What Is Deep Water Culture Hydroponics?

by RightFit Gardens | Last Updated: August 7, 2021

One of the most common hydroponic methods used by hobby growers is deep-water culture or DWC. This hydroponic system is effective and very easy to assemble and maintain while producing excellent yields. Hydroponics is an excellent place to start for those who are new to it. Hydrop systems are very effective methods of growing plants, despite their ease of use. Learn how deep water culture hydroponics works.

How Does Deep Water Culture Hydroponics Work?

The 5-gallon hydroponic bucket, also known as a bubble bucket system, is an excellent example of a deep water culture hydroponic system. Hydroponic buckets with 5 gallons of water are simple to build and can produce large fruiting plants with huge yields, making them popular with hobby hydroponic gardeners.

Hydroponic systems that use deep water culture do not require you to use a growing medium that retains a lot of moisture. Air stones or diffusers provide oxygen to the root system by suspending the healthy roots in a hydroponic solution. Deep water culture hydroponics is very dependent on oxygen and air because roots not receiving constant oxygen will be drowned in hydro nutrients.

Deep Water Culture Hydroponics: What’s the Secret?

deep water culture systemPlants growing in deep water receive the amounts of nutrients they need for growth due to the abundance of everything they need. As plants sit in nutrient-rich water and breathe oxygen, the plants roots explode in size and become massive. In general, the most important determining factors will be the species of plants grown and their current stage of growth. Online resources are available to aid you in understanding the ideal formulation and concentration of fertilizer for any plant and growth phase.

Deep culture systems are so successful due to the oxygen their roots receive. The root mass can become quite thick, as you can see above. It is better to disperse the air bubbles to reach the root mass as possible for faster vegetative growth.

In terms of air stones, the larger, the better when installing your DWC system. A plant’s roots can’t cope up with too high oxygen levels. Air bubbles of smaller sizes are better for root absorption, as small particles are easier to absorb.

Tips for Using Deep Water Culture System

When using deep water culture hydroponics, there are a few things you should keep in mind.

You shouldn’t burn the roots.

Because your plant’s roots will be immersed in the hydroponic nutrient solution at all times, make sure you don’t expose them to too powerful a level of nutrient concentration. You can fry the plant roots if the concentration is too high, blocking nutrients.

Be prepared for power outages.

Electricity is required to run a DWC systems’ air pump. Your plants will be affected if the power goes out. When electricity is lost, lower the central reservoir water level halfway by adding more oxygen while maintaining access to the well-oxygenated solution. While this won’t stop the plants from being stressed, it will prevent them from dying.

Plan for water changes.

Another small issue that has occurred has been when you have larger plants. We have had to check their roots or change their volume of water. In addition to the drain system, we recommend that the hydroponic reservoir be dewatered. In addition to this, making sure the plant’s roots can dangle and not get crushed by the system’s lid would be a good idea. To do this, you’ll need an extra nutrient reservoir where you can set your plant.


Hydroponic gardening using deep water culture can be a simple yet effective method. The DWC system is easy to build or buy and can grow large plants. Its many benefits make a recirculating water culture system a favorite among hydroponic growers.

Related FAQs

Why grow in a DWC System?

DWC systems are popular for varied reasons, the primary one being that they’re one of the simplest types of systems to start with. It is a method that doesn’t require substrate media. The upside to DWC, as mentioned, is the accelerated growth resulting from the superior uptake of nutrients and oxygen.

What are the problems with this system?

Buring maintenance, water level, PH, and nutrient concentration may fluctuate. In small systems, to over or under-calibrate is very easy due to the small scale. If there is a blackout or a problem with the submersible pump, your roots may drown in the low-oxygen nutrient solution. It is also not easy to maintain a consistent water temperature.

Why do you need more water?

More water means more stability for your nutrient solution. This could also mean less monitoring and maintenance for you! Once the plant has a robust root growth, nutrient water is lowered in the water reservoir, often a bucket.

What are the benefits of using DWC?

Because of the oxygenated and nutrient-rich solution, plants grown by a DWC system grow way faster than soil-grown plants! It does not have nozzles, feeder lines or water pumps to clog.

What are the benefits of oxygen-rich water?

If the water has adequate oxygen, there’s no reason why your plant’s roots can’t remain submerged deep in the water for the entire life cycle of the plant!.

What maintenance should I do?

All in all, though, the benefits greatly outweigh any negative factors, and any gardening requires maintenance.

What do I need to grow my plants?

All you need is a 3 ½ gallon bucket, 10-inch net pot, an air pump, air tubing, an air stone, some Rockwool, and some expanding clay growing medium or the growing media of your choice.

How do I keep my plants healthy?

Every one to two weeks, remove the plant from the bucket, replace and refresh the deep water culture nutrients, and place the plant back in an individual bucket.