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Tracking and controlling pH levels in hydroponics

When it comes to hydroponics pH levels are a very important variable. Unfortunately, they also appear to be one of the most overlooked aspects of hydroponics, this article will hopefully show you the importance of pH levels and how to track and control it so that you get the best results with your hydroponic endeavors in the future.

What is a pH level?

pH is a measure of how acidic or alkaline something is. A pH of 7 is neutral, meaning it is neither alkaline or acidic. The scale goes up to 14 and anything between this point and the neutral 7 is alkaline. If the pH level is between 0 and 7 then the substance is acidic. The further away from 7 the stronger the acidity / alkalinity of the substance, in other words pH 0 is the strongest acid and pH 14 is the strongest alkali.

pH in hydroponics

As with most aspects of hydroponics, a great disadvantage of traditional gardening has been eliminated. In traditional soil gardening you have limited control over a soils pH levels, as there are just too many variables which can change the soils pH and there is not a lot you can do. In hydroponics, however, you have control. You can track and influence the pH of the water easily and ultimately grow the best plants possible.

Why are pH levels important in hydroponics?

pH levels are important in all gardening, it just so happens that the magical nature of hydroponics allows you to control it. pH levels are important to all living things, in the same way that it would be bad for you to stray too far away from drinking neutral (pH 7) water, it is less than ideal for tomatoes to grow in a pH outside of their comfort zone of the acidic 6.0 – 6.5. pH levels outside a plants comfort zone can impair the plants ability to absorb nutrients. Each and every plant has its own preferred growing conditions from temperature and space to grow and Ph level is another environmental factor which can affect a plants growth.

How do I track Ph levels in hydroponics?

This bit is easy. You just need a pH meter which fits your range and has an appropriate electrode – since you are measuring the pH of the water you are growing your plants in a standard electrode will be fine. All you need is to know what pH you want so you know if you are hitting the mark – check the table at the end of this post to see what plants require what pH levels.

How do I control pH levels in my hydroponics?

The easiest, most effective way to alter the pH levels is to buy a product from a hydroponics store specifically made to adjust a solutions pH. Simple buy and apply some pH up or some pH down. You can also buy pH buffer which will help regulate the solutions pH levels, and calibrate your pH meter. That is all there is to it. Controlling the pH is easy, as long as you know how you need to change it and to do that just reference the table and see what your plants need to thrive.

  

 

Plant

Ideal pH range

Artichoke

6.4-7.5

Asparagus

6.0-6.8

Basil

5.5-6.5

Beetroot

6.0-6.5

Blueberry

4.0-5.0

Broad Bean

6.0-6.5

Broccoli

6.0-6.8

Brussell Sprout

6.5

Cabbage

6.5-7.0

Carrots

6.3

Cauliflower

6.5-7.0

Celery

6.5

Chili peppers

5.5-6.5

Chives

6.0-6.5

Cucumber

5.5

Eggplant

6.0

Garlic

6.0

Leek

6.5-7.0

lettuce

6.0-7.0

Marrow

6.0

Melon

5.5-6.0

Onions

6.0-6.7

Parsley

5.5-6.0

Parsnip

6.0

Pea

6.0-7.0

Potato

5.0-6.0

Pumpkin

5.5-7.5

Radish

6.0-7.0

Spinach

6.0-7.0

Strawberries

6.0

Sweet Corn

6.0

Thyme

5.5-7.0

Tomato

6.0-6.5

Turnip

6.0-6.5

Watermelon

5.8

Zucchini

6.0