How to Start Seeds for Hydroponics – a Complete Guide
Seed starting is essential to any gardening. It may be simple enough for conventional gardening but in Hydroponics, it may differ and will require a different set of instructions to follow. Growing seeds hydroponically allows for the production of good yield. But the starting process may buffer because you may not be sure as to how to go about it. But that’s no matter to worry about.
This article details the processes and techniques on how to start seeds for hydroponics. So bring out your pens and paper and start taking notes (virtually, of course, or literally if you wish to) because this is something that needs your careful attention.
What is seed starting?
It’s simple, really. It is a process as explained by the term itself. Seed starting is when you start gardening from scratch and grow your seeds by yourself. It is a process that is often skipped by many because such a process requires a large amount of effort and time.
Seed starting is a tiring process that requires a lot of patience from the gardener without which you will not be able to germinate your seeds.
Then why start my seeds hydroponically?
Yes, starting seeds may be a tiring and time consuming process as mentioned before. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t any good reasons to not take it up. Though there may be a few downsides, there are also the upsides that you must consider.
When you go to a nursery to buy plants that you wish to grow in your house, you will find that the options are limited. Nurseries do not have all kinds of plants that you may wish to come upon.
So doing so will only cause you to have limited options. When you start seeds yourself you may come upon plants that you won’t always find in nurseries. This will allow you to grow rare plants and other kinds that are not easy to find. You will also be able to grow your favourite plants and will have the joy of seeing them grow from start to end.
Usually, when there is a change in any atmosphere or environment, certain problems arise. So when you bring plants to plant them in your hydroponics, the plants, because of a change in environment, may not be able to survive well.
Such a change in environment may also cause diseases or bugs to infest your Hydroponics which will cause you a bigger problem. There’s also the chance of root trauma for your plants. So, in order to avoid any or all of these problems it is better for you to start seeds by yourself.
It is very cost effective. The cost of a packet of seeds may be equal to that of the cost of just one seedling. In this way, you will be spending more money than you need to.
Also, buying only seeds will allow you to plants more plants than just planting one. You will have a higher chance of growing more healthy plants, than having just one seedling and not knowing if it will fully flourish into a plant.
Last but definitely not the least, the satisfaction of having to grow a plant right from when it was a seed and to watch it grow to its full height and state is a satisfaction that you will get like never before. It is for this reason alone that you should try starting seeds for yourself at least once.
How do I go about seed starting?
Before you begin starting your seeds you need to take care of a few things first. This mainly includes the environment in which you will plant them. Seeds require the usual light, oxygen, water and heat in order to grow. It may cost you a little in the beginning but that is only during the initial stages. Later, once you’ve settled into the process the cost will automatically decrease.
You will need to create a tiny greenhouse of sorts to grow your seeds. For this you can use a grow tray and set it up accordingly. Heat is necessary for the seeds to sprout. For this, purchase a heating mat and place I under the tray. If you are growing your seeds in a comparatively cooler area, then a heating mat will be necessary. Creating the right atmosphere for your seeds is vital in growing them.
When making use of your tray, you will need a pot of sorts, such as a growing medium, to grow your seeds in. This is important in a hydroponic set-up. Choose the right medium that will be suitable for your seeds and will also fit into the hydroponic system very well. If you are confused about using the right medium, then make use of our article on the same. This will ensure that your seeds will comfortably grow with healthy results. Setting up the right environment will help you vastly in growing the seeds properly.
So to make his easier for you, we’ll take you through the process of seed starting.
- First you have to prepare your growing medium to grow seeds. That means that you will have to clean them. Wash the medium and leave it to dry. After that, place a few seeds in each cube. This is so that at least one seed will sprout fully. When they start to germinate, you can take out the weaker grown plant and leave the strong plants to fully grow.
- Now prepare the grow tray. Put into the tray either clean water or a nutrient solution and place the cubes in it. Fill it up to an inch in the tray. Place the heating mat under the tray, and see to it that the tray is placed where there is adequate lighting. The lid can be left on so that it traps the moisture and heat inside for proper growth.
- Make sure to keep an eye on the tray and see to the needs of the seeds, is nay arise. Within 4-5 days you will see little sprouts emerging from the cubes. Here you have your seeds successfully sprouting!
- If you wish to, you may first place the seeds in a sealed Ziploc bag and then after they sprout, you can transfer them into the grow tray. Either way, you will end up with germinated seeds.
After the seeds sprout to an adequate size, transplanting them into the hydroponics system is a careful process that requires proper attention.
- You need to keep supplying the seedlings with the nutrient solution so that they can keep growing. Once the seeds have grown to an adequate stage, the roots of the plants will start emerging out of the cubes from under then that is when you can transplant the plants into the Hydroponic set-up.
- Usually the roots take from two to four weeks to emerge. But this duration may differ depending upon the plants that you are growing.
- Be very gentle with the seedling. Prepare a space in you growing media in the Hydroponics system and carefully place the cube with the seedling into the medium.
- The roots won’t automatically reach the circulating water so you will have to give them some time to grow. For this you need to keep watering the seedlings regularly until the roots are able to find their way to the nutrient water.
Seed starting is recommended for every gardener to try at least once. Chances are you will like it and will want to continue with it. Seed starting may sound time consuming but you wouldn’t know of it if you weren’t to try it out for yourself. And starting your seeds by yourself will allow you much more satisfaction when your plant grows to its full length.
It will allow you to be more independent of nurseries because you will not always be able to find that plants that you desire there. So it is important that you are liberated in this way to avail many more gardening benefits for yourself in more ways than one. So try it out and know for yourself!
Seed starting is essential to any gardening. It may be simple enough for conventional gardening but in Hydroponics, it may differ and will require a different set of instructions to follow. Growing seeds hydroponically allows for the production of good yield. But the starting process may buffer because you may…
A Simple Guide to Starting Seeds for Hydroponics
So you’re ready to get started in hydroponics and you’re about to start some seeds…
But you have no idea where to get started?
You’re not alone — when I first started gardening, I was a soil gardener.
Starting seeds for hydroponics systems was unknown to me until I started to build deep water culture and ebb and flow systems. Once I built those, I had to learn how to start seeds hydroponically.
One of the main benefits of hydroponics is the absolute control you have over your growing environment. Knowing that, I didn’t want to germinate seeds in soil and then transplant into a my hydroponic system, adding a bunch of dirt to the system.
There had to be another way.
Here are just a few reasons why you want to start seeds in a hydroponic system as opposed to soil:
- Much cleaner than starting seeds in soil
- Seedlings grow faster after germination
- Easy to transplant into a larger hydroponic system
That second reason is a cool one. As soon as your tap root pops out, a hydroponic system is going to help it grow faster than soil and prevent it from becoming rootbound.
Step 1: Get Your Materials
You don’t need much to get started. If you build your cloner yourself, the rest of the materials will cost you under $50 bucks and will last you for quite a while. If you decide to go with a store-bought cloner, it’ll bump up the cost a bit but you’ll also be getting a much higher quality product.
Seed Starting Materials List
- Hydroponic Cloner – You can either build your own or use something like the Clone King and starter plugs (#3 below)
- 2″ Net Pots
- Rapid Rooter Starter Plugs
- Seeds – find at your local nursery if possible, or buy many places online. A personal favorite of mine is RareSeeds.com
- Air Pump
- Air Stone
Step 2: Fill The Cloner With Water
Fairly simple step here. All you need to do is fill up your reservoir to just under where your net pots sit. Don’t worry about pHing your water or using reverse osmosis right now – standard tap water will be fine.
Step 3: Set Up the Air Pump
Place the air stone in the reservoir and connect the tubing. Connect the other side to the air pump and plug it in. You should see some beautiful bubbles start to come out of the air stone. These bubbles are what will keep the roots of your seeds moist and stimulate growth.
Step 4: Place Starter Plugs and Seeds
Soak each starter plug in some water and then place it in a net pot. The moisture will help the seeds germinate.
Drop 2-3 seeds in each starter plug. We use more than 1 seed because not all seeds will germinate and we want to make sure that every starter plug has a sprouted seed – otherwise we’ll have to replant!
Step 5: Maintenance
This system is very easy to maintain as your seeds sprout.
If you want, you can place a transparent cover over the top to keep in some moisture and increase the temperature of the system, but it’s not necessary.
Make sure to moisten the starter plugs with a few sprays from a spray bottle every day so your seeds have enough moisture to sprout.
When your seeds sprout, clip off all but the strongest seedling from each starter plug.
That’s it! Your seeds should sprout in 3-5 days for most plants and you’ll be ready to start growing some truly epic plants in your hydroponic system in no time!
If you’re more of a visual learner, I have a three part video series from my YouTube channel that goes into the entire setup in detail.
Part One: The Basic Setup
This is the visual version of the blog post. Helpful if you just need to SEE to learn (like me).
Part Two: Making Sure Seeds Germinate
This part of the series talks about some of the maintenance and troubleshooting you might run into when starting seeds, including the infamous “why do they keep falling over” problem that a lot of beginners run into.
Part Three: pH Water and Add Nutrients
This part of the series talks about the need to pH and add nutrients to your reservoir after the seeds have germinated. Because they feed off of their seed leaves at the start of their life, you can get away with not doing this until the seeds germinate.
By the way, I’m using the Bluelab pH Pen to fill all of my pH needs. It’s awesome!
Starting seeds for hydroponics doesn't have to be difficult. In fact, it's really easy! Learn how to do it in 10 minutes with this Epic Gardening tutorial!