There’s no doubt that hydroponics has grown in popularity over the past few years with more and more growers setting up their own home hydroponics systems.
As a result of this boom in popularity, we’re getting more and more questions from readers about hydroponic gardening.
Today we’re going to answer the question is hydroponics without nutrients even possible?
Let’s find out.
Hydroponics Without Nutrients – Is It Possible?
So time to answer the big question, is hydroponics without nutrients even possible? No, hydroponics without nutrients isn’t possible. Within a hydroponics system the nutrients in the water are the only source of food for your plants and without the nutrients your plants won’t grow.
As you might have read in our guide to hydroponic nutrients, nutrients play a key role in how your plants develop and contrary to popular belief, plants need more than light and water to grow.
Why You Need Nutrients
As we’ve just mentioned, all plants need a variety of nutrients to live. In traditional soil gardening and farming, these nutrients come from the soil and supplements like compost, manure or fertiliser.
Within a hydroponic system these things don’t naturally exist which is why you need to add them to your system.
The nutrients are divided up into two categories – macronutrients and micronutrients.
These are the nutrients that your plants need in large amounts like phosphorus, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, sulfur, potassium, magnesium, and calcium.
These are essential nutrients that your plants need just a little bit of and include zinc, nickel, boron, copper, iron, manganese, molybdenum, boron, and chlorine.
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Aquaponics As An Alternative
Okay so while it might not be possible to have a nutrientless hydroponic system, aquaponics could be a possible alternative.
What is Aquaponics
Permaculture according to Permaculture News, aquaponics is a combination of aquaculture, which is growing fish and other aquatic animals, and hydroponics which is growing plants without soil. Aquaponics uses these two in a symbiotic combination in which plants are fed the aquatic animals’ discharge or waste. In return, the vegetables clean the water that goes back to the fish. Along with the fish and their waste, microbes play an important role to the nutrition of the plants. These beneficial bacteria gather in the spaces between the roots of the plant and converts the fish waste and the solids into substances the plants can use to grow. The result is a perfect collaboration between aquaculture and gardening.
However, even aquaponics has drawbacks. Because fish can’t produce the exact nutrients that your fish need, aquaponic systems can still leave your plants with nutrient deficiencies and will need additional nutrients adding to the system to provide your plants with what they need.
Don’t Let This Put You Off
One of the biggest draws of hydroponics for me personally is the ability to monitor and manage my system and give my plants and crops exactly what they need in order to flourish.
If you’re not interested in adding nutrients to your systems then hydroponics might not be the growing method for you – you might be better looking into organic soil gardening as an alternative.
The Bottom Line
So there you have it and while hydroponics without nutrients isn’t possible, there are some more natural alternatives that you might consider. It’s also worth reading more into aquaponics or organic soil gardening which might be more up your street.
Hi I'm Miles and I'm one of the growers behind AuthorityGardening.com.
Besides being a passionate gardener and writer, I'm a husband, father and a grandfather to three!