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The key to the success and vigor of hydroponic plants is simple: they get what they want, when they want it, delivered to them on a plate-so to speak. The grower feeds their hydroponic plants a nutrient-rich solution. It looks pretty much like water, but it contains all the nutritional elements their plants need. Whereas in soil, a plant has to expend a lot of its energy resources producing large root structures in order to fully exploit the resources around it.

So, hydroponic plants tend to develop smaller root structures because everything they need is right there. This means that there's a whole lot of spare energy left over that needs to go somewhere. Where? You guessed it: stems, leaves, flowers and fruits-the stuff you can see!

Once a hydroponic plant gets into its stride, there really is no stopping it. More leaves equals more photosynthesis which, in turn, means more energy available to the plant. It's a positive feedback loop that results in staggering growth rates and yields.

Hydroponic Growing Techniques

DWC. Hydroponics, in its purest form, is also referred to as Deep Water Culture or DWC for short. No substrate growing media is required. The plants' roots literally dangle straight into water. Now, for those of you who have been continually warned about over-watering plants, this may seem a little odd. Surely permanently submerging roots in water is a bad thing for all but aquatic plants, right? Well, it turns out that if you bubble enough air into the water and keep it at the right temperature, roots will thrive. Add some mineral-based nutrients and you have a powerhouse hydroponic growing method!

Eb and Flow.These irrigation systems are based on a very simple concept: plants grow in individual rockwool blocks in a large shallow tray. The tray is flooded with nutrient solution until the rockwool cubes and roots are wet, then the tray is drained to allow air back into the cubes. Rockwool soaks up the food and water like a sponge, so irrigation generally takes only a few minutes at a time. Gravity draws excess water from the cubes and keeps the roots healthy.

Aeroponics. A variation of hydroponics that involves the misting of plant roots with nutrient solution.