A hydroponic system is a perfect method for germinating seeds, and growing plants from seeds hydroponically can also be a great option. Compared to soil-based growing, a hydroponic garden is more hygienic and efficient. Furthermore, it guards plants from root rot and insect damage. With this growing method, everything is automated so that you can control the entire system. If you cannot get your seeds to germinate and propagate, knowing how many to plant will be useless. For that reason, you must carefully plan the environmental conditions for each stage of the plant’s life.
How Seeds Germinate Under Hydroponic Conditions
During germination, plants break out of their seed shells and become seedlings under the right conditions. Whenever you notice plant parts protruding from the seeds, you must take them out of the seed starter system.
Hydroponic Seed Germinating Requirements
You’ll need the following:
- Growing media
- A peat moss for a coco or soil system
- A pH test indicator and a pH down.
A hydroponic germination sponge is used to germinate seeds. Because it minimizes root damage during transplanting and separating seedlings, it is an ideal seed germination medium. The sponges are all cut so that seeds can germinate quickly.
If you want your seeds to grow well, you should invest in the following:
- A grow tray and lid that helps to control the seed’s environment.
- A heating mat that has a thermostat or stays at 25°C
- Containers that are capable of holding water
- A Rooting solution that promotes faster, more robust growth of the roots.
- Unlike sunlight, compact fluorescent lamps produce a softer light. To prevent sprouts from being fried, you use CFL lights to provide a controlled, gentle light.
Do’s and Don’ts of Hydroponic Seed Germination
- When you reach warmer temperatures in your germination chamber, you will not get a reasonable germination rate.
- The growing medium must not dry out. If you forget to water your seeds or allow them to get too dry between waterings, they will likely not germinate.
- You should keep the germination chamber at a higher humidity level to prevent drying out and frequent watering. The chamber could produce humidity with the help of a humidity dome.
- Seeds and seedlings can also be damaged by too much moisture. Most seeds rot before germinating. Media that is too wet will be soggy or crumbling. Water shouldn’t pool in the tray for an extended period, even if the tray is quite moist.
Hydroponic Seed Germination Mediums
Growing medium made from coconut peat is a byproduct of coco production. Coir fibers are processed into coco peat products by washing and heating them. The most common form is large bricks.
As a nutrient storage and release agent for plants, coco peat also enhances the oxygenation process. Natural coco peat has pH levels between 5.0 and 6.8, making it slightly acidic and bordering neutral. Coco Peat has one downside: loose particles can get washed around the system. If this happens, then these can block pumps, and reservoirs can become sludge-filled.
Rockwool isn’t natural; it’s made from silica-based materials heated and spun into thin threads. Insulation for roofs is made in much the same way and should be handled with the same care.
When used, a Rockwool starter plug delivers an ideal material that has almost a perfect oxygen to water ratio, as well as pH neutrality. It usually comes as cubes or seedling plugs around 1-inch square and is ideal for starting seeds. Grow cubes made of Rockwool have a pH level between 7.8 and 7.9, which is slightly alkaline.
Coco coir growing medium is made from the same process as coco peat, except it’s not powdered. In other words, it is coconut hair. A passive hydroponic system is mainly used as starter cubes or more giant cubes to be used later. Although it has the same properties as coco peat and is an excellent growing medium in general, it can have the same drawbacks. Moreover, sediment can wash off and clog the pumps, resulting in sludge buildup in the reservoir. Before using, coconut coir can be rinsed to remove any loose particles.
Hydroponic Seed Germination Phases
As seeds germinate, they begin in a dormant state and then grow to an active state. This phase consists of five parts:
- The seed coat is the plant seed’s hard outer shell.
- The first stems and shoots of an embryo plant are called plumules.
- The hypocotyl is the central part of the seed leaf directly above the root system, beneath the stalks.
- Radicles eventually become roots.
- The cotyledons are the embryonic leaves of a seed-bearing plant. From seeds germinating, you will see one or more of these true leaves. Until more dominant leaves appear, these will help retain your nutrient mix.
As the dormant state ends, the Radicle will crack, leading to an early shoot. For this to occur, the seeds must be in warm, moist conditions. Cotyledons are responsible for providing seeds with their first nutrients, which they would traditionally get from the soil, but they have no chance to do so in hydroponic systems. When a couple of seeds are propagated, they become stronger and gain their first leaves and more robust roots and stronger plant roots. Plant roots emerge inside the germination plug when the seeds emerge, and they eventually emerge as the plants emerge from the seed. The time to transplant plants into the system is when they have developed two or three sets of leaves.
Select a hydroponic system based on your budget and plants’ needs. Depending on your needs, you can choose either a passive or active hydroponic system. In an active hydroponic system, the germination of seeds is done via an artificial method, while in passive hydroponic systems, the process is naturally carried out. Plants can be successfully grown in deep water without using a growing media, also known as deep water culture.
- Start by soaking the cube in pure, clean water for approximately an hour. Take it out after 1 hour and shake it gently to remove the excess water.
- Seed each starter cube gently with two to four seeds. When you plant extra seeds, you will select the strongest ones when the others don’t sprout.
- Observe the seed germinating in the nursery after taking the starter cubes. Continue to add water or the solution of nutrients to the seed trays, and this will cause the seed to sprout in a few days.
- After the seeds have sprouted, it’s time to gradually increase the light intensity and slowly move the light closer each day until it is less than 6 inches away from the plants. Once the sprouts have reached a healthy growth stage, begin feeding them with hydroponic nutrients.
How To Germinate Seeds
- You should freeze your seeds between 12 and 24 hours before planting them. In this way, they can be planted in a warmer place during a period of artificial “winter,” so they will germinate.
- To 1L of water, add 1 to 2ml of rooting tonic. These products contain Bloom Roots, Rhizotonic, and Roots Excelurator, which increase root growth after the seed has opened. If you don’t have a rooting tonic, make sure that the pH of your water is between 5.5 and 6.5.
- Let the rock wool cube or jiffy pellet soak for a minute in the solution so that you can disperse the water evenly.
- Give the rock wool cube a slight squeeze to remove it from the water. It should be moist but not soggy. Later, you can use the remaining solution for watering.
- Sow seeds into the rock wool cube at a depth equal to the seed’s width, and plant seeds 2mm below the surface if the seeds are 2mm wide. Ensure that the seed is in contact with the Rockwool cube.
- A lattice tray should be in an indoor propagation unit to hold the rock wool. Make sure rock wool can drain excess water; it should not be sitting in solution.
- To maintain 25°C under the propagator, use a seedling heat mat. In a couple of days, you should still see moisture on the rock wool cube. If not, spray some root solutions on the cube or drop some on top. It must remain moist without becoming waterlogged. Whenever the water level is too high, the roots cannot grow, and the seeds and roots of the plants will rot.
- As soon as the seed has grown and a leaf has emerged, give the sprout some light. You can prevent the seeds from getting roasted by leaving the grow lights on for a couple of hours a day or using purple lights.
- Once roots begin to emerge, be sure to add a nutrient solution with an EC no higher than 1.0. In the absence of a nutrient EC meter, you can take an average of 1/4 of the nutrient strength.
- After the roots have emergent from the cube base or your seedlings have 2 to 3 nodes, transplant them into your growing media.
When starting seeds for your indoor garden, it is often a stressful experience because you need to maintain the correct amount of moisture for a high success rate. Germination is often performed in Rockwool cubes due to their excellent moisture retention. In the seed germination process, moisture plays a critical role. Seeds can be watered by openings in their coats or micropyles, known as seed openings. Germination begins when the water activates enzymatic reactions within seeds.