Growing Marijuana Hydroponically: A Beginner's Guide

Posted on Jul 09 , 2024

In recent years, hydroponic cannabis cultivation has gradually become a trend, and its unique advantages of soilless cultivation have attracted the attention of many growers.

Compared with traditional soil cultivation, hydroponics can not only more effectively control the growth environment of plants, but also greatly improve the yield and quality. 

For beginner, hydroponic cultivation may sound complicated, but as long as the basic principles and steps are mastered, anyone can easily get started. 

This guide will introduce the basic knowledge and practical skills of hydroponic cannabis cultivation in detail to help you get started quickly.

1. what is the hydroponic growth?

Hydroponics is a method of cultivation that provides the nutrients required by plants through aqueous solutions without using soil. In this system, the roots of plants are in direct contact with the nutrient solution to absorb the nutrients and oxygen they need. 

The biggest difference between this method and traditional soil cultivation is that it allows for more precise control of the plant's growth environment, thereby optimizing growth conditions and improving yield and quality.

Hydroponic advantages including:

Advantages of hydroponics

  • Faster growth speed: Because the nutrient solution acts directly on the root system, the plant can absorb nutrients faster

  • Higher yield:Hydroponics can significantly increase cannabis yields by optimizing growing conditions

  • Saving space: Hydroponic systems are generally more compact and suitable for growing in limited spaces

  • Decreasing the insect and disease: Since there is no soil, many common pest and disease problems are avoided

2. The hydroponic system types:

In the process of hydroponic cannabis cultivation, choosing the right hydroponic system is one of the keys to ensure success. When choosing equipment, beginner should consider the ease of use and maintenance cost of the system, as well as the adaptability and functionality of the equipment. The following will introduce several common hydroponic systems and their equipment in detail, including nutrient film technology (NFT).

Types of Hydroponic Systems

1)Deep hydroponic system (DWC): 

Deep hydroponic system is one of the simplest and most popular hydroponic methods. It works by completely immersing the roots of the plants in water containing nutrient solution and providing oxygen to the roots through air pumps and air stones. This system has a simple structure and low cost, making it very suitable for novices.

2)Drip irrigation system: 

The drip irrigation system delivers nutrient solution to the roots of each plant through a pump, and then drips it evenly into the root zone through a dripper. This method can effectively control the nutrient supply of each plant and reduce waste. The drip irrigation system is suitable for planting a large number of plants, but the installation and maintenance may be slightly complicated.

3)Aeroponics system: 

The aeroponics system uses an atomizer to atomize the nutrient solution into fine droplets and sprays them directly onto the plant roots. This method can maximize the oxygen supply to the roots and promote rapid plant growth. However, the aeroponics system is more expensive and is suitable for growers with some planting experience.

4)Nutrient Film Technique (NFT): 

Nutrient Film Technique is a very efficient hydroponic system. In the NFT system, the roots of the plants are located in an inclined channel, and the nutrient solution forms a thin film (nutrient film) at the bottom of the channel and flows continuously, providing a continuous supply of nutrients and oxygen. 

The NFT system can effectively utilize the nutrient solution and reduce waste while ensuring an adequate supply of oxygen to the roots. The system has a simple structure and is easy to maintain, making it very suitable for beginner and experienced growers.

3. The equipment list for your need

When beginning your journey into growing cannabis hydroponically, it’s vital to have the right equipment ready. Here’s a detailed equipment checklist to help you get started:

Equipment List

1)Hydroponic system

Choosing a hydroponic system that suits you is the first step to success. Common hydroponic systems include deep water culture (DWC) and nutrient film technology (NFT). You can choose a hydroponic system that suits you based on the introduction in the previous article.


The reservoir is a container for the nutrient solution, ensuring that the roots are always exposed to sufficient nutrients. Choose a reservoir with appropriate capacity and solid material to avoid leakage and contamination.

3)LED grow light

For indoor planting, light source is the key to simulate natural light. LED and HID lamps are common choices:

LED light: high efficiency and energy saving, adjustable light intensity, long life, suitable for different growth stages.

HID lamps: including high pressure sodium lamps (HPS) and metal halide lamps (MH), suitable for different growth stages.

4)Growing medium

Growing media are used to support plant roots and provide a stable environment for growth. Common choices include:

Rockwool: It has good moisture retention properties and is often used for seed germination and seedling transplanting.

Clay particles: good air permeability, suitable for a variety of hydroponic systems.

Peat moss: has excellent water retention properties and is suitable for a variety of plants.

5)Nutritional ingredient

Choose a complete hydroponic nutrient solution that contains all the macro and trace elements your plants need to grow.


Keep the pH value of the nutrient solution in the appropriate range (5.5-6.5).

7)Conductivity Meter(EC)

Used to measure the nutrient concentration of nutrient solution to ensure plants receive the proper nutrients.

8)Air Pump and Air Stone:

Used to oxygenate nutrient solution, especially for Deep Hydroponics (DWC) and Nutrient Film Technique (NFT). Adequate oxygen helps maintain healthy roots and prevents root rot.


Used to automatically control the cycle of light and nutrient solution delivery. By setting the light time and nutrient solution circulation time, it simulates the natural environment and promotes the healthy growth of plants.

10)Netdisc and Tray:

Used to fix the plants and allow the roots to contact the nutrient solution. Choose a durable and breathable net pot.

11)Temperature and Moisture monitor:

Monitor the temperature and humidity of the planting environment and maintain an appropriate temperature and humidity range (temperature 20-25°C, humidity 50-70%)

12Other auxiliary equipment

Water Thermometer: Monitor the temperature of the nutrient solution to avoid overcooling or overheating.

Fans: Promote air circulation and prevent mold, mildew, and pests.

Burette: Used to accurately measure and add nutrient solution.

With these equipment, you can create an ideal hydroponic environment to ensure that your cannabis plants grow healthy and lush. Regularly check and maintain your equipment and adjust your cultivation parameters to meet the needs of different growth stages.

4. Choosing the right cannabis strain

Not all cannabis strains are suitable for hydroponic cultivation. Beginners should choose some varieties that are highly adaptable and grow quickly.

recommended varieties:

  • Northern Lights:Fast growing, strong disease resistance, suitable for beginners。

  • Lemon Meringue:High THC strain, citrus aroma, good taste

  • Skywalker OG:The peak THC content is as high as 26%, which is effective and suitable for different environment

For more information on seed selection, please refer to this article<Which cannabis strain should you choose to grow?>

5. A Step-by-Step Guide to Hydroponic Cannabis Growing

When growing cannabis hydroponically, planting and maintenance are key steps to ensure healthy plant growth and high yields. Here are detailed planting and maintenance guidelines to help you get started with hydroponic growing.

A Guide to Hydroponic Cannabis Growing

1)Germination and initial growth

  • Germination stage:

Choose high-quality seeds: Make sure the seeds are full and free of damage and mold.

Germination method: Place the seeds between moistened paper towels in a warm environment, keeping them moist but not waterlogged. The seeds will usually begin to germinate within 1-3 days.

Transplant to growing medium: Once the seeds have developed roots, carefully transplant them into a prepared growing medium, such as rockwool or clay pellets.

For more information about rapid seed germination, please refer to this article<How to Germinate Cannabis Seeds Fast and with a 95% Success Rate!>

  • Initial growth stage:

Light management: Use LED grow lights to provide 18 hours of light and 6 hours of darkness per day to simulate the natural day and night cycle. The PPFD needs to reach 800-1300umol/㎡/s.

Nutrient solution preparation: Use diluted nutrient solution to ensure that the initial growth of plants obtains the right amount of nutrients. The pH value is maintained between 5.5-6.5, and the EC value (electrical conductivity) is controlled between 1.0-1.2.

Environmental control: Keep the temperature at 20-25℃ and the humidity at 60-70% to create a stable growth environment for the seedlings.

2) Preparation and replacement of nutrient solution

  • Nutrient solution preparation:

Choose the right nutrient solution: Use a hydroponic nutrient solution designed for cannabis, making sure it contains all the necessary macro and trace elements.

Nutrient solution ratio: Adjust the concentration of the nutrient solution according to the growth stage of the plant. Use a diluted formula during initial growth, and gradually increase the concentration after the plant enters a rapid growth period.

  • Nutrient solution replacement:

Replacement frequency: Replace the nutrient solution every 1-2 weeks to ensure adequate nutrient supply and prevent the accumulation of harmful substances。

Clean the reservoir: When changing the nutrient solution, thoroughly clean the reservoir and pipes to prevent bacterial and algae growth。

Monitor and adjust: Use a pH meter and EC meter to test the pH and conductivity of the nutrient solution regularly to ensure that they are within the appropriate range. Adjust the formula in a timely manner based on the test results.。

3) Plant maintenance

  • Daily Inspection:

Leaf condition: Observe the color and shape of the leaves. Healthy leaves should be green and upright. If the leaves turn yellow or curl, check the composition of the nutrient solution and environmental conditions in time.

Healthy roots: Healthy roots should be white or light yellow and have no odor. If you find that the roots are browning or showing signs of rot, you need to increase the oxygen supply and check the cleanliness of the nutrient solution.

  • Problem Solving:

Yellowing leaves: This may be caused by malnutrition or improper pH. Adjust the nutrient solution formula and pH.

Pest and disease control: Check plants regularly and take timely measures when pests and diseases are found, such as using biological control methods or appropriate chemical agents.

For more information about the yellowing of cannabis leaves, please see this article<Marijuana plant yellow leaf crisis: disease, insect or bad mood?>

Root rot: Usually caused by lack of oxygen or bacterial infection. Increase the oxygen supply of the air pump and keep the reservoir clean.

For more information on cannabis root rot, check out this article<How to Identify and Prevent Cannabis Bud Rot>


4)Harvesting and processing

  • Harvest time

Flower observation: The color and structure of cannabis flowers are important indicators for judging the timing of harvest. Generally, when 50-70% of the stamens turn brown or amber, it is the best time to harvest.

Check with a magnifying glass: Look at the flower's trichodes (THC glandular hairs) through a magnifying glass and when most of them turn milky white or amber, they are ready to harvest.

  • Post-harvest processing:

Pruning: Use clean scissors to trim off any excess leaves, leaving only the main flowers.

Drying: Hang the trimmed flowers in a cool, dry, well-ventilated place, keep the temperature at 18-24℃ and the humidity at 45-55%, and dry them. It usually takes 7-10 days.

Storage: Once dried, store the flowers in an airtight container in a cool, dark place. Check the humidity in the container regularly to avoid mold growth.

For more details, please see<10x Improvement in Cannabis Quality: Secrets to Harvesting, Drying, and Curing>

Growing cannabis hydroponically not only brings rich harvests, but also allows you to enjoy the fun of cultivating plants by yourself. Through the guidance of this article, you have mastered the basic knowledge and operation skills of hydroponics. Although you may encounter some challenges in the early stage, as long as you persist in learning and practice, you will definitely become an excellent hydroponic grower.


VANQ is a leading manufacturer of LED grow lights for cannabis cultivation, vertical farming, greenhouses and tissue culture. With factories in China and warehouses in South Africa, the United States and Europe

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