There are many, many, ways in which you can grow marijuana. While there are some typical indoor/outdoor methods of growth, of late, newer methods are also getting popular. While the focus earlier was on optimizing the quality of weed that was growing – it has since been attained. The new focus is now on growing more weed in a limited space and with limited resources and this is where vertical hydroponics for weed come into the picture. This is one of the latest trends in gardening and it is essential that every grower who plans to grow their own plants (or weed) know about this.
Over the course of this article, we shall be taking a closer look at vertical hydroponics for weed – what it is, how to do it, what are the pros and cons of it, and we shall also be answering some frequently asked questions about this type of gardening before we conclude. However, before we deep dive into the question, let us first take a closer look at what is hydroponics:
What is Hydroponics?
In the simplest of words, hydroponics is a method of growing plants where water is the primary medium of growth instead of soil. There are a number of non-soil ways of growing marijuana plants and hydroponics is just one of them. Hydroponic growth sees water directly being provided to the roots. Compared to soil-based growth, where the roots have to make an effort to seek water and the nutrients that are mixed in the water, they get direct access here.
In hydroponic growth, plants tend to grow faster and bigger and remain protected from certain plant ailments that tend to travel via soil. It is something that a number of advanced growers or modern day growers tend to try. This is also a method of growth where you can grow more plants in a lesser space – especially when trying out with something like vertical hydroponics for weed, which we shall now take a detailed look at:
What is Vertical Hydroponics and Why Should You Use It?
When you understand what hydroponics is, it becomes easier to understand what vertical hydroponics is. It is basically the same as a regular hydroponic farm, except that it is set up in a vertical manner. There are two major benefits of using vertical hydroponics for weed – this is because first off, it saves a lot of space. Secondly, another major reason is that it saves a lot of water as well. Using such a setup will help ensure that efficiency of using water increases by over 90%. Here, gravity plays a major role – you start off by providing water at the top and eventually it flows down and is used all across the system and finally settles at the bottom.
This makes it particularly beneficial for growers who live in areas where water might be scarce. It also makes it a good option for those growers who are living in a place where they are short on space but still want to grow weed. Vertical farming might be new, interesting, challenging, or just something that you are intrigued about – depending on how experienced a gardener/marijuana grower you are.
While the fact that it saves water and space are two big factors, there’s more to it than just that. First off, it gives you a higher yield per square foot. Basically, even if you have a lot of space lying around but want a higher yield, you can try out vertical farming to get even better results. Then there’s also the factor that it allows you to control the amount of nutrients your plants are getting – you can increase or decrease them easily because water doesn’t go through soil here. In addition to that, these vertical setups can be arranged indoors as well as outdoors, giving you a larger option. There’s no risk of soil-borne diseases as there’s no soil involved. All of this put together makes it a great option for growers.
Recommended: Best Hydroponic Starter Kits (Reviewed) – Everything You Need to Get Started with Growing Marijuana Using Hydroponics!
How Does Vertical Hydroponics Function?
Vertical hydroponics functions purely on water, as the name suggests, it is a hydroponic method of growth with a vertical setup. There’s a ‘tower’ involved in it – this is because the structure is like a tower. Here, a tube is connected with a water reservoir which carries the water to the top of the plants with the help of a hydroponic pump. Post that, water is made to trickle down in a controlled and staggered manner and it ends up being re-collected in the reservoir again. The plants are generally angled at 45 degrees to ensure they’re getting the maximum possible benefit out of this.
This is the basic logic in which a vertical hydroponic setup functions. However, there exist multiple variants of this setup using which you can attach multiple tubes, water outlets and reservoirs to get the maximum possible benefit for the plant. Let us now take a detailed look at what these different types of setups are that you can utilize to use vertical hydroponics for weed:
Some Popular Setups for Vertical Hydroponics for Weed:
The basic structure involves the use of a tube, a tower and a reservoir. However, most growers tend to go beyond the basics and use it in different setups. Here are some of the most popular setups:
1. Stacked Hydroponic Set – Up
This is among the most basic setups for growing marijuana vertically. Here, you stack plants one upon the other and provide water to them from the top using a tube. This is such a common setup that there are kits readily available in the markets for the same. This is one of the best options for those who are just beginning to grow weed using hydroponics or using a vertical setup, or for those who just want to experiment with it before going for something advanced. One thing that needs to be taken care of here is the fact that the flow of water needs to be regulated so that the plants get just the right amount of water. A staggered supply will ensure they get a continuous supply as well as not too little or too much of it at once.
2. Zig – Zag Hydroponic System
While in the first one the plants and the pipes are stacked in a regular horizontal manner on top of each other, in a Zig-Zag hydroponic system, the pipes are arranged in a zig-zag manner which is considered to be more space efficient allowing your plants to grow in a better manner. The pumping system here might be a little complex compared to the regular setup but with a little practice this can be mastered. Instead of the 45-degrees in the regular setup, the cups holding the plants are arranged at a 90-degree angle here. You need a lot of light for this system and on the top of the pipe, you will need to set up multiple LED light panels which ensure that the plants are getting adequate energy.
3. Vertical Gutter Garden
Here, you need three basic elements – a top portion, a bottom portion, and four vertical elements in the middle. On those vertical pipes, you then need to fit in three gutter pipes horizontally where the water would flow. It is a very basic setup and is recommended for anyone who wants to build a DIY vertical hydroponic garden for growing marijuana or other plants. You can even add two more gutter layers on the top and the bottom layer. This can easily be attached to other surfaces like a fence, etc.
4. A – Frame Hydroponic System
The A-Frame setup gets its name from its shape – the setup is shaped like the alphabet ‘A’. and rows of pipes are arranged on either sides of the setup. There are two sides which give you a large area. However, you need a large number of pipes and tubes in this setup. Basically, there are two sloping sides (the left and the right sides of the A) which have horizontally arranged pipes with plants. The water then flows all across the system and is constantly recycled and reused. This is a slightly complex setup if you are an early beginner because of the number of pipes and tubes involved in it.
5. Rain Tower Hydroponic Set – Up
This is just a set of pipes arranged vertically with openings in between where the plants are put in a 45-degree angle. Water flows from the top and collects at the bottom from where it is reused using a tube and it goes back to the top. This is a very simple DIY setup and all you need for this is pipes and plants and a water supply.
Read more: How to Build the Best Indoor Greenhouses for Growing Marijuana
Pros and Cons of Vertical Hydroponics
Now that you know which are the different types of vertical hydroponics setups, let us take a closer look at the pros and cons of this type of gardening.
- Saves space – great for growers who are growing weed in a small/limited space
- Saves water – considering that most of the water that is used in this process can be reused and is circulated all throughout the system, this is a great option to conserve water while growing weed.
- No Risk of Soil-Borne Plant Diseases – since this is a non-soil medium where the plants grow only over water, there is no risk of soil-borne plant diseases.
- High yield per square foot – given how this setup can grow more plants in a limited space, you can stack plants one upon the other and grow more plants in the same space – giving you a higher yield per sq.ft. and resulting in higher profits if you plan to sell that, or an extra bit of weed that you can give off to friends and family as gifts.
- Setup is Tricky: especially if you are a first-time grower, you might find it a little hard/complicated to set it up when compared to a traditional hydroponic setup.
- Lighting systems here can be a little complex, especially considering that panels need to be set up in a specific way so that the vertical setup remains properly covered.
Read more: Best Big Grow Tents For Growing Marijuana Indoors in 2020
A Quick Look at Traditional Methods of Growing Marijuana
Having got a basic idea about vertical hydroponics for growing weed, one must also know about what are the other, more ‘traditional’, ways of growing marijuana. These can broadly be classified in three ways:
- Growing Weed Outdoors – This is the way it has naturally grown for thousands of years. Here, weed grows under natural sunlight, using groundwater and rain water and nutrients in the soil. Growers need to take minimal care but conditions are neither optimal nor controllable. Pests are also a risk factor. It is the cheapest way to grow marijuana.
- Growing Weed Indoors: When you grow weed indoors, you grow it in a controlled environment where you can control the temperature, humidity, lighting, ventilation etc. are all manually controlled in order to get the best possible product and the maximum possible yield per square feet. Here, weed is grown inside grow tents or grow rooms This is a method that also ensures no pests and insects but is quite costly considering a lot of equipment is needed here.
- Growing Weed in a Greenhouse: This is a method which is a cross between indoors and outdoor growth. A greenhouse is constructed outdoors where you get natural ventilation and sunlight, but you can shut everything and add grow lights to extend the lighting hours, and you can also add temperature and humidity control to the setup. This is the most expensive and suited only for large-scale operations.
FAQs: Frequently Asked Questions about Vertical Hydroponics for Weed
Here are the answer to some of the most common questions and queries that people have about vertical hydroponics:
1. How to Choose the Right Strain of Weed for Vertical Hydroponics?
One of the most important things to consider while growing weed in this vertical setup is that you need to account for space. You must grow strains which are not known to grow too much in height. Indica strains or hybrids with a dominant indica strain are preferred as they tend to grow shorter in height as opposed to sativa plants.
2. How to Plan a Good Grow Room for Vertical Hydroponics?
There must be adequate amount of spacing between the racks. While the idea here is to save on space, it does not mean you cramp everything up so that neither air nor light can penetrate. Also there’s a lot of plumbing involved in this process so you need to provide space for that as well – and make sure the space is enough for you to move in and fix any leaks or spills that might take place. This is very common because you’re working with a lot of water in this setup. You must also keep pruning the plants to make sure they don’t get overgrown and cover the whole setup.
3. How to Choose the Right Light for Vertical Hydroponics for Weed?
The best option that you have while choosing grow lights for a hydroponic growth is choosing LED grow lights. Preferably go for waterproof ones (but there aren’t so many, and in case you can’t find one, any grow light would do). Grow lights are well suited here because they generate less heat compared to other grow lights and that they are generally much longer-lasting than older and traditional forms of grow lights.
We hope that this article has given you a detailed insight into what vertical hydroponics for weed is and how can you get the setup ready. To conclude, it is a great technique for areas where there is a dearth of water supplies and for those who want to grow in a limited space. If there’s anything more that you want to know about this, or about hydroponics in general, write us an email or let us know in the comments section and we shall get back to you shortly. Till then…
…Happy Growing! 🙂
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