Plant problems in hydroponics

Hydroponics is a popular way of growing plants indoors without soil. Unlike soil-based systems, hydroponics has fewer plants problems since there is no soil for the bacteria to grow. However, as a grower, you will battle with some plant problems in hydroponics systems.

Common plant problems in hydroponics system

In some cases, hydroponic plants are affected by some pests and diseases. Here are some of the common plant issues in hydroponics:

#1. Wilts 

Fusarium wilt and Verticillium wilt are common in hydroponic systems and mostly affect peppers, tomatoes, and eggplants. First, they appear as small spots on the leaves of your plants. After some time, the leaves curl up and dry out completely.

The most efficient method to prevent wilts is to use the clean growing medium for each planting season. Also, you should consider growing wilt-resistant plant varieties. There are no known chemicals for treating wilts. The best thing is to remove the diseased plants out of your hydroponic system to avoid spreading of the disease.

#2. Black mold 

This is a dusty a black fungal growth that affects mostly onions and garlic plants. The infection will spread rapidly and affect the whole plant if not treated early. This makes the plant susceptible to other secondary infections. This infection can occur as a result of damp and high-temperature conditions. Moreover, this infection can enter the hydroponic vegetable through wounds. The use of chemicals is very efficient in treating black mold. However, the disease can be prevented by using the seeds treated with fungicide.

#3. Powdery mildew 

This is a fungal infection that is caused by excess moisture on your hydroponic plants. The sign of this disease are the white powdery spots on the leaves of your plants. Plants that are most vulnerable to powdery mildew are pumpkins, cucumbers, squash, and roses. The infection of powdery mildew is accelerated when plants are too close to each other.

How do you deal with this condition without using harsh chemicals? Spray the affected leaves with a mixture of water and milk. Spraying should be done on a regular basis to achieve best results.

#4. Spider mites 

These are green, yellow, or red tiny insects that are common in hydroponic plants. Spider mites multiply at an alarming rate and destroy plants quickly. These pests suck out the content of plants cells, which hindering the metabolic process. The most efficient way of eradicating spider mites is to wash the infected leaves with warm soapy water. After this treatment, the plants should be sprayed with an insecticide.

#5. Aphids 

These are tiny insects that leave a sticky residue on the leaves of your plants. Aphids are found in clusters and suck on the leaves of most hydroponic plants. Aphids can be eliminated by spraying with a solution of water, soup and ground hot pepper. For best results, the spray should be applied thrice daily for three days. After this, you should use the treatment twice daily for the next five days.


Hydroponic plants are also affected by pests and diseases. However, it is much easier to control plant problems in hydroponics as compared to soil-based systems.

How to balance nutrients in Hydroponics system

The plants in hydroponic systems rely on the nutrients that are added into the system. In this case, you need to apply a balanced nutrient solution into your hydroponic system to ensure proper growth of your plants. However, many growers do not know how to maintain proper nutrient balance in the hydroponic system. Here are the factors to take into consideration if you want to achieve a nutrient balance in your hydroponics system.

#1. Electrical Conductivity (EC)

This is a measure of the total salt present in hydroponic solution. It helps you decide on when to replace the nutrient solution. Testing the EC of your hydroponic solution will help you maintain a proper balance of nutrient solution.

#2. pH of the Hydroponic solution

The optimum pH range for the hydroponic nutrient solution lies from 5.8 to 6.3. Most the micro-nutrients become available in lower pH. However, your nutrient solution may risk toxicity from micronutrients if the pH level drops below 5.5. Moreover, lower pH can lead to the impaired availability of magnesium and calcium. In hydroponic systems, the roots systems of the plants cause the fluctuation of the pH.

Therefore, it is important to perform regular monitoring of the pH of your nutrient solution. If the pH level drops below the accepted range, you will use pH UP to raise the pH. On the other hand, you should use pH DOWN to reduce the pH when it rises beyond the optimum range.

#3. Water quality 

The hydroponic nutrient solution consists of nutrients added to raw water. In most cases, the raw may contain some minerals dissolved in it. Therefore, the quality of raw water plays a vital role in ensuring the proper balance of nutrients in the hydroponic solution. In this case, it is important to test the quality of raw water that will be used to prepare the hydroponic nutrient solution.

Source water may contain magnesium, sulfur, and calcium and other trace elements such as manganese, boron, zinc, and iron. Therefore, such elements need to be factored when preparing the hydroponic nutrient solution.

On the other hand, raw water may contain unwanted minerals such as fluoride, chloride or sodium that makes it unsuitable for hydroponics. Therefore, raw water to be used in hydroponic systems should be pre-treated through ion-exchange or desalination.

Regular maintenance of hydroponic solution 

• Test the nutrient balance at least once in three days. There are high-tech tools for checking the hydroponic nutrient solution.

• Maintain the water levels in your reservoir

• Ensure that your pump is working properly to deliver nutrients into the plants effectively.

• Change the nutrient reservoir at least once in every three weeks. If the nutrients solution is not replaced for a long time, toxicity may occur hence interfering with the nutrient balance.

• Once in a while, you should flush your system with a mixture of hydrogen peroxide and clean water. This will keep the piping free from the build-up of harmful substances.


Nutrient balance is very vital for optimal plant growth in your hydroponic system. Regular monitoring of your nutrient solution should be done to make necessary adjustments. Moreover, the optimum pH level of the hydroponic system should be maintained to achieve proper nutrient balance.