The hype behind PVC hydroponics caused these systems to become extremely popular, but they also caused confusion around the subject. This, combined with rumors that PVC is toxic, led to a shroud of mist settling in and I plan to blow that shroud away with the following FAQ.
PVC Hydroponics systems have been around for a while now, but there are still a lot of questions that remain shrouded in confusion regarding them. Modern systems tend to use PVC a lot and for good reason. PVC is one of the strongest, most flexible and cheap material to use for water and nutrient solution flood and drain.
But let’s take a look at some of the most frequently asked questions regarding PVC hydroponics.
PVC Hydroponics FAQ
What is PVC and how can it be used in hydroponics?
A: PVC stands for Polyvinyl Chlorite and is a thermoplastic polymer, basically a plastic that is extremely flexible, yet strong and durable. PVC hydroponic systems use this material for their piping.
What is the advantage of using PVC with your hydroponics system?
A: First of all, you will need your pipes to be durable, because there will be a constant flow going through them and for this, PVC is perfect. It’s also a very flexible material, allowing you to reposition trays slightly, if needed.
I heard PVC affects the growth of plants. Is this true?
A: As far as scientists and practical experience could tell, no, that’s just a rumor. PVC has no affect on the quality of the water or nutrients flowing through the pipes. Only metals that can rust in time will cause some problems for your plants, but PVC hydroponics are safe.
PVC is a thermoplastic, thus is susceptible to melting, true or false?
A: Indeed, like any other plastic, PVC can melt at high temperatures. However, to relate this to our subject, if your greenhouse traps in the kind of heat that can make PVC melt, then your plants are probably burnt to a crisp already.
Is PVC Safe? I heard PVC is toxic and dangerous to plants and humans, true or false?
A: PVC is not soluble, thus it won’t be able to affect your plants, simple as that. Water and nutrient solutions don’t just get contaminated if they pass through your PVC hydroponics system’s piping. However, when PVC is melted, it can indeed be toxic. But, again, there really shouldn’t be any reason for you to melt the PVC in your greenhouse and if this happens, the health of your plants should be your last concern, because your greenhouse is probably on fire.
What are the advantages of PVC over other materials?
A: Cost is probably the most important advantage PVC has over other materials, because it’s a lot cheaper. The fact that it’s extremely durable and sturdy, yet flexible is also a great advantage.
I keep hearing about some problems between PVC hydroponics and long root plants. Care to explain?
A: Certainly. The problem refers to the fact that if you’re growing long root plants, the PVC pipes can easily get stuck if the roots grow in that direction. One way to solve this problem is to use a landscape fabric that is permeable, but solid enough to stop the roots from invading the PVC pipes.