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Experiment 1. Plant need food too!

Hypothesis: Plants can be grown hydroponically.

Hydroponics - the art and science of growing plants with water containing all their needed food elements. It is an alternative to growing plants in soil.

Materials Required:

    • Three 1/2 gallon (2 liter) buckets with drain holes
    • 3 Pint (1/2 liter) cups
    • Drain stems
    • Support boxes about 5" high
    • A place in classroom with a counter and light
    • Two 1 gallon (4 liter)opaque nutrient water containers
    • Grow Hydroponic Nutrient, Calcium Nitrate, Magnesium Sulfate
    • Growing media: Perlite 1 1/2 gallons
    • 36 Bean Seeds
    • Pieces of newspaper to cover the growers


Set the Stage

1. Place a drain stem in the outside hole of each of the three bucket growers. This will make a water tight drain for any excess water.

2. Place the three containers on a shelf, and place a support under each bucket so the drain will be higher than the pint containers. Then place a pint container under each of the three drain holes. This will allow excess water to be collected under the grower.

3. Pour perlite media in each grower, at least up to 2 inches from the top of the container. Since the perlite might be dusty, it is good to use a dust mask while pouring the media, or wet the media before pouring.

4. Two gallon containers are used for water. One will be hydroponic nutrient water. The second can be plain tap water or, if available, distilled water. Clearly label each gallon container.

To mix hydroponic water use the following recommended quantities:

Container sizeOne quartHalf GallonGallon
Grow Nutrient1/32 teaspoon1/16 teaspoon1/8 teaspoon
Calcium Nitrate1/32 teaspoon1/16 teaspoon1/8 teaspoon
Magnesium Sulfate1/64 teaspoon1/32 teaspoon1/16 teaspoon

The small white teaspoon provided in the kit is a 1/8th teaspoon.

5. Label the three growers, Grower 1, Grower 2 and Control. Control means the one unit that will not receive and hydroponic nutrient water.

6. The students plant at least 12 bean seeds per growing container. The bean seeds are placed in the perlite, about 1 inch below the surface, and perlite is pushed back to cover the seeds. A piece of newspaper is placed over the perlite in each of the three growers. This newspaper can be cut into a circle that fits in the top of the grower.

7. Once the seeds are planted, two of the growers are watered with hydroponic nutrient water and one with Control water from tap or distilled. Water is gently poured over the newspaper until some pours out the bottom drain hole.

Each student marks on their data sheet that date that the seeds are planted.

Ongoing Research

The growers are watered, overpoured each day, until excess water comes out the drain hole. The growers do not have to be watered over the weekend.

Each day the students should peak under the newspaper to see if they see any green poking out of the perlite. Once and is seen the newspapers are removed, and the data sheet is recorded.

The students also keep a record of the plants, as soon as they start to appear, the students can start doing drawings of the plants.

When beans reach about 6 inches tall, they should show differences in structure and color. The tap water seedlings should show signs of starvation and the hydroponic plants should be taller.

At the end of the experiment, the students each report their findings for the three growers. Do plants need food too? Can plants be grown in hydroponics?

Revised: 1 May 2016
Copyright © 2016 Institute for Simplified Hydroponics