What is aeroponics?
Aeroponics is a method of growing marijuana plants in which roots are suspended in air inside of a chamber and sprayed with water. Aeroponics is commonly used to start cannabis clones in order to give them a healthy root system before being potted into soil or another growing medium, but can also be used to grow full plants.
This growing method was first created in the first half of the 20th century as a way to study a plant’s root system. Initially created only for research, aeroponics has since become a popular way to cultivate cannabis clones and plants.
How do aeroponic growing systems for weed work?
Aeroponic growing systems use a water-tight chamber that has multiple misters in it. Also known as “cloner,” you can buy these ready-made or build your own.
When cloning, once clones are taken off a mother plant, a foam collar is put around each clone and then placed in the cloner. Once all clones are in the cloner, the chamber is filled with water and nutrients are added.
To grow full plants, a planter bed is needed. To start, a seedling grown in a medium, such as a rockwool cube, needs to be placed in a net pot and a collar is then placed around the base of the stalk. This collar helps prevent mist from evaporating or molding the stalk and also protects the roots from infection and damage.
As with clones, water and nutrients in the chamber are pumped through to misters that blanket the roots of the plants. Excess moisture collects in the chamber and drains back into the reservoir to be recycled for later use.
Advantages and disadvantages of growing weed aeroponically
Advantages of aeroponic systems for weed
Aeroponic systems are known for the quality product they produce. Applying nutrients directly to roots allows for development of large, healthy buds. Buds grown with aeroponics are known to blossom with ripe trichomes and in high yields, making for a lucrative and desirable end product.
In an aeroponics setup, cannabis plant roots are in full contact with oxygen at all times, helping roots thrive. Also, when nutrients are dissolved in water and directly applied, they will be more readily available for the plant to uptake.
An aeroponic setup will also save space as plants can be placed closer together because they don’t have to fight for soil. The lack of soil also helps prevent pests.
Aeroponics also uses much less water compared to regular soil growing as water not taken in by plants is recycled.
Disadvantages of aeroponic systems for weed
Aeroponics may take some time, effort, and skill to figure out, and may be challenging at first if you’ve never grown weed before.
Aeroponic systems usually work on a timer, misting roots at set intervals throughout the day. Because of this, power outages, broken pumps, clogged nozzles, and empty reservoirs can all derail your growing.
Roots without moisture will quickly start dying, so you need to have systems in place to alert you of failures, and you need to be on hand to solve problems when they arise. Aeroponics requires close attention to detail and can be labor-intensive and time-consuming.
Although it can cut down on pests, weed plants grown aeroponically will be more prone to root rot and mold. Sometimes, aeroponic weed plants lack the complex flavors that can be found by growing in soil.
How to grow aeroponic weed step-by-step
To start growing weed with aeroponics, you’ll need to set up an aeroponic machine, also called a cloner. You can make your own or easily purchase one—check out our Buyer’s guide on cannabis cloning equipment to see various options at different price points.
Clones need to get vegetative light, so 18 hours a day. Make sure to get a light that isn’t too hot, and set it up 1-2′ above the clones. T5s work great for clones.
To set up the aeroponic machine:
- Fill up the chamber with water and nutrients
- Set up the pump
- Set up the misters
After taking a clone of a plant, you’ll need to put a foam collar around it—which holds the clone in place—and put it in the machine. Once all clones are in the machine, turn it on, and it will start misting the bottoms of your clones.
You can get a timer for the aeroponic machine, which will mist stems at intervals. You’ll have to experiment with it to get the best results.
You can start seeds in an aeroponic system using a net pot, which is a basket with holes in it that is filled with clay pellets or another grow medium.
Also, when clones have rooted out, you can transplant them into a net pot and finish out the rest of the plant in the aeroponic system. Once in a net pot, grow the plant as you normally would.
With aeroponics, you’ll need to keep an eye on:
- Water level in the tank—plants will soak up more water as they get bigger
- Amount of nutrients (change according to growth cycle)
- Length of time misters are on
- Light height—increase as plants get bigger
- Clogging—check pump and misters regularly to make sure water is circulating through the system and getting to the plants
Aeroponics is a great way to grow high-quality weed. It’s a little less complicated then hydroponics, and once you have the aeroponics machine setup, it’s just a matter of checking to make sure it’s still running properly.
Trevor Hennings contributed to this article.
Read more of Leafly’s guide to growing marijuana
- How to grow weed: Basics of growing marijuana
- 4 stages of marijuana plant growth
- Marijuana plant anatomy
- How to grow weed indoors
- How to grow marijuana outdoors
- Cannabis seeds 101: How to grow marijuana from seed
- How to clone cannabis plants
- Marijuana seedling and plant care
- How to harvest marijuana plants
- Troubleshooting common cannabis plant problems
- Buyer’s guides for cannabis seeds and growing equipment
- How to grow marijuana using hydroponics, aeroponics, or aquaponics