For hydroponic applications, all essential elements are supplied to plants in the form of plant nutrient solution, which consists of fertiliser salts dissolved in water. While many commercial growers formulate their own plant nutrient solution for a particular crop, the home gardener can choose from a range of good-quality hydroponic solutions already formulated and packaged in small containers. Many of these formulations are exactly the same as those used by commercial growers.
While optimum nutrition is easy to achieve in hydroponics, so is damage to plants due to errors in making up the plant nutrient solution and/or failure to adjust it daily. In systems that are controlled to any degree by automatic devices, poor maintenance and equipment failure can also damage or destroy plants.
The success or failure of a hydroponic garden therefore depends primarily on a strict plant nutrient management programme achieved by carefully manipulating the pH level, temperature and electroconductivity of the solution. This manipulation, combined with a rudimentary knowledge of both, is the key to successful hydroponic gardening.