A hint of plant biology for starting out in hydroponics

Becoming familiar with hydroponic equipment and how to use it efficiently will be where your focus lies, at first. While starting out in hydroponics, you really don’t need the knowledge base of a botanist, but a little knowledge never hurt anyone. With a base knowledge of plant biology, you can begin utilizing the most advanced systems in the industry.

Starting at the base, cells.

It can take millions of cells compiled to create just a single leaf in a plant. These cells can range anywhere from 1/25’000 to 4/10 of an inch. Every one of these cells are filled with a mix of components. To make this easier to understand, imagine a building of rooms, all the rooms are connected, and each room contains certain elements that influence the plant’s size, shape, appearance and ability to produce.

Plant tissues are formed by organized cell division and expansion. Plant cells are laid down in a stable, brick-like pattern organized by cell division and expansion. Every cell’s fate will be decided by its surrounding neighbor cells.

A cell’s elements include:

The Cell wall, Protoplast, Nucleus, Chloroplasts, Cytoplasm, Vacuole, Plasma Membrane, Cytoplasmic and Mitochondria.

Functions of a plant in relation to hydroponicstechnology and the environment working together

Respiration system allows cells to gain energy from organic material, usually glucose. Using oxygen and enzyme catalysts oxidizing the sugar to carbon dioxide and water. Respiration does not create energy, it converts the chemical energy obtained by photosynthesis into a form of energy the plant can use.

Transpiration is the process of the plant draining water through vapor. Plants contain more water in its system then the environment so any extra coming in through the roots will be expelled using this procedure. Sometimes, when the plant cant expel the extra moisture with transpiration, it will drip out pg they’re leaves through breaches called hydathode’s. The rate of transpiration may be effected by temperature and humidity.

Translocation is the movement of organic matter from one section of the plant to another. This process takes place in the phloem. The product of photosynthesis is transferred through the phloem to wherever it is required at the time. The age and phase the plant is in will decide where the product is moved to.

Photosynthesis is the process of the plant using the light absorbed through its pigments to create energy the plant can use. Depending on which pigment the light is absorbed in, the plant will create the type of energy influenced by the pigment to be ready for transport.

Considerations when creating an indoor environment

Growth in a plant is determined by its genetic code and environment. Although genetics play a very large role in growth, cultivators can influence and encourage growth by using the right soil, air control, nutrients, water, temperature and light spectrum. This will be with very precise calculations based on considerations such as the plant’s species and age.

Soil/Growing Medium

All plants require somewhere to plant it’s roots, or hang. If the roots are in soil, the soil must contain enough space between the soil particles for the oxygen to escape through or the roots and plant can suffocate. The soil or water in a hydroponic system, must also contain a sufficient amount of minerals (composed of 2 categories) to reach its growth potential.

Soil contains many elements but in the 2 categories (micro-nutrients and macro-nutrients,) the 17 crucial elements are listed as follows:

Zinc (Zn), Phosphorus (P), Potassium (K), Oxygen (O), Magnesium (Mg), Sulfur (S), Hydrogen (H), Iron (Fe), Manganese (Mn), Nitrogen (N) , Copper (Cu), Boron (B), Molybdenum (Mo), Nickel (Ni), Calcium (Ca), Carbon (C), and Chlorine (Cl).

There are also some elements that have been studied in the practice of botany which are not required but proven to add some amount of benefit. These elements are Aluminum (Al), Cobalt (Co), Sodium (Na), Selenium (Se) and Silicon (Si).

Many of the elements listed above are not easily accessible, or requires an advanced calculation to safely add into a hydroponic’s nutrient solution. This is not a problem as many organic and mineral based hydroponic additives exist if your interested in stepping up your game. Additives to keep an eye out for are: concentrated vermicast extract, iron chelate and seaweed concentrates.

Atmosphere

The Atmosphere is the area and environment surrounding the plant above ground. The natural atmosphere can be very unpredictable and very unforgiving. With land space decreasing and becoming less farm-able, many are turning to hydroponics and greenhouses. Not only can you control the environment and decrease any harmful factors, you can also adjust the environment in your favor like adding more carbon dioxide.

Within the atmosphere many factors contribute to a healthy growth cycle. This is where carbon dioxide and oxygen is supplied to the plant. Although carbon dioxide and oxygen are created naturally by plants and animals, growers can benefit from installing equipment monitoring and adjusting the levels.

Temperature is a large factor in determining growth speed. Decided by genetics development stage, all species have an ideal temperature, too hot and growth will slow down, too cold and growth will slow down. Even if a plant experiences temperatures beyond its optimum preference and survives, growth may still be stunted. The vegetation phase has the highest optimum temperature for most species.

Water

This is a necessity in every living organism. Water is used by plants to stay hydrated, the photosynthesis process and transporting a variety of elements throughout sections of the plant. The water can be delivered to the plant using moisture in soil, moisture in atmosphere, rain landing on the leaves or equipment such as hydroponics and aeroponics.

The water must maintain an opimal PH level, for most plants the pH range is around 5.5 to 7.0. Some may require more alkaline and acidity. While growing indoors, the source of water must be free of chemicals or contaminants.

Light

Light is required by the plant and used to create energy forms through photosynthesis, it can use, such as glucose. Plants can use light as an indicator of what season it is (photoperiodism.) Plants have a growth stimulant in the tips of the shoots known as auxin, responsible for cell elongation. When you notice branches and leaves tilting and
reaching for the light source, auxin is building up on the side opposite of the light source. This reaction is called phototropism.

A plant’s biology is very complex and many factors are too insignificant to pay any attention to, but with a strong knowledge base you wont have to rely on following instructions found on the internet or hydroponic kit instructions. Keep Expanding your horizon with a greener future!

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