Hydroponics is the process of growing plants in a soilless medium. There are differing schools of thought about the specifics, with some aficionados preferring to use sand, gravel, or even liquid alone. What these different methods share in common though is the addition of water soluble nutrients to the water.
It is a common misconception that plants require soil to grow. In fact, the soil serves as a nutrient transfer station for the most part, which means that a method like hydroponics that can remove the need for soil at all is one worth exploring further. Some proponents point out that hydroponic growing is a friend to the environment in that it requires no pesticides or herbicides.
What You Need:
Anchoring Medium: The anchoring medium is what will take the place of soil in that it will hold the plant in place.
Nutrients: Nutrients in liquid form are fed to the plant’s roots either by drip irrigation or by periodic flooding of the roots, before draining the liquid away again.
Oxygen: Just as in traditional growing environments, adequate airflow is required.
Light Source: Plants need light, and hydroponically grown plants are no exception.
With these basic components, you can successfully grow plants with hydroponics, though there is a bit of a learning curve involved that changes with each variable in the process. Different anchoring mediums, different nutrients, different light sources and different plants will each require different, specialized care.