In order to serve as a suitable replacement for soil, the substrate must be capable of supporting the root system, accumulating moisture and nutrients. It should be inert, free of insects and diseases, and durable.

Moreover, the substrate should permit adequate aeration of the roots, and have first-rate drainage ability. Plants roots need sufficient access to oxygen from the air, in order to grow and take up water and nutrients. Poor drainage can lead to decreased growth, stunting, wilting, and discoloration of the leaves- in the worst cases “drowning the plant.”

There are several different types of growing mediums used in hydroponic gardening, none of which are soil. These mediums are considered to be inert because alone they have no nutritional value. As a substitute, a nutrient solution is supplied to them by some means. The most popular mediums for hydroponics are Rockwool, Gro-rox, Vermiculite, Perlite, and Coconut fiber.

Sand and gravel are also used but must be thoroughly cleaned before use, which is a problem in its self. Each of these substances differs in size, volume, and color. But all of them are highly suitable for hydroponics.

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