Germination is the first stage during which the plants come out of their shells to become seedlings. However, you have to maintain the right atmosphere for the process necessarily. After germination, a seed goes through two different stages of propagation and transplant.
There is two best way to germinate seeds for hydroponics. These two methods either use Rockwool or paper towel as the medium to germinate seeds. Coco coir and coco peat are good alternatives.
Best Way to Germinate Seeds for Hydroponics
Lets look at these methods to germinate seeds for hydroponics in detail.
Method 1: Rockwool Method
For the sake of simplicity, we call it a mere Rockwool method where you are going to use the Rockwool cubes or peal pellets as the starter.
Use these as the primary method for seed germination in hydroponics.
Step 1: Choose Your Starter
As mentioned above, you are first required to choose the starter, i.e., either Rockwool cubes or peat pellets. Both of them are neutral choices as they won’t provide any harm to your seeds.
The texture or material allows enough air or moisture to allow the seeds to grow optimally.
Step 2: Prep Your Starter
Before you begin the seed germination, it is required to prepare your pellets or Rockwool cubes well in advance by cleaning them with distilled water for at least a couple of hours.
Step 3: Seed Placement
Now, you can place your seeds after removing any excess water by shaking it. The right seed placement is quite an essential step else they won’t sprout. It’s better to place only 1-2 seeds as it is considered to be the optimum way to germinate seeds for hydroponics.
Step 4: Placement Of Cubes
To germinate seeds for hydroponics, you need to place pellets or cubes in a covered tray or shallow dome at about 1-2 inches. Also, make sure to put them into the distilled water.
You have to keep them 5-7 days in the dark until they are about to come to their second stage of propagation.
Step 5: Consider The Water Level
This step requires you to consider your water level in the grow tray. So, it would be best if you kept it at a maximum of 1-2 inches high. At first, the distilled and plain water is enough. Then, you can add a nutrient solution to the water used for keeping grow system moist.
You can add more nutrients once the plant reaches 5cm or 2 inches approx.
Step 6: Choose The Best Hydroponics System
Lastly, you have to invest in one of the best hydroponics systems. Well, the step comes after the transplantation, i.e., the last stage of seed germination. You can either go for a passive or active hydroponics system.
Method 2: Paper Towel Method
The paper towel is the second-best way to germinate seeds for hydroponics. You may be wondering that a power towel looks a bit traditional when all other advanced techniques are available.
Despite being traditional, the paper towel method to germinate seeds for hydroponics is economical and available to a beginner hydroponic cultivator. The system is also economical in the way that it doesn’t allow any of your seeds to get wasted.
With this method, you will better germinate even the old seeds.
So, let’s start with the ultimate steps to germinate seeds for hydroponics in a paper towel method.
Step 1: Take A Paper Towel And A Bag
The very first step is to grab both of these items. For this purpose, you can take a simple sandwich bag and a paper towel. You may need to take two paper towels if they are thin sheets than required.
Step 2: Folding
Start by folding the paper towel in a way that you can easily place seeds after getting it wet. So, fold it before getting it too wet and put it in the baggie. Don’t wet it too much.
Step 3: Seed Placement
It is time to place seeds in the paper towel by giving them a bit of space in between. Make sure to give them spacing around 1.5 to 1 inch. Well, you don’t need to be too precise. It’s just that you have to give space for better seed germination.
Step 4: Bag Placement
It is one of the important steps to place the bag correctly. It would help if you had an ideal place that is both warm and dark. It’s easy to find a dark place, whereas it could be pretty tough to find a warm place.
The ideal place that remains continuously warm is said to be the seedling heat mat. So, you must invest in a good seedling heat mat for the purpose.
Step 5: Check The Seeds
All the necessary steps are almost completed by now to germinate seeds for hydroponics. Well, you have to transplant the seeds before they get too elongated and reach the light.
After discussing the two best ways to germinate seeds for hydroponics, it is now important to consider their proper care as well. The fact is that you need seedling care tips during as well as after the germination.
So, the section is going to be divided into two parts, including care and maintenance tips during and after the germination process.
How To Care For The Seeds During Germination?
Timing Must Be Right!
Please note the seed germination conditions as provided on the packets of seeds. So, the weather must be favorable whether you grow it outdoors or indoors. Usually, you have to germinate them indoors before transplanting them into the hydroponics.
Find Ideal Containers
There are two kinds of containers discussed above, i.e., the grow tray and the bag. Both of them are great places if you have properly followed other conditions as well. Mostly, the hydroponic cultivators prefer to go for grow trays.
Then, you need to place each Rockwool cube or other starter cubes at a space of 1-2 inches. For the purpose of hydroponic seed germination, you can choose among three growing mediums as given below.
Coco Coir is generally the hair of coconut husk that can be used as a growing medium to germinate seeds for hydroponics. So, it is not a fine powder and is mostly used for a passive hydroponics system.
Well, the coco coir growing medium is also available in the form of starter cubes. However, the sediment or dirt like structure is not likable by some of the hydroponic growers as it can clog the reservoir.
Coco Peat is another growing medium to be used for seed germination. It is one of the ideal choices as the coco peat is able to release and store nutrients in the plants. It delivers oxygenated properties for the hydroponic plants.
Even though Rockwool cubes are not a natural growing medium, they are highly popular among hydroponic growers. They are made by spinning and heating the various silica-based materials into little and thin threads.
Water, Feed, And Repeat
As suggested above as well, you need to water, feed, and repeat the entire process. Initially, you can start with clean, distilled water while graduating with the nutrient solution. However, the Rockwool cubes, if used, are required to be moist beforehand.
Provide them with enough light along with the darkness and warmth. After they start to germinate a little bit, keep them in little light. You can either use the CFL grow lights or the light sunshade for the purpose.
Solve Troubleshooting During Seed Germination
Tips for Seedling Care after Germination
If your hydroponic seeds have managed to germinate, it doesn’t mean the negligence of care afterward. To make your plant stand out better in the harsh environment, you need to make it strong.
The ‘Damping Off’ is the fungal disease that you need to protect your plants from. It is a real threat to care for in the seedlings after germination. So, you can follow the best practices such as clean grow containers and comply with all the growing requirements for a specific seed.
Then, after keeping your plants in a sunny location during the day, you need to move them at night to protect it from cold drafts. Be careful with the water also as too much water can cause the roots to rot while too little water can cause them to shrink.
How To Transplant Seeds For The Hydroponic System?
While transplanting after you germinate seeds for hydroponics, you need to protect them from ‘transplant shock.’ They are highly sensitive to warm environments or hot temperatures, even if it is the temperature of the water.
Make sure to keep the plugs and roots of plants intact while grabbing them from growing trays. Grab it from the close of the plug. Avoid transplanting them directly into the light as they can get overwhelmed.
You can transplant them when they are ready to be watered again. It is the ideal time when the growing media is not that wet but still moist. And, it would help if you transplanted in the manner that the seedlings go directly into the hydroponic water system.
However, the timings will ultimately depend upon the type of hydroponic plant you grow for seedlings germination. Also, note the ideal humidity and temperature levels for respective plants as too low or too high of them can have an adverse impact on the growth.
So, these are some best ways to germinate seeds for hydroponics, along with the care tips during the germination and transplant process. Well, most of the hydroponic growers usually go for the Rockwool method nowadays.
But, that doesn’t mean the paper towel method is out of the scene. This economical method can be used while following all the instructions. All in all, you have to be smart in terms of proper care and maintenance as well to reap the maximum tasty yield.