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Deep Water Culture for Cannabis Growing

Deep water culture cannabis

Deep water culture is a recently discovered growing technique for significant yields employing a soilless growth medium for individuals wanting to break the habit of cultivating organic cannabis. This article covers all you need to know about DWC cannabis, such as how it works, its benefits, and how to set up and manage a system.

Understanding the Basics of Deep Water Culture

To operate a DWC system you need a 4-5 gallon or 15-20 liter bucket, an inert growth medium, and a nutrient solution. The roots of the plant are always immersed in the nutritional solution. The perfect growth environment for roots is created by dissolved oxygen provided by an electric air pump and air stone. Because you can adjust the fertilizer concentration over time, cannabis plants will develop considerably faster during the vegetative stage and generate high yields after flowering using a cannabis DWC growing system. Depending on the strain, a plant blooming in DWC might grow 75-150 cm tall.

Selecting the Right Equipment for Your Deep Water Culture System

To build a simple, adaptable deep water culture cannabis DIY system, you need the following tools:

Air pump

The air pump that enriches the water with oxygen that the roots absorb. If there is not enough oxygen in the DWC nutrient solution, the cannabis plant will die. Hence, this tool must always be working and should never be turned off for long. You can buy them online at any aquarium store. Also, you are recommended to have at least one high-performance and reliable air pump for each bucket. Some have up to eight outputs, but that air should never be shared amongst buckets. This is because the cannabis DWC water level varies for everyone, and the pressures are variable. If high water pressure in one bucket is shared, it might drastically lower the amount of air given to another.

A nutrient reservoir

You can simply have a reservoir with a bucket with stones at the base, water that is rich in nutrients, and cannabis roots that are floating in your solution. One of the main advantages of a DWC arrangement is the flexibility to customize the system for optimal yield by enabling your weed plants to have the same reservoir (depending on the bucket size). Buckets come in various sizes, ranging between 3-20 gallons. Experts recommend using a 5-gallon bucket for one DWC plant. This is because anything less won’t allow enough area for the roots. Furthermore, select a dark bucket since light exposure to the cannabis deep water culture solution fosters the growth of algae, which can impair the root’s health to absorb nutrients, making it difficult to clean the bucket.

Air stone

It distributes air throughout your DWC nutrient solution. There are several air pump variations with diameters ranging from 2 to 12 inches in the shapes of discs and cylinders. You can even use many air-diffusing stones in the reservoir to quicken the aeration’s pace.

Growing medium

There are several affordable growing mediums, such as expanding clay, coco coir, and Rockwool. Your decision about your deep water culture weed setup should be based on your preferences, appropriateness, and how easily accessible it is.


An airline is just tubing that links your cannabis DWC’s air pump to the air stone. Ensure the tubing is sufficiently flexible as it drops into the air stone from the bucket’s top.

Net pots

Net pots are simply cups with holes punched through them to create a net that aids in the root system’s dispersal. This tool is occasionally available as bucket lids designed to fit a 5-gallon bucket. Net pots come in different sizes (6, 8, and 10 inches). Most producers usually use 6 and 8-inch net pots since they provide a stronger anchor for the cannabis plant as its roots spread.


You need proper minerals and temperature in your DWC nutrient solution to prevent root damage. Check that the pH and ppm are appropriate for your cultivating plant. 

Remember to always replace the nutritional solution and, if required, wipe out the entire unit.

Deep Water Culture Roots
Growing cannabis indica, cannabis roots in hydroponic system Roots of cannabis. cultivation cannabis cannabis vegetation plants, hemp CBD in roots, deep water culture

Step-by-Step Setup of a Deep Water Culture System for Cannabis

Here are the key steps of creating a top-notch deep water culture growing system:

  1. Drilling the holes: Create an opening in the upper part of your reservoir or net pot for the airline. You should also use a smaller bucket for your net pots and ensure the holes are enough to allow the cannabis roots to flow through but not so large that the DWC growth media will fall through. To prevent breaking the roots, the customized net pots must be sturdy enough to support your cannabis plant and have gentle edges.
  2. Connecting the aeration system: Set the air stones on the base of your bucket and use an airline to connect them to the air infusion pumps situated outside the bucket. Using an air stone instead of just letting the pipe or airline alone is a more efficient way to distribute air. Turn on the pump, and your DWC grow system is ready for use.
  3. Planting the weed seeds: Plant the cannabis seed or seedlings (about an inch deep) in the net pot containing the inert growing media. Don’t forget to rinse your growing media under running water until it clears. The water level of your cannabis DWC should be close to the seedling in your growing medium. Then, gradually reduce it so that the roots may spread out. Furthermore, the water level of your DWC cannabis should be approximately an inch over the net container’s bottom.
  4. Pour in the nutrient solution: Add the type and dosage of fertilizers the plant requires to the water. The best nutrients for cannabis deep water culture should have the proper level of the key elements such as ppm or EC, pH, and temperature for guaranteed results. Your cannabis plants will not receive nutrients adequately if these factors are out of balance. Cannabis deep water culture plants thrive in a slightly acidic solution with a pH range of 5.5-6.5. In addition, the perfect EC for your weed seedlings is 0.8-1.3, 1.3-1.7 for the vegetative phase, and 1.2-2 during the flowering phase. Remember that some cannabis strains may need drastically differing EC levels.
  5. Maintenance: Keep the cannabis DWC water level stable by adding water as it falls. Remember that weed plants usually require a lot of water and that you don’t want the roots to dry up. Watch the ppm and EC readings to avoid changing your feeding solution frequently. Observe fluctuations in ppm or EC to determine how much nutrients your plants use. Cannabis plants frequently demand more water than nutrients; thus, refill with the pH-adjusted nutrient solution when the DWC water level lowers. Experts advocate cleaning the bucket once every two to three weeks if you require the right measurement kits because there will be excess nutrients in the solution that need to be used. If you add more nutrients to the solution, your ppm will increase, and your weed plant won’t absorb what it needs because of nutrient lockout. The ppm in the deep water culture for your weed plants should be 800-900 ppm throughout vegetative growth and 1000-1100 ppm during the flowering stage.

The Art of Balancing Nutrients in Deep Water Culture

Above the root zone, the plant develops normally but with increased speed and yield due to the improved circumstances in the root zone. The nutrient bath must be replaced regularly, especially as the plants grow. As with other growing techniques, the nutrients gradually increase in potency as the plant grows. Many professional growers replace the nutrient bath regularly, frequently weekly. Leave your nutrient bath between veg replacements for 1-2 weeks. However, with cannabis plants in bloom, you should strive for complete weekly nutrient bath changes at least. Professional growers may change their baths even more frequently. They will check their baths once or twice daily for additional nutrients in late bloom.

Ensuring Optimal Oxygen Supply for Your Cannabis Plants

You need to maintain optimum oxygen levels in the nutrient solution to enhance yields. Your plants’ roots require oxygen to operate correctly and create healthy development. You should use an air pump and an air stone or bubble wand to guarantee appropriate oxygen levels in the nutrition solution. This keeps the water moving and lets fresh oxygen reach all root zone’s parts.

Importance of pH Balance in Hydroponic Cannabis Growing

When a DWC growing goes wrong, it is mainly because of a pH imbalance. The optimal pH for your DWC is about 5.8 (stay within a pH range between 5.5 and 6.5). Cannabis DWC has the benefit of using fewer fertilizers than other growth techniques. However, you should check the pH of your feeding solution frequently. To address any pH concerns, you may acquire ready-made goods like a “pH Up and pH Down” in any respectable hydroponics shop. Mostly, you will require a few drops of these pH correctors.

Monitoring Growth: Key Indicators to Track in Deep Water Culture

Water levels and quality must be monitored often to ensure the success of your DWC cannabis hydroponic system. Water level monitoring will help keep the roots from drying out or becoming excessively immersed. Additionally, you should regulate and prevent algae formation in your water to avoid any health risks to your cannabis plants.

Harvesting Your Hydroponically Grown Cannabis: When and How

Harvesting hydroponically grown weed plants necessitates multiple processes and precise scheduling to achieve maximum potency and yield. Wait until the buds are ripe and the white threads have turned brown before harvesting your hydroponically cultivated cannabis. This normally takes 6-12 weeks from the time of planting.

Why Choose Deep Water Culture for Cannabis Growing: A Comparative Analysis

Some of the key benefits of using the cannabis deep water culture system include:

  1. Faster development that is caused by improved nutrition and oxygen absorption from the nutritional solution.
  2. Aerating the roots encourages plant absorption and accelerates cell proliferation inside the cannabis.
  3. You don’t need too much nutrients since the weed plants are buried in DWC nutrients.
  4. Once set up, it requires little upkeep. For instance, there are no clogged nozzles, water pumps, or feeder lines in the deep water culture growing system.
  5. Only a few moving parts and assemblies are required.

Boosting Cannabis Yield with Hydroponic Techniques

Cannabis deep water culture has the potential to boost production. To potentially increase productivity, plant roots are maintained in a nutrient-rich liquid and oxygenated with an air pump using the DWC cannabis technology. Compared to traditional soil growing methods, greater root zone oxygenation allows for quicker development and larger yields. DWC systems are also more efficient and need less care than conventional hydroponic setups, making them suitable for rookie and expert growers.

Deep Water Culture Versus Traditional Soil Growing: A Comparative Study

Here are several advantages of cultivating with DWC versus soil.

  1. Faster growth and higher yields of plants, especially cannabis.
  2. Water conservation and less waste. The nutritional solution doesn’t evaporate or run off and may be circulated.
  3. Less chance of pests and illnesses since the soilless environment removes several typical cannabis plant pathogens’ habitats.

Troubleshooting Common Issues in a Deep Water Culture System

DWC systems may require monitoring and troubleshooting to ensure optimal plant development conditions.

  1. It is advisable to periodically assess the pH level in your reservoir and make any required modifications to keep it within the ideal range. Furthermore, use good hydroponic nutrients designed specifically for deep water growth systems.
  2. If not controlled appropriately, the nutrient lockout can be a big issue when growing with a deep water culture cannabis system; this occurs when there are too many salts in the solution, preventing critical minerals from being absorbed by the plant’s roots and leading to shortages over time. To avoid this issue, wash out old nutrient solutions regularly before refilling them with new ones.

Avoiding Root Rot in Your Hydroponic Cannabis Garden

Root rot is a common issue that most cannabis growers who utilize DWC systems face. When oxygen levels drop too low due to severe heat or a lack of air exchange from outside sources such as fans or air pumps, bacteria grow around the root zone, resulting in rotting roots and sick plants. To avoid root rot in hydroponic cannabis, you can:

  1. Regulate the temperature of your system (in the water and above the root zone).
  2. Provide enough aeration to your plants’ root systems.
  3. Run a clean and sterile hydroponic system in general (perform regular maintenance).
  4. Do not disturb the roots.
  5. Change the reservoir.
  6. Do not allow the roots to sit in stagnant water.
  7. Avoid warm reservoirs.

Understanding the Role of Lighting in Hydroponic Cannabis Growth

When cultivating cannabis hydroponically, utilize high-pressure sodium lights. However, HPS lights generate a lot of heat and consume a lot of electricity. You can deal with the energy expenditures associated with utilizing HPS, but your DWC cannabis plant may not be able to manage the heated atmosphere provided by HPS light. Pros don’t advocate utilizing HPS lights unless you have a good DWC system with precise cooling. In addition, growers are advised to utilize LED lights for optimal light spectrum and decreased levels of heat stress for the greatest development.

Best Practices for Deep Water Culture Cannabis Growing

  1. Provide adequate oxygenation to your DWC cannabis system to produce healthy plants.
  2. Regularly monitor and maintain the pH of the nutrition solution.
  3. Keep an eye on water quality to avoid fertilizer absorption problems.
  4. Check and modify the fertilizer solution regularly to fulfill your plants’ demands.
  5. Ensure that no obstacles or congestion in the system are impeding root growth.
  6. Use high-quality net pots or grow cups to support the plants and allow for optimum root development.
  7. Temperature regulation is important since it can impact plant growth and overall system function.
  8. Clean and maintain your DWC growing system often to avoid the accumulation of algae and other impurities.
  9. Keep track of the plant’s growth and make modifications as needed for the best outcomes.
  10. Keep updated with hydroponic farming techniques and the latest developments in DWC growing systems.
Picture of Janice Bernstein

Janice Bernstein

Janice has been on the cannabis scene for many years now, though she tends to keep to herself and might fly under the radar for many, even those well-versed in cannabis growing. Her writings on different methods of watering cannabis helped bring the use of reverse osmosis water to the forefront of cannabis gardening. About this Author

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