In hydroponics gardening, plants get all of their nutrition from the minerals found in hydroponic nutrients. Getting your plants to eat their minerals is a bit more complicated than simply providing enough minerals, however. There are many types and brands of nutrients available on the market, but no matter what kind you choose, plants can only consume the minerals if the conditions are right.
A grower can mix nutrients in a reservoir, but this doesn’t necessarily make them available to the plant. Because plants take in minerals as ions, these ions can potentially be tied up with other elements or in the solution itself. This is where pH comes in.
How it works:
Minerals are made of specific compounds of atoms. The acidity or alkalinity of a solution can snap the atomic bonds of these mineral compounds. Broken bonds allow the newly freed ions to re-combine with other atoms to create new compounds. These new compounds may be insoluble or unnecessary to the plant, thus depriving it of the food it needs.
pH fluctuates naturally through the plant’s life cycle for a variety of reasons. Most growers notice these changes in between regular reservoir changes. In order to ensure the minerals in the solution are consistently available to the plant, growers must maintain the hydroponic nutrient solution at the appropriate pH level.
Recommended pH range for plants grown in:
Hydroponics: 5.5 – 6.5
Soil: 6.2 – 7.2
Hydroponic gardeners benefit with plants that exhibit consistently strong, rapid, and healthy growth. Plants are able to reach their maximum potential when grown hydroponically because the gardener can make sure that the nutrients are always available to the plants in the right proportions. Nutrient solutions with pH outside of the optimum range can “lock up” minerals, keeping them from being absorbed by the root structure. Check your pH daily with reliable meters!
Browse our selection of pH and combo meters here.
First get the food mix right
Then make sure the plants can take in the food