Give Your Hydroponic Plants Some Support

youtube.com/watch?v=T6UQnqEB4wINot talking moral support here, but talking to them and encouraging them couldn’t hurt 🙂 I’m talking physical support to be sure they grow strong. I dont know if I mentioned before but  when I first started with the squash I didnt know how tall they actually get, and with big outgoing leaves it can get unstable. Sure enough during a hot spell one fell over a snapped. Quite disappointed because it had quite a bit of babies going on it. Didn’t learn my lesson till it happened a second time that these plants need upright support. In the soil the plants roots spread out and can give it a good foundation support but in hydroponics the roots stay close in to the plant, and being in a bucket or rail has nothing to anchor to. Also in soil its quite easy to just hammer a stake in the ground. With hydroponics you need to be a little more creative.

Hydroponic plant support

Chicken wire for vining plants

With tomatoes, cucumbers and other vining plants you will need a lot of room and something for the plants to climb on. In the greenhouse I keep the rail with tomatoes and the buckets close to the greenhouse walls. On the walls I have screwed down some chicken wire up to the ceiling. When the plants first start off you should tie them off to the bottom of the wire using long twist ties. Keep them loose giving them room to grow through it and to expand. Once you do this the plant will take it the rest of the way climbing the wire. I had to once in awhile pull part of it out as they liked to grow behind the wire. With the tomatoes I also tied off some of the to branches to give it some more support as they get heavy when bearing so much fruit. Cucumbers you just have to aim them in the general direction and they take off. They have their own built in twisty ties and like to attach to everything.

Hydroponic plant support

Garden twine tied off at base of plant

Now the other plants such as the squash and the pepers will not do any climbing but they do grow tall and with out support will fall over. For these I have attached garden twine directly above the pots attached to the ceiling joists. Next I brought it down and tied it around the rail almost directly over the pot (beside the plant) making sure it was nice and tight. As the plant grew I attached vine clips or used the tie wraps to attach the main stem to the string loosely. This gave the plant guidance and support as it grew. I even used the twine method on a couple of the tomato plants for the out growing branches that were growing away from the wall.

Hydroponic plant support

Vine clips

Their are other methods you can use depending on where your plants are and what kind of system they are in. Another example is the tomato I have in a DWC bucket. Im going to drill holes into the lid so I can attach a traditional circular tomato cage to it. However you do it just be sure to get the support set up early while the plants are young so You are not moving and maybe breaking the plant trying to do it later.

Ok yes I also talk to them telling them they are good plants.

 

[youtube.com/watch?v=T6UQnqEB4wI]

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