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Have you ever wished you could get started with hydroponics but never get started due to start-up costs and the seemingly complex aspects involved with these advanced growing systems?

Well, we’ve got some good news for you; there is a way to grow plants in a hydroponic manner, without the hassle of electronics, components, or a load of experience required.

Yep, you read that correctly. Semi-hydroponics is a way to grow stuff hydroponically, without water pumps, air pumps, air stones, valves, or other parts typically involved in hydroponics.

Read on below to learn exactly what semi-hydroponics is are how it works.

What is Indoor Semi-Hydroponics?

Indoor semi-hydroponics is a growing method that involves growing plants indoors, using an inert growing medium and artificial light (and sometimes real sunlight) rather than traditional gardening techniques (that heavily rely upon the use of soil and sunlight). The indoor semi-hydroponic growing technique revolves around basic hydroponic principles, minus the tubes, hoses, and components and electronics like pumps, filters, and gauges.

Benefits of Indoor Semi-Hydroponics

The major benefits of using semi-hydroponics indoor are enormous:

  • Less watering (than almost any growing techniques)
  • Control over temperature, nutrients, and lighting
  • Little to no pests (unlike growing in soil)
  • Far less chance for harmful bacteria to form
  • No soil-borne disease to deal with

Getting Started With Indoor Semi-Hydroponics

All you really need for getting started with indoor semi-hydroponics is a bit of information, a container or two, a plant or two, and some sort of inorganic growing medium like rocks, gravel, or clay balls.

To ensure success, you’ll also need a bit of liquid nutrients and a pH tester (but don’t worry, both are extremely easy to use – even a child can do it).

In the next section, we discuss how to actually build your own semi-hydroponic setup for a small to a medium-sized houseplant.

How to Set Up an Indoor Semi-Hydroponic “Grow System”

Setting up an indoor semi-hydroponic system is super easy. Especially so if it is for a small to medium-size plant.

Just follow these quick steps and your new semi-hydro setup will be ready to use in no time:

1. Select a Plant

Two potted plants in rich potting soil. One is in a white pot the other in an orange one.
A couple of plants that we chose for converting to semi-hydroponics earlier this year (2021)

The first step to using indoor semi-hydroponics for growing plants, be it vegetables, flowers, herbs, houseplants, or dwarf fruit trees, is selecting the plant you want to grow.

This decision greatly affects the next step: choosing the best pot for your specific semi-hydroponic setup.

2. Select a Pot

A 6-inch pot with 4 drain holes with light shining through them.
A great pot for semi-hydroponics we chose to use due to its drainage holes and attachable water tray. (2021)

For this particular houseplant, we chose a 6-inch pot with four built-in drainage holes and a water catching tray. We knew this pot would give us great water drainage for our plant.

In addition, having a water tray on the bottom made for an easy low-profile water reservoir to hold nutrients.

3. Prepare both Plant and Pot

Tropical looking plants being sprayed with a shower head. Several other pots sit soaking in the shower basin.
Washing containers and plants in the shower before converting to semi-hydroponics. (2021)

Once you know what size your plant is, and have likewise chosen a properly sized set of two containers for indoor semi-hydroponics (unless using a single pot with a built-in drain and tray), it’s time to wash them and sterilize them.

You can use a sink, shower, bathtub, or bucket.

Sanatize Pot

A green and orange pot with soapy water soaking in them.
A couple of pots soaking in diluted dish-soap, being prepared for semi-hydroponics. (2021)

It doesn’t matter if the containers are brand new, or if they are used. Washing them and sanitizing them makes sure there are no bacteria, disease, or other harmful contaminants to damage your plants or throw your system’s pH out of whack.

Diluted dish soap works just fine. For delicate plants, a plant-friendly washing solution is a safer bet.

Clean Roots of Plant

A green bowl full of soil being cleaned from a houspelant's roots.
Removing dirt from the roots of a plant being converted to semi-hydroponics. (2021)

The messiest part of the whole process is removing the dirt from the roots. It will take several minutes and you need to handle the plant with great care.

Hold it lightly in your hands and run a trickle of water from a faucet or sprayer over the roots. Move the plant (or sprayer) back and forth so that the water is constantly hitting the roots from different angles.

Gently run your thumb and fingers over the roots to help loosen and remove those spots that just don’t seem to want to come clean.

4. Soak Plant

A green plant sticking out of a jar full of clean water, half cleaned plants with dirt on their roots lie in the sink behind the jar.
A plant soaking in a mason jar before being transplanted into a semi-hydroponic setup. (2021)

After most of the dirt is cleaned from your plant, and the containers are cleaned and sanitized, fill a jar (or glass) with enough clean water to soak your plant.

Leave your plant to soak for 10 to 15 minutes (or longer) and move on to the next step of the process.

5. Soak Medium

Orange color clay balls soaking in a sink of water.
2 Liters of clay balls soaking before being added to pots for semi-hydroponics. (2021)

Fill a sink, bucket, or some other container full of clean water and rinse the medium in it. Empty the water and repeat the process until the water coming off of the medium is mainly clear (at first it will be the color of the medium, or at least appear dirtier than usual).

Leave the medium to soak for as long as you see fit. Some home gardeners suggest waiting 24 hours, others claim to wait for entire weeks.

We used LECA and left our medium to soak for around 30 minutes.

6. Add Some Medium to Pot

Clay balls for indoor semi-hydroponics soaking in two containers setting in a sink full of clay balls soaking in water.
Two fully sanitized growing containers filled 1/4 of the way full with well-soaked clay balls. (2021)

Next, fill the interior containers you’ll be using for your indoor semi-hydroponic setup with a bit of medium. Start with 1/5 to 1/3 of the depth of the container.

That way, you’ll be able to better anchor the plants’ roots (by adding more medium on top of them).

7. Mix Nutrients and Fill Reservoir

A 2-liter bottle of liquid nutrients for indoor semi-hydroponics.
A 2-liter bottle (sterilized) with liquid nutrients mixed in and ready for use. (2021)

There is a lot of opinions on what sort of nutrients to use for hydroponics and semi-hydroponics. We suggest getting a standard “for everything” sort of liquid nutrient if you’re just getting started with these types of growing techniques.

Follow the instructions for properly mixing your nutrients into the water.

Nutrients, orange in color, in water in the bottom of a white pot.
One of our very first hydroponic “reservoirs” (a pot with no drainage holes that will hold the second pot). (2021)

Once the nutrient solution is mixed with the water, simply put enough to fill the very bottom of your non-draining semi-hydroponic pot. You want enough water in the pot for the clay balls to be able to soak it up through the drainage holes.

Increase the Size of the Reservoir (optional)

Orange tinted water in the bottom of a whit epot, with four rounded river rocks in the bottom, under the fluid.
Smooth river rocks in the bottom of a semi-hydroponic reservoir (adding several centimeters of additional depth). (2021)

If you want to make a bit larger reservoir, so you don’t need to water as often (like we opted to do with this particular setup), simply place a few smooth rocks of similar heights into the bottom of the reservoir (like these smooth and flat river rocks in the picture above).

8. Add Plant to Pot and Add More Medium

A leafy green houseplant on a shelf, growing in dark orange clay balls.
A houseplant we converted into a semi-hydroponic container plant and pot combo setup. (2021)

Once everything else is ready, it’s time for the main event; transferring the plant into the growing pot and setting the growing pot into the reservoir pot.

Simply place the plant into the pot, roots spread open on the bit of medium already present. Then, gently add small handfuls of medium over the top of the roots (all the way up to the stem).

If you want to ensure that your growing medium is well-hydrated, give it a “shower.” Do so after you add the plant but before you rest the growing pot into the reservoir pot. In other words, run it under a water faucet and let all the water drip from the bottom of the container.

A Final Word About Indoor Semi-Hydroponics

Indoor semi-hydroponics is quick and easy to get started with, and practically anyone can do it. In all honesty, once you get past the initial efforts of setting it up, semi-hydroponic plants are much less complicated to care for than typical soil-based plants!

Good luck with your semi-hydroponics system! Let us know how it goes in the comments section below!

Likewise, if you have questions, or would like to see more pictures (or share your own!) drop us a line in the comments!


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