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Vermiculite Hydroponic Growing Media

Hydroponics is the practice of growing plants using a nutrient-rich water solution rather than soil. Suitable for a range of growing applications, from the home gardener to large-scale commercial operations, it is an increasingly popular option that can be applied in places lacking suitable soil, such as in areas with rocky terrain, and could also potentially be used to grow food for astronauts on long space missions.

Hydroponic Techniques

A number of hydroponic techniques have been developed. They all require plant roots to have access to oxygen and nutrients. With some systems, plants are grown with their roots always in the nutrient-containing water solution. The solution may either be aerated to provide the oxygen or the tops of the roots can be raised above the solution so that they are exposed to air. Other techniques involve the full length of the roots being exposed to air and having the nutrient solution either flowing over or sprayed onto them.

Passive Hydroponic Growing Media

Another technique is known as passive hydroponics. In this system, plants are grown in a variety of porous, inert materials. These allow both nutrients and oxygen to reach the roots. Among the media used are vermiculite, expanded clay and coconut husk. Vermiculite hydroponic growing media is a pebble-like mineral that has wicking properties to draw water and nutrients to the plant roots. Expanded clay growing media consists of clay pellets that have been baked. The clay expands and becomes porous and lightweight. Moreover, Coco-based growing media, also known as coco peat or coir, is also ideal for hydroponics as it can retain unused nutrients, which the plants can access when needed.

Other Hydroponic Growing Media

Numerous other materials are suitable for use as hydroponic growing media. These include rice husks, pumice, perlite, wood fibre and even sheeps' wool.

Nutrient Solutions

You can buy hydroponic nutrient solutions already mixed or have them custom made. While premixed solutions are obviously the easier option, sometimes growers may prefer to make their own nutrient mix to fit a specific purpose. There is even software available to help you get the mix right.

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