13 Best hydroponic Growing Medium Reviews

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hydroponics grow media
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With the advancement of technology and innovations, man has been able to prove that it is possible to grow plants without soil. This soil-less solution is popularly known as hydroponics gardening. Thanks to researchers who have spent a lot of time and they have discovered the best hydroponic growing medium that modern gardeners can embrace.

Plants grown through this solutions mature early and are not prone to diseases.

However, to make this technique successful, something else (grow media) must be introduced to play the vital role that soil plays while growing plants which is providing support.

That’s why grow media is necessary in any hydroponics system as it is used as the soil alternative in this modern gardening technique.

Just like soil, the primary goal of grow media is to provide support to the plant’s roots, allow proper circulation of water and oxygen throughout the system.

The market today is filled with many inert growing medium and many gardeners often find themselves in a dilemma when trying to choose the best growing medium to use in their hydroponic systems.

Best Hydroponic Growing Medium-Comparison Table

Product NameKey featuresPrice
Leca Clay Orchid/Hydroponic Grow Media- 100% natural clay
- Good for aeration and reduced acidity
View on Amazon
Kempf Compressed Coco Fiber Growing Potting Mix 10-Pound Block, Medium- High water retention
- Repels bugs and mildew resistant
View on Amazon
GRODAN A OK Rockwool Stonewool Hydroponic Grow Media Starter Cubes Plugs- Improved homogeneity
- Perfect air/water balance
View on Amazon
Growstone Mix This! Soil Aerator Bag- Perfect Aerator
- Prevents excessive watering
View on Amazon
Rice Hulls Standard Bag- Good AeratorView on Amazon
Growstone GS-1 Hydro Stones Hydroponic Substrate- Rapid moisture absorption
- Enhanced drainage
View on Amazon
Nature's Footprint Pumice Soil amendment, 5-Gallon- Excellent aeration
- Good drainage
- Neutral PH
View on Amazon
Viagrow 4 cu. Ft. Perlite- Good capillary
-Air retention properties
View on Amazon
Horticultural Medium Grade Vermiculite (8 Quart)- Good DrainageView on Amazon
MagJo Naturals Compressed Coco Fiber Peat 11-Pound Block, Medium- Repels bugs and mildew resistant
- Double rinsed to remove salt
View on Amazon

If you are a hydroponics enthusiast, this article will expound on the various growing medium available in the market thus, helping you make a better decision when shopping for the one suitable to your system.

In general, there is no single grow media that is better than others but their performance depends mostly with the type of hydroponics system that you are using.

The following is a detailed list of the most common types of growing medium in the market. I will give you unbiased review detailing their specific features, advantages and disadvantages of using each of them.

Best Hydroponic Growing Medium

JFWOD 10QT Organic Vermiculite, Horticultural Vermiculite for Plants, Soil Additive for Potted…
  • Hydroponic vermiculite is100% organic. The natural vermiculites contain no asbestos or harmful substances, which makes them safe for plants and pets.
  • Mixing the natural vermiculite with potting soil to increase soil porosity and improve soil permeability. Vermiculite also regulates soil PH value and temperature of the soil. Horticultural vermiculite will create a more oxygen-rich soil for plant roots to grow.
  • Organic vermiculite will improve the drainage capacity of soil and avoid plant root rot caused by potting water. Vermiculite coarse is also an excellent medium because it absorbs nutrients and releases them slowly, which will prevent plants from getting sick due to excessive nutrition.
  • You will receive about 10 quarts of hydroponic vermiculite. Horticultural vermiculite mixed with perlite, coconut fiber and soil will provide a better medium for plant growth. These vermiculites are well suited to the growing needs of potted plants.
  • Our Organic Vermiculite is ideal for starting seeds or rooting cuttings, as it helps to provide the perfect balance of moisture and air needed for germination and rooting. Our vermiculite also naturally retains and releases essential minerals and nutrients, ensuring that your plants receive what they need to thrive.

Last update on 2024-02-28 at 16:36 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Vermiculite is one of the most popular hydroponic growing medium. Because it’s a mined mineral rock, it comes with different features for different uses and it is advisable that you select the one that works with hydroponics.

Vermiculite is very light and it can float easily.  It is mostly preferred due to its high ability to retain moisture. Thus, when vermiculite is used as a grow media, it can retain nutrients for a longer duration compared to others.

However, this media is not efficient with oxygen supply and if possible, you can use it together with other grow media such as perlite where vermiculite will provide the needed support and moisture while perlite will be responsible for sufficient oxygen supply.

Legigo 2 Pack Premium Coco Coir Brick for Plants- 100% Organic Compressed Coconut Coir Bricks…
  • 【Coco Coir Growing Medium】This low EC, PH balanced biodegradable soil is made from crude fiber extracted from the husk on coconut husks, 100% natural organic, sustainable and eco-friendly, a traditional soil alternative, it can take your gardening and planting efforts to a new level.2 Pack, each brick is: 8 x 4 x 2 inches, weight 1.4lb.
  • 【EASY To Use & Store】Coco coir brick is compact and lightweight after compression, you can use these in conjunction with other putting soil, easier to store than bags of potting soil. It will expand rapidly after adding water, then you can plant the plants, flowers, vegetables or herbs, creating a stronger foundation for growing seedlings.
  • 【Optimal Aeration & Drainage】The spongy nature of coconut fiber can absorb enough water to make the soil very fluffy when it expands, helping plants absorb water more efficiently, and holds just enough moisture while letting excess out, ideal for thicker plant bases. The coco coir remains in use for a long time and can be reused indefinitely.
  • 【Increase Healthy Root Growth】Coconut fiber is light and airy, providing vital oxygen to plant roots.Our coconut soil will keep your plants moist in hot, dry conditions. Can achieve stronger plant growth and healthier root system. Help your plants grow stronger at the root by starting them off with our coco coir potting soil.
  • 【Wide Application】Suitable for all gardening applications, potted plants, grow microgreens, container gardens, raised garden beds, indoor plants, flowers, vegetables, herbs.Also suitable for bedding of various reptiles, it worked great for making organic compust. Tips: When mixing with water to hydrate make sure to start out slowly so you achieve the consistency you want.

Last update on 2024-02-28 at 16:41 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Coco fiber/chips grow media as the name suggests, they are made from the outer husk of coconuts. The difference between coco fiber and coco coir is the size but both do not decompose easily (inert media).

Coco fiber/coir is PH neutral, hold moisture perfectly, and allows efficient aeration to take place.

Both coco fiber and coco chips are compatible thus, making them easy to transport. Once you soak them, they can expand up to 6 times of their original size.

Oasis Horticubes ES Grow Cubes 50 Count Sheets (Case of 20) Hydroponic Grow Cubes Seed Starting…
  • New Biodegradable Oasis Cubes
  • Horticubes eS foam has been shown by ASTM D5511 to biodegrade 75% within 335 days
  • The Horticubes eS media has lower density and higher drainage and is specially engineered for hydroponic seed germination of vegetables and leafy greens
  • Great for lettuce, leafy greens, onions, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and other vegetables
  • 50ct cubes measure 1.5” across and are top grooved.

Last update on 2024-02-28 at 16:42 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Oasis cubes are made of open cell materials and the cells help in absorbing both water and air. With oasis cubes, gardeners can used it as grow medium for both seeds and cuttings.

Oasis cubes have similar characteristics as Rockwool grow media and it is mostly preferred due to its high moisture retention and Neutral PH Level.

The open cell structure provides an ample space for roots to grow and at the same time giving room for moisture and aeration.

BIOMAND 1.2” Rockwool Starter Plugs for Hydroponics, Rockwool Grow Cubes, 3 Sheets of 36 Plugs,…
  • 🌱WIDELY USED – Perfect for cutting, seed starter, clone plants, rooting plants, hydroponic gardening, garden tower, hydroponic system and winter plant as well
  • 🌱EASY TO USE – So much easier and less messy than using soil, they have planting holes, cut clean, accurate to adjust pH, easy to transplant.
  • 🌱ASEPTIC PRODUCTION – inorganic and sterile growing medium provide a make sure your plants have a better growth environment, increase germination rate
  • 🌱MATERIAL – Made from ground rock fibers, safe for environment, has a tremendous capacity for absorbing nutrient solution while retaining plenty of oxygen for rapid plant growth
  • 🌱SIZE – 1.2″ rockrool is a right size for growing seed, they are firm enough to hold the shape well, and do not fall apart.

Last update on 2024-02-28 at 16:44 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

This is another popular growing medium in hydroponics. Rockwool is mostly preferred because it is porous, sterile, and non-degradable. Rockwool grow media comprise of thin threads made from heating and melting limestone or granite.

The small threads are then compressed to form blocks, cubes, slabs, flocking or sheets. Before using Rockwool, ensure that you have soaked it in PH balanced water to ensure that it’s PH Neutral.

It is also worth noting that Rockwool has high water absorption capacity and can lead to water logging. Therefore, close monitoring is necessary to avoid over saturation.

12QT Perlite for Plants, 3-6mm Horticultural Medium pearlight for Indoor & Outdoor, perilite Bulk…
  • 12 QT FULL: We give a very adequate amount of 12 qt of organic Perlite to fully satisfy your daily needs!
  • LESS DUST: our perlite is 3-6 Medium Grade, which undergoes a washing process, resulting in less dust overall and a better feel, making it ideal for any home or garden!
  • EASY TO USE AND STORE PACKAGING: Perlite is packed in a sealable bag which can be tied tightly to prevent the Perlite from moisture when it is not used up, making it very simple and convenient to use.
  • PERLITE FOR SOIL HEALTH: Natural Perlite Provides good aeration and drainage of the soil, allowing water and oxygen to reach the roots of plants, crops, herbs, flowers, seedlings, garden soil and potting mixes more efficiently!
  • PROMOTES ROOT DEVELOPMENT: Horticultural perlite particles are very light, and bulk perlite mixed with compost, natural soil, or composted bark reduces soil sloughing while helping to immobilize the root system of young seedlings, allowing them to grow stronger.

Last update on 2024-02-28 at 16:46 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Perlite grow media is a combination of volcanic glass that is heated to pop up in a similar manner as popcorns.

They are good in water drainage and aeration. Once heated, perlite becomes very light and it floats easily.

Therefore, for better results, it should not be used alone and vermiculite can be added in the ratio of 1:1 to provide additional strength.

Perlite is reusable and it is available at very affordable prices. The only downside with perlite is that; it does not have better water retention ability.

When using this grow media, care should be taken to ensure perlite dust does not get into your eyes as they are harmful.

READ ALSO; Hydroponics Vs Aquaponics

Grodan RW108004 Rockwool, 50-Pack Macro Plant Plugs, Green
  • These Rockwool plant starting plugs feature a slit for easy insertion of rooted cuttings
  • Ideal for growers using aeroponic EZ clone machines
  • They fit perfectly into the holes of any standard Rockwool blocks
  • Inserted into pebbles, or any other type of growing mediums

Last update on 2024-02-28 at 16:48 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Grow rock are made from clay soil which is heated to create porous texture particles. They are a bit heavy meaning that they don’t float thus providing support to your plants.

Grow rock is also known as hydro corn and some of the best characteristics of this grow media are;

  • Non-degradable
  • Sterile
  • Neutral PH
  • Good moisture retention
  • Re usable

Grow rock is one of best hydroponic growing medium that is widely known and you can easily find it at your nearest hydroponics store.

PGN Clay Pebbles for Hydroponic Growing – 10 Liters (4 Pounds) – Organic Expanded Clay Balls for…
  • Watch as Your Plants Thrive … Hydroponics or aquaponics, PGN Leca clay pebbles give your plants a reason to flourish. With their micro-pores and spacing, they provide roots with ample oxygen, allow for superior moisture retention, and promote proper drainage.
  • Experience the PGN Difference … Not all clay pebbles for hydroponic growing are created equal. While others have unpredictable PH that can mess with your growing system, we’ve ensured our clay beads are PH neutral & free of dangerous contaminants.
  • Packaged With You in Mind … Never have to worry about storing your remaining clay pebbles for plants. No cleaning up spills. We’ve conveniently packed them in a resealable storage bag. You’ll receive 4 liters of hydro stones to upgrade your growing system.
  • Mother Nature will Thank You … Smile, you’re about to flex your green thumb with an earth-friendly growing medium. We use organic clay that is sourced with sustainability as the priority. Perfect for growing orchids, succulents, or as a decorative top layer.
  • Hydroponics Made Nice & Easy … Whether you’re new to hydroponic growing or you’re a proud pro, you’ll love the ease of using leca for plants. For the best results, rinse the lecca balls before use and soak for 6-24 hours for full saturation. Happy planting!

Last update on 2024-02-28 at 16:52 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Yes, sand can also be used as grow media. Sand particles are smaller compared to rock particles and this makes it better in terms of moisture retention. For better results, sand can be mixed with vermiculite, perlite or with coco coir to increase its ability to retain moisture and improved aeration.

Unfortunately, sand is usually heavy meaning that you cannot transport it easily compared to other compatible grow Medias. The larger the grain size of sand that you select, the better the aeration.

Hydro Crunch CP801 Coco Coir Perlite Blend Growing Media, 50L Bag, Brown
  • Ideal blend for hydroponic gardening, for use with drain-to-waste Hydroponics, as well as a great alternative to potting soil and other traditional growing medias
  • Designed by Hydroponics experts to provide the optimal aeration and water retention needed for a successful Hydro garden
  • Our mix blend of coco coir and perlite 70/30 enhances drainage capabilities providing a buffer to protect your crop from over-feeding and over watering
  • Can be used to grow a variety of plant types especially food crops, for use in containers we recommend Hydro Crunch felt fabric garden pots for indoor or outdoor growing

Last update on 2024-02-28 at 16:54 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Brick shards is derived from crushed bricks to form small bricks particles. Brick shards are easily available but you must thoroughly clean them before use. In addition, brick shards are not PH Neutral meaning that they can interfere with the PH level of your water solution.

They have a good drainage potential and they can easily be found at home improvement stores near you at very affordable prices.

RELATED;  Best Hydroponics Systems Review

Lava Rock Pebbles Pumice Gritty Rock Decorative Mix Horticultural Potting Soil Amendment Succulent…
  • This succulent gravel mixture has excellent drainage, and is most suitable for drought-resistant fleshy plants and cacti, which helps plants grow beautiful colors and effectively prevents flowing water
  • These colorful lava rocks are suitable for outdoor and indoor home decoration, craft projects, scene settings, fish tanks, vase fillers, aquariums, fairy tale gardening, flower pots, succulent plants, cactus bonsai, indoor plants, garden decoration, etc.
  • Volcanic slag: it is not easy to decompose without using artificial filler or color pre-cleaning. All these have been screened to remove dust and coarse particles.
  • This professional gravel mixture can also be used as the addition of succulent and cactus soil or other soil to improve drainage, neutralize soil PH value and help plants grow better
  • These 2 pound decorative stones are packed in a large bag. You can take the part you need from the cactus and the fleshy soil mixture, and then seal it up for perfect prevention and storage

Last update on 2024-02-28 at 16:56 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Gravel is easily available and it has been widely used in aquariums.

If you are a beginner looking for a cheap grow media, the gravel is the best choice since it is not expensive.

It is easy to clean and it drains very well.

The only con of using gravel as a grow media is that; it might cause heavy plants roots to dry out. Thus, close monitoring is required.

Pumice Stone Grow Media – Made in USA for Bonsai • Succulents • Cactus • Orchids -…
  • OMRI Listed – Cz Pumice is an All-Natural soil amendment listed by the Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI). It may be used in certified organic production or food processing and handling according to the USDA National Organic Program regulations.
  • All-Natural Horticultural Pumice. Inert, pH-neutral, clean and decorative. Beware of lower quality pumice with wild ph swings! Cz Garden Horticultural Pumice is guaranteed ph-neutral, stable, and safe to use in your Organic Garden. NO phosphates, NO Urea, NO Asbestos!
  • For Organic Growing – Cz Garden Pumice prevents soil compaction, provides excellent aeration, drainage, and stability for plant roots. Create the perfect environment for your plants to thrive!
  • Average Particle Size 1/8″ – Use for small pots & containers under 4”. For Bonsai, Succulent, Orchids, Seedlings, Cuttings – Pumice has a porous structure that provides excellent drainage and aeration which promotes root growth.
  • RESEALABLE, EASY POUR PACKAGING: Cz Garden Horticultural Pumice is professionally packaged in a 2 Liter Heavy Duty resealable pouch designed for long term storage. Pour the necessary quantity with ease and store the rest for future use.

Last update on 2024-02-28 at 16:59 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Pumice is a mined mineral and it resembles perlite in a number of ways. Pumice is lightweight thus easy to transport, it has perfect aeration potential, and it is inexpensive.

Just like perlite, pumice is also too light and this feature makes it not suitable for certain hydroponics systems. Pumice is easily available.

Rice Hulls – Organic Use – 3lb – House Plants – Gardening – Chicken Bedding Nesting
  • Suitable for greenhouses, raised bed, vegetable gardens, potted / house plants, chicken nesting
  • Lower cost ALTERNATIVE TO PERLITE and vermiculite with added benefits making it the perfect “GREEN” replacement.
  • BREAKS UP HARD SOIL better than gypsum provides greater soil porosity, increases water retention, can be tilled into soil
  • Great for Potted Plants
  • BEAUTIFUL NATURAL APPEARANCE that will compliment your house plants or garden, eco friendly biodegradable

Last update on 2024-02-28 at 17:00 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

As the name suggests, rice hulls are grow media that is made of shells that surrounds rice particles. After rice is harvested, rice hulls are thrown away as waste.

Rice hulls have good drainage and high water retention potential and it’s due to this features that makes them suitable to be re-used as grow media in hydroponics.

Rice hulls are easily available depending on your location and they can be sourced at very affordable prices. The only weakness with rice hulls is that they short life time (decay over time). Rice hulls comes in different varieties ranging from; fresh, composted and parboiled, aged or carbonized.

12. Starter plugs

Hydroponic Sponges Grow Starter Pods Organic Rooter Plugs Growth Sponge Starter Plugs for Plant…
  • Seed Starting: our grow starter pods are cultivated with standard pH values ​​and contain micronutrients, which can provide sufficient nutrition and good rooting environment when the seeds grow; These plant started sponges are clean and tidy, contain no harmful elements, enough to ensure the germination rate and survival rate of seeds
  • Design for Seed Growth: there is a reserved seed hole on the top of the hydroponic grow sponges, and after absorbing water, you can also adjust the size and depth of the hole by yourself; The grow sponge plugs have a loose structure after absorbing water, and have good characteristics of air permeability, water permeability and self penetrating root system
  • How to Use: our root growth starter pods are in a dry state, which is more convenient for transportation and storage, and will not easily become moldy; You just need to soak for 3-5 minutes before use, and put the seed in the seed hole, then put the seed replacement cubes in a seedling tray or other containers for use
  • Sufficient Quantity: you can receive 50 pieces root growth sponges, they are all peat based seedling substrates, enough for you to use and replace in the seedling cultivation process, helping you create a good indoor garden; You can use them to cultivate various plants, such as flowers, succulents, mint, cotton, herbs, strawberries, lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, cilantro, and so on
  • Suitable Size: the size of our root growth starter plugs are about 1.2 x 1.2 inches on the top, 0.8 x 0.8 inch at the bottom and 1.6 inches in the height before water absorption, after water absorption, the top of root growth starter plugs is about 1.9 x 1.9 inches, 0.9 x 0.9 inch at the bottom and 1.8 inches in the height; The root plant sponge plugs can give the plant roots more room to grow

Last update on 2024-02-28 at 17:04 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

They are among the best hydroponic growing medium. Starter plugs are commonly used for starting seeds which are eventually transferred to the hydroponics system.

Starter plugs are made of organic compost of biodegradable binding material which makes them strong and do not break easily.

If you specialize in seed starting and you are looking for a modern way of raising many seedlings or cloning, starter plugs are the best to go for. They are easy to use as you only need to place them in trays and the roots of the new plants will grow straight downward making it easy to transplant them into your main system.

GROW!T GMC10L – 4mm-16mm Clay Pebbles, Brown, (10 Liter Bag) – Made from 100% Natural Clay, Can be…
  • Made from 100% natural clay, extremely stable in both pH and EC
  • Pre-washed to aid in stability
  • Drains freely and does not hold excess water, provides good oxygen levels around the root; suitable for flood and drain systems, multi-pot and drip feed systems
  • Strong structural integrity means that they are less likely to break and compact, which helps to prevent dripper systems from getting blocked

Last update on 2024-02-28 at 17:07 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Grow stones are similar to grow rocks but they are made of recycled glass (clay and shaped marbles). Grow stones are light weight, unevenly shaped, and porous.

They are reusable and they provide good aeration and moisture capacity.

All the above grow media are readily available in the market and you can now make an informed purchasing decision based on each grow media specific pros and cons as well as the type of hydroponics system that you are using to grow your plants.

Since there is no proven grow media that is superior from the rest, the best hydroponic growing medium is the one that has;

  • Good moisture retention potential
  • Good aeration
  • Ability to provide the needed plant support
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