Lights, nutrients, and oxygen constitute the basic requirements of every hydroponic plant to aid their growth and production of good yields.
Because hydroponic roots are mostly suspended in water, they face more problems involving plants oxygen supply.
Why your plants need oxygen
Plants utilize carbon dioxide in the manufacture of their food and release oxygen during the process. It seems like they do not have use for oxygen since they give it out; however, they need oxygen to perform various life functions.
Absorption of nutrients and water by plants requires energy. Oxygen is used to produce this energy in form of ATP so that plants can perform this function.
Roots of hydroponic plants are usually saturated with water, so oxygen is needed to enable these roots to breathe and avoid suffocation.
Plant growth depends on the availability of oxygen to the plant’s root. Roots absorb adequate water and nutrients when exposed to a sufficient amount of oxygen, increasing the growth of plants.
Plants need oxygen around their roots to prevent pathogens that are from harming plants from them.
Hydroponics oxygen is essential for your plants as inadequate oxygenation may lead to plant loss.
Different Methods of supplying Oxygen
You can oxygenate your plant’s roots using the following equipment:
Air stones have tiny interstices. They are usually immersed in water and connected to an air pump in a hydroponic system.
When connected to an air pump, they create bubbles as air from the air pump is forced through them, spreading dissolved oxygen to your plants throughout the system.
Air stones are cheap, very easy to use and the most commonly used by subsistence growers in supplying oxygen to hydroponic plants.
Air diffuser tubes
The air diffuser tube is a flexible tube that has even distribution of holes on it. The holes create small consistent bubbles that supply oxygen to the roots of your plants.
It is easy for your plants to absorb enough amounts of oxygen because air diffuser produces small-sized bubbles which can stay long enough in water in contrast to the big bubbles from air stones.
Air diffuser tubes are an efficient way of supplying oxygen to your plants.
An automatic siphon setup
This is popular with the ebb and flow system. When water flows through the grow bed and reaches a specific height, a siphon already set up helps empty the water in the grow bed back into the reservoir.
This exposes the root of your plants to oxygen from air before another periodic flooding of the grow bed.
The U, Bell, and loop are known types of automatic siphons. They all work based on the same principle.
Hang the roots
Not all hydroponic systems have plants’ roots suspended in water. The Aeroponics and vertical hydroponics systems have plants hung in the air and their roots constantly sprayed with the nutrient mix.
This system exposes your plants’ roots to air, enabling constant availability of oxygen to your roots.
Use the air gap method
This is common with the Nutrient Film Technique (NFT) hydroponic system.
Plant roots in this system are not entirely suspended in water.
The thin film of the nutrient solution enables the top part of the plants’ roots to remain dry. This leaves an oxygen gap between the nutrient solution and the base of the plant.
The air gap ensures your plants have access to enough oxygen.
It is very important you ensure good oxygen supply to your plants using a method suits your system best. Plants need to breathe, too!