Hydroponics is the process of growing plants using water and hydroponics grow lights, a growing medium and nutrient solution instead of soil. It offers excellent levels of control over nutrients, light, water, temperature and other factors, providing gardeners optimisation and yield maximisation even within a small growing space.
Hydroponics is very successful because it provides the correct amount of nutrients and water when they require it. Light can be provided using hydroponics grow lights which are designed to imitate sunlight and stimulate plant growth in an artificial environment. First introduced in the 1920’s hydroponics has developed significantly with hydroponics grow lights becoming well developed in the late 20th century. They can be used to customise the growing season of plants and encourage fruiting and flowering. There are 3 main types of lights in production, these are Compact Fluorescent Lighting (CFL), High-Pressure Sodium (HPS) and Light-Emitting Diode (LED) lights. Each come with different positives and negatives overall. These include:
- Fluorescent Lights. Being low heat they are energy efficient, inexpensive and good for green leaf plants like lettuce, spinach and herbs. However, these types of lights are not sufficient for flowering plants or fruit bearing plants as the are low spectrum and power.
- LED Lights. These provide very low heat power and red and blue LEDs can be combined to provide a full spectrum or partial spectrum lighting. Bulbs last a very long time and thus are energy efficient. They are customisation for small or large gardens, making them flexible. However they are expensive to purchase up front despite energy efficiency.
- HPS Lights. Full spectrum lights that can be used for both flowering and vegetative growth. Being very powerful lights, they do wear out quickly and require a lot of energy to run, producing a lot of heat and requiring fans.