Hydroponics vs. Soil – Which is Better for Indoor Gardening?

When it comes to indoor gardening, the debate between hydroponics vs soil is not ending anytime soon.

Personally, the hydroponics method is just the ideal way of growing plants either outdoor or even indoor.

But don’t just take my word for it, let’s find out why I’ve come to this conclusion.

If you are like me, you probably love doing it as a hobby, a passion or you just have limited space to plant. Whatever the case, you are hooked on this intriguing activity.

The choice of medium you opt for has a huge impact on the end results. You can get seedlings from the local stores; fill in some pots with soil and plant. And then, watch as they bud as long as you provide all the nutrients they require.

But before we tackle the debate of hydroponics vs soil, let’s first look at the basics…


Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. If you shop through the links on YardThyme, we may earn an affiliate's commission from qualifying purchases at no additional cost to you. For more information, read full disclosure here.

Let’s Talk Hydroponics and Soil

Been sprouts growing in a pot

Difference Between Soil vs Hydroponics

Well, soil growing seems pretty self-explanatory, right? You grow your plants in a pot and in soil, in short.

You can use DIY troughs, sacks, pots, or even used containers to plant indoors.

Probably, a lot of you know very well that plants absorb nutrients through the soil they’re planted in with the use of their roots. And that soil is actually a reservoir that contains essential nutrients crucial for the development of a plant.

Soil also acts as a foundation for the plant to stabilize itself.

With that, let’s give an introduction to the concept of Hydroponics, as some readers might still be new to this concept.

Hydroponics is an approach that tackles growing plants effectively without the essentiality of soil. Why? It’s because the water supplied to the plant has already the essential nutrients in this approach of planting.

In addition, the plants wouldn’t need any kind of medium to stabilize itself since in Hydroponics there is a particular kind of footing on where your plant can stabilize itself firmly.

Vermiculite, Coco-coir, Gravel, Perlite, and Rockwool are some examples of the medium used on Hydroponics in order for the plant to stand firmly.

Indoor Cannabis Growing: Soil or Hydroponics?

It all basically comes down to TASTE.

To assess the taste factor when you plant weed using the soil medium compared to hydroponics, you need to consider what makes the weed taste better. Find out which one efficiently produces the healthiest weed with an incredible flavor and of course rich in most nutrients.

To answer adequately which method is more suitable, we may need to begin with a deep and exhaustive explanation of what each entails.

How is Soil Used in Indoor Gardening

Gardening Soil

You need to ensure that the following key elements are properly regulated, in order to have a tasty harvest:


The soil is the absolute basic. Here is why.

Having the right quantity and quality of the soil is the first sure step to a fertile indoor garden.

You need to first consider the amount of weed that you want to plant before you invest in the amount and texture of the soil. Then, find out the correct portions of soil you need that will be relatively fit to achieve the desired results.

Growing weed requires a specific kind of soil. It thrives in soil that drains well, is slightly acidic and is of high quality.

When the soil you’d like to use does not drain well, you may add Perlite to deal with the drainage issues. You may also need to add nutrients to make the soil conducive to the plants.

Indoor planting requires you to always use organic potting soils that can be found in any farm supplies stores.

When your weed reaches the flowering stage, it is more sensitive and requires that you make sure the soil has what the plants need to flourish.

To add luster and nutrients to your plants, you may need to add chunks of manure or earthworms to the soil.


Another important element is water. Water is life. All living things need water to survive. Weed is no exception. You will have to hand-water or use cans to water it.

So, always water your plants regularly but keep in mind the correct amount of water the weed requires. Make sure that you use sufficient gallons per bottle of water for the plants to flourish.


Too much exposure to light might be harmful to some crops.

Weed, however, thrives in more light. It produces bigger buds when exposed to more light. So, make sure you expose the weed to as much light as possible.


Weed just like any other plant needs proper ventilation and air-conditioning. Grow rooms experience fluctuating temperatures and humidity.

So, in essence… a grow room has to have the right climate to ensure that the plants thrive.

Growing weed in a controlled room is important to help regulate the temperatures and humidity that your cannabis will be subjected to inside your grow room.


You may need to add fertilizers to your plants for maximum yield. When you use fertilizers, follow the instructions given, so as not to damage your plants.

Also, ensure that you water the plants before using any chemicals on them.

How is Hydroponics Used in Indoor Gardening

Greenhouse hydroponics system

If you are aware of what hydroponics entails, then this description will certainly be a piece of cake for you.

As a beginner, however, hydroponics may sound very intimidating but it doesn’t need to be. You can start your indoor hydroponics garden in these few simple steps.

Hydroponics does not have to be complicated. All you need is to understand a few simple steps and you are good to go.

First, you need to choose the system you will use to grow your plants. Hydroponics involves six systems that you can choose from such as:

Deep Water Culture (DWC)

Deep water culture is a system that involves dangling from plants directly in water that is packed with nutrients to help them grow and thrive.

You do not need any other medium when using this method. Air is also bubbled into the water to ensure the roots are not over-watered.

Nutrient Film Technique (NFT)

Nutrient film technique is where a tank is set up with water. The water is pumped to a slanting tray set up above the tank. The water then returns to the tank and is reused, and the cycle continues.

Here is a diagram that illustrates the process in details:

NFT System
Source: www.hydroponics.name

While you can use the method in small spaces, you can also scale it up for large commercial farming.


Wicking is a system that is more passive and requires no moving parts or pumps.

Nutrients reach the plants through a wick or sting, hence the name. You place the plants close to the source of nutrients. This is because there is no pumping. The water needs to pass through the shortest route to get to the plants.

This system is better for plants that are small and do not require a lot of watering.

The wicking system can be simplified as below.

Wicking System

Ebb and Flow

Ebb and flow method which entails the ‘flooding’ of your crops for a short duration of time to allow them to get enough nutrients. Then you let the plants dry to avoid rotting.

To set this system up, you need four significant things: a timer, a growing tray, a pump, and a reservoir. Water from the reservoir is pumped to the growing tray for a considerable period and then drained back.

You should ensure that you change the water and nutrients at least once a week.

Ebb and Flow
Source: http://www.nosoilsolutions.com

Drip system

A drip system is where you drip nutrients to your plants’ root system. This is one of the simpler methods to use. You can use this system for larger plants and end up using very little water.

The end product should turn out like the one shown below:

Drip System
Source: www.hannainst.com


Aeroponics method allows you to grow your plants by suspending their root systems in the air. You will then periodically spray them with nutrient-rich mists to enable their growth.

This method is a bit more technical and demanding

After you’ve decided which method of hydroponics you will use, the second thing is to decide on the proper medium to use.

The medium supports your plant physically, supplies them with nutrients and allows the roots to grow properly.

The various medium you can choose from include; rock wool, coco chips, grows rocks and coco fiber.

When choosing a medium you should also take the system you have chosen into consideration, as this step may not be necessary if you are using the Deep Water Culture and Aeroponics methods.

Pros and Cons of Soil vs Hydroponics

Pros of Soil

  • Obviously, the soil is more straightforward to plant anything in, as compared to hydroponics. Even if you are not an avid farmer, you may still get a bumper harvest.
  • Weed consumers tend to feel like weed grown in soil tastes far better than that grown using hydroponics.
  • The soil comes with some nutrients, and you only need supplements.

Cons of Soil

  • With all the supplements you need to use to achieve a high-quality yield, it may end up being a lot more expensive than it is worth.
  • It may take a lot more space than hydroponics.
  • Plants that are grown in the soil take much longer to mature.
  • If there are issues with the crop or soil, it may take a while for you to notice and thus incur huge losses.
  • Soil does not yield as much produce as other methods of growing marijuana.
  • Wastes gallons of water, as you pour each time new water, which soaks up the soil and evaporates afterward.
  • Messy in the beginning.
  • Cleaning; depending on the scale of your private little garden, if weeds sprout, it takes time to pull out those unwanted weeds.

Now, for growing using hydroponics

You can choose any of the mediums and systems explained in this article. Make sure your plants have all the required amount of nutrients especially when they are blossoming.

Pros of Hydroponics

  • It is way cheaper than soil.
  • You get a larger harvest with hydroponics.
  • You have total control over the nutrients your plants get.
  • The yield comes faster than when using soil.
  • You can spot problems and handle them much faster.
  • You are not likely to have a problem with weeds and other pests.
  • Minimizes space
  • Saves H2O
  • Less dirty work
  • Faster growth of plants
  • Less waste of time
  • Drastic reduction of pests and plant diseases
  • Complete access to the growth of plants

Cons of Hydroponics

  • The taste of the marijuana may not be as good compared to weed grown in soil.
  • The methods used may sometimes be too complicated for beginners.
  • You have to make sure you provide nutrients. This may be daunting especially for beginners.

The Final Verdict…

Hydroponics is better than soil because it produces greater produce in lesser time.

While soil may give a better flavor to the marijuana, the yields are lower, and it can also be more expensive.

Hydroponics doesn’t require you to have advanced comprehension and mastery about it. Actually, it’s quite the same with soil farming.

In both methods, you must absolutely have some fundamental knowledge about the basics of planting such as their required nutrients, light, water, the plant’s surroundings and so on, just the basics.

Though if you decide to be a full-time hobbyist or an enthusiast of growing plants, then don’t be afraid to gain some more knowledge. The rewards would be incredible, I tell you that.

Although both methods have their pros and cons, you just have to weigh the pros and cons of each method and decide on the best technique that can work for you.

Bottom line…

The choice of a suitable medium to practice when it comes to hydroponics vs soil to grow indoor plants is yours. I hope this guide will help make an informed decision.

How have you been doing your indoor gardening? Is there a method you would like to share with us that is more comfortable to use and much cheaper?

Do not hesitate to share your questions or opinions with us in the comment section.


Andy Gibson

My name's Gibson. Andy Gibson. I like to think of myself as the Bond of the backyard, that is if yard work ever became sexy. I write about everything about indoor and outdoor gardening and the dread-it-but-still-need-to-do-it chores around the yard, like cleaning out the gutter guards.

Recent Content