If you haven't yet dreamt of having a field of cannabis, I doubt your love for weed, man. Imagine if you could grow your buds right at your home, maybe in your basement, or your garage. Isn't it pretty cool? 

Well, I know what ya'll be thinking. Growing marijuana at home is difficult, and requires a hell of a lot of patience but, hey, whenever you'll get high on it you'll be like, "I made that stuff!"

hydroponic cannabis

Growing cannabis in soil or through hydroponics is still one of the oldest debates (dating back to 600 B.C), and I am not even goin' to touch that right now. All I'm going to talk about is hydroponic cannabis, hydroponic systems, and how to grow marijuana at home.

So, without wasting much of your time, let's get growing!

What is hydroponics?

what is hydroponics

Before starting with anything else, let's brush up our basics. Hydroponics is a technique used to grow plants without soil while suspending the roots in water, gravel, sand, coco peat, Rockwool etc.

One of the most amazing things about hydroponics is that you can directly apply the essential nutrients to the plant roots. And, the water that's not absorbed by your plant gets recycled for later use.

The marijuana plants are grown in a water bath/grow table which is enriched with nutrients and oxygen, allowing them to grow in a sterile, inert growing medium.

Now you must be thinking, why should you even go through this cannabis growing guide? Well, I had a cannabis garden at my home back in California and, it produced one of the best yields. (To those who don't know it already, I moved to London in 2019 and, I'm still trying to get used to the Marijuana laws here.)

I used to depend on the local headshops for potent boo until one of my friends came up with this idea of growing hydroponics marijuana in my basement. 

Like any other novice grower, I knew nothing about marijuana cultivation, hydroponics, nutrient-solution, etc. But, extensive research and my deep love for weed made things get growin'.

hydroponic marijuana

Hydroponic marijuana cultivation has emerged out as one of the trending ways of growing weed and for some, the potency level is much higher than the conventional one, grown in the soil. Though the quality of cannabis produced by both the methods is disputed, hydroponics is the need of the hour.

There are various hydroponic systems available in the modern-canna cultivation era, but, if you are a beginner, I would recommend you to start with the Drip Line Hydroponics System.

What does hydroponic cannabis mean?

hydroponic cannabis mean

As discussed, hydroponics is a technique of growing plants indoors without using soil. Now, it can be any plant, marijuana, cannabis, or even garlic. But, we are explicitly talking about cannabis/marijuana in this article.

The hydroponic method provides nutrients, water, and air to the plants in a regulated way to ensure the best quality and quantity. One of the trickiest things here is to know what your plant exactly requires - it's all about precision and management.

Some people say that since hydroponic cannabis is grown using chemical nutrients, the yield smells chemy and spoils the sesh. However, you know it only when you grow it.

What is a drip line hydroponics system?

drip line

A drip line hydroponics system consists of a water bath with multiple cannabis plants in it. Every plant receives its daily dose of nutrients through a drip line, one end of which is connected to the pump in the reservoir and the other end supplies water to every plant.

Any unabsorbed solution by the plants drips down through the dripper (a kind of drain line in a water bath) back into the reservoir. This is the best hydroponic system if you’re living in a dry place as it saves water efficiently with least wastage.

How to set up a drip line hydroponics system for cannabis?

Here's how you can set up a drip line hydroponics system for growing marijuana. Kindly note that this is the most basic set up and, you are always allowed to upgrade it, once you get pro at it.

Things you'll need:

  • 5-6 Hydroponic Pots, one for each plant
  • Water bath/grow tray
  • Clay pellets
  • Rockwool Cubes (one 1.5-inch starter plug per plant)
  • Reservoir Tank
  • Plastic Tubing
  • Drip Line
  • Drip Line Emitters
  • Air Pump
  • Air Stone

The Setup

Step 1: Prepare the reservoir

A reservoir or a water tank is where you add the nutrient solution and, its size depends on the size of your grow room. The air stone and water pump are placed inside the reservoir. A line from the air pump and the drainage line goes into the reservoir. The line from the water pump to the drip line and the power cord for the water pump will go out from the reservoir.

Step 2: Set up the grow table

A grow table collects the unabsorbed water from the plants, returning it to the reservoir through the dripper. Hence, your grow table should have a low-point where the dripper will be located to pass out all the excess water.

Step 3: Prepare the hydroponic pots

Fill all the pots with clay pellets. Don't forget to soak the pellets in water overnight so that they get saturated enough to let the roots suck water from them.

Step 4: Install the drip line

Take the plastic tubing coming off of the water pump and run the line to the grow table. Puncture holes in the plastic tubing and extend it to each pot. Attach drip line emitters to the end of the drip lines.

Step 5: Test the system

Now you can turn on the air pump and the water pump to check if the system works fine. The air pump should keep the reservoir oxygenated while the pots should drain out extra water back to the reservoir. There should not be any stagnant water throughout the process.

Step 6: Insert the saplings

Take the saplings that have begun growing in Rockwool and place them into the clay pellets. Insert the drip line so that moisture is reaching the Rockwool and roots of your plants.

What are the best hydroponic nutrients for Marijuana?

Let me make the whole of this hydroponic cannabis growing process easier for you. First of all, you need to understand that marijuana doesn't necessarily require soil to bloom.

All that it needs are nutrients, water, and air. Coming down to the nutrients, they are the fundamental elements that help the plant to prosper. It doesn't matter in what form these nutrients are delivered. It can be either through soil or the water.

These elements are further categorised into Macro and Micro. The macro elements include Magnesium, Calcium, Phosphorus, Nitrogen, Sulphur, and Potassium. The microelements incorporate Manganese, Chlorine, Iron, Copper, Zinc, Molybdenum, and Boron.

In the hydroponic process, these elements are given to the plants by mixing them in the water whereas, they are naturally present in the soil. Either you create an all-purpose nutrient solution for marijuana or, you can adjust the levels at every stage of the growth.

I would recommend you to buy every salt separately in a powdered form so that you can customise the solution according to your needs.

Out of all the salts mentioned, Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium are the essential ones. Usually, a nutrient solution is referred by the percentage of these three salts in the form (N-P-K). So a 15-16-14 solution would contain 15% Nitrogen, 16% Phosphorus, and 14% Potassium. The rest of the solution contains water and the microelements.


Nitrogen is one of the most essential elements of all. It helps building enzymes, proteins, and chlorophyll in the cannabis plants. Chlorophyll is further responsible for photosynthesis that helps the plant to grow.

The amount of nitrogen that you are giving to your plants highly depends on the grow room temperature. If it's below 80 degrees, the nitrogen amount should be higher. While if it's more than that, the concentration of N can be less.


Your plants will require Nitrogen during the vegetative phase of growth and, it can be in the ratio of 20-20-20 or 12-6-6 with additional microelements.


The next element, Phosphorus helps the plants to convert solar energy (light energy, if your plants are indoors) into chemical energy. It further increases the immune system of the plant and is essential during the flowering stage.

The flavour that you get from your dab wax, plant sugars, and terpenes is all because of phosphorus. So, don't hesitate to use a lot of it during the flowering phase.

The ratio of 3-5-4, 5-20-10, or 15-30-15 is perfect.


The early growth phase of a cannabis plant requires Potassium that enhances protein production, flowering process, movement of nutrients and water in the tissues etc. 

To cut it short, K is vital for the overall plant growth.


Just as you get bone strength from Calcium, plants also get it from the same element. It further aids in nutrient transportation within the plant body.


You might have studied in your botany classes that chlorophyll contains Magnesium, and that makes complete sense now.


Sulphur aids in seed production and root growth of a cannabis plant. It is one of the crucial elements that help the plants to grow healthy, ensuring the production of proteins and enzymes.

Microelements or Trace Elements

These are the other elements that help in the overall growth of a plant.

You must have seen farmers putting fertilisers in their plants to control pests, keep them healthy, and enhance growth time. But, this is the case only with soil plants. When it comes to hydroponics, your nutrient mix is the only thing that your plant would need.

Here's a tip - If you are feeding a lot of nutrients to your plant, it will die. However, if you are feeding it less, it would grow at a slower pace, but, won't die. Hence, if you are sceptical about the nutrient concentration, you can either consult a pro, read the instruction on the packages, or use a lesser amount.

The required measuring instruments

Plants need love, care, and patience. If you've started this, don't back out and take proper care of your canna-plant properly. Here are a few types of equipment that you'll require to keep a check on your cheeba, somewhat similar to how we have thermometers and stethoscopes for us.

You'll need pH and PPM meters. pH meters are used to check the acidic levels of the nutrient solution while a PPM meter determines how many Parts Per Million of a certain element is in your solution.

measuring instrument

Since every element is given in different amounts to the plants, it's crucial to keep a quantity check on the solution.

The pH level of your nutrient solution shouldn't exceed 6.0 for a cannabis plant. You can go up and down by 0.2 but anything beyond that can harm your boo. 

The next thing that you need to measure is the electrical conductivity of your solution for which, you have PPM-EC meter. It allows you to check the mineral content and strength of your solution. The ideal reading for a cannabis plant lies between 0.8 to 2.0. To get the PPM reading from EC, you need to multiply it either by 500 or 700, depending on the scale you're using. The lower the ppm, the less nutrient-dense a solution will be.

Remember, a plant in its initial stage requires very fewer nutrients as compared to its flowering stage. The pH levels should lie somewhere between 5.5-6.0 while you can change the PPM level depending upon the growth stage of your plant, throughout the cycle.

Here are the recommended nutrient densities for a cannabis plant:

  • Seedlings/early sprouts – 100 to 250 PPM
  • Early vegetative stage – 300 to 400 PPM
  • Full vegetative stage – 450 to 700 PPM
  • Early blooming stage – 750 to 950 PPM
  • Full mature bloom/ripening stage – 1,000 to 1,600 PPM

For better understanding, you need to measure the solution strength twice a day and change the tank solution every two weeks.

How to take care of your hydroponic cannabis plants?

Growing cannabis through hydroponics is tricky, but, once you get a knack of it, it's worth all the efforts.

The manual nutrient feeding system leads to faster plant growth and requires regular pruning or trimming. You'll have to keep a regular check on your boo to ensure it's growing healthy.

There shouldn't be any blockage in the system or stagnant water as that can cause your plants to wilt and die. It does require a lot of time investment, but, it gives you the satisfaction to be able to grow your favourite strains.

The grow room conditions for growing cannabis and harvesting it require further assistance, which I will be covering in my next article. 

| Also Read: Hydroponic Cannabis: A Guide on Hydroponic Grow Room Setup |

| Also Read: Hydroponic Cannabis: How to Harvest, Dry, Cure, & Store Weed|

Till then, Get growin' and Toke it your way with Olivastu! Let me know if you have tried hydroponics in the comments below. If there's something that you wanna ask, don't' hesitate to hit me up on support@olivastu.com