic garden. Talk to other hydroponic gardeners and share ideas. The more you know before setting up your garden, the better off you’ll be by the time you’re ready to harvest.