Deep Water Culture Hydroponics

Deep Water Culture (DWC) Ultimate Guide {2020}

What is Deep Water Culture System

What is Deep Water Culture System?

Deep water culture is a hydroponic farming technique where plant roots are suspended in the nutrient and oxygen-rich water solution. This system is the most popular hydroponic system for beginners and classroom instructional purposes due to its technical simplicity.

DWC hydroponic farming system consists of plants whose roots are encased in a grow pot that is suspended from a lid with the roots hanging into the nutrient solution in the reservoir container. An air pump is used to aerate the nutrient solution.

The diffused oxygen allows your plant roots to take up maximum amounts of nutrients resulting in accelerated growth. The accelerated oxygenation of the roots improves water nutrient absorption which leads to accelerated cell growth. Efficient nutrient absorption leads to reduced amounts of growth fertilizers used compared to other systems.

It is called Deep Water Culture mainly because of two reasons, one is there is a use of nutrient reservoir which stores a pretty well amount of nutrient rich water which will help very much for the plant growth.

The second reason why it is called Deep water culture is, how much root is submerged in the nutrient rich water. The roots are going to stay in water on the 24hrs basis. We hope you got it.

It is straightforward to design a hydroponic deep water culture farming system from equipment which is readily available in the online stores at cheap prices and hence everything is at your fingertips.

Featured Deep Water Culture System

What Sort of Plants can You Grow with Deep Water Culture?

  • The system is usually suitable for growing greens such as lettuce and other long-term crops such as,
  • Cucumbers
  • Peppers
  • Eggplant
  • Squash
  • Tomatoes with proper support
  • Basil
  • Okra
  • Kale
  • Collard greens
  • Sorrel
  • Chard
  • Bok Choy

Pros of Deep Water Culture.

  • Boosted Growth due to nutrient water and oxygen.
  • Better cell growth of the plant.
  • No need for the heavy amount of fertilizer.
  • Easy and most efficient way of farming.
  • Easy to maintain.
  • Mobile method.
  • Fast growing time method except others.

Quick Setup Guide on Deep Water Culture (DWC)

To Set up Deep Water Culture for Hydroponics, you will need the following materials;

  1. Bucket
  2. Plastic Grow Cups/ Net Cups
  3. Plastic grow cups
  4. Grow Medium or Media
  5. Air Pump & Tubing
  6. Air Stones
  7. Hydroponic Nutrients
  8. Thermometer and ph testing kit

Now each one of the materials which will be used has its own importance and available easily at amazon. We are now going to focus on each step.

  1. BucketHere the bucket doesn’t mean any ordinary water bucket or container. The ordinary water bucket might be useful but for the other things like bathing, etc. The bucket for the Deep Water Culture has some other properties which are more suitable for this particular farming technique. The buckets should be light proof and also be algae resistant. The bucket should also be big enough for storing the nutrient rich water. Or you may also get your existing buckets painted.If you are doing this for your own interests or as a hobby you may buy a single bucket otherwise the bunch of 8 buckets of at least 5 inch will be strongly recommended if you are a new farmer.

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  2. Plastic Grow Cups/ Net CupsThese are clear cups that hold the plants on the floating platform. It’s recommended to use tapered cups to prevent them from falling into the solution. The net cups or the grow cups should be UV resistant and highly durable for the better growth.

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  3. Growing Media or MediumGrowing medium used include rock wool, vermiculite or perlite. In addition to supporting the young and delicate roots and stems, the medium performs wicking functions during early plant development to move nutrients to the higher parts of the roots.
    Check out this product on amazon.

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  4. Air Pump and TubingAn air pump is extremely critical and important in the DWC system because the nutrient solution is stagnant hence the need for constant aeration. In the DWC system, the air pump works 24/7 and slight glitch may cause detrimental effects on your crops. Aeration of the solution leads to bubbling in the solution which promotes even mix up of nutrients in the solution.

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  5. Air Line/Tubing It is the connector between the external air pump and the submerged air stone. The size and length of the tubing depends on the pump size and the distance from the pump to the air stone respectively.

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  6. Air StonesThis is a highly porous air diffuser that is submerged into the nutrient solution which evenly diffuses air into the solution for plant uptake. Air stones are available in all aquarium stores and the size depends on the size of your system and the size of the air pump.

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  7. Hydroponics NutrientsThese are trace elements, fertilisers, and other growth supplements that are essential for healthy plant development. These may either be the commercial premixed hydroponic fertilisers or homemade organic fertilisers.

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  8. Thermometer and pH Testing KitThese are important in maintaining the best environment for optimal plant growth. Since the nutrient solution is covered the solution temperature tends to rise while ph varies widely. Water temperature and ph are essential factors in proper plant growth mapping.

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  9. Lighting If you intend to set up your deep water culture hydroponic system indoors, it’s only essential that you consider proper lighting for proper plant growth. Garden system size and the plant growth phase determine how much light fixtures and wattage is needed. The common types of lighting used include high-intensity discharge (HID) lamps during the growth phase and high-pressure sodium (HPS) during bloom to maximise yields.
    Other tools required in preparing the hydroponic deep water culture (DWC) setup include sharp cutting tools, tape measures, and marker pencils.

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How to build Deep Water Culture in some easy steps 2020.

  1. If the solution reservoir is transparent, paint it black to prevent light penetration. Leave a clear vertical line for monitoring solution level.
  2. Using a tape measure, note the dimensions of the reservoir. Using the measurements, cut the floater Styrofoam a quarter-inch smaller than the reservoir’s dimensions; this is to allow the floater to move up and down with the changing solution level.
  3. Place the grower cups and using a pencil, trace the bottom of the pots on the Styrofoam. Using a sharp knife, cut out the holes on the Styrofoam. Ensure that the grower cups hang just below the Styrofoam but don’t fall through. On one edge of the Styrofoam cut out a hole for the airline.
  4. Add the growing medium of your choice in the cups noting that the medium should not fall through the bottom. Place one plant in each of the grower cups.
  5. Add water to the reservoir and mix the nutrient solution as per the instructions by the fertilizer manufacturer. Check the ph of the solution and adjust accordingly. It’s important to note that ph requirements vary from one crop to another.
  6. Attach the airline from the air pump to the air stone and then place the air stone at the bottom of the nutrient reservoir. Switch on the pump to make sure the air stone is releasing air bubbles.
  7. Place the floater Styrofoam on the surface of the nutrient solution. Place the grow cups to their designated holes on the Styrofoam platform.


Pro tips for maintenance of Deep Water Culture

  1. Regularly monitor the root growth. Once the root system is long and robust lower the solution level to prevent overfeeding.
  2. Monitor the temperature. The recommended nutrition solution temperature is 62-68 oF (17-21oC). Too much heat reduces dissolved oxygen in the solution while low temperatures lower their metabolism.
  3. Monitor dissolved oxygen level. You can monitor dissolved oxygen using an oxygen meter.
  4. Checking the pH regularly helps in controlling growth in the various growth stages. For example, a pH of 6.0-6.3 is for vegetative growth while 5.7-5.9 is optimal for flowering and fruiting.
  5. Check the nutrient solution regularly to prevent starving off the plants topping up when needed. It is recommended to refill with pure water during the first refill to prevent nutrient build-up. During the second refill, the reservoir is drained and then refilled with fresh solution.


Enjoy this video on how to set up a deep water culture system –