Plant propagation in a hydroponics system is fairly easy. Whether you are rooting a plant from a cutting or growing from seed there are many commercially made products to assist you such as rooting powder, growth supplements and stimulants as well as self-contained growing ‘cubes’.
Supposedly you can grow a plant from seed directly in your hydroponics system by placing the seed in a growing cube of compressed wood or rockwool but I have never had much luck with this myself. It seems that the growing cube never quite dries out; in fact it remains saturated to the point where the seedling will die.
So I propagate seedlings from seed outside of the system either in a growing cube or in dirt. However I have become very fond of propagating seeds in small peat pots filled with clay pellets or pea stone.
When it comes time to add the seedling to the hydroponics garden, I merely place it, pot and all in the system. The same goes for the grow cube.
Plant propagation from a cutting, otherwise called ‘plant cloning’ will give you a genetic duplicate of clone of the donor plant. And it is not that hard to do – all you need are scissors, growing medium like the vermiculite pictured to the left and rooting hormone.
When I am propagating plants from seed, I place the seed in a grow cube and apply plain water until the seedling germinates. Then I water with a diluted half strength nutrient solution. Grow cubes have super water retention ability so make sure to water sparingly, only to keep damp otherwise you may kill the seedling.
When the seedling grows a second set of leaves, actually the first ‘true’ leaf I transplant it by dropping the entire cube in the hydroponics system. I perform this same process if I propagate using a growing medium in a small peat pot.
When I am propagating in soil I wait until the second leaf grows then remove the plant from the flower pot and carefully rinse all soil from the roots then I place it in the growing system. Any plant can be easily transferred from soil to hydroponics by rinsing the plant roots and placing directly in the hydroponics system. If going from hydroponics to dirt, just transplant directly into a garden.
When you are handling plants or seedlings, be careful not to hold them by the stems because it can damage the plant. You should grasp it by a leaf to move the plant around.
Larry Maki is an avid, self-taught hydroponics gardener from Connecticut with a passion for alternative types of gardening.