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What factors can affect hydroponic plant growth?

hi ron,

can you please tell me the difference of ammonium nitrogen and nitrate nitrogen as far as its relationship to plant growth ?

Nothing in my hydro books about ether.

secondly, my lettuce ... i place them under 75% shade cloth, temperature is also hot ... around 110F at mid-day .... result is gap between nodes are really abnormal.

i am using heat resistant and bolt resistant cultivar for my lettuce, do you suppose the shade cloth is the main problem ?

I can't imagine growing anything at 110 degrees especially lettuce with or without shade cloth.



This is the best web page on hydroponics, the format and the picture illustration are great!!! I am a beginner in hydroponic in Thailand. I am growing lettuce with NFT ,after a few weeks of perfect growth, the roots become brown color and the plant growth is stunt. What is the problem and how to cure them?

Something isn't right with your nutrient solution if your roots aren't white. PPM or pH or both.

Hi. I am doing a science project on how different light sources affect the rate of plant growth, and I need to know if black lights help plants grow.


HI Ron: I'm a novice to hydroponics. I built already my 11 plants pvc system. I have a fertilizer called: DYNA-GRO and the formula on the label reads: 7-9-5. and also says that it contains 11 trace elements (don't know what that means) but it has no indication about the correct amount of fertilizer per gallon for, say, tomatoes or peppers. I'm assuming that 1/2 tsp of fertilizer for a gallon would be enough to start. Do you know the brand? do you know the correct amount per gallon? PLEASE !!!HELP!!!. CARLOS ESPINOZA PLANTATION FL.

That's what my guess would be. 1/2 teaspoon is about standard for young plants then I would increase that to a full teaspoon as they mature. Trace elements are needed along with N-P-K for healthy plant growth.

I am a student doing research on hydroponics. I am going to test how the different plant nutrients affect plant growth. I'd like to know which nutrients are the most essential (I'm assuming phosphorus, nitrogen and potassium) and how I might go about setting up different nutrient solutions to be able to do the experiment

Attn: Pingman

Go to:

I'm not into pot, but this site has a lot of information on growing using a bubbler system. Explore the whole site, the guys setup really looks very sanitary to me.

FYI, I sent for and received a booklet outlining the proceedings of the first Non-Circulating hydroponic workshop held in Hawaii in 1997 from the Asian Vegetable Research and Development in Taiwan. Their primary goal is to develop systems for growing in HOT countries, SE Asia, India, etc.

They mention in the text that there are actually two sets of roots that a plant develops, one set for oxygen and one set for nutrient. I've just started studying the whole booklet (55 pages) and feel that maybe the bubbler system setup would exploit these two sets of roots and maximize plant growth. What you've mentioned seems to confirm that.

If you want, you can email me at and I will scan the booklet and send it to you in jpg format.

Maybe I'll just set up a system myself and see what happens. I've got a bunch of plants ready to go now and no place to put them. I could probably knock something out in a few hours if I can find the time.


Is this new product the Masquito Magnet worth checking out - it releases co2 to attract masquitos - kinda interesting, would it work for plant growth?

is there anything to worry about when using construction-grade pvc tubes, pvc glue, and painting a bottle?

commercial-grade plastic/pvc normally contains lead, which is poisonous, and paint and glue all contain very harsh chemical substances. would that affect plant growth in any way?

thanks for any insight that you may provide.

my email is:

You paint the outside of the bottles not the inside where the solution is.
And modern PVC pipe is safe and used in all commercial growing systems. 

using an Aeroponic system looks to be simple, however if the plant grows at a tremendous rate, how do you adjust the light cycle to promote correct growth, such as flowering and how do you readjust light cycles for the faster plant growth. GB, Austin TX

To the person who wanted to know more about lighting. I just proofread what I wrote and noticed typo and spelling errors sorry about that. I don't what the hell that last little bit is or how it got there but I really didn't have anything else to say. I just wanted to clue you in on this because I couldn't afford store bought good lighting. Everybody I talked to said I was crazy to use these indoors unattended. But I have a good electrical background so I wasn't worried about that. I new how these lights were made and all that needed to be overcome was the heat factor. But with a fan blowing directly on the unit at all times you can run it 24hours a day if you like. I have hade my unit this way for three years and never had one problem. My main worry was the ballast holding up to the extreme heat but the fan method works great. just so you know if you ever go around a public school at night just about everyone of the lights attached to the side of the buildings are HID lights. normally the ones that have an orange glow are high pressure sodium. This bulb gives you the most light for the amount of energy you use compared to the older HID lights like metal halide or mercury vapor. high pressure sodium also give you a light spectrum more in the orange yellow which plants can absorb better. As far as using fluorescent lighting I think it sucks for a nice healthy garden. I messed around with them in the past and the amount I had to use to get good plant growth at adult stages cost me more in electricity than my sodium bulb cost and the results still weren't as good as a HID lamp. fluorescent is fine to germinate a seed under I still use them for that but for rapid growth use HID lamps. I am new to hydro but have been growing in soil mediums under HID lights for a long time so if you have any other questions about light feel free to ask. If you want to tell me how much the electric company charges you for a kilowatt of electricity every hour look on your electric bill to find this out the type and size of lamp you plan on running and for how long I will tell you how much it will cost you per day and month to operate the lamp.


I bought a 400w MH ballast/bulb/reflector for the 11 plant system. Seems pretty nice, the heavy ballast is separate from the fixture (I don't have to hang it.) However, I'm a little uncertain about their applications. Will I need a HPS later in order for the plants to bloom? I thought I'd be ok with just the MH for vegetables, herbs etc. Will my flowers be able to bloom under MH (carnations). Lighting is big $$ and I didn't want to invest in both. I live in the northeast and am planning on starting indoors in the winter and than moving to the plants outside on the deck in Late Spring and Summer.

New 2 Hydro Holly

Yes MH is mostly for Veg. growth stage but since you are putting your plants on the deck in the spring that should supply your plants with any missing orange light spectrum you might be missing. Plants will grow and bud under either  MH and HPS, for those on a budget. It's just logical that they would grow better (faster) under the full spectrum of light needed for healthy plant growth.

Can I use well water to feed my hydroponic garden?? Or do i need a water softner. I also notice that I have slow plant growth could this be from me using well water???

What are the best hid's for plant growth. Most supplyers over here recommend Sodium which I have been using without much success. I keep getting told that my plants need more light: I'm no expert, but the plants which I am growing do not need 30,000 lux. I feel that they would grow much better under metal halide lamps, but I am reluctant to spend any more money until I am sure. I have already bought 250, 400, 600 watt systems on the advice of 'experts' in the UK.

Which has better results: Ebb and Flow or a Nutrient Flow System??


Blossom End Rot (BER)

Although referred to as a rot, this problem is not caused by an organism. It appears as a light tan, brown, or black sunken area at or near the base (blossom end) of the fruit. It is not soft, but is firm and somewhat leathery and may be accompanied by a dry rot. Sometimes it appears only inside the fruit as a blackened area, with no symptoms on the outside. Occasionally, a secondary organism invades the tissue causing a soft rot. Remove and discard any immature fruit that show symptoms; once a fruit has blossom-end rot, it will not go away.

BER is caused by insufficient calcium in the fruit. Even though adequate calcium may be applied in the nutrient solution, it may not be reaching the fruit because of in sufficient water. If plants wilt, it is difficult for nutrients to reach the fruit. Although BER is a calcium problem, it can result from water stress. Rapidly growing plants suddenly exposed to drought are especially susceptible. Any condition that interferes with the uptake of calcium may cause BER. Other causes are excessive salinity of the growing medium, high nitrogen, rapid plant growth, high temperature, high humidity, and root damage.

To prevent BER, maintain steady plant growth, and avoid wide fluctuations in water and temperature. The calcium level in the nutrient solution should be at least 125 ppm. Once BER occurs, it can be prevented in nonaffected fruit with a foliar spray of calcium chloride (36 percent calcium) at the rate of 14 to 64 ounces per 100 gallons (or 4 tablespoons/gallon) of water. Or, use calcium nitrate (20 percent calcium) at the rate of 17.5 pounds per 100 gallons (or 9 tablespoons/gallon) of water. For a small scale operation, a commercial product called Stop Rot is available. Use 1 pint per 7 1/2 gallons, and spray twice per week until the problem is corrected.

Avoid excess nitrogen fertilizer, especially the ammonium forms. Ammonium increases the demand for calcium, limiting the amount available. Some varieties may be more resistant to BER than others.

Hi Ron Just started and alls going well. About shoulder height. When do I turn and add bloom formula? and will I still get plant growth (as in height) when I start this.


Ok I hear a lot about using HPS and MH lamps for indoor gardening, but what about Mercury Vapor?

The mercury vapor lamps produce only 60 lumens-per-watt and does not fulfill the requirement light spectrum thus making it a pour light source for horticulture. Not only it is an expensive to operate, but it produces most color in areas that are not helpful to plant growth.

I found a 125W MV lamp at Wal-Mart for 35 dollars. I think it puts out about 6000 lumens (I may be off on that)

Also ron do you think that 125w MV lamp, a 100W MH lamp, 2 60W grow lamps, and 135W fluorescent tube is enough for 10 plants?


400W HPS lights are so expensive so I tried to go a cheaper route buy using alot more lights.

I bought 2 - 400 W Metal Halide for 30 bucks apiece at a flea market that came out of a factory. All I had to buy is new bulbs. They are out their. You can go into almost any large building or factory and look up and you will see MH lights. When those factories go out of business somebody buys and resells those lights for almost nothing. Resell shops may be a good place to look for cheep lighting.



I have been wondering about the lighting issue for sometime now, and what I have been wondering is : If I go to Home Depot and purchase a 400W HID fixture, and one 400W HID bulbs (for around $25). Will this be the "correct" HID bulb for plant growth? Or is this bulb only suitable for illuminating parking lots? The same question posed except for HPS lights.
Thanks a few hundred (Inflation, you know!)

During the final stages of plant growth when you eliminate the nutrients to flush the plants of its taste, should you be concerned with the PH of the water? Rblack

If the flushing only takes place a few times no but for any length of time then yes, pH is always important.
I also never heard of flushing for taste.

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