Ebb-and-flow hydroponics refers to a type of hydroponics system wherein the water component literally flows through the system at some point but is allowed to flow away at some later time. The basic principle of hydroponics is to maximize the use of water in terms of providing nutrients to plants and helping them grow. The ebb-and-flow system is sometimes referred to as the flood drain method of hydroponics since its main feature is the flooding in the system that is drained away at a later time.
Various plants are grown through hydroponics, and many have chosen the ebb-and-flow system because of its simplicity and easy setup. There is also minimal investment involved in ebb-and-flow hydroponic systems. In these kinds of systems, water is re-used along with the nutrients for the plants. The basic process involves flooding the growing beds of plants with water for a specific period. This part of the process may be done for about 5 to 10 minutes or so. During such time, the nutrient solution is also pumped into the flowing water to make contact with the roots in the growing beds. After the specified amount of time, water will then be drained out along with the nutrient solution. This whole process will be repeated several times depending on the needs of the plants being grown.
Ebb-and-flow hydroponics is said to be a good process for growing small plants. It may not be as effective, though, for bigger plant varieties because of the possible pathogen growth involved in the recycling of the water and nutrient solution. Although temperatures are regulated and oxygenation of the plant roots is being constantly monitored, the process of recirculating used water with nutrient solution also makes it very likely for some pathogens to grow. With this particular concern, some plant species may be better off with other hydroponic systems.