Best Hydroponic Grow Trays 2018
Hydroponics is the method in which a plant is grown in a soilless medium. With this technique, the plant is usually sown on a neutral agent, such as clay pellets, and rockwool, among others. In most cases, the plant’s roots are in direct contact with a nutrient-rich solution; packed with all the components that the plant needs to grow. Depending on the type of hydroponic setup, the plant may either be perpetually submerged in the solution, be exposed to it via a drip system, or be gently sprayed with the solution via a misting nozzle. In the first case, the grower would have to install an aquarium pump to keep the solution oxygenated and keep the plant from suffocating.
Whatever the method of growing may be, the fact remains that you will need either a grow tray or, in the case of deepwater culture growing, a platform where the plants can be held while their roots are dipped directly into the nutrient-enriched solution. Without an appropriate hydro tray, the plants wouldn’t be able to grow, as they would not have direct contact with the nutrients they require to do so, totally forfeiting the purpose of hydroponics.
Best Hydroponic Grow Trays 2018
1. Botanicare Grow Tray - Best Grow Tray 2018
For more than 20 years, Botanicare has been manufacturing professional-grade hydroponics equipment for the most demanding growers out there. Starting out as humble brewers of their proprietary plant nutrient (Pure Blend Tea), Botanicare has quickly grown into one of the top manufacturers and consultants of all things hydroponics-related.
This sturdy, professional-grade grow tray is made with the highest standards of quality that awarded Botanicare its fame in the industry. Their thick design is able to support the heaviest of plants without sagging. Ideally, this tray is meant to be used in a hydroponics environment, but it can be easily adapted for any other growing applications. The trays are fitted with large draining channels, which makes them ideal for ebb and flow, or any other methods that require proper drainage.
Growers Supply is a division of the Engineering Services and Products Company. Since their origin in 1979, they have dedicated their trade to providing the highest quality components, equipment, and materials , at the very best prices. Starting out as a two-man company, this organization has grown throughout the years. Now with a manufacturing and distribution center in Iowa, and their call center and corporate headquarters in Connecticut, this company has grown into one of the biggest in the nation.
This product consists of 24 trays with 6 cells each, for a total of 144 cells. Each individual cell is 1.5 inches square and 2.25 inches deep, which makes them ideal for growing seedlings before transplanting them to their permanent tray. Each cell comes with drainage holes so you don’t have to worry about suffocating the seedlings.
This pack of 10 hydroponic trays by Earth Start are made out of heavy-duty plastic, perfect for supporting the bigger and heavier types of plants. The price tag makes them an ideal substitute to our first entry, without sacrificing too much quality. Please note that these trays do not have drain holes, so you might have to drill a few before using them in your hydroponics setup.
This product also consists of a pack of 10 hydroponic trays sold by Living Whole Foods. This company is wholly dedicated to providing its customers with nature’s most healthy foods. They also deal in products that would help the customers grow their own organic vegetable plants.
These particular trays are the standalone version of the ones included in their Hydroponic Wheatgrass Growing Kit. They are meant to be used in a hydroponic growing environment, specifically with the drip method. Once again, these trays do not include drain holes. So, depending on your method, you may have to drill some yourself.
9 Green Box was founded in 2007 with the sole purpose of enabling their customers to grow their own beautiful specimens of household plants. Their products are designed to be used in bonsai growing so their users can create their own miniature gardens.
This germination station consists of 72 cells and comes equipped with a removable dome for humidity control. These features make it an ideal option for hydroponic growing, especially when the seeds are still young. For bigger plants, this germination kit is perfect to get the seeds to sprout, and later replant them in their permanent home. Keep in mind that these cells do not have drain holes, as they aren’t really necessary thanks to the dome, which can keep the soil nice and moist most of the time.
Grow Tray Buying Guide
As we mentioned above, the function of your grow tray will vary depending on the type of setup you’re going for. The most common are:
- Deepwater Culture: We talked about this one moment ago. Instead of proper grow trays, the plants must be hung or supported by a platform while its roots remain submerged in the solution. To avoid suffocation, an aquarium pump must be used to keep the liquid oxygenated.
- Ebb and Flow: The grow tray which supports the plants is periodically flooded with the nutrient solution for a few moments. Shortly after, the liquid is then drained back into the reservoir.
- Wick: The growing trays are once again used to support the plants. However, this time, around they also have bottom openings where the roots of the plant can come into contact with a wick, which transports nutrients from the liquid reservoir to the plant via capillary action.
- Nutrient Film Technique: In this method, the nutrient is directly poured into the grow tray, which is usually tube-shaped. The trays are placed on a slight tilt so that the nutrients can flow down through the plant’s roots, and then drain back into the reservoir, where the process repeats itself ad infinitum.
- Drip: Exactly as its name suggests, this method uses pumps to slowly drip the nutrient solution directly onto the plant’s roots, which are placed on a growing tray.
Now that you know exactly why growing trays are so important, it’s time to actually choose one that would be the best fit for your system. With so many options available on the market, this can really be a tough nut to crack. In that sense, we have compiled a list of our top picks of hydroponic grow trays below.
With so many options on the market, choosing an appropriate grow tray can be a really challenging endeavor, especially for those that are new to the trade and wouldn’t know where to begin.
Like with most tasks, a good way to get started is by gathering information. And the best way to do this is by hopping on the net and searching for user reviews about the products that interest you. Remember that word-of-mouth is usually a more reliable source of information than a company’s sales pitch. Before making a decision, be sure to establish which hydroponic method you will want to use for growing your plants. Keep in mind that each setup may require different equipment (i.e aquarium pumps for deep water culture).
Product images sourced from Amazon.com