An Intro to Rockwool
Rockwool is a popular choice for hydroponic farming.
Rockwool is a rock-like material that can use for germination in hydroponic farming. Rockwool has many benefits for hydroponics, including retaining water, moisture, and nutrients that plant roots need.
Rockwool also provides excellent insulation properties, which make it possible to grow plants year-round in cold climates where Rockwool’s low thermal conductivity minimizes heat loss during winter months.
What You Should Know if Your Seeds Don’t Germinate Properly in Rockwool?
If your seeds don’t germinate properly in Rockwool, there may be some reasons. If you know why it is, you can overcome the issue and make our Rockwool super medium.
To understand the issue, you need to know the internal and external factors affecting hydroponic Rockwool germination.
Several internal and external factors may influence the germination of seeds in Rockwool cubes for hydroponic farming.
What Are the Internal and External Factors That Influence Rockwool’s Germination in Hydroponics?
The internal factors include the age, health, viability of the seeds, and the type of plant. External factors include the quality of the water, the type of Rockwool cube, and the PH level, environmental conditions in which the plants are grown.
First, let us see how each internal factor affects germination in Rockwool. Here you can see that age, health, and viability of seeds are dependent on one to one.
1. Age of seed
The old seed has the possibility of being too dry and dead. A seed can get old if it stays in storage for a long period. The longer the seed is stored, the more cracked, hard, and dry it will become. This can make it difficult for a seed to germinate because cracking allows bacteria to enter, introducing rot into the seeds.
When planting seeds, make sure you use the freshest ones possible. Seeds that are out of date will not germinate correctly. If stored in a cool, dry location over the winter, most seeds have a one to two years shelf life. The easiest way to keep leftover seeds is in an airtight glass jar in the fridge or freezer.
2. Health of seed
If the seed is too dry and dead, it can’t absorb water and nutrients from Rockwool cubes. Seed should stay healthy and viable for better germination in Rockwool.
We can improve the seed’s health by storing them well in a refrigerator or placing the seeds into a wet napkin and then putting them into Rockwool cubes.
Also, you can use a bigger Rockwool cube to store your crumpled-up paper towel to hold moisture around the seeds.
If you have been having trouble germinating your seeds, it is likely because the quality of the seed has diminished. Make sure to use fresh seeds that haven’t been sitting around for too long when germinating them in hydroponics.
You’ll increase your chances of having good germination by utilizing fresh seeds. To extend the life of your seeds, keep them in a cool, dry location.
3. Viability of seed
A seed that has not developed a root or shoot is unviable and will take time to germinate if it does at all. Vegetative seeds are viable because they have the roots and shoots needed for rapid growth from Rockwool cube as soon as conditions improve in Rockwool cubes after the first leaf has started to form.
You may test the viability of your plant seeds by planting them in a moist paper towel, then checking every day for germination. If they don’t germinate within a week, they are probably not viable, and you should try a different batch of seeds.
The moment the seed is ripe and viable, it begins to die. Seeds have a long life span of two to three years before falling below the 80% range for successful germination. Once seeds reach about 75% germination, their ability to germinate drops off significantly.
4. Type of plant
Different plants have different requirements for temperature, humidity, etc., so it’s important to know what type of plant your seeds are before you put them into Rockwool cubes.
The easiest way to find out is to examine the seed package or growing instructions that came with your seeds.
Next, I would brief the external factors affecting germination in hydroponic Rockwool. As I said before, the External factors include the type of Rockwool cube, PH level, environmental conditions in which the plants are growing, and the quality and quantity of the water.
1. Type of Rockwool
Rockwool is made from different materials such as basalt or limestone, which significantly influence its characteristics.
The moisture retention of basalt Rockwool, for example, is better than limestone. It means that you need to use bigger Rockwool cubes if you are using basalt Rockwool.
Rockwool cubes also come in different shapes and sizes. The size of the Rockwool cube will determine how many seeds you can fit into it. Make sure to use a Rockwool cube that is big enough for your needs.
There are three types of Rockwool in the market: cube, slab, and Granulated Rockwool. The type of Rockwool you choose will depend on your needs.
Cubes are a good place to start if you’re new to hydroponics and want to learn how everything works. If you’re growing plants indoors, cubes will work well for the most part.
Slabs may not provide adequate support if there’s no transplanting during the vegetative stage.
If you don’t want to transplant during the vegetative stage and don’t mind spending a little extra time and money, slabs may be a smart option for you.
The lighter weight of Rockwool makes it easier to handle, while the heavier weight provides more support for plants.
2. Quality of Rockwool
We may reuse Rockwool cubes, but we should not use them for more than three germination cycles. If the Rockwool cube has been used for germination before, it is no longer sterile and might harbor diseases or pests that can harm your plants.
It’s important to use a fresh Rockwool cube with each new batch of seeds.
Rockwool cubes are also helpful in starting plants in soil or coco coir. When you’re ready to transplant your plants into these media, make sure to soak the Rockwool cube for at least 24 hours before planting. This can help the plant grow up and reduce stress.
Usually, Rockwool is used for germination when Rockwool cubes are fresh. Rockwool that has not been stored for a long time is preferable if you want your seeds to germinate.
3. PH level
PH levels can also affect your seeds during the germination period because they can be too alkaline or acidic for the plant.
You can correct PH levels by adding small sand or gravel with a PH level of four to five with distilled water. Always balance the sand with the distilled water to avoid adding too much sand, leading to an overly alkaline environment.
The Rockwool cubes should be soaked in the diluted mixture and allowed to dry to absorb the sand and distilled water into the cube. It should then be soaked again before it is planted with seeds.
Rockwool has a pH range of 7–8. Therefore, Rockwool cubes will need time for dilution before you plant your seeds (24 hours).
In most cases, the ideal pH range for plants is between 6 and 7. However, some plants can grow in a more alkaline or acidic environment. Before germinating it in Rockwool cubes, you should research your specific type of plant and its required PH levels.
Related: How to Keep the PH Level of Each Hydroponic Growing Medium?
4. Quality and quantity of water
When you water your plants, make sure to avoid getting the Rockwool cubes wet. The best way to water your plants is by using a drip system or spraying the water directly on the leaves. This will help to keep the Rockwool cubes moist but not wet.
Rockwool cubes can also use to start plants in soil or coco coir. Make careful to soak the Rockwool cube for 24 hours before planting your plants when you are ready to transfer them into these mediums. If you follow these easy guidelines, you’ll have a higher chance of increasing the germination rate.
The quality of water also affects germination in Rockwool cubes. The water needs to be clean and free of contaminants for the seeds to grow successfully. You can test the quality of your water by using a TDS meter. If the water is too high in contaminants, you can use a water filter to remove the pollutants.
How Often to Water Your Plants With the Kratky Method?
How to Set Up a Drip Hydroponic System
5. Environment conditions
The following are some environmental condition related external factors which can affect the germination of your seeds while they are in Rockwool cubes:
-Temperature of the growing medium
-Air circulation or oxygen levels in the Rockwool
-Humidity levels in the Rockwool
All of these factors need to consider when you set up your hydroponic garden. It’s not enough to just set it in and forget about it. By paying attention to the environment your plants are growing in, you will increase your chances of having a successful germination rate.
Another factor that can affect germination in Rockwool cubes is lighting. Make sure to use the correct type of light during your plants’ growth cycle. For example, if you are growing tomatoes, there will be a need for more red spectrum lights that simulate sunlight.
Other types of lighting used in hydroponics are metal halide and high-pressure sodium lights. These types of lighting may be used in the vegetative growth stage for plants that need a lot of light, such as lettuce.
- The temperature of the growing medium
The temperature of your hydroponic garden is also another factor that can affect germination in Rockwool cubes.
The ideal range for most plants to germinate and grow would be between 75°F and 85°F, with a relative humidity of 50–70%. However, some plants can tolerate a higher or lower temperature.
For example, the germination rate of plants like cotton, cucumbers, and peas would be better in a higher temperature range with a relative humidity level between 40–50%. Lettuce germinates best at a temperature of 65°F and can inhibit at a temperature of 68°F. But peppers and eggplants prefer warmer temperatures, around 80°F. They will not grow well when it is cooler. (Source)
Seeds that don’t sprout because the Rockwool is too cold or too hot are a common occurrence. Check your seed package to see what temperature is required for your seeds.
- Air circulation or oxygen levels in the Rockwool cubes
The air circulation or oxygen levels in your hydroponic garden can also affect germination rates in Rockwool cubes. Ensure a good ventilation system in your garden to ensure that the oxygen levels are high.
Maintaining the correct oxygen level is important for the germination process in Rockwool cubes. This will help your plants get the necessary amount of oxygen they need to germinate and grow.
The greatest method to determine how fresh your Rockwool cubes are is to feel them and see if the container has an expiration date. If they feel light, there is more air in the Rockwool, which causes seeds not to germinate or rot inside Rockwool cubes.
Ideally, your Rockwool should have an oxygen level of about 20%. You can achieve this by keeping the water level at the top of the Rockwool cube and ensuring good air circulation around the cube.
Suppose you notice that the oxygen level is dropping. In that case, you can increase it by adding an air stone to your hydroponic system.
- Humidity levels in the Rockwool
Humidity levels outside of the Rockwool cube can have an impact on germination. If the humidity level is too high, there is a chance that you will get algae growth in your Rockwool cubes. This can not only affect the germination process, but it can also be harmful to your plants.
If you are using older Rockwool cubes, there is a chance they will have algae growth because of the moist environment inside your hydroponic system. If this happens to be the case with your rock wools, use them right away before algae start spreading further and cause more problems.
It's Time to Achieve a Successful Germination Rate.
Suppose you are looking for a way to increase your plant germination rates in Rockwool cubes. In that case, you must keep the environment very clean.
Water quality also affects how well seeds will grow in this medium and should be checked with a TDS meter before use.
Avoid getting the Rockwool wet as much as possible by avoiding water. It’s also possible to add an air stone if the water’s oxygen levels drop due to pollutants from the water source.
Pay attention to the type of Rockwool cube you are using, the PH level of the water, and the environmental conditions in which your plants are growing.
By following these tips, you can increase your chances of having a successful germination rate in Rockwool cubes. By taking these into account, you will have an excellent germination rate.
I hope that this article helped educate you on how to increase the germination rate of plants in Rockwool cubes.
Thank you for reading!
If you loved this one, you may also check out other stories in Hydroponic Way.
12 Alternatives to Rockwool for Hydroponic Farming
How to Choose the Best Rockwool for Your Hydroponic
How to Grow Kratky Method Plants: A Passive Hydroponic System