Hydroponics is an increasingly popular method of growing plants that uses a nutrient-rich solution with a water base, which means that soil isn’t used at all in a hydroponics system. Instead, the roots of the plants are supported by such substances as peat moss, clay pellets, perlite, and rockwool. When you’re looking to create or use a hydroponic system to grow plants, there are hundreds of variations of hydroponic systems available for you to use. However, there are only six types of hydroponic systems under which all variations are situated.

If you create the right hydroponic system and keep the water free from impurities with the sensors mentioned in the Water Treatment of Hydroponic Systems article, the growth rate can be up to 30 percent faster than soil-based planting methods. There are six separate types of hydroponic systems that you can use, which include the following:

1. Wick System 2. Water Culture
3. Ebb and Flow
4. Drip
5. N.F.T. (Nutrient Film Technology)
6. Aeroponic systems

1. Wick system

The wick system is easily the simplest type of hydroponic system that you can use to grow plants, which means that it can be used by practically anyone. The wick system is notable for not using aerators, pumps, or electricity. In fact, it’s the only hydroponic system that doesn’t require the use of electricity. With the majority of wick systems, the plants are placed directly within an absorbent substance like perlite or vermiculite. Nylon wicks are positioned around the plants before being sent straight down into the nutrient solution.

If you're thinking about using a wick hydroponic system to grow plants, the simple nature of this system means that the plants are unable to obtain a significant amount of nutrients. As such, the system is ideal for small garden plants and herbs. Any plant that doesn’t require a substantial amount of water will grow well in this specific system. While this system is fantastic for smaller plants, you’ll want to avoid growing plants like peppers and tomatoes. These plants are considered to be heavy-feeding plants, which means that they require more nutrients than the wick system will be able to provide. Another negative aspect of this growing system is that water and nutrients aren’t absorbed evenly, which could lead to the buildup of toxic mineral salts. When you use this system, make sure that you flush any extra nutrients with fresh water every 1-2 weeks.

What Is Wick System Hydroponics?

Wick system hydroponics is the simplest of the six types of hydroponics system designs. The hydroponic wick system is made up of four basic components:
• Growing container/tray
• Reservoir for the nutrient solution
• Grow Media
• Wicks

The growing container is placed at a short distance above the reservoir, and wicks are placed in such a way that they will draw the nutrient solution up from the reservoir and drag it into the growing medium, which in turn, absorbs it and makes it available to the roots.

Which plants can be grown easily via a wick hydroponic system? These systems are best suited for cultivating smaller, non-fruiting plants, such as herbs and lettuce. They’re also great for starting seeds and cuttings. The reason is that wicking is relatively slow, provides a low volume of nutrient supply, and these plants like herbs, lettuce require less in comparison to other types.

2. Water Culture

A water culture system is another highly simplistic type of hydroponic system that places the roots of the plant directly into the nutrient solution. While the wick system places certain materials between the plants and the water, the water culture system bypasses this barrier. The oxygen that the plants need to survive is sent into the water by a diffuser or air stone. When you use this system, keep in mind that the plants should be secured into their proper position with net pots.

In the water culture system, plant roots are placed directly into the nutrient system. In this way the nutrients can be easily absorbed by the plants. Due to direct access to nutrients and oxygen, plants grown with the water culture method grow very quickly.

The advantages of the water culture system are
• It's very easy to make
• You can plant any kind of plants. Even large plants that need space to grow can also be cultivated.
The only drawback of this hydroponic system is the growth of root diseases, which is caused by dirty growing conditions

3. Ebb and Flow

The basic components of the Ebb & Flow system are the plant tray, reservoir, and submersible pump with timer.

How does it work?

Plants are placed in a tray, which is periodically filled with nutrient-rich water pumped out of a reservoir below. The system uses gravity to return the water to the reservoir to be reused. This system seems complex to beginners because it involves other components too, but they all come together quite easily and can be assembled in a very little time.

• Once assembled, this system require low maintenance and produces plants efficiently with very little electricity or water use.
• It is very popular to grow certain plants like tomatoes and beans in this system, because trellises can be attached directly to the plant tray's stand. Due to the constant movement of water, it is important that you the reservoir is thoroughly cleaned and other components like growing media, reservoir, pots, and plant tray in between seasons are sterlised

4. Drip System

A drip system gives better control over the water and nutrient inputs, and thus can be used to cultivate a wide range of plants and herbs. It works well with different growing media as well, so this also increases the scope of this system.

The following are some of the plants you can grow with a hydroponic drip system: Plants like lettuce, onions, melons, peas, tomatoes, raddishes, cucumbers, strawberries, zucchini, pumpkins etc.

Drip systems are mosty preferred for larger plants. Large plants require larger growing media, which can retain larger amounts of moisture for a longer period. The drip hydroponic system is a slow watering system but proper hydration and nutrition is provided in this setup. For better yields, a slow draining media is preferred like rockwool, peat moss or coconut coi, clay pellets, perlite and gravel. Once set properly, this system runs on minimum supervision.

Advantages of drip system:
• More control over water and nutrient supply
• Flexible system which can be scaled
• Requires low maintenance
• Affordable and cheap installation
• Less chance of system failure compared with other methods

The major drawback of this method is it might act way to complex for small projects, It might cost huge if the water recycling system is used.

Sanket Jiwane