Hydroponic systems at a glance: Which ones are there?

02/23/2024 - Pia from greeny+

Although many different hydroponic systems have been developed in recent years and new techniques are constantly emerging, the systems differ in how they work. However, they all share the central feature of providing plants with nutrients and water without relying on soil .

Immerse yourself in the world of hydroponics and experience the future of plant cultivation!

  • The essentials in brief:

    • Hydroponic systems are revolutionizing plant cultivation by working independently of conventional soil. They vary in how they work, but have the common goal of providing plants with nutrients and water.

    • They are divided into passive and active categories. Passive systems require no electrical components, while active systems are more complex and require power.

    • Hydroponics, with its variety of systems, offers suitable solutions for both beginners and experienced gardeners.

Hydroponic system - what is it?

Hydroponic systems are revolutionary because through automatic irrigation and direct nutrient supply, plants thrive, develop optimally and are more resistant to pests and diseases .
In addition, a hydroponic system is characterized by rapid growth compared to traditional soil cultivation.

Hydroponics systems are also characterized by their space-saving properties . They are also ideal for indoor use and can even be installed in small grow boxes.
This space saving is especially valuable when we consider how limited space can often be indoors.

Another plus point: Working without soil makes the whole thing extremely clean.

A prominent feature of hydroponic systems is the provision of nutrients for plant growth through water rather than through a substrate. Because with hydroponics , traditional soil is replaced by a special nutrient solution that contains all the necessary minerals and nutrients for healthy plant growth .

Advantages of hydroponic systems

The increasing popularity of hydroponics lies in its numerous advantages, which enable efficient and sustainable plant cultivation and overcome many traditional cultivation difficulties. Here are three outstanding benefits of hydroponic systems:

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Water and resource efficient

Hydroponic systems are characterized by their high water and resource efficiency. Compared to conventional soil crops, they usually use up to 90% less water - thanks to the closed circuit of the system, only the water required is absorbed by the plants , while the rest remains in the system and can be reused.

Optimal nutrient absorption

Plants in hydroponic systems have direct access to all the nutrients they need because they are dissolved directly in the water supply. This allows for controlled nutrient uptake, resulting in faster growth and higher productivity compared to ground plants. It also allows precise control over the pH value and concentration of minerals in the nutrient solution.

Year-round cultivation

With hydroponic systems , fresh vegetables, herbs, fruits or flowers can be grown at any time of the year , regardless of the external weather conditions or the respective season. This means that productivity is not dependent on external factors such as weather conditions or seasons.

Types of hydroponic systems – which ones are there?

In the world of hydroponics, there are different systems, each suitable for different needs and types of plants. A distinction is made between passive and active hydroponic systems.

Passive systems do not require any electrical components . Thanks to their independence from a power source, they can be used extremely flexibly, which can be of great advantage in various scenarios.

Active systems are more complex in structure and require electricity , but are also much more effective.

  • 1. Hydroponic pots with clay balls:
    Clay balls serve as an inert medium that keeps plants stable while storing water. When the plant is watered, the clay balls absorb the excess water. The plant's roots can then absorb the water from the clay balls when they need it. This maintains an even moisture level for the plant roots.

  • 2. Wick system:
    The Wick System is a simple, passive hydroponic system that requires no energy. It is based on a system in which the plant is cultivated in a substrate. The capillary effect allows nutrient solution to rise to the roots via the wick.

  • 3. Hydroculture:
    Plants are placed in a floating mat or board that floats on a nutrient solution. The roots hang freely in the water and absorb the nutrients they need. (The same principle as the active DWC system – Deep Water Cultivation)

    A DIY alternative such as a simple water jar with cuttings would also fall under a passive hydroponic system.

  • 1. Aeroponics System:

    In aeroponics, plant roots float in the air while a nutrient solution (nutrients & water) is sprayed on them. This system ensures optimal oxygen supply to the roots and can therefore lead to extremely efficient and rapid plant growth.

    An example of the successful application of aeroponics is the greenyGARDEN HOME.

  • 2. NFT system (nutrient film technique):

    With the nutrient film technique, the roots of the plant are supplied with nutrient solution flowing past. This system can be designed to be circulating and non-circulating.

  • 3. DWC system (deep water culture):

    In deep water culture, the roots of the plant are suspended in a nutrient solution that is actively enriched with oxygen, e.g. B. using an air pump. The method could also be operated autonomously without electricity, which would make it a passive system - but here there may be a lack of oxygen in the nutrient solution. The result is algae growth and rotting roots.

  • 4. Ebb and flow system:
    Plants are placed in a container that is periodically flooded with water and then drained to provide nutrients and oxygen to the roots.

  • 5. Aquaponics System:
    Fish are grown in a tank whose water is passed through a hydroponic system where plants grow. The plants filter the water as they absorb nutrients and purify it for the fish.

  • 6. DFT system (Deep Flow Technology):
    Plants grow in a shallow channel through which nutrient solution flows continuously. This promotes efficient nutrient absorption and oxygen supply for healthy root growth.

7. Drip system (drip irrigation):

Drip irrigation, also known as a drip system, supplies the plant substrate with nutrient solution via a drip line, which is directed directly past the roots to ensure optimal supply. The excess water is drained away to bring oxygen to the root zone, which is important for plant growth. This method promotes root development, avoids waterlogging and allows for flexible irrigation, resulting in higher yields. There are two types of irrigation systems:

5 hydroponic systems at a glance

The range of hydroponic systems is extensive and deciding on the right system is often difficult. Each type of system has its own advantages - 5 systems on the market are explained in more detail below:.

  • 1. The “Wilma” drip system from Atami

    The “Wilma” drip system from Atami for 4 plants impresses with its simple technology.

    The plant is supplied with nutrient solution drop by drop and the watering interval can be adjusted individually, which makes it particularly efficient.

    A water pump pumps the nutrient solution from the water tank into the plant container via drip hoses. These containers are filled with substrate and positioned above the water tank. If necessary, the nutrient solution passes through the substrate and then flows back into the water tank.

  • 2. The aeroponics tower “Aerospring Indoor 2.0” from Aerospring

    The Aeroponics Tower from Aerospring offers space for up to 27 plants in less than one square meter. This aeroponic system promotes efficient plant growth with its application of nutrient solution.

    → The plants are supplied with nutrient solution aeroponics and automatically illuminated with LED plant lamps. The grow box reflects the light and thus increases the light output of the plant lamps. If necessary, the tent can be removed and the aeroponics system can be set up outdoors. Lights and irrigation are Wi-Fi controlled.

  • 3. The “EF120” ebb and flow system from Nutriculture

    With Nutriculture's ebb and flow system, the plants are supplied with a nutrient solution at regular intervals, which guarantees uniform and rapid growth.

    An uncomplicated ebb and flow system that is flooded by a pump. After each pump cycle, the nutrient solution automatically flows back into the tank below. The pumping intervals are set time-controlled.

  • 4. The deep water culture “Indoor WiFi Garden” from iDOO

    The Smart Garden from iDOO is particularly suitable for beginners thanks to its easy operation and offers 12 plant spaces.

    → Deep water culture has a circulation pump, which ensures sufficient oxygen saturation of the nutrient solution. LEDs are controlled by a timer and a fan promotes pollination during flowering.

  • 5. The aeroponic planting tower “greenyGARDEN HOME” from greeny+

    The greenyGARDEN HOME is an aeroponics planting tower that is characterized by 36 planting spaces.

    → The plants are supplied with nutrient solution aeroponics and automatically illuminated by 3 swiveling and dimmable LED lightsabers. The technical composition allows perfectly adaptable conditions for plants.

Nutrient solutions for hydroponic systems

  • A crucial factor for the successful growth of your plants in hydroponic systems is the nutrient solution . This provides all the essential minerals and trace elements needed for growth.

    A good nutrient solution must be balanced and contain the right amount of macro and micronutrients . The exact composition varies depending on the plant species.

    Preparation requires precision and care because it is important to note that not only the choice of nutrients is crucial, but also their dosage. An overdose can be just as harmful as a deficiency.

    To ensure that your plants can grow optimally, regular testing of the nutrient solution is essential to check the pH and concentration of each nutrient.

    Special test kits can be used for this.

Pests and diseases in hydroponic systems

  • Although hydroponic systems are less susceptible to pests and diseases, their occurrence is not impossible .

    The most common pests include spider mites, aphids and whiteflies, which can cause significant damage if not detected and treated early .

    - Spider mites are particularly problematic in indoor gardens; they leave characteristic cobweb patterns on the leaves.

    - Aphids suck plant sap and can transmit viruses.

    - Whiteflies lay their eggs on the underside of leaves, resulting in larvae that damage the plant.

    Diseases often arise from poor hygiene or improper nutrient management and often manifest as root rot, especially when water is too warm or there is an overcrowding of plants.

    To combat these problems, regular plant inspections and a clean growing environment are recommended. In addition, a balanced nutrient solution is crucial to avoid deficiency symptoms or overdoses.

    However, with the right precautions and attention, hydroponic systems can be extremely effective. So controlling pests and diseases is an essential part of this process and should not be neglected.

Tips for successfully operating a hydroponic system

Regular nutrient changes

When operating a hydroponic system, you should pay particular attention to changing the nutrient solution (mixture of water and nutrients) regularly , as this ensures optimal supply to your plants . Keep in mind that different crops have different nutritional needs during their growth cycle, especially fruit-producing plants such as tomatoes or strawberries.

So pay attention to the composition of your plants if watering takes place together!

Controlled environment

Make sure the ambient temperature, humidity, and lighting conditions meet the plants' needs. A controlled environment promotes healthy growth .

pH monitoring

Check the pH value of the nutrient solution regularly and correct it if necessary , as an incorrect pH value can affect the absorption of nutrients.


Keep your system clean to prevent the buildup of algae, bacteria and pests. Regular cleaning and disinfection are important to ensure plant health.

Proper ventilation

Ensure adequate ventilation of the root area to ensure optimal oxygen supply . This is especially important for root growth and preventing root rot.

Plant selection

Choose plants that are suitable for hydroponic cultivation and will produce the desired results. Consider the space requirements, light levels and nutrient requirements of each plant.

Monitoring and adjustment

Monitor plant growth and development closely and adjust your system as necessary to achieve optimal results. This may include changes in irrigation, nutrient additions, or aeration.

Willingness to learn

Be willing to experiment and learn from mistakes. Operating a hydroponic system often requires adjustments and fine-tuning to achieve the best results.


Hydroponic systems are efficient, sustainable and overcome many traditional growing difficulties . With the right setup and care, they can provide a bountiful harvest far beyond what traditional soil methods can provide.

Selecting the right system and substrate, careful care and monitoring, as well as regularly changing the nutrient solution are key to success . Pests and diseases can occur, but with regular inspections and good hygiene practices these can be controlled.