Flood and Drain Hydroponic Systems

Flood and drain (or ebb and flow) hydroponic systems are the most popular hydroponic systems. In nutshell, they are versatile, suited to a wide range of plants, simple and efficient.

Flood and drain systems are “media-based” hydroponic systems. This means that plants are grown in a planting tray filled with moisture-retaining material (“grow media”) such as vermiculite, expanded clay pebbles or coconut fibre, rather than water alone.

They are called flood and drain systems because the planting tray is regularly flooded with nutrient-enriched water. The grow media soaks up the nutrient solution. The excess solution drains (or ebbs) down into a reservoir. As it drains, air is drawn down around the oxygen-hungry plant roots.

Flooding and draining is done with the aid of a pump with a timer. Because nutrients are actively delivered (pumped) to the plants rather than absorbed as needed, flood and drain systems are known as “active” hydroponic systems.

The simplicity and effectiveness of flood and drain hydroponic systems is one reason why most homemade hydroponics systems are flood and drain systems. Almost anyone can build a homemade flood and drain system.

Another is that flood and drain hydroponic systems are suitable for growing a great diversity of vegetables, herbs, and other plants – almost anything in fact.

In addition to edibles, flood and drain systems are ideal for flowering and ornamental plants too. They can be grown in individual media-filled pots which sit in the planting tray, instead of being planted directly in the planting tray. They can then be taken out and displayed at any time.

A disadvantage of flood and drain hydroponic systems is that they rely on electricity. If cost or power outages are a concern, this type of system is probably not the best hydroponics system for you.

Copyright 2007 Jenny Green

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