Types of Growing Media

Coconut Coir

Photo Credit: Plant Care Today

Coconut Coir, or coco coir, is a very popular growing medium for hydroponics users. It is made from the middle layer of a coconut, the part just beneath the outer layer and outside the interior shell. Perhaps the best advantage of coconut coir is its cost efficiency and quality. Coconut Coir has a great pH level that allows you skip purchasing pH balancing items. Coir also does a great job draining and retaining water to promote healthy growth. The only types of plants we don’t recommend you grow in coconut coir are heavy feeding plants like vegetables. You can still grow them, but you’ll need to purchase some fertilizer or compost amendments.

Fun Fact: It takes about a year from the minute coconut coir is extracted from a coconut until it is ready to be used as a growing media.

Hydroton/Clay Pellets

Clay Pellets are another popular and efficient growing medium. To make them, manufacturers take clay and fire them in a kiln. This causes the clay to expand into a size that’s perfect for retaining moisture. The porous clay pebbles allow the perfect amount of aeration for the plant’s root systems. They also allow for proper draining, allowing plant’s root systems to stay healthy.

Rockwool Cubes

Rockwool cubes are one of the most popular growing methods for hydroponics. The material is made by melting rocks and sand and then spinning the mixture into fibers. Rockwell cubes have become so popular because they are excellent at retaining water, hold 18% air at all times and are clean and convenient.


Photo Credit: Gardening Know How

Vermiculite is a large group of hydrated laminar minerals that are perfect for plant growth. Vermiculite pH neutral, 7.0, and is lightweight and great on its own or as part of a mix with other growing media. It will not rot, deteriorate or mold and is enduring, odorless and non-toxic. You can add vermiculite to potting soil to increase water and nutrient retention. Just using vermiculite along will also enable plants to absorb the ammonium, potassium, calcium and magnesium necessary for growth.

Peat Moss

Peat moss is dead fibrous material that forms when mosses and other living material decompose in bogs. It takes several millennia for peat moss to form, so it’s not a renewable resource, but it is great for acid loving plants like blueberries and camellias. It also does a great job holding and releasing moisture to the plants roots.


Nothing is more important to a hydroponic system than good water. There are a lot of factors to consider when optimizing your water level and here is a breakdown on the most important ones.

The pH level of your water plays a major factor in the growth of your plants. Some plants, like blueberries, azaleas and holly, grow better in acidic conditions. Others, like arugula, broccoli and artichoke, grow better in more basic conditions. You’ll need to adjust your water to the right pH level depending on the plant you grow.

Alkalinity is another factor to consider.

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