Hydroponic greenhouses: Everything you need to know

Published 28th June 2022
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Hydroponics is becoming an increasingly popular option for both commercial and home gardeners alike. With the correct setup, it can be an incredibly cost-effective way to gain high-quality produce and better yields, especially for strawberries, potatoes, tomatoes, lettuce, cabbage and green beans.

Thinking of getting a hydroponic greenhouse for your garden? Read on to find out everything you need to know before you buy!


What are the benefits of hydroponic greenhouses?

‘Hydroponics’ is essentially a method of cultivating plants without soil, providing all the necessary nutrients through a reservoir-based water supply. 

They offer a wide range of advantages, including:

  • Larger, higher-quality crops due to controlled nutrient supplies
  • Less soil-borne diseases 
  • Increased water efficiency, with up to 90% less waste
  • A higher yield, as plants don’t spend energy developing deeper roots for oxygen
  • Minimal growing space required 
  • Great for areas with poor soil quality 
  • No need for herbicides, as weeds aren’t present
  • The ability to grow all year round
  • Less tending time, as plants don’t require manual watering

What are the different types of hydroponic system available?

There are various types of hydroponic systems to choose from, but the most popular are: 

  • Hydroponic drip system: In a hydroponic drip system, the roots of a plant are suspended in rockwool cubes or clay pebbles, while the nutrient-rich solution is dripped near its base (via stakes with holes). This is a much more efficient use of water, as little is wasted. Plus, it allows for maximum root aeration. It’s worth noting that you should regularly monitor the tubes though, due to the risk of blockages.
  • Ebb and flow system: This system features a tray containing either rockwool cubes or pebbles, within which sits a reservoir of nutrient-rich solution. A pump is submerged, which then sends this liquid to the plants at regular intervals, causing the roots to flood (while any excess water drains back into the reservoir).
  • NFT (Nutrient Film Technique): For this system, the plant’s roots are suspended in a channel, as a shallow stream of the nutrient-rich solution is circulated throughout. As a result, the plant receives more oxygen, which equates to a much faster growth rate. The NFT system is capable of producing high yields in a relatively small space, as a dense root network often develops in the channels, which stays constantly hydrated. Due to the recirculation of water, there’s very little wastage, making this a great option for outdoor home use.
  • Raft system: This final system features a foam raft that holds the plants up over a supply of nutrient-rich water. Net pots containing pebbles support their roots, and are submerged in the solution. As such, these simple designs are perfect if you enjoy growing as a hobby. 

Where’s the best place to set up a hydroponic system?

Hydroponic systems are highly regulated so are best-suited to a controlled environment, such as that of a greenhouse, high tunnel or garage. This helps to provide protection from the weather and allows for better disease control, as pests are less likely to infect the plants. If you decide to use a hydroponic system in your greenhouse, you should position the structure east to west, to maximise the amount of sunlight throughout the day. 

You may also need to change the temperature settings of your greenhouse according to the type of crop you decide to cultivate. This can easily be achieved by placing your hydroponic system inside another structure, such as a cold frame. 

Greenhouse hydroponic systems are incredibly versatile, and can even be adapted for indoor settings. It’s also possible for you to install one inside an existing greenhouse, with a polytunnel, for instance, which is particularly useful if you have limited or contaminated soil. It’s worth noting that supplementary lighting is often needed when growing indoors, to ensure that the plants receive the necessary amount of light. 


Why should you buy a hydroponic greenhouse from OnBuy?

At OnBuy, we stock a fantastic range of gardening supplies that are perfectly suited to a variety of budgets and preferences. From hydroponic greenhouses to cold frames and accessories, we've got something to suit all your gardening needs.

Shop now to find everything you need for a glorious garden this summer!

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