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Hydroponics and Algae: A Troublesome Love Affair

Algae in a hydroponic garden

If you are moving from a classic soil-based gardening strategy to hydroponics, you are about to embark on a new adventure full of unique plant needs. Without soil, your plants depend solely on water to nourish the roots and foliage, along with creating a transport for nutrients. From phosphorus to potassium, elements move into plant roots using water as a transport mechanism. However, critical sunlight supplying the foliage with photosynthesis energy also increases your chances for algae buildup in the water supply.

Algae Basics

Algae are simple organisms, akin to plants because they photosynthesize. They are an important species because they help balance carbon dioxide and oxygen levels for both water and land animals. Algae needs constant moisture to remain viable and reproduce, making natural swampy areas and water pools their best friend when it comes to growth and blossoming. A hydroponics garden is a perfect haven for algae, although no grower likes to see a green bloom growing in the water.

Harmful Effects

Like any plant or organism, algae needs nutrients from the environment to continue healthy photosynthesis. Because they grow so rapidly, algae in a hydroponic garden simply leach all the available nutrients away from your plants. Carefully cultivated roots simply hang in low nutrient water, while algae grows quickly to feast on any remaining nutrients. If you add any more nutrients to compensate for the loss, algae takes up the extra elements for an even larger green bloom.

Changing The Environment

The key to preventing nutrient loss to algae in your hydroponics is basically prevention. Avoid using any containers in clear plastic. Sunlight striking the water is a perfect environment for struggling algae. You want dark containers to hold your hydroponic water, hindering sunlight and photosynthesis processes at the water level. Sunlight should only strike your plants above the water line, allowing them to photosynthesize at a maximum rate. With foliage using the sunlight for energy, roots exposed to the shaded water have the energy to absorb as much nutrients as possible. Any algae that may occur is small, allowing you to remove it promptly before it affects your plants’ growth potential.

Hydroponics is a rewarding strategy for growing plants out of soil. Because you have left behind soil diseases and pests does not mean that hydroponics is without its challenges. Choose your container supplies carefully and attend to the water daily to avoid any algae blooms. Your plants are depending on your talents to grow healthy and large.

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