Hydroponics is an alternative to traditional horticulture that uses an enriched water solution in place of soil. These systems still require regular light for photosynthesis to work effectively, whether that light comes from grow lights or from the sun itself. However, one frequently overlooked aspect of hydroponics is ensuring consistent temperature management.

One of the most important reasons to regulate temperature is the condition known as root rot. When root rot occurs, you may notice wilting, browning, or other signs that something is wrong with your plants. This is especially the case in deep water cultures, or DWC, where the roots are submerged in water for long periods. Here’s how you can prevent root rot in hydroponic planters using temperature control.

What Is Root Rot in Hydroponics?

Root rot is a problem that growers of all types have to deal with, including traditional soil gardeners. Stunted growth, yellowing or curling leaves, and wilting can all be signs of root rot—or they can indicate several other problems as well. Here’s how you can identify root rot in your hydroponic system.

What Causes Hydroponic Root Rot?

A fungus—known as Phytophthora, a water-borne organism that thrives in damp, oxygen-poor environments—causes root rot. The fungus grows on the roots, preventing the plant from absorbing nutrients and gradually killing the plant altogether.

The most challenging part of root rot is that the fungus that causes it rarely stays isolated to one plant. Instead, it tends to dissipate throughout the planter, with spores easily transported through the nutrient solution. That can lead to entire plantings suffering damage unless you take the proper action quickly.

How to Identify DWC Root Rot

The first step in learning how to stop root rot in hydroponics is learning how to recognize it. Healthy roots usually have a creamy white color, although the nutrient-rich water in most DWC planters can stain the roots brown. However, infected roots will also tend to feel very slimy, and there’s often an earthy smell that’s usually absent in hydroponic growing.

How to Prevent Root Rot in Hydroponics

The best way to stop damage to your plants is to prevent root rot in hydroponics. The first things to consider are the factors that help the fungus grow: Moisture and a lack of oxygen.

For hydroponic growers, moisture isn’t just a fact of life—it’s fundamental to your growing method. There’s no way to eliminate moisture from your environment since you rely on it as a medium for your plants to grow in. However, proper oxygen levels will go a long way to keeping your plants free from root rot.

The question, then, is how you keep your nutrient solution properly oxygenated. One good first step is to ensure that you’ve added enough aeration to your system. Hoses and air stones can both be used to infuse oxygen into your DWC system, helping keep your water at the proper oxygen levels.

However, the best and most crucial step in DWC root rot prevention is temperature control. While keeping the right temperature is vital in any garden situation, it’s especially true in hydroponics. The warmer your nutrient solution becomes in terms of oxygen, the less oxygen there is available for your plants. This, in turn, can make it especially easy for root rot to take hold.

Hydroponic chillers from Cold Shot Chillers are designed for large-scale hydroponic grow rooms and can achieve the close temperature control required for optimal plant growth.

Another key benefit of keeping your hydroponic system at the proper temperature—usually below 75 degrees—is that cooler temperatures inhibit the growth of bacteria and other pathogens, which can also cause damage to your plants. 

There are several other steps you can take to keep your DWC hydroponic setup free from root rot, including the following:

  • Keep your planters free of dead plant matter
  • Eliminate pests like fungus gnats
  • Make sure new plants are healthy
  • Keep roots well-pruned
  • Sterilize tools every time you use them
  • Introduce beneficial bacteria, which can break down the fungus

All of these steps will certainly help keep your hydroponic garden free from root rot. However, none of these solutions will help much without proper temperature control. Keeping your planters at or below 75 degrees can make all the difference in stopping root rot in its tracks—or in preventing it in the first place.

Cold Shot Has Hydroponic Chillers for Your DWC Cooling Needs

Cold Shot hydroponic chillers are the perfect solution for keeping root rot at bay. Since they are made from premium, durable materials, these chillers maintain proper water temperature by running your nutrient solution over cooling coils contained within the chiller. That keeps your nutrient solution within 2 degrees of your desired temperature, ensuring you get the most out of your plants. In addition, we do not use copper in the construction of our plumbing circuit or evaporator, as this can be detrimental to plant life. 

If you need more information about how you can take control of the temperature of your DWC hydroponic system, contact the experts at Cold Shot Chillers today!