Differences In Hydroponic Systems

Hydroponics (growing plants and food without soil) is getting a lot of attention among consumers, as more people take an interest in it.  There are a number of hydroponic systems out there, designed to help grow different plants in various quantities.  Hydroponic systems come in either pre-designed kits or units (good for beginners) or are sold in parts (great for experienced growers who’ll design their own system. Here are five of the more common applications of hydroponics and how they work.

Ebb and Flow (also referred to as Flood and Drain)

In this most common method of hydroponic growing, plants are set in a growth tray over a nutrient container, and a pump is used to “flood” the tray(s) with the nutrient solution. The good thing about this method is that those that aren’t absorbed by the roots are drained into the reservoir and are being recycled. The Drip System, where a pump continuously drips nutrient solution into the growth tray, is a variation of the Ebb and Flow System.

Nutrient Film Technique (NFT)

Here, the roots of the plants are suspended in a constant “film” of nutrient solution; a pump sends this flow into one end of the tray, and empties it out to the other end into the reservoir. This method is great at nourishing roots but this is also seen as super technical and high-maintenance since the roots aren’t anchored in a medium.

The Water Culture System

The oldest hydroponic system, and one of the simplest, a platform of planters simply floats in the nutrient reservoir while the roots of the plants dangle in the solution. Sometimes, an air pump is introduced into the system to oxygenate the solution. If you are a beginner, this is an easy and inexpensive way to get started.

The Wick System

This is another very simple method, and no pump is required. A wick (such as an oil lamp wick or candle wick) simply draws the nutrient solution from the reservoir to the growth tray, where the plant roots absorb it. This more passive method is low-maintenance, but it can often over-soak the roots, resulting to a smaller yield.


This variation of hydroponics is more technical, but very effective. The plant roots are continuously sprayed with a vapor-mist solution and are not anchored on any medium, exposing them to air all of the time. When done properly, this method can create large, quick-growing plants and lots of fruit.

All of these hydroponic systems are proven methods of growing plants without soil. As you can observe, some are more complex than others, and some more effective. Choosing the method for you largely depends on your time, budget and overall needs. Overall hydroponics is a great way to grow an fruit and vegetable we suggest working with a group that can really help and take your home grown harvest to a new level.