What is a Hydroponic Bubbler?

Paul Scott
Paul Scott
Woman with a flower
Woman with a flower

A hydroponic bubbler is a small scale gardening device which utilizes a pump to circulate air through a nutrient suspension. Hydroponic gardening is the practice of growing plants in the absence of any soil, their nutritional needs being met by exposing the root system to nutrients suspended in water. The hydroponic bubbler is a small, simple device which suspends the plant in an inert growing medium above a nutrient rich solution in a sealed container. A diffuser is placed in the bottom of the container, and air is pumped through it to release a mass of bubbles into the solution. The bubbles aerate the solution, keep the nutrients evenly suspended and, prior to extensive root formation, keep the growing medium moist.

Hydroponic gardening is one of the fasted growing — excuse the pun — gardening practices in the world. With ever more pressure being placed on our natural resources, and space constraints driving garden sizes down, micro or inside gardening makes a lot of sense. Hydroponics is basically the practice of growing plants without soil. Plants ordinarily acquire their food by absorbing nutrients dissolved from the soil in which they grow. The soil itself is unnecessary if the roots are exposed to water-borne nutrients. For those with a serious space issue or who only want to grow a few smaller plants, a hydroponic bubbler is one of the most suitable types of water gardening available.

The typical hydroponic bubbler consists of a container with a lid which is equipped with one or more plant holders. The plant holder is constructed with a mesh material and protrudes down below the lid surface, thereby allowing the plant's roots to be exposed to the container contents. The plant is usually nested in an inert hydroponic growing medium which is kept moist and exposes developing roots to nutrients while anchoring the plant. A diffuser such as an air stone is placed in the bottom of the container with a connection to a small air pump. The container is then filled with a hydroponic feeding solution to a short distance below the plant holder.

When the hydroponic bubbler pump runs, it causes a mass of fine bubbles to rise in the solution which aerates the solution, maintains an even mix of suspended nutrients, and allows moisture to enter the air above the water surface. This is particularly important when the seedlings roots are still developing because it keeps the growing medium moist. As the plant's roots grow, they eventually reach down into the solution itself and draw the bulk of food needs directly from the water. The only real input from the gardener includes keeping tabs on the nutrient and pH levels in the solution and ensuring the pump runs at all times.

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