There are many hydroponic options for your garden, but what is the best one? What hydroponic growing material should you use?
People use two main hydroponic growing materials in their gardens: Rockwool and hydroponic sponges.
Hydroponic sponge has been around since 1990. The hydroponic sponge consists of sponges that have holes cut into them and are soaked with water.
On the other hand, Rockwool can be made from rock or sand mixed with animal fiber such as wool or hair and spun into threads. When heated until it melts, it becomes liquid Rockwool.
Rockwool has been around longer than hydroponics sponges, so it’s a better-known option. But does this make Rockwool the better choice? We’ll compare these two hydroponics materials below to help you decide which one is right for your garden!
- Cheap — a bag of hydroponic sponges is much cheaper than a bag of Rockwool
- Easy to hydrate and use — hydroponic sponges are easier for beginners as no rinsing or soaking is required. Plants can absorb water easily through their roots and, therefore, will grow faster.
- Hydroponics Sponges can be reused but must first be cleaned and disinfected.
- The sponge has the ability to absorb and retain water for long periods, which means that plants will not dry out as quickly.
- Too much water rotting roots — hydroponic sponges tend to retain a lot of water, so hydroponics sponges must be drained when too much is present
- Need to clean hydroponic sponges regularly — hydroponic sponges can get dirty quite easily and need frequent cleaning.
You may want to know what are the types of grow sponges available in the market. Learn more about them from our previous article on how to choose the right hydroponic grow sponge for your plants.
Related: Sponge as a Hydroponic Growing Medium: How It Works?
- Rockwool has a lot of air space between fibers (up to 90%)- this is beneficial for plant growth.
- Durable — Rockwool can last many years if it’s not abused. But it is advisable to reuse a maximum of three times by disinfecting it, and most recommended is to use a fresh one.
- Retains water well — less frequent watering needed.
- Easy to grow fresh produce in any climate. Also learn how to make a successful hydroponic garden in any climate.
- Rockwool can be used for plants at any growth stage.
- It can be used with plants at any growth stage and helps regulate pH levels.
- It germinates faster than soil and does not release ammonia into the air.
- Rockwool does not decompose or break down over time.
- It is non-toxic, sterile, and does not introduce any outside objects or organisms into the hydroponic system.
- Rockwool provides an excellent environment for roots to grow due to its high porosity.
- Heavy — a bag of Rockwool is much heavier than a bag of hydroponic sponges
- Prone to hydrophobic properties — hydroponic Rockwool can be hydrophobic, which means it repels water
- Need to clean Rockwool regularly.
Related: 10 Reasons to Have Alternative to Rockwool
How to Choose the Suitable Hydroponic Growing Medium?
The factors that need to be checked before buying a hydroponic growing medium are:
1. Quality- The quality of the grow media should be considered with the balance between cost and performance
2. Size — You want to buy a size that will fit the space you have available
3. Type/Growth Method — Different grow media have different properties, so it’s worth considering which you’ll need for your particular situation such as different growing methods and types of plants.
4. Reusability — If you’re going to reuse a medium in a system, then it needs to be able to be cleaned and sterilized in some way
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So Hydroponics Sponge or Rockwool?
As you can see from the list above, both hydroponic sponges and Rockwools have pros and cons.
The hydroponic sponge is a good option for beginners and people who want to save money, but hydroponics Rockwool can be better in some ways.
In the end, you’ll have to decide which hydroponic medium is best for your garden, based on the affordability, type of plant, quality, size, growing method, and reusability!
If you decide to buy any of the above hydroponic growing mediums, check out these affiliate links to buy. We earn a small commission for qualified purchases, but it has no impact on your price. They help this site continue to provide valuable information to our readers.
Thank you for reading!
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