pH is a measure of the acidity or alkalinity of a substance. The ‘p’ stands for potential and ‘H’ for Hydrogen. According to the scientific explanation, ‘potential Hydrogen’ refers to the plants ability to attract hydrogen ions. In hydroponic system, pH refers to the pH level of your hydroponic nutrient solution. In hydroponic gardening, the pH level of your solution is measured on a scale from 1 to 14. The required pH range of your hydroponic solution varies from plant to plant, however the vast majority of plants fall in the range of 5.0 to 7.0. A reading above pH 7 indicates that alkaline ions are in greater number and reading below 7 is an indication of high acidity.
Testing the pH of your hydroponics nutrient solution is an important process to maintain the perfect balance of your pH level. Before testing the pH level of your systems, you should always add the normal amounts of nutrient solution as these will affect the pH level once added. The most inexpensive way to check the pH is by using color changing pH sensitive paper strips. It will change color according to the pH level and you need to compare this color with the ph color chart provided. You can go for the liquid pH test kit also. In this process, the liquid will change the color and you need to evaluate this to a pH color chart provided. The fastest, most accurate and hassle free method to check the pH level is by using pH digital meter. Your pH level of nutrient solution will always keep changing, so balancing the pH will need to be done from time to time.
If your pH levels are too high and you need to lower the pH of your hydroponic system then you can use phosphoric acid. Alternatively, you can also use nitric or sulfuric acid to lower the pH level. Add citric acid, if you are trying to maintain pH of an organic system. You need to use potassium hydroxide to raise the pH level. Remember, this chemical needs to be diluted properly before use. However, you can get diluted potassium hydroxide in any hydroponic store.
All these chemicals are quite strong and usually small amounts will provide a decent change in your pH level. When adjusting the pH level, initially you need to add a small amount and let the solution to get stabilized for a while. You need to add a little more if the pH is still not up to the mark. After sometime you will get the correct hydroponic pH with just a couple of additions. Once you have added the chemicals to balance the pH of your hydroponic plants, you need to check the pH again with the help of your pH test kit.
Your hydroponic plants need to stay at its proper pH level in order to absorb nutrients. Good monitoring and daily maintenance of your hydroponic garden’s pH levels will pay off in beautiful and healthy plants.