When starting out a hydroponic garden, it’s important to consider vital aspects that might seem unimportant but keep your plants healthy. A small mistake such as not cleaning your tools can have disastrous consequences by infecting healthy plants with pests or diseases.
Alongside guaranteeing that you introduce the right hydroponic nutrients, you also need to keep the following common mistakes in mind as a beginner:
Mistake #1: Not paying attention to the soil’s pH
Nutrient solutions and pH levels need to be monitored; if you fail to see what kind of soil you have, you may kill your plants due to unbalanced pH. An optimal level is necessary, so your plants don’t suffer nutrient deficiencies. You can easily find a pH testing kit or make your own to measure your soil’s pH levels.
For a DIY testing kit, all you need is water, baking soda, two soil samples, white vinegar, and two containers. Add vinegar to one of the samples and, if it fizzes or bubbles, then your soil is alkaline. Should you not see a reaction, add baking soda and water to the other sample and, should it fizz and bubble, your soil is acidic.
Mistake #2: Insufficient lighting and air flow
Plants need adequate lighting to thrive and your hydroponic garden is no different. As a beginner hydroponic gardener, you might not notice some clear signs that you’re not providing enough lighting, such as weak growth or no growth at all. Likewise, inexpensive lights may also underperform. Don’t expect natural sunlight to be enough – you’ll need hydroponic lighting for healthy plants.
Air flow and good ventilation are vital to keep pests away and for plants to not deteriorate. Regardless of your greenhouse space, you’ll need a fan or a blower that ensures proper air flow and air exchange.
Mistake #3: Overwatering
Watering your plants is essential, however, overwatering can be a big issue for beginners. Continuous overwatering of plants leads to waterlogging and eventually you’ll notice leaves drooping, wilting, and plants’ growth stopping.
If not addressed, overwatering can lead to root rot and kill your plants. Wait for the top layer of the soil to feel dry before watering again.
Mistake #4: Unhygienic conditions
Keeping surroundings and tools appropriately sanitised is an important step to keep pests and diseases at bay. Debris or dead plant matter are commonly left behind, alongside non-sterile equipment and we floors. These elements can cause fungal or bacterial growth, which might settle in your plants.
- Dispose of plant waste
- Clean and sterilise tools, system equipment, and containers
- Clean and dry floors and surfaces
Mistake #5: Using the wrong plant food
It can be extremely tempting to use the same plant feed for all plants, however, not all fertilisers and feeds have the same nutrients and dosages. You may have chosen a plant feed that won’t dilute properly, leading to tubes and drains to be clogged in your hydroponic system.
In addition, you may introduce nutrients to the system that cause the soil to either become too acidic or too alkaline for plants to thrive. You also need to ensure that you don’t overfeed your plants, as you can cause fungal accumulation and salt deposits to form.
Mistake #6: Not placing new plants in quarantine
Purchasing and growing new plants is always exciting, but it can lead you to eagerly place all plants together and accidentally introducing pests or diseases in your growing system. All new plants should be quarantined in a specific location until you can be absolutely sure that no pests or diseases have infected it.
This area can also serve as a plant hospital, where you can place any affected plants to keep healthy plants from being contaminated. Following simple steps can make a big difference in helping your plants to grow healthily and happily.
Craig Holland is the brand marketing manager at Plant-Magic. Although his initial dream was to become a pilot, he settled for the lively and vivacious world of plants. He has years of experience in caring for plants and writing about it and when he’s not doing that he can be found eating super noodles and cheering for Liverpool FC.