Deep Water Culture Hydroponic System

Deep Water Culture Hydroponic System - Roots

Everything You Need to Know About The Deep Water Culture Hydroponic System


One of the easiest to build hydroponic systems is the deep water culture hydroponic system (DWC). This low maintenance system can be made out of anything that holds water, from an old cooler to a bucket to a purchased sturdy DWC system that will last for many crops. 


Plants need water to live. But they can’t live in water! The roots will drown. Have you ever started a plant in a jar of water? At first the roots look pretty good but at some point they will become slimy and die. That is because they need oxygen. Most hydroponic mediums are specially designed to hold plenty of oxygen for plants. Water works as a medium - but you have to add oxygen. So a deep water culture is not just plants growing in water - it’s water plus nutrients plus oxygen. 


Deep Water Culture Hydroponic System - Roots 2


To build your DWC system, start with a container that holds water, with no drain holes or anything. Make sure it is not clear - if sunlight, nutrients and water mix you will get algae growth. Let’s use a white 5 gallon bucket with a lid as an example.


Your plant should be in a net pot filled with expanded clay balls, like hydroton. Cut a hole in the lid of the bucket that fits the rim of the net pot. Your plant will become heavy as it grows, so be sure the hole you cut isn’t too big. If the hole is too big, the whole pot will fall in. Cut another smaller hole so you will be able to add water and nutrient, and check the EC and pH


Now fill up your bucket high enough that when the net pot is in the lid the water covers part but not all of the pot. Add nutrient and balance the pH. Hang a light if you are using a light. 


Now for the important part - you need to put an aerator or air stone into the bucket. Drop that thing in through the EC porthole, or cut another small hole. Plug it in, and watch the plain nutrient solution become lovely aerated, delicious water for your plant. 


A floating raft is similar to DWC but an even easier and more low maintenance hydroponic system. In this case you would float a piece of styrofoam (or something similar)  on the top of a container of water. If it’s for heavy plants, use a thicker piece of styrofoam. You can even use styrofoam that came as packaging around something like a TV. Cut a hole in the styrofoam for your plant (either in a pot or not) add nutrient and an aerator to the water. Hang a light or grow it outside in the sun. This is such an easy system. You could cut another hole in the floating raft to add water and test your EC.


As always, be sure all water is covered in some way to prevent light from hitting it. Water + nutes + light = algae.


For more great content check out the Proponics YouTube channel below!


Proponics on YouTube



Meredith Bio Pic
By Meredith Martin
Meredith Martin started a small hydroponic farm in 2004. Within a few years, it was supplying basil to more than 20 supermarkets. She has since sold the farm and now spends most of her time skiing, windsurfing and travelling. 

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