Introduction: Colander Hydroponics

Picture of Colander Hydroponics

Make a cheap and easy hydroponic setup with household items.
You need a dark bucket.
A colander that will fit on the rim of the bucket.
An air pump, a few feet of air hose, an air stone.

Step 1: Bucket & Air

Picture of Bucket & Air

Take a clean dark bucket.
Remove the handle bar.
Why dark ? Otherwise you'll have algae grow.
Does not have to be black.
Why clean ?..... Leftover of soap or chemicals are not recommended.

Step 2: Plant Inside the Colander

Picture of Plant Inside the Colander

You can plant almost anything in the colander.
Bulbs work great.
On the picture, you see an Amarilys also called Hippeastrum
These are very easy to grow, i grow them on water without nutrient !
If you carefully rince the roots of a young plant, and remove (almost) all soil, you can transfer it into hydroponics.
A young plant will have fewer and lighter roots.
I have done it many times, it works.

Step 3: Add Medium

Picture of Add Medium

Medium is what will hold the plants, and help transfer the nutrient to the plant.
You can use pebbles, sand, fired clay ,hydroton.

Step 4: Pump & Airstone

Picture of Pump & Airstone

Branch pump and airstone.
Add water till it touches the bottom of the colander.

Step 5: Results

Picture of Results

See the results.
I grow these on a radiator in front of a window, so they have enough light and heath.
Growth is spectacular, sometimes 1 inch per day.


botronics (author)2010-06-11

Can you do potatoes, onions and garlic this way?

chefmichel (author)botronics2010-06-12

I only grew Amarilys (hippeastrum) but I am certain it wil work with other plants. There is no reason it will not work. I personally switched to sub-irrigated planters, see

pocdragon (author)2009-06-28

whats the point of the bubbleing airstone, just to aggitate the water?

botronics (author)pocdragon2010-06-11

The air helps to keep bacteria down and keep the roots from "drowning".

chefmichel (author)pocdragon2009-06-29

Airstones will agitate the water when air is feeded into them. Most important is to keep the air-hose low in the water. If you can keep your air-hose under water with a heavy object, I am sure it will work. Have you ever build a hydroponic system ? Try it, it is cheap and fun. Good luck to you ! Chefmichel

biofueljunke (author)2010-01-07

ever grow "anything else" if u know what i mean with this system and can this system be used for coleus

delwart (author)2009-08-25

you got me to make 1 for me and 2 for my sisters. what about nutrients?

chefmichel (author)delwart2009-08-25

I am not a professional gardener, but read that the bulb has all it needs. See and other web sites. I use tap water. Just make sure the roots get enough "splash" You can also use hydroponic nutrients, it might grow even better. After the growing season, cut all the leaves flush to the bulb, and let it dry. Read more on "forcing the bulb". Good luck to you, keep us posted re the results.

DanielSedgwick (author)2009-06-09

For a cheap "airstone" i found 1/4" soaker hose for drip Irrigation works well. Found it at Lowe's

elpa (author)2008-10-05

That's cool and cheap and beautiful! Thanks for sharing, one question about the bulbs: what happens after the flowering ? Does the bulb end its life or produce other bulbs underground ?

chefmichel (author)elpa2008-10-20

These bulbs are very resistant. You can leave the bulbs in the colander to dry, and reused them next season. The year after however, I got only flowers. I have to look this up or ask my supplier the reason why. Maybe next year I'll have flowers. By the way you can plant them in soil too.

Rainmakker84 (author)chefmichel2009-05-12

You need to force the flower bulbs by giving them a cold treatment. The leaves are providing energy for the bulbs and when they bloom. They will be spectacular. Bless

littleangels (author)2008-11-06

For the nutrients, could one use worm casing "tea" with all the dirt and grit filtered out?

chefmichel (author)littleangels2008-11-09

it sounds like a good idea, Try it out and please tell us all how it works out. Good luck. Chefmichel

MrTheTooth (author)2007-01-16

What I'd like to see is a way to do this whole process with homemade/found materials. That includes the nutrient solution. There must be some way of making he nutrient solution at home with compost... Just throwing out an idea, I am great at keeping Animals of all types alive (snakes, cockroachs, giant water bugs, nake mole-rates, etc.), but I keep a healthy plant if my life depended on it.

Saint_Awesome (author)MrTheTooth2008-10-28

Dilute human urine is chock full of phosphorus and nitrogen.

DELTA_117 (author)MrTheTooth2008-06-14

If you have some fish, I think some unfiltered fish water would provide nutrients

chefmichel (author)DELTA_1172008-06-17

I think it is great idea. You can find a lot of info on the web re this topic.

Kevlarster (author)MrTheTooth2008-06-03

I've read that Alfalfa tea will work as a nutrient and will also LOWER THE pH, which is desirable when using 'tap' water (which is usually alkaline).

chefmichel (author)MrTheTooth2007-01-17

Unfortunately I am not a chemist, so i cannot answer you. I am planting with hydroponics for a few years and enjoy making my own setups, but i buy the nutrients in specialised shops. I suggest you look up "composting" on Google or other search engines.

josheeg (author)2008-08-04

it would seem to me to make the system better is add a nylon wick for if the pump breaks or watter level lowers. Also this could mean less bubbling during the day when the plants take in co2 instead of bulbing o2 at the plants.

chefmichel (author)josheeg2008-08-12

All the fun is in experimenting and improving the system. I have grown beautiful flowers even without pump, if the colander just touch water, it is OK, the plants wick whatever they need. Just make sure there is enough water. My plants never complained about CO2 bubbling, but my wife complained about the bubbling sounds.

jeffroward (author)2006-12-14

i'm a little confused by you "air lift" water pumper thingy. this is your second instructable in which you have it pictured, and in neither of them do you have it positioned in water or nutrient solution or anything. if it isn't in the solution, there's nothing for it to lift, right? could you, perhaps, show us how the entire thing goes together and functions when it is all hooked up correctly? or, could you tell me why i am incorrect? thanks. btw, this is an awesome, simple setup; forcing bulbs and watering orchids could both benefit from this simple technology. thanks!

Kevlarster (author)jeffroward2008-06-03

Amen, Jeffroward

chefmichel (author)jeffroward2006-12-14

This setup is a bubbler, not a lifter. Bubbles coming out of the airstone splash the bottom of the colander, thus wetting the medium. This is a simple and effective way to bring nutrient to the roots. The roots will grow trough the slits of the colander and reach the nutrient. Many commercial setups you can buy in hydro shops work this way. Sorry for the confusion caused by the wrong picture. I'll post a clear drawing instead.

burgarl11 (author)2007-06-21

What is the teal tube for?? and what is it attached to?

chefmichel (author)burgarl112007-06-21

The tube is attached to an aquarium airpump.

backcountry (author)2006-12-14

I grow orchids semi-hydro. It is cheaper and greener because it requires no pump and no electricity. Doesn't dry out between waterings like full hydro, but Phrags certainly love it. Take a cup, glass, or anything that will hold water. Punch a ring of holes an inch up from the bottom. Fill with expanded clay pellets (aliflor) or whatever media you'd use for full hydro. And your plant of course. Then fill with (up to the holes) with a weak nutrient solution (I use "weakly weekly"). The clay will wick the water up and keep the plant supplied.

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