Hydroponic Systems

This is the core of Hydroponics. It turns out that there is not just one type. In essence, there are the six types of Hydroponic systems. Other variations are just based on these setups.
Each has its own advantages and disadvantages. Read this chapter to find out.

6 Types of Hydroponic Systems

The first step to starting your first hydroponic garden is choosing a suitable system. 

There are many different types of Hydroponic system. These systems can be either active or passive. 

By active, the nutrient solutions are moved, usually by a pump. 

Passive means that a wick or the anchor of the growing medium helps flow the nutrients to plants’ roots. 
Systems are categorized as recovery and non-recovery by whether the nutrients are reused in the system or not. 

Six basic types of Hydroponic systems include:

The Wick System

Wick System

This system is considered the most simple type of Hydroponic system. As the name means, this type works by pumping the nutrient solution from the reservoir up to the plants via the capillary movement like a wick into the growing media of the grow tray. 

Deep Water Culture

Deep Water Culture

DWC is an active recovery Hydroponic system. It works by hanging a net pot with plants held by a floating Styrofoam platform so that the roots are submerged with the nutrient solutions.

Nutrient Film Technique (NFT)

NFT Nutrient Film Technique

NFT works by continuously flowing nutrient solutions onto the grow tray, so it doesn’t need a timer. The solutions then run through the roots system of the plants till its reaches the channels’ end then drains back to the reservoir. It is able to do that because the tube is slightly downward. NFT does not need any growing medium.

Ebb and Flow (Flood and Drain)

Ebb & Flow System

Ebb and Flow method works by using a timer to set the pump to pull the nutrients from the reservoir to the grow tray periodically. After the nutrient surrounds plants’roots, it drains back to the system.

Drip Systems

Drip system

In Drip systems, growers use a timer to set the pump to draw the nutrient solutions through a network of drip lines. These drip lines will drop tiny amounts of water onto the plants.



Probably, the most high-tech type among the six. In this type of system, plants hung in the air, so no growing media are used. A timer controls the nutrient water pump to spray onto the root systems constantly. The spray cycle is quite quick because the roots are exposed to the air and need sufficient moistures.

For beginners, it’s better to start with something easy first. I recommend the passive system like the Wick, a variation of the Deep Water Culture – the Kratky Method. It is easy to set up and is fairly affordable. For active systems, you can begin with Deep Water Culture (active and recirculation DWC), Ebb & Flow and NFT as starters. 

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