Solutions to Hydroponic Problems (Lack of Root-Plant Support)


Introduction: Solutions to Hydroponic Problems (Lack of Root-Plant Support)

About: Engineer making renewable energy products for African entrepreneurs.

This is the next edition of my cheap and at home hydroponic garden series. Today I noticed that my lemon basil and Italian basil has collapsed on itself. I planned on building supports this weekend (same method), but I had to do it early to prevent damage.

There are several methods you can use to support your plants... You can build a lattice, stake and tie etc. I am going to show a cheap/possibly free way to make a loop and stake support. This works well for tall plants with a stalkier base (in my case, Italian Basil).

In this picture you can see the problem with my Lemon Basil. Note that I was too quick to install my support so you can't see how my other plant (in back right) was folding over itself :/

Second picture: Two weeks of growth
Thrid Picture: Right after planting

Coming Soon: Drain/Fill Level Tube ||| Dealing with Reservoir Light Leakage ||| Perpetual Harvesting (for fruiting plants)

Step 1: Materials and Starting

You'll need two things for this.

1. An old metal hanger (like one from a dry cleaner) or some rigid wire (that can be bent/formed).
2. Pliers capable of cutting wire.

To start off - straighten your hanger and cut off one end (the hook or other twisty end).

Step 2: Forming the Loop

Next make a loop - I used a circular candle holder thing. If you don't have something like that, eyeball it. It's not such a big deal. The size of your loop depends on the size of your plant. Remember that we need to be able to put this thing AROUND your plant so don't make it too small.

Next bend two hooks on either end of your loop. The idea is to make a clasp of sorts. We'll open the clasp and put the loop around the base of the plant like a bracelet and then close it before staking it down.

Cut off excess wire.

Step 3: Now Make Three Legs

Using your pliers, make three legs with an eye loop on one end of each.

Put each loop onto your ring and then crimp it down to make a tighter fit. If you feel you need to - hot glue (or solder) in place.

Make each leg about the same height.

Step 4: Install!

With the ring unclasp, wrap around the base of the plant - then hook it together.

I pushed my legs through the top hole of my mesh pots - thus wedging it between the pot and the plastic lid (remember that it's a tight press fit).

Step 5: Training

If you have the physical structure around - you can train your plats to grow on them.

To do this I had to do some re-arranging. Moving your plants (once established) is not recommended. But if it needs to be done, do so with care.

My lemon basil has really taken and is loving its new home. I've already cut two full stems off for cooking (chicken and lemon basil with a little butter -- the whole place smelled like lemons :P). Expecting it to grow as fast as a weed, I am having it take to my patio rails. This means my garden is now permanent -- moving it will damage the plant.

Looking at picture two, you can see how the root system has really taken off. Out of curiosity, I checked it three days ago and measured -- 14 inches. Today (three days later) it was only slightly larger -- but the plant mass has grown quite a bit (not measured). This is expected and exactly what we want.

The third picture shows the slight gap between the water level and the mesh pots. As two of my plants have established root systems like this, it is important to give a little gap for aeration. I don't want to put more of a gap just yes as not all of the plants have established themselves.

Last picture -- Just under two weeks later. 1 plant (rosemary) did not make it. But it was very small/weak to begin with.



    • Creative Misuse Contest

      Creative Misuse Contest
    • Oil Contest

      Oil Contest
    • Water Contest

      Water Contest

    17 Discussions

    Thanks for posting this article, trebuchet03 :) This is probably the best way to deal with a common problem in gardening that most growers encounter. Who would have thought that a hanger can be an effective tool that can be used to create a good support for plants, simply amazing!

    This looks like a great solution to a fairly common problem. Thanks for taking the time to post this. Nice work.

    Think part of your problem was your grow medium. Rock wool in cubes will not really provide that much support for the roots.

    1 reply

    I'm not convinced this is the case - I've grown in cubes, slabs, cubes in slabs, fired clay media, sand, dirt, etc. Plants that want to vine and grow out tall/thin need support - or just let them sag over.

    Wonderful idea! Your a genius! Just starting my garden, so will use your wire method.

    adding an oscillating fan near your plants will also help create support, by causing it to grow thicker stems, just like plants do in the wild from wind.

    ok first off, ive read all of your instructables about hydroponics. i do have a few questions though. would it be ok to have the EXACT same setup and hippie stuff? im not going to but id just like to know. also, where do you live in florida? i live in pensacola : ). I never knew that it only took two weeks to have plants flourish like that! thanks, and ill comment about my success in a bit! im going to hopefully have mine up and running within the next few day.

    1 reply

    The density of light will help keep the plants upright (needs more light!). It is interesting how certain plants will "sprawl" in this situation (basils and similar culinary herbs have had a notorious way of doing this in my experiences).

    I will be building your system soon. My choice to start are cilantro and butterhead lettuce. I am from Puerto Rico and have plenty of sun all year around.

    Nice job, now your plants will thrive once again.
    By the way, Thinkman's Misconceptions (at least the one I looked up) are Plagiarized.....

    "Does saltpeter suppress male ardor?: "

    You may want to rethink your score.

    But at least your instructable is unique and useful to gardeners (too bad I'm not a gardener though but if I become one, I'll know where to look for help :) )

    2 replies

    Sorry bout that, I'm not a "morning" person (unless I stayed up all night, but last night I didn't) and I wasn't too aware of which post I was on and I had to type quick cause I had to chase off some trespassers that refuse to leave us alone (at least when you bring a video camera along, you have proof)....Now if I only could figure out the best magnet project to make.....Then I could talk to them with my hands free while still recording :P Anyhow, wishing the best of luck to everyone.... Sorry to hear your Rosemary died, better luck next time.

    I'll take another picture later... but its getting enough light as I have a high leaf density in addition to rapid vertical growth. But my plants do know the direction that light is coming from. If you can see it in the picture, the Italian basil has the tops of its leaves pointing in one direction :P Not really much I can do because it only gets direct sunlight for about 30 minutes in the evening which was one of the factors for plant selection :P