How to grow hydroponic weed at home

Growing hydroponic weed is easier than you might think.

How to Grow Hydroponic Weed at Home: A Beginner's Guide

Indoor Hydroponic, drain to waste, Reverse Osmosis, CO2, Sealed room, 3 layer SCROG, OG Raskle 12 lights Prob 215, 1000 watt. 5 feet tall indoor plants… 6×6 rockwool. Via Getty Images

Growing hydroponic weed has a ton of advantages and can be done easier than you may think. A hydroponic weed set-up for less than six plants can be put together for just a couple hundred dollars. From ratios of nutrients to how to build a Deep Water Culture (DWC) hydroponics system, we’ve got you covered in this complete guide on how to grow weed with hydroponics.

How do hydroponics work exactly?

Unlike growing something in traditional soil, in hydroponics, the plants’ roots are submerged in water. Hydroponic weed plants rely on growers to add nutrients and adjust the acid, or pH balance, as well as the temperature of the water. Although growing hydroponic weed can be time-consuming, it does give growers the most control over their plants. Adjusting nutrients, especially nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium, commonly known by their scientific abbreviations, N-P-K, is crucial and necessary for certain stages of the herb’s lifecycle.

GettyImages 96245645 Manhattans District Attorney Will No Longer Prosecute Low Level Cannabis Crimes
Different kinds of fertilizers line the shelves at the new iGrow Superstore January 28, 2010, in Oakland, California. iGrow, a 15,000 square foot superstore for hydroponic and medical marijuana growing supplies, is opening its doors today. The one-stop shopping center is the largest in the San Francisco area will offer medical cannabis cards, materials for medical marijuana patients to build their own grow rooms at home as well as a ‘Grow Squad’ that can be hired to consult and build your garden for you. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

In a nutshell, we’re going to show you how to build a beginner’s hydroponic system, known as deep water culture, or DWC, that uses clay pellets. We’ll also discuss nutrients, pH balance, lights, and some cannabis lifecycle basics, to get you on your way to growing weed with hydroponics.

What do I need to buy?

If you have a hydroponic store in your area, it’s definitely fun and informative to go talk to the people who work there for some tips. However, you can also build a Deep Water Culture system on your own fairly easily too. If you’re a little handy, you can buy the following materials at a hardware store like Home Depot, and build your own set-up for a fraction of the price of a pre-assembled kit.

  • 5-gallon black bucket with lid (two per plant)
  • Mesh pots (one 6 inch mesh pot per plant)
  • Black PVC pipe
  • One heavy duty airstone per plant
  • Aquarium air pump with two hoses

Tools:

  • Drill
  • Hole saw (multi-toothed)
  • Drill bits

To grow hydroponic weed successfully, you’ll also need plant nutrients, and some tools, like lights, a PPM meter, and a fan. To build a low-cost, beginner’s set-up at home for just a few plants, we’ve got a few recommendations.

  • Lights: LED or HID
  • Clay pellets
  • Nutrients (Brands like Fox Farms and Advanced Nutrients are great for beginners)
  • pH & PPM readers (for liquids)
  • Fan

How do I assemble my hydroponic garden?

First of all, you need to decide how many plants you can realistically fit in your space. Consider the shape of the strain you want to grow, as well as the size of the room, closet, or garage. Then buy black, plastic buckets (with lids!) accordingly. You can fit one plant in a five-gallon bucket, which cost less than $10 each at Home Depot or Walmart.

To build your deep water culture system, get your drill and hole saw ready. You’re going to trace the net pot, upside down, on the lid of your bucket. Use your hole saw to cut a space for your net pot. You’ll also need to cut a hole about two to three inches up from the bottom of your bucket for the PVC pipe. There are plenty of videos on YouTube demonstrating this process.

The purpose of the two bucket system is so you can make adjustments to your nutrients, PPM, and pH from the other bucket. You can also ; everyone flush the nutrients in the second bucket. Then, the airstone connected to the air pump adds air to the water, and your plant sits in the mesh pot supported by the clay pellets, absorbing nutrients from the DWC system through its roots. Voilà, you’ve got yourself a DIY DWC hydro set up. Also, it’s important to note, and you want to buy black or dark blue buckets, lids, and tubes so algae don’t grow and kill your plants.

When you get your deep water culture system up and running, you can’t just fill it with any old water. To start as close to 0 PPM (parts per million – of solids like minerals and other salts that are naturally in drinking water) as possible, buy some reverse osmosis water, sold at Whole Foods and other supermarkets, before adding any nutrient solution.

As far as lights go, cannabis plants crave different shades of the visible light spectrum during different stages of their life cycle. For instance, vegetative plants generally need more blue light, and flowering plants need more red light. The easiest way to grow just a few plants indoors is by using LED light panels designed for growing cannabis. They use less electricity and create less heat than other types of grow lights, and are becoming super popular among indoor growers of hydroponic weed. However, LED panels can be pricey, even though you’re saving on electricity costs. High-Intensity Discharge (HID) lamps, like metal halides and high-pressure sodium (HPS) lamps, are other popular options, but they use more electricity and produce more heat, which can require more equipment, like air conditioners and hoods.

You may also want to consider buying a tent for your hydroponic weed plants. This helps to maximize light reflection and can give you more control over the grow environment. Some tents are pretty advanced and come with thermometers and fans, but you can also line the walls of your grow with reflective surfaces and place a fan in the room to maximize the environment. Fans blowing on plants not only help with circulation, but the constant movement also strengthens plants as well.

GettyImages 96245563 Manhattans District Attorney Will No Longer Prosecute Low Level Cannabis Crimes
iGrow employee Zeta Ceti sets up a drip irrigation display at the new iGrow Superstore January 28, 2010, in Oakland, California. iGrow, a 15,000 square foot superstore for hydroponic and medical marijuana growing supplies, is opening its doors today. The one-stop shopping center is the largest in the San Francisco area and will offer medical cannabis cards, materials for medical marijuana patients to build their own grow rooms at home as well as a ‘Grow Squad’ that can be hired to consult and build your garden for you. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Lifecycle basics (and other handy things to remember)

So you’ve built a deep water culture system, got your water, bought your lights and nutrients, and now you’re ready to start. You will have to adjust your nutrients and lighting as your plants move through their natural lifecycle. So we’ve created this handy guide to the ideal N-P-K ratios, lighting spectrum and time, and some other useful things to remember when growing hydroponic weed. Plus, don’t forget, your hydroponic solution needs to have a pH balance between 5.5 and 6.5 throughout the entire lifecycle for healthy plant growth.

Clones, Cuttings, Seedling:

  • Light Spectrum: Blue Light
  • Hours of Light: 18 to 24 hrs light
  • N-P-K ration: 1-2-2
  • PPM: 200-300 PPM

Vegetation

  • Light Spectrum: Blue Light
  • Hours of Light: 18 hrs light 6 hrs darkness
  • N-P-K ration: 3-1-2
  • PPM: 600-800 PPM

Flowering

  • Light Spectrum: Red Light
  • Hours of Light: 12 hrs light 12 hrs darkness
  • N-P-K ration: 1-4-5
  • PPM: 800-1,400 PPM

Late Flowering (aka “Ripening”)

  • Light Spectrum: Red Light
  • Hours of Light: 10-12 hrs light 12-14 hrs darkness
  • N-P-K ration: 0-2-0
  • PPM: 0-300 PPM

Growing hydroponic weed is so fun and rewarding, everyone should try it. Let us know how your garden went in a comment below. Good luck!