I am always looking for new ways to grow my plants hydroponically, and there are a ton of DIY solutions as well as kits to choose from. Lately I’ve been looking into pre-made towers and complex DIY setups which I found is very overwhelming because of the cost and effort involved to get started. So while I am mulling over my tower options, I decided to try a much simpler DIY solution: hydroponic mason jars. Once you get the correct materials, these are very simple to setup.
My steps are based on these extremely helpful sites:
What I used
- Quart-sized, wide-mouthed mason jar with two-piece lid
Roots don’t like light (or so I’ve read), so if you want to be thorough, buy clear jars and then spray paint them (I didn’t do this); otherwise, get a colored jar so at least some light is filtered.
- 3-inch round, wide-lip net pots
- Tiki torch wick
Watch out for wicks that are pre-soacked in oil – especially if you’re growing herbs, you don’t want that being absorbed by your plant.
- Clay pellets
- Soil-less seed starting “cubes”
I ended up cutting these sponges to work since I had them laying around, but a rockwool cube is probably ideal.
You don’t need this if using a seedling instead.
- Seed(s) and liquid nutrients
You’re done! Now put it in a sunny window and watch it grow!
Make sure to refill the water when it gets low and periodically clean the jar and replace the nutrients.
How it works
In the beginning, the wick brings water up to the pot where it is absorbed directly by the seedling (which is sitting on the wick) and also by the clay pellets which provide a wider area of moisture. As the roots grow down, they will reach not only through the clay pellets, but eventually, into the water below. If you start with a plant with long enough roots, you could skip the wick part.
- I originally bought a different set of mason jars for this project, only to discover that my net pots didn’t fit. Make sure to test that everything fits together – if you get 3″ net pots, you’ll need a wide mouth mason jar…. or a late night trip to your local Target.
- Keep your eye on your seeds. At one point while planting some English ivy, the seed popped out of the starter cube. Ideally, you don’t want the seed to fall through the net cup and drown in the nutrient solution.
- If you use a different size jar, make sure there’s room between the bottom of the pot and the water so that roots have room to breath.