Hydroponics

Pest & Disease Control

Plants grown in hydroponic gardens are susceptible to disease and pests, just like in soil-based systems. If you ignore maintenance tasks and avoid dealing with pests and disease, you'll end up with spindly growth or dead plants. And losing fruit and vegetable plants means losing a potential source of healthy food.

Management of a hydroponic garden can be tricky, since certain diseases and pests thrive in the moist setting. Plants are kept moist in hydroponics, either immersed (as in true or traditional hydroponics) or continually misted with water (as in aeroponic systems). Other systems use a wet growing media like sand or perlite.

Hydroponic gardeners use the wide selection of methods and products available to combat pests and disease that crop up in their gardens.

How to Control Pests and Disease

Beneficial life forms present a popular and successful way to keep pests away from your hydroponic garden. These life forms combat certain types of fungi and bacteria, crowd out or eat spider mites and other pests, and do it all without damaging your plants.

Pesticides are available as well, including non-toxic soaps that have been used successfully for generations. Botanicals include plant compounds combined into efficient formulas for easy use. Botanicals also break down naturally and leave nothing behind to damage your plants.

Neem oil is another good choice for pest control, attacking more than four hundred pest types often found in both traditional and hydroponic gardens. Spray oil onto foliage to chase pests away. Insects absorb the natural oil and are unable to reproduce, which results in a steady decrease in population. Commercial pesticides containing neem oil can be used for serious infestations.

Many gardeners use pyrethrum to control pests and disease. This compound is flower-based, extracted from plants and included in several commercial-grade insecticide products. Although pyrethrum is safe when applied properly, gardeners should read labels on all products.

Azatrol is another insecticide compound that easily controls common pests in your garden.

Common Pests and Disease

Gardeners battle several common problem insects, including:

  • white flies
  • aphids
  • mites
  • mealy bugs
  • thrips

Several diseases have earned a reputation for trouble in the garden, including:

  • powdery mildew
  • fungal diseases
  • rust
  • crown and root rot

Hydroponics present continuous moisture, and many bugs thrive in that environment. By using organicides and fungicides, gardeners can make that environment unappealing. Adding sulfur-based compounds helps to control many other pests not necessarily drawn to the moisture.

You must take care when handling a pest infestation. Handpicking larger bugs and larvae is an excellent measure, but the lack of soil makes hydroponic plants particularly vulnerable to mishandling. Be careful and be aware of your effect on the leaves, roots and stems.

Mildew and fungus naturally form in the moist conditions of a hydroponic garden. Keep foliage dry and roots wet to avoid these diseases. If you spray insecticide on your vegetables or plants, always allow the foliage and stems to dry, often under a grow light. You may need to temporarily relocate aeroponic systems to take care of this.

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