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Hydroponics I

Course CodeBHT224
Fee CodeS3
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

Start A Career in Hydroponics or Set up Your Own System

Start Studying Again with ACS

  • Gain work in a hydroponic farm, hydroponic shop or start a hydroponic business
  • Lay a foundation for serious and effective plant production in any climate or location (Hydroponics has been effectively carried out in deserts, the arctic, humid tropics)
  • Learn from internationally renowned experts (e.g. Our principal John Mason is a well known hydroponic author and has been teaching hydroponics since the early 1970's)
  • Emphasis is placed on the horticulturally valuable crops such as cut flowers and vegetables.
  • Study online, start at any time.

This course contains 10 lessons each with Set Tasks and 10 Assignments. The course covers all types of systems including NFT, gravel bed, capillary, flood and drip feed, growool, and vertical bags. All types of media are dealt with including scoria, gravel, sand, vermiculite, perlite, expanded clay, polystyrene, stone chip, and rockwool. Major techniques and problems are dealt with, including salinity, nutrient balance, disease control, temperature and humidity, light requirements, pest control, pruning, propagation, harvesting, and more.

Our Students Say

"Having completed the Advanced Hydroponics Course, I have since gone on to open my own successful hydroponics retail shop, now in it's third year of trading" - Ted, Advanced Hydroponics

What Is Hydroponics?

Hydroponics is the art of growing plants without soil. It is the perfect way to avoid heavy, back breaking work, such as digging. Pests, diseases and weeds are generally much easier to control. Over the past few decades hydroponics has proven an ideal method for both keen amateur gardeners and commercial growers looking for an alternative way of producing plants.

Lesson Structure

There are 10 lessons in this course:

  1. Introduction
    • Scope and nature of Hydroponics
    • Wick Systems
    • Water Culture
    • Ebb and Flow (or flood and drain system)
    • Drip (with either a recovery or non-recovery process)
    • N.F.T. (Nutrient Film Technique)
    • Aeroponic Systems
    • Hydroponics as a Global Industry
    • Comparison with Soil Culture
    • Resources for more information
  2. How a Plant Grows
    • Introduction to Plant growth
    • Plant Structure
    • Biochemistry and Hydroponics
    • Biochemical Processes; Photosynthesis, Nutrient Uptake
    • Nutrients
    • Nitrogen
    • Phosphorus
    • Potassium
    • Calcium and Magnesium
    • Sulphur, Iron, Zinc, Copper, Molybdenum, Carbon, Chlorine, Aluminium, Sodium
    • pH
    • Hydroponic Nutrient Solutions
    • Preparing Nutrient Solutions
  3. Hydroponic Systems
    • What makes up a System
    • Location, Container, Water and Nutrient Application, Root Media etc
    • Two simple systems
    • Soil less media mixes
    • Rock wool; advantages, disadvantages, manufacture, propagation blocks, rockwool applications, etc.
    • NFT Systems
    • Solution Dispensation Methods and Techniques
  4. Nutrition and Nutrition management
    • Understanding Nutrient Formulae
    • Writing Chemical Names
    • What Nutrients Does a Plant Need
    • Calculating Formulae
    • Mixing Nutrients
    • Symptoms of Nutrient Deficiency
    • Dutch Recommendations for Nutrient Formulae
    • Summary of Fertilisers or chemicals used in Hydroponic Nutrient Formulae
    • Managing pH
    • Managing Conductivity
  5. Plant Culture
    • Preparing a Flow Chart for Managing a Hydroponic Crop
    • Salinity Controllers
    • pH Controllers
    • Post Harvest Management of Crops; cooling, drying, Canning, Control Atmosphere Storage, Relative Humidity Storage, Freezing, Vacuum Storage, etc.
    • Pest and Disease Management in Controlled Environments
    • Fungal Problems and Management
    • Major Pest and Disease Disorders; viruses, bacteria, fungi, nematode
    • Diagnosis of Crop Disorders
    • Pests
    • Inspecting an Unhealthy Plant
    • Difficult to Diagnose Problems
    • Integrated Pest Management
    • Review of Diseases
    • Review of Pests
  6. Hydroponic Vegetable Production
    • Introduction
    • Commercial Cultivation of Vegetables
    • Propagating Vegetables
    • Seed Germination of Vegetables and Herbs
    • Optimum temperatures for different Vegetables
    • Time from planting to harvest for different Vegetables
    • Tomatoes in Hydroponics
    • Eggplant in Hydroponics
    • Hydroponic Lettuce
    • Review of Vegetable Families (groups)
    • Fresh Cut Herbs in Hydroponics
    • Nutrient Solution for Herbs
    • Selected Herb Crops; mint, parsley, thyme, dill basil, chives, etc.
  7. Hydroponic Cut Flower Production
    • Introduction
    • Carbon Dioxide enrichment
    • Culture of Specific Hydroponic Crops
    • Carnation
    • Gerbera
    • Gladioli
    • Rose
    • Indoor Plant Crops in Hydroponics
  8. Solid Media vs. Nutrient Film
    • NFT
    • Header Tank or Direct Pumping
    • Solution Delivery
    • Capillary Matting
    • Channel Width and Length
    • Slope
    • Temperature
    • Types of Media for Aggregate Culture
    • Vermiculite
    • Sand
    • Perlite
    • Expanded Plastics
    • Expanded Clay
    • Scoria
    • Peat Moss
    • Coir Fibre
    • Composted Bark
    • Review of selected Indoor Plants in Hydroponics
    • African Violet
    • Anthurium
    • Aphelandra,
    • Bromeliad
    • Caladium
    • Dieffenbachia
    • Ferns, Ficus, Palms, etc
  9. Greenhouse Operation and Management
    • Growing Crops in Greenhouses
    • Solar Energy Applications
    • Greenhouse Shape, Orientation, Size, etc
    • Active Solar Heating Systems
    • Examples of Solar Greenhouses; case studies
    • What to Grow
    • Environmental Factors and how to Control them
    • Heaters
    • Light Factors
    • Managing water with Plants
    • Other Cultural Considerations; pollination, fruit cracking, ventilation, temperature, etc.
  10. Special Assignment
    • Planning the Establishment or Management of a Hydroponic Enterprise

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.


  • Explain different hydroponic systems.
  • Select appropriate media for specified hydroponic crops.
  • Describe the equipment used in hydroponic systems.
  • Determine the management of nutrition in hydroponic systems.
  • Explain the management of a greenhouse in the production of a hydroponic crop.
  • Plan the establishment of hydroponic facility to satisfy specified criteria, both commercial and cultural.
  • Develop a management plan for a hydroponic facility.

How to Get More from Limited Space Using Hydroponics

Trellis Systems

Due to the exceptional growing conditions within a greenhouse many plants and vines require assistance to grow to their potential. Crops such as tomatoes, cucumbers, melons, aubergine, capsicums, beans and snowpeas require strong support and the plants must be trained up to an overhead wire or other support system. This is achieved by tying the central stem as in the case of tomatoes or main leaders as in the case of capsicum up to an overhead wire using string, or string hooks which are designed for longer-term production of many crops such as tomatoes which may be layered over time.

Hanging Gardens

An advantage of hydroponic systems in greenhouses is the ability to use overhead space. Hanging systems such as column culture and bag culture have been specifically designed to utilise overhead space. Hanging systems have been used commercially to grow trailing and climbing plants such as strawberries, zucchinis, cucumbers and climbing beans.

Tiered Beds

Tiered beds are used in both outdoor and greenhouse operations. Tiered beds not only provide the advantages of raising plants off the ground, they also allow more plants to be grown in a specific area. A typical system is a tiered rack of PVC gullies in a NFT system.

Tips For Maximising Growth


There is often a requirement in some greenhouse grown species to temporarily stop shoot elongation and to promote lateral branching. This process can be undertaken manually by pinching the terminal bud, however, there are now chemicals available to do this. Chemical stopping will enhance branching and prevent flowering and ultimately fruiting of landscape ornamentals. Species where stopping is practised includes azalea, clerodendron, fuchsia, gardenia, ivy, geranium, kalanchoe, schefflera, privet, holly, olive and verbena.

Various longer-term vegetable crops such as tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers are typically stopped as they reach the end of their productive life, this allows any fruit left on the plant to mature through to harvest, while vegetative growth is terminated at the top. Stopping speeds up the rate of fruit development and ripening and is a useful tool in hydroponic vegetable production. For edible crops, stopping must be carried out manually by removing the growing point as most plant growth regulator compounds are typically not permitted for use on food plants.


All plants grow foliage that can be removed without detriment to the health of the plant. In forced growing conditions, removal of unwanted growth is required to maximise plant energies to producing a saleable product. With tomatoes, all foliage below the first truss (fruit) is often trimmed off by growers in the mistaken belief that this will allow faster ripening on the fruit. However these leaves directly surrounding the truss – both above and below are the principle producers and supplies of sugars (assimilate) to that fruit and removal not only reduces final fruit size but also sugar levels and flavour quality. It is preferable to leave at least 2 leaves below the bottom truss until all fruit are harvested from that truss for this reason. Tomato plants are typically heavy croppers and are source, rather than sink limited (source being the leaves, sinks being the fruits), thus removal of `excess’ leaves is not beneficial to the plant.

The only excess growth that should be removed from tomato plants are the lateral growths that develop in the axils of each leaf. Tomatoes are typically grown as a single leader with no side branching and regular removal of lateral growth is required. 


What Does This Course Offer You?

  • Experiential learning - this is not just a theoretical course - it sets practical tasks for you do you get the most from your learning experience.
  • Expert tutors - this course was written by people with a very broad knowledge of the field. Tutors are there to help you every step of the way so you get the most from your course.
  • A way to start in this exciting field - good basic knowledge is the foundation of most careers. A course such as this will expand your knowledge and set you on the right path to do well in this industry.
  • Working through this course will expand your knowledge of the industry and improve your access to contacts within it.


You Can Enrol Today

Start learning from the experts - enrol on Hydroponics I today!

If you have any questions or want to know more you can contact us by -

Phone (International) +44 (0) 1384 442752, or (UK) 01384 442752, or

Email us at, or use our FREE COURSE COUNSELLING SERVICE to connect with our specialist tutors.


Meet some of our academics

John Mason Parks Manager, Nurseryman, Landscape Designer, Garden Writer and Consultant. Over 40 years experience; working in Victoria, Queensland and the UK. He is one of the most widely published garden writers in the world; author of more than 70 books and editor for 4 different gardening magazines. John has been recognised by his peers being made a fellow of the Institute of Horticulture in the UK, as well as by the Australian Institute of Horticulture.
Dr. Lynette MorganBroad expertise in horticulture and crop production. She travels widely as a partner in Suntec Horticultural Consultants, and has clients in central America, the USA, Caribbean, South East Asia, the Middle East, Australia and New Zealand.
Diana Cole B.A. (Hons), Dip. Horticulture, BTEC Dip. Garden Design, Diploma Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development, PTLLS (Preparing to Teach in the Life Long Learning Sector), P.D.C. In addition to the qualifications listed above, Diana holds City & Guild construction qualifications and an NPTC pesticide spraying licence (PA1/PA6). Diana runs her own landscape gardening business (Arbella Gardens). Active in many organisations including the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers.
Yvonne SharpeRHS Cert.Hort, Dip.Hort, M.Hort, Cert.Ed., Dip.Mgt. Over 30 years experience in business, education, management and horticulture. Former department head at a UK government vocational college. Yvonne has traveled widely within and beyond Europe, and has worked in many areas of horticulture from garden centres to horticultural therapy. She has served on industry committees and been actively involved with amateur garden clubs for decades.

Check out our eBooks

Commercial HydroponicsLearn to grow vegetables, fruit, cut flowers, herbs and other plants hydroponically. A classic, republished with new images, a new layout and revised text. Contains unique advice on growing 102 different plants hydroponically! 74 pages
HerbsHerbs are fascinating plants, mystical and romantic. They have a rich history dating back centuries. Used by monks, apothecaries and ‘witches’ in the past, herbs are undergoing a revival in interest. They are easy to grow, scented, culinary and medicinal plants. In a formal herb garden or peppered throughout the garden, herbs rarely fail! Find out how they are used as medicines, for cooking, perfumes and more. This book has nine chapters covering the following topics: an introduction to herbs, cultivation, propagation, pest and diseases, herb gardens, an A-Z plant directory, using herbs, features for herb gardens, herbs in pots - 113 colour photos 61 pages
Plant Pests & DiseasesThis is a great guide to understanding, identifying and treating problems in your garden. Discover how to systematically examine and determine what is wrong with plants. Read about all of the main types of pests, diseases, and other problems that can occur, from frost damage to viruses. 197 pages
Growing & Using Capsicums & ChilliesGet to know more about Capsicums and Chillies with brightly illustrated ebook- Growing and Using Capsicums and Chillies. With 71 pages of wonderful facts about capsicums and chillies, this ebook will have you growing, knowing and cooking your own delicious home grown capsicums.