How Long Should I Run My Hydroponic System?

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By Emily Cooper

It is important to know precisely how long your hydroponic system should run in order to get the best performance.

Several factors will affect this, such as temperature, airflow, and nutrient strength.

Your setup may also have a timer built-in which you can use to control the length of time that your system runs. A general rule of thumb for most systems is 30 minutes, but 15 minutes is ideal for more control, never longer than that, though.

Also read: Do I Need An Air Pump For Hydroponics

Use a pump timer for accurate timing.

Using a pump timer is essential for hydroponic systems because it ensures that your plants are receiving the right amount of nutrients at all times. The timer attaches to your pump and determines how long you want the system running for each cycle.

For example, if your nutrient solution needs to be pumped once every hour, then set this on a controller connected with a digital timer so that pumps are activated only when you need.

Water levels and timings for each hydroponic system

hydroponic system water levels and timings

A pump timer will change depending on the system you have; below are the most common hydroponic systems growers use for hydroponic gardening:

  • Ebb and flow – A timer will keep your pump on for 15 minutes, then off for 15 minutes. The timing should be set when you are filling up the tank or changing out the water in a flood and drain system.
  • Drip – A drip hydroponic system is very similar to how an ebb and flow works, but instead of flooding the trays with water, a timer will keep your drip lines on for 15 minutes and off for 15 minutes.
  • Aeroponics – A timer will control the length of time that your pump is on to create a mist or infuse oxygen into your nutrient solution. It should be set to around 30-45 seconds at first, but you can adjust it as needed.
  • Nutrient Film Technique (NFT) – A timer is used to control the amount of time that your pump is on to create a nutrient solution that flows from one tray/container to another, similar to how it would work in an aeroponic system. It should be set to around 15 seconds at first, but you can adjust as needed.

What size pump do I need?

Hydroponic pumps come in all shapes and sizes, but their primary function is to move water. When choosing a pump, you need to consider the size of your hydroponic system and how many plants are in it.

Here are our top recommendations for air pumps: Best Air Pumps For Hydroponics – Top Choices in 2024

If you have plenty of space for bubbleponics or aeroponics, then any decent-sized pump should be able to easily handle your garden with no problems! However, if that same-sized garden is packed into a tiny space and you want to run an ebb and flow system, then your pump may not be powerful enough.

You might need more than one pump depending on the size of your hydroponic system as well as how many plants it will support.

Can you overwater hydroponics?

Overwatering plants in your hydroponic garden can lead to major problems, which you need to be careful of.

If you are brand spanking new to hydroponics, you must learn how often and for how long you should run your system to not kill your plants with too much water.

Many first-time hydro growers make the mistake of leaving their system on all day, and this is something you should avoid doing.

The reason why it’s a bad idea to have your pump running 24/7 is that if there isn’t enough oxygen in the air, then that will cause root rot. If you see symptoms such as yellowing or curling leaves, it is probably due to root rot.

Does temperature matter as much as overwatering plants?

Yes, temperature and humidity are very important factors when growing hydroponically.

Having the right humidity can help you avoid fungus, which will kill your plant, and having a stable temperature is crucial for proper nutrient absorption and photosynthesis.

However, it’s also possible to overwater plants in hydroponics – which is what we’re going to focus on here! Plants need water (obviously), but they also need oxygen – so you don’t want to drown them in the water!

What is the proper nutrient solution temperature?

You will be fine if you’re using proper nutrient solution temperatures between 50-80 degrees Fahrenheit.

If the temperature is much lower than this, it won’t damage your root system (though low temperatures can stunt growth), and you should raise the temperature with a heater or by moving the hydroponic system to a warmer location.

If you want to maintain temperatures at around 80 degrees, it is best to run your hydroponics for about six hours each day (in most cases).

If you’re using LED lights in place of sunlight, this likely won’t be an issue – but if not, then you should make sure to keep your hydroponic system in a warm, sunny place during the day.

Change your hydroponic reservoir regularly.

A lot of first-time growers also forget to change. their reservoir regularly, which is essential to the health of their plants.

You should change your reservoir every two weeks with a 50/50 solution of fresh nutrient-rich water and old nutrient-depleted water.

To wrap it up

Let your hydroponic system run for no longer than 30 minutes, and make sure you’re keeping track of the hydroponic nutrients in your reservoir.

Hydroponic plants need a lot of care and attention, regardless of if you’re rowing a single plant or a whole garden full of them.