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Although it is perhaps one of the most overlooked aspects, pH is very important in hydroponic and organic as well as regular soil gardening. pH is measured on a scale of 1-14 with 7 being neutral. Acids are lower than 7 and alkalis (bases) are above 7.
This article deals with the pH of hydroponic gardening and the availability of nutrients at different pH levels in a soilless growing medium. Organic and soil gardening have different levels, so the following chart doesn’t pertain to them.
To be technical, the term pH refers to the potential hydrogen-hydroxyl ion content of a solution. Solutions ionize into positive and negative ions. If the solution has more hydrogen (positive) ions than hydroxyl (negative) ions then it is an acid (1-6.9 on the pH scale). Conversely if the solution has more hydroxyl ions than hydrogen it is alkaline (or base), with a range of 7.1-14 on the pH scale.
Pure water has a balance of hydrogen (H+) and hydroxyl (OH-) ions and is therefore pH neutral (pH 7). When the water is less than pure it can have a pH either higher or lower than 7.
The pH scale is logarithmic, which means that each unit of change equals a tenfold change in the hydrogen/hydroxyl ion concentration. To put it another way, a solution with a pH of 6.0 is 10 times more acidic than a solution with a value of pH 7.0, and a solution with a pH value of 5.0 would be 10 times more acidic than the solution of 6.0 pH and 100 times more acidic than the solution with a 7.0 pH. This means that when you are adjusting the pH of your nutrient solution and you need to move it 2 points (example: 7.5 to 5.5) you would have to use 10 times more adjuster than if you were moving the pH value just 1 point (7.5 to 6.5).
WHY IS pH IMPORTANT?
When the pH is not at the proper level the plant will lose its ability to absorb some of the essential elements required for healthy growth. For all plants there is a particular pH level that will produce optimum results (see chart 1 below). This pH level will vary from plant to plant, but in general most plants prefer a slightly acid growing environment (between 5.5-6.0), although most plants can still survive in an environment with a pH of between 5.0 and 7.5.
When pH rises above 6.5 some of the nutrients and micro-nutrients begin to precipitate out of solution and can stick to the walls of the reservoir and growing chambers. For example: Iron will be about half precipitated at the pH level of 7.3 and at about 8.0 there is virtually no iron left in solution at all. In order for your plants to use the nutrients they must be dissolved in the solution. Once the nutrients have precipitated out of solution your plants can no longer absorb them and will suffer deficiency and death if left uncorrected. Some nutrients will precipitate out of solution when the pH drops also. Chart 2 (below) will give you an idea of what happens to availability some of the nutrients at different pH levels:
The All new atami wilma BIG 8 pot hydroponic system, now added to the wilma “big” range alongside the wilma big 9 and the wilma big 4.
The atami wilma system is one of the best and biggest selling hydroponic kits we sell and offer and has been a firm favourite with a lot of our customers for a good few years now, we highly recommend giving the wilma range a try if you havent already, the manufacturer “atami” also do one of the best nutrient ranges available on the market, its not the biggest seller in the uk and is very under rated but is an excellent product and is very very popular in france and across seas!
About the Atami wilma big 8
The Wilma BIG 8 has been developed to offer more growing space for fewer plants, allowing you to grow big and achieve larger yields.
The benefits of the Wilma Systems:
plants take up more water and nutrients than hand watering pots, as they are fed little and often
More choice, grow in soil, coco, clay or rockwool (there is a Wilma dripper for every medium)
Less hassle, the Wilma is low maintenance
Manage one nutrient solution tank for all plants and top up every 7 of days
Flexibility, pots in a Wilma are independent so can be moved around or replaced
Reliability, the Wilma has a reliable anti-leak design
The Wilma pots fit snugly into perfectly sized ‘slots’ in the tray, which in turn sits over a reservoir.
Reservoir volume: 100L