Water is the lifeblood of any plant growth. When choosing to grow plants hydroponically, a clean fresh water source is the foundation of success. The water acts as a catalyst to the plant for transporting nutrients and oxygen, which is a key element of a plant’s life cycle. In this blog we will go over appropriate sources of clean water, water temperature, and the maintenance of a healthy root system.
Whether you are growing indoors or out, selecting the right water source will make world of a difference for several reasons. The best choice to make would be reverse osmosis water commonly referred to as RO water. This is the best choice as it will be clean, free of chlorine, and have no dissolved solids. RO water benefits the hydroponic grower greatly as you are starting off with a dissolved solids of 0.0 EC. This means there will be fewer harsh minerals and contaminates such as chlorine found in tap water, and more room in the water for beneficial nutrients. Another huge benefit of the RO water is that it will not kill beneficial fungi and bacteria, which growers add to the system to protect the root zone and aid in nutrient uptake by the plant. If you choose not to use an RO system, it is a good idea to use a water filter to remove sediment and chlorine.
Now that we have a clean water source established, the next most important factor in hydroponic growing is the temperature of the water. This is crucial to a hydroponic grower, as the warmer the water gets the less dissolved oxygen it can hold. When dissolved oxygen levels drop, the water becomes anaerobic which stresses the plants due to oxygen starvation. A stressed plant is the perfect breeding ground for diseases such as root rot and pythium; not what we’re looking for! The ideal temperature of water would be 65-72 Fahrenheit. This temperature range is key to holding as much oxygen as possible, which keeps the plants healthy and strong. Allowing the water to get warmer than 76 Fahrenheit does two things, it increases the amount of oxygen the plants needs and prevents the water from being able to hold dissolved oxygen. This combination stresses the plant, weakening its natural ability to fight off disease, and dramatically reducing its yield, if not killing it altogether.
But fear not! If you can’t keep your water in the optimal temperature range, there are a couple of safeguards a grower can establish to keep your root zone and plants healthy. For example, inoculating the roots and water with water-soluble beneficial fungi and bacteria can help fight off root rot and pythium like a charm. There are several products that will do this such as General Hydroponics Subculture M and Subculture B, Botanicare Hydroguard, Extreme Gardening Mycos WP and Azos to name a few. Not only will these products protect your roots, they will also aid in nutrient uptake by breaking down nutrients into smaller usable pieces making them easier to uptake by the plants.
When starting a hydroponic garden or looking to upgrade an existing one, remember to always start with the element of life, water. If you apply the concept of clean fresh water with the right temperature range you will see more and more success with much less effort. As a hydroponic gardener this is what we strive for. Happy growing y’all.