How To Grow Weed at Home with Hydroponics

growing weed with hydroponics
By Anthony Pellegrino Updated July 22nd

Fact-checked by Alexandra Arnett, MS

There are plenty of ways to grow weed at home, whether indoors or outdoors. One of the most unique growing methods is hydroponics.

This article examines this soil-free growing technique, its pros and cons, and how to grow weed using hydroponics.

Get Your Medical Card Online Get approved today in minutes with the nation's #1 trusted medical card provider.
No appointment needed. Only billed if approved.

What is Hydroponic Growing?

Humans have been cultivating cannabis for thousands of years. Some archaeologists suggest it may have been one of the first plants humans ever have grown. With all that history, it should come as no surprise that dozens of different methods, techniques, tools, and growing mediums have been developed and used by cannabis farmers over the centuries. 

Hydroponic cannabis cultivation is a relatively modern invention that has recently exploded in popularity. Simply put, hydroponic growing is a kind of horticulture that involves dissolving grow nutrients directly to the roots via irrigation water rather than a growing medium like soil. The cannabis roots are usually anchored in large buckets by the stem using a collar or by using an inert medium such as rock wool, coconut husk, clay beads, and perlite.

The hydroponic method can be achieved by utilizing several systems, either passive or active. Passive systems include the reservoir and wick method and all other techniques fall under active, where a pump is used to provide nutrients and water to the plants;

When you usually plant cannabis in soil, the roots will expand throughout to find and absorb the water and minerals within the soil. However, hydroponics allows your plants to receive virtually unlimited and direct access to the water and nutrients they need. 

In most cases, hydroponic growing takes place in indoor grow rooms or greenhouses, but they can thrive in outdoor environments, given the right conditions. 

Now, let’s look at everything you need to know to get started cultivating cannabis with hydroponics. 

What are the Advantages of Hydroponics?

advantages of growing weed with hydroponics

Why should a grower divert from the tried and true method of growing weed in soil? 

There are many advantages to hydroponic weed vs. growing in soil. Significantly, hydroponics allows for more accessible, direct delivery of water and nutrients to the plant's roots, which can mean much faster growth.

However, there are many other advantages to hydroponics.

✔ Reduced Water Usage

As ironic as it may initially seem, hydroponics requires much less water than soil or other growing mediums. In fact, it is estimated that cultivators can use up to 10 times less water than traditional horticulture.

This is an especially significant advantage for those growers who live in drier climates that may experience less precipitation or impose water bans, such as parts of California.

✔ Less Space Required

In most cases, hydroponic cannabis setups are indoor setups. But, hydroponics takes up significantly less space than soil-based cultivation. 

Direct access to water and nutrients eliminates the need for plant roots to expand throughout the soil in their quest for food. As the roots lengthen, the plant grows ever larger, requiring more space.

Hydroponics helps reduce that expansion. Of course, the cannabis plant roots will undoubtedly expand and lengthen, but not as much as their soil counterparts. This results in large harvests requiring significantly less space than other growing mediums.

✔ Effective Year-Round, Regardless of the Season

Hydroponics is almost always done indoors, in controlled environments. As such, you can run a hydroponic setup year-round, regardless of the season.

✔ Higher Potency

Finally, and most importantly, according to some consumers, hydroponics is known to increase the potency of the harvested flower. The direct, unlimited access to water and nutrients allows cannabis plants to develop higher concentrations of desired cannabinoids. Or, put another way, hydroponics can result in some seriously dank buds.

What are the Downsides of Hydroponics?

Like everything in life, hydroponics isn't perfect. But if you're serious about home growing, it’s worth considering the downsides.

More Intensive Than Other Grow Methods

The primary shortcoming of hydroponic growth is the amount of work and management it requires. Hydroponic growers must routinely monitor the pH of the water and the amount of nutrients plants are receiving, maintain the water basins, and regularly clean the hydroponic equipment. 

This maintenance will be necessary throughout the length of your growing cycle, and your plants will only be able to survive and thrive if you do so. It's not a huge chore but is more intensive than other methods. Hydroponics isn't for you if you want a home grow with the least effort.

Requires Tech Know-How

Compared to growing cannabis in soil, hydroponics is much more high-tech. You'll need more equipment, like basins, oscillating fans, lights, and more than you would with something like an outdoor grow. 

If you've never grown cannabis hydroponically before, you may feel a bit intimidated by the tech requirements. Deciding which equipment or setups are best for you can be difficult. As a result, many home growers stick to the traditional method of growing cannabis in soil.

How to Grow Weed with Hydroponics

First, you'll need to get a dedicated grow space that is clean and spacious enough to facilitate cultivation over the length of the growing cycle. An indoor space is ideal, but you can also use an outdoor greenhouse, so long as it has dedicated power sources. 

Once you find a suitable space, you’ll need the following equipment before you can start growing weed using hydroponics: 

Now, let’s look at a step-by-step process to get your hydroponic home grow up and running.

  1. Assemble your system in your growing space.

There are many options for hydroponic systems and starter kits, so that the exact setup may vary. 

Generally speaking, however, they all have the same constituent components:

  • water tanks/basins
  • pumps
  • grow lights
  • nutrients

Decide how to set up your lights, where your plants will sit, and how to ventilate the area.

  1. Fill the tank and add the nutrients.

Next, fill your tank with water. When adding nutrients to the water, consider the tank’s volume and follow the explicit guidelines included in the instructions of the hydroponic system or your nutrients. Allow the pump to circulate the water for some time, evenly distributing the nutrients. Keep an eye on the pH - you'll want to shoot for 5.5 - 6.5. If necessary, adjust the pH

  1. Plant the seeds

At this point, you're ready to plant your cannabis seeds. Your hydroponic system will likely come with seed pods that'll house the seeds and, soon after, the plant itself. To expedite the process, you can germinate the seeds beforehand and plant them in the pods shortly after they sprout. However, this isn't necessary, and the seeds will germinate in the pods. Over the course of a few weeks, these seeds will grow into seedlings and emerge from the pods. 

  1. Adjust as necessary during the growing cycle.

Cannabis plants undergo several stages of growth, and you may need to adjust your hydroponic setup depending on the stage. For example, during the vegetative phase, you'll need to ensure that your plants receive plenty of nutrients, especially nitrogen. During the flowering stage, you may want to reduce the light and nutrients your plants receive during the day. 

Once your plants are finished growing, you can harvest the flower as you would in any other cultivation method.

Get Your Medical Card Online Get approved today in minutes with the nation's #1 trusted medical card provider.
No appointment needed. Only billed if approved.

What species/strains are best suited to hydroponics?

You can grow any species/strain of cannabis using a hydroponic setup. However, some strains perform better than others due to their genetics.

Is hydroponically grown weed more potent?

Hydroponically grown cannabis can be more potent than weed grown in soil, but it isn’t guaranteed. Regardless of the growing medium, the potency of your yields will depend on the strain you’re growing and how carefully you control temperature, light, pH, and other factors.

What is the ideal PH level when growing with hydroponics?

The ideal pH level for cannabis in hydroponic grows is similar to that of other hydroculture crops: somewhere between 5.5 to 6.5. 

Many cultivators aim for 6.3 for the best possible absorption of nutrients and minerals. 

While monitoring pH isn't unique to hydroponics, it's much easier to manage with this type of cultivation compared to soil. If pH adjustments are necessary, all you need to do is add a little more water or a little nutrients, depending on which direction you're trying to go, directly to the water tank. 

The information in this article and any included images or charts are for educational purposes only. This information is neither a substitute for, nor does it replace, professional legal advice or medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about laws, regulations, or your health, you should always consult with an attorney, physician or other licensed professional.

You might also like: