In this article I show you 5 things a plant needs to thrive, from the light above it, the water and nutrient to feed it, the substrate to support it to the air to help it breathe.
Let’s have a look at these in more detail.
Starting with the light.
A plant growing outside in soil has a lot of advantages, it is designed to do this. When you start to control the environment then you start to need to know what a plant really needs to thrive.
One of these things is light. Natural sunlight is a very powerful source of light and few plants can withstand the force of it unless they are bred for it.
But growing plants inside you find that the building materials will reduce te sunlight a tremendous amount. More that we realise.
The sunlight covers more than just the visible light we see and plants do need some of this unseen light to thrive.
So starting plants indoors and seeing them grow thin and spindly due to the lack of light, we need to supplement the light source. But not just any light, we need to give the plant what it needs.
For vegetative growth you need to give it more of the blue spectrum, for flowering you need to give it more of the red spectrum. With modern leds you can tune the lighting for the growth stage of the plant.
The next thing a plant needs to thrive is water.
All plants need water to grow and survive. They use this liquid for transportation of food up to where it is needed.
It is also used as a cooling mechanism, as we do plants sweat. In hot weather the leaves open special pores on the bottom an allow the plant to transpire water cooling it.
Water is also used as a structural mechanism, water within the cells support the plant. You know what it is like when you forget to water a plant, or come home after a hot day and find your favourite plant all wilted, you then water it and within half an hour the plant looks like nothing has happened. But leave it too long and the plant will never recover.
Not all plants need the same amount of food. So as with what you have in your soil not all plants are able to grow together, even in a hydroponics unit.
But to be able to feed your plants the optimum diet for optimum growth is a dream come true for some. To be able to produce a plant to the best of its capability, to see the maximum yield or the largest flower.
All through adding the right combination of mineral salts and trace elements. The plant does the rest.
Add enough of each of the minerals and the plant will take what it needs, rather than the plant trying to find the right chemical within the ground, you are placing at the very point where it will do most good, all the nutrients the plant needs. All the plant has to do is eat and grow.
All you have to do is to monitor the nutrient strength and level and keep it topped up and replenish it occasionally.
While a seed, a plant needs no support, if fact it maybe a benefit of being distributed.
But once it starts to grow a seedling will need to be supported for top growth and root growth.
The roots need to force themselves between the the particles of soil, looking for pockets of air and nutrients.while the top growth is exposed to winds, rain and sun.
so if your plants will grow tall they will need a lot of support than the lower growing ones.
If you are growing your plants hydroponically then the substrate can, and ideally would be, inert, not interfering with the carefully balanced nutrients you add to the water.
The root system must be able to force its way through the small crevices to reach the nutrient.
Some of the substrate mediums are reusable after cleaning.
The last thing plants need to thrive is air.
This vital need is converted from carbon dioxide to the sugars and starches for food.
The process of photosynthesis, where sunlight breaks down compounds into the individual atoms allows the plant to take in carbon dioxide and combine it with water to create glucose and oxygen.
The oxygen is released and the glucose is used as food.
Oxygen is required at the root level to allow the plant to breathe. If this does not happen, as in highly compacted soil then the plant will suffocate.
If the substrate is freely draining then when the plant is watered the water will, after draining through, draw fresh air down into the root area.
If the plant is overwatered then it may drown as insufficient oxygen may be able to reach the roots.
With most hydroponic systems you either supply air to the nutrients of have the roots partly exposed to the air, thus allowing the roots to be able to breathe all of the time.
How will you grow yours?
How you grow them and where you grow them is up to you.
Will you grow your plants in soil and gamble whether they will survive? – or will you try hydroponics where you have more of a chance of the plant thriving.
You have control over most of the plants needs with hydroponics.
Under cover outside you control the amount of water it has, the type of nutrient and nature takes care of everything else.
Indoors under a cover, you can control the amount of light, air, humidity, water, type of nutrient, temperature, almost everything the plant needs to grow.
The system can be as simple as you want it to be or as complex as it has to be to keep the specimen alive.
So now you have a good idea of what 5 things a plant needs to thrive.[poll id=”3″]
Thanks for reading
I have been growing plants hydroponically since 2009. For years before that i was reading books and looking at systems and saying ...no way...
But once i had taken the plunge with the tomatoes outside, then there was no stopping me.
I tried out most of the systems and started to refine them, getting the plants to grow more efficiently.
Now I am more interested in indoor hydroponics and the challenges it presents. Being able to control the environment, feeding the correct nutrients and giving the correct length and type of lighting....