10 Best Growing Medium For Hydroponics[Budget-Friendly]

If you are a gardening enthusiast, it is quite normal for you to ask that what is the best growing medium for hydroponics?

Though soil is not necessary in hydroponics system, it still requires an appropriate medium that will support to grow roots. Moreover, these mediums will aid to maintain the right water level that ensure required oxygen ratio for plants.

In the hydroponics system, a hydroponics grow media is actually the soil-substitute. When you provide nutritional solution to the system, the growing media work to transport the nutrients for the nourishment of plants. If the medium is not top-quality, the nourishment of plants might be hampered.

Therefore, it is an important step to pick the right growing medium for hydroponics system. You can dive into a wide array of hydroponics medium selections , but there is a little chance to be successful.

To help you finding the best, I have come up with the reviews of some incredible hydroponics medium. After going through it, you can easily choose the best medium for your hydroponics system. Let’s get into the key discussion.

Things to Consider Before Buying the Best Growing Medium for Hydroponics

Every growing medium is not good for all types of hydroponics systems. So, it is important to pick the right growing medium for a particular hydroponic system. Moreover, all the growing media are not the best in quality. Therefore, here are tips to select the finest quality growing medium for hydroponics.

Drip System

This system has an excellent drainage and it allows you to control the moisture level easily. At the bottom of the system, you can use river rocks and in upper side, use pine shavings that holds moisture for the plants.

Deep Water Culture System

In the ‘Water Culture System’, growing medium is not more important than the oxygenated water. Plant’s root gets benefits directly from the nutrition-rich water. An efficient growing medium is necessary here only for initial growth.

For the growing basket or starter cube, you will need to choose the correct medium. Make sure your chosen grow media don’t absorb lots of moisture but they provide the right structure. The grow media may cause stem rot if they absorb moisture excessively.

The best growing medium for DWC is Rockwool; you can also use grow rock. Both of the medium work great for the system by keeping the upper side dry and bottom side wet of the system.

Flood and Drain System

Here you will need to be more careful when choosing growing media for flood and drain systems. Avoid any medium that floats easily such as Perlite and Vermiculite. The moving water of the system will wash them away without any extra effort.

The grow media that are relatively heavier can be good choice for this system. The media should be dried out between the flooding. Grow rocks can be used in this system because they can provide proper drainage. Moreover, they hold not much but sufficient moisture for the plants.

Aeroponic System

Like water culture system, the Aeroponic doesn’t require any growing medium for healthy growth of plants. The grow media use for starting transplants, cuttings, and definitely for seeds. You should choose a medium that doesn’t cause stem rot. Also, make sure that your selected growing media don’t absorb too much water.

Nutrient Film Technique (NFT) System

This is another popular hydroponic system in which the roots consume nutrients from the streaming solution. Without taking any help from growing media, plants grow in the solution.

However, growing media are used only for starting indoor plants. Be careful to choose a medium that ensures moisture of the bottom part of the medium to prevent stem rot.

Wick System

This hydroponic system is a less-known process to grow plants. Without any pumps, motors, or other moving elements, the nutrients are delivered to the roots through a fabric. In wick system, choose a medium that is great in holding and absorbing moisture. You can use lightweight and absorbent materials such as Perlite and coco coir in the system.

10 Best Growing Medium for Hydroponics Reviews

Though there are many best grow medium for hydroponics available, we’ll only consider a few of them. Because these grow media will be the suitable choices for most of the hydroponics systems.

1. GROW!T Clay Pebbles

best growing medium for hydroponics
Hydrofarm GROWT Clay Pebbles | Click Image To Check It On Amazon

If you’re looking for the best growing medium for flood and drain, get the Hydrofarm GROWT Clay Pebbles that are made with 100% natural clay. Clean and stable in both PH and EC, these clay pebbles are pre-washed to aide stability and to provide great aeration and drainage in the deep water culture system, especially in drain and flood, and deep freed systems.

The clay pebbles come with a unique structure and ability to cover a large surface area. They create an ideal environment to foster beneficial bacterial growth around the root zone, which leads to naturally healthier plants.

You can mix them into soil or coco coir to aid aeration. They help to prevent dripper systems from getting blocked as the clay pebbles come with strong structural integrity that is less likely to break.

What do we like about it?

The clay pebbles are clean and come with extremely stable EC and PH. They offer a great oxygen level around the root system, drains freely, and holds a good amount of water. You can use these clay pebbles in flood and drain system, and multi-pot and drip feed systems.

What else?

The Grow!T clay pebbles are made from 100% natural clay and has strong structural integrity, which makes them unbreakable and compact. They prevent evaporation and look great as a top dressing for pots. You can also use them in aquaponic systems.

What don’t we like?

They mostly come in an irregular shape, and you have to wash them properly before use.

2. HydroDynamics Clonex Rooting Gel

Clonex Rooting Gel
Clonex Rooting Gel| Click Image To Check It On Amazon

The rooting gel by Clonex is a water-based and high-performance gel, which is used to ensure root production on the cutting of plants. This tenacious root gel remains in contact with the stem, seals the cut tissue, and supplies the essential vitamins to protect any delicate new root tissue.

Plus, it supplies hormones required to boost the root cell development of the plant. The root gel is filled with a full spectrum of mineral nutrients and trace elements, which helps in nourishing the young roots during their essential formative stages.

You can use this gel on all types of cuttings, including herbaceous, woody, flowering ornamental species, fruits, and vegetable trees.

What do we like about it?

The Clonex root gel accelerates the development of roots on cutting of plants with the help of the essential hormones and vitamins. It seals the cut tissue and protects new root tissue. The rooting gel comes with minerals nutrients that help in the development of the young roots.

What else?

You can use it in all different types of cuttings. It is quite easy to use, all you need to do is apply the rooting gel to the cutting part of the stem and then put the stem back into the soil. You will notice the root development in 1-2 weeks.

What don’t we like?

As it is water-based, you need to take proper care of it. This gel might not work on some cuttings.

3. General Hydroponics CocoTek Premium Coco Growing Media

best indoor growing medium
CocoTek Premium Coir | Click Image To Check It On Amazon

The CocoTek bale premium growing media by General Hydroponics comes with three different types of compressed coco coir. This low-sodium and high-quality growing media is an environmentally-friendly alternative to sphagnum peat moss. It retains water and offers a great environment for the plants to grow.

The CocoTek rapidly expands when hydrated with water, which saves time and effort. They promote healthy root development by keeping them hydrated. You can use this coco coir exclusively by them or can mix them with clay pellets, topsoil, or perlite.

What do we like about it?

The CocoTek bale premium-quality best indoor growing medium comes with a mix of different coco coir. They are environmentally-friendly and are of high quality. They come with great absorption capability that helps to keep the roots hydrated and boosts their growth.

What else?

The 11-lbs coco coir provides amazing aeration and drainage. The coconut pith and fibers contained in this can be blended or can be mixed with other growing media. CocoTek expands rapidly when it is hydrated with water. This can be the perfect growing medium for beginners.

What don’t we like?

You need to flush out the salt by washing it properly before using it in your garden.


best growing medium for aquaponics
GROW!T GROWT GMC40l | Click Image To Check It On Amazon

Let’s welcome the best growing medium for aquaponics, the clean and Ph stable Grow!T CMC40l clay pebbles. It will provide great aeration and drainage to the hydroponically grown plants in flood, drain, and drip feed systems. They have the ability to cover large areas and allow the growth of beneficial bacteria around the root zone.

Made with 100% natural clay, they do not hold excess water and comes with a sturdy structure, which makes them compact and unbreakable. They even help to prevent the blockage of dripper systems.

You can use the clay pebbles in the aquaponics system or can use them as a top dressing of your plant pots. For aerating a growing media, mix them with coco coir or soil.

What do we like about it?

If you have a large hydroponic garden, then this 40-liter Grow!T CMC40l clay pebbles will be a perfect choice. They not only offer great aeration but also make the Ph level stable. These clay pebbles are pre-washed, so you don’t need to rinse them before use.

What else?

The sturdy clay pebbles help in preventing evaporation. You can use them in the drain and flood hydroponic systems, deep water culture, and drip feed systems. Moreover, you can decorate your pots with them or use them in aquaponic systems.

What don’t we like?

The product is quite expensive, plus the clay pebbles come with a lot of dust, so you need to rinse them well before use, which might take some time.

5. Organic Expanded Clay Pebbles Grow Media

best-growing media for experienced growers
Expanded Clay Pebbles| Click Image To Check It On Amazon

Lightweight and odorless Organic Expanded clay pebbles are safe to handle and are the best growing media for experienced growers. Made of 100% natural clay, these round clay pebbles are inert, clean, and Ph-neutral as well.

They are excellent for orchids as the porous structure of the clay pebbles helps in providing extremely good aeration and also act as a water reservoir. You can use them alone or mix them with charcoal, coconut husk chips, or other growing media.

The structure of the clay pebbles offer good root aeration and prevent rotting of the hydroponic plants. The 4-16mm pebbles create small pockets of moisture and air.

What do we like about it?

These clay pebbles are clean, safe, and odorless. They are great for orchids and hydroponics as the clay pebbles provide great aeration and drainage that promotes the growth of the root. Moreover, they prevent root rot, soil pests, and excess acidity.

What else?

The clay pebbles are perfect for hydroponic net cups. They block the sunlight from reaching into the water reservoir. You can reuse these sterile and free of weeds clay pebbles for several life cycles.

What don’t we like?

The clay pebbles are expensive than other branded ones. They also come in less quantity than the advertised weight.

6. Grodan Wrapped Mini Blocks

best growing medium for tomatoes
Grodan Wrapped Mini Blocks | Click Image To Check It On Amazon

The 24-pack Rockwool mini blocks by Grodanare the perfect seed starting medium. The mini-blocks are wrapped individually with white plastic that helps to prevent algae growth. You can remove the wrap and transfer it into a coconut fiber or Grow-cubes or any other loose media.

These mini blocks are made from molten rock and spun into cotton candy-like fibers, plus are compressed into blocks, cubes, or slabs. They have the utmost capacity for holding plenty of oxygen while absorbing the nutrient solution for rapid plant growth.

These Grodan mini blocks are the most uniform blocks you will find in the market. You can put them a flat tray without any support for the easy starting of seedlings and cuttings.

What do we like about it?

The plastic-wrapped mini-blocks minimize algae growth and support various requirements of plants through their different stages. You can remove the wrap and transplant them into any loose media, or can set them on top of a larger Gro-block without removing the wrap.

This is the best growing medium for tomatoes as well as potatoes. Many other small plants can also properly grow in this medium.

What else?

The uniform mini-blocks have a great capacity for absorbing nutrient solutions as well as retaining water for the aeration of the plants. They come in large assortments of configurations and sizes to suit all kinds of plants. These mini blocks come with a pair of THCity Nitrile Gloves.

What don’t we like?

The mini-blocks are thin, so they might break easily. Otherwise, it is quite a good choice as growing medium.

7. Hydro Crunch Expanded Clay Growing Media

Hydro Crunch Expanded Clay Growing Media | Click Image To Check It On Amazon

The eco-friendly Hydro crunch clay pebbles are made with high-quality clay that makes the media stable, uniform, and low in EC. They will create an ideal soil environment so that you can achieve the best outcome from the plants. These expanded clay pebbles are suitable for all current hydroponic systems.

They are lighter than gravel, lava, and similar materials, plus they do not rot. The inner pore and ceramic shell structure holds moisture and releases it back to the plants when required.

These 8mm round in size pebbles are pH-neutral and offers amazing evaporation protection as the top layer. You can fill any remaining space in a real, small, or artificial plant pot with these clay pebbles.

What do we like about it?

These clay pebbles are made of 100% natural clay. They are pure mineral, non-slip, and come without any fibers and solvents. The pH stable clay pebbles provide drainage, filter, and vegetation layer all in one, plus are lighter in weight.

What else?

The clay pebbles are odor-less, plant-friendly, and can be used in all hydroponic growing media. They provide great aeration to the root system and help the plants to thrive. The structure of the clay pebbles helps in retaining the moisture.

What don’t we like?

The Hydro crunch clay pebbles are not suitable for flood and drain systems, plus as they are lightweight, the clay pebbles might float and not sink in.

8. Hydrofarm Grow!T Premium Coco Coir

Hydrofarm Grow!T Premium Coco Coir
Hydrofarm Grow!T Premium Coco Coir| Click Image To Check It On Amazon

Grow!t premium coco coir is a 100% natural coir hydroponic growing medium, which is processed and manufactured under strict quality standards. It comes with a special blend of coir that is treated, buffered, and enriched with micro-nutrients.

Excess potassium and sodium are displaced thanks to the strategic addition of a perfect amount of calcium and magnesium, creating a safe and super-fertile substrate. It is one of the best coco coir available in the market.

The super quality coco coir comes with low EC and stable Ph, which makes it an excellent hydroponics and soilless medium.

What do we like about it?

The coco coir is made of super quality and natural coir that helps to improve aeration and drainage. It is buffered, treated, and enriched with micro-nutrients like calcium and magnesium. The low salt content of the coco coir makes it safe to use for your plants.

What else?

It retains a good amount of moisture and helps in the growth of the root. This Ph-neutral coco coir comes with low EC, making it a supreme growing medium for hydroponics.

What don’t we like?

Since coco coir doesn’t come with any nutrients on its own, you have to add nutrient solutions and balance the Ph.

9. Viagrow 4 cu. Ft. Perlite

best grow medium for perlite
Viagrow 4 cu. Ft. Perlite| Click Image To Check It On Amazon

When it comes to best grow medium for perlite, you can consider this buying for your hydroponics system. Aerate the growing media with this naturally mined Viagrow perlite, which expands or pops when it is heated and the end result is an inorganic soilless media. This horticulture grade perlite maximizes water absorption and aeration when added to soil or soilless growing media.

It requires no assembly and is commonly used alone for a fully inert hydroponic medium with great capillary and air retention properties. You can also add it to any medium for improved texture such as coco coir or bulk granular fertilizers.

The perlite can be used in greenhouse propagation and growing, outdoor gardening and landscaping, and container and rooftop gardening.

What do we like about it?

The inorganic horticulture grade perlite is great for bio-filtration and compost aeration. The lightweight volume and high displacement capacity of the perlite help to prevent over-watering and ensures proper drainage. It has a neutral-pH and prevents compaction.

What else?

This perlite can be used in several areas. It is one of the most sustainable soil substrates. You can mix it with other fertilizers or growing medium to improve the texture. This perlite is mined, heated, and packaged in the USA.

What don’t we like?

The texture of the perlite is too dusty and powdery, so you need to wear a mask while applying it.

10. Leca Clay Hydroponic Grow Media

best growing medium for indoor weed
Leca Clay Hydroponic Grow Media | Click Image To Check It On Amazon

The uniform and round shape Leca hydroponic clay pebbles are made with 100% natural clay. The size of the clay pebbles is perfect for medium to large-sized laelias and cattleyas. Clean, pH-stable, and inert, these clay pebbles come in 10lbs package.

They are the best potting media for orchids as the porous structure of the clay pebbles offers excellent aeration and acts as a water reservoir. You can use them alone or in combination with charcoal, bark, coconut husk chips, or other orchid media.

In hydroponics, the clay pebbles will help in preventing root rot, soil pests, and excess acidity and will provide good aeration. With its round shape and red color, you can use them as the best growing medium for indoor weed as well as outdoor pot plants.

What do we like about it?

The Leca hydroponic clay pebbles are clean, uniform, and pH-neutral. They are best for orchids as the porous structure helps in providing excellent oxygen levels towards the roots. For hydroponic media, the unique structure of the clay pebbles ensures good root aeration and prevents rotting.

What else?

They have the ability to acts as a water reservoir, which is quite beneficial for orchids. These clay pebbles are lighter than gravel and can release water when it’s surrounding needs it. The decorative top layer with these clay pebbles will prevent the topsoil from drying out fast.

What don’t we like?

The quantity mentioned in the package is 10lbs, but in reality, it is 10-liter. The clay pebbles might be small and not round.

Types of Hydroponic Growing Media

Several types of growing media are available containing distinctive features. Take a look at some of the most popular grow media below.


This is a very common growing medium popularly used in the hydroponics system. It is made of granite or limestone. This melted and super heated item is a non-degradable, sterile, and porous medium.

It then turns into cube, block, slab, or sheet. This medium shucks up necessary water easily. If it consumes more water, it can lead to root rot or stem rot. It is very important to maintain pH balance in the system when using the Rockwool.

Grow Rock or Hydrocorn

When it comes to lightweight grow medium, Hydrocorn is a good choice. It is super-fired clay that makes a porous texture. Though it is lightweight, it is sturdy enough to provide necessary support to your plants.

This is sterile and non-degradable medium that can effectively hold moisture and help to transport nutrients to the roots. The positive attribute of this grow medium is its neutral pH level. It can be cleaned easily and you can use it repeatedly.

Coco Chips

The external husk of coconuts is called the coco ships. It is also known as coconut fiber or coco coir. Many people considered it as a waste element, but the truth is that it can be used as the best growing medium for plants.

Though coco fiber is a natural element, it decomposes and breaks down too slowly and this makes it an ideal growing medium for hydroponics. It has a very balanced pH level.

Generally, there are two forms of coco fiber such as coco coir and coco chips. Coco coir comes with very smaller particle size while the coco chips come with a bit larger particle size.

Pine Shavings

Many commercial growers like this growing medium because of its efficiency for larger-scale hydroponics system. Newbie gardeners choose this as they can give it a try by spending a little amount.

Saw dust and pine shavings are not the same thing. Make sure that you have bought pine shavings produced from quality kiln dried wood. If they’re free from chemical, that is a plus point.

You can find this hydroponics grow media in food store of pets. Also, the pine shavings that work for rabbit and hamster bedding can be used as the growing medium.


This is made of minerals, constructed through a high-heat process. It is available in popcorn size that turns it into a lightweight element. It is very much porous and absorbent as well.

With a neutral pH level, it can be used with other grow media. As it is lightweight and it can float easily, you shouldn’t choose it for drain and flood systems. It has a greater use as the potting soil and carry bag.


It is very similar to perlite but one exception is that it can hold more nutrients than perlite. It is made of silicate minerals. Vermiculite is also quite lightweight and it can float. Different types of Vermiculite are available. Depending on the types, the usage is also different. You can get this grow medium from any nursery.

Other Growing Media

There are also other growing media that can be used in the hydroponics system. According to your needs, you can choose from them. Some other growing media are oasis cubes, floral foam, grow stones, river rock, composted pine bark, Polyurethane, water-absorbing crystals, sand, and rice hulls.

Tips for Growing Plants in Hydroponic Systems

For the best result, the following tips you can follow when growing plants hydroponically.

  • Choose the correct hydroponics system that meets your preferences and that is easy to maintain.
  • Growing plants in hydroponic system is different than growing plants in the soil. So, make sure you are delivering the right nutrient solution to your plants.
  • Maintain the accurate pH level in the system. Otherwise, the nutrient solution will not work for the healthy growth of the plants.
  • Monitor the pH level using the pH test kit. You can adjust the pH level with the help of pH adjusters.
  • Water the plants properly. Overwatering is not a good practice for plant’s growth. Select the appropriate-sized reservoir for the system.
  • The filtered water is the best for hydroponic system. Also, keep the expected temperature in the system.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  1. What do you mean by growing medium?

The growing medium is a substance in which plants grow and through that medium, plant roots extract oxygenated water and nutrition. Selecting the right growing medium is the key of ideal garden management.

  1. What are the common types of growing mediums for hydroponics?

There are different types of hydroponics grow media. The most common options are Rockwool, grow rock, pine shavings, coconut fiber, perlite, vermiculite, and sand.

  1. Can the hydroponic growing medium replace soil?

In hydroponic system, soil is not necessary to grow plants. Here various growing media are used to transport nutrients to the plant’s roots. And thus, a suitable growing medium can replace soil.

  1. What are the signs of an ideal growing medium?

It depends on the various hydroponics systems. Some systems require lightweight media and some require a bit heavier media. However, make sure that the growing media are made of quality elements that can hold and transport sufficient moisture.

  1. Is there any plant that can grow without any growing medium?

Some plants directly grow in water. We can name of them such as wandering Jew, jade plant, basil, paperwhite, thyme, sage, and so on.


I hope the above guide has helped you to pick the best growing medium for hydroponics. All the grow media reviewed above are the finest choices for your hydroponics systems; therefore, you can choose any according to your preferences and growing systems.

However, the GROW!T Clay Pebbles is a multipurpose option. So, you can use it for your different hydroponics systems. It ensures the expected growth of your plants. Moreover, you can obtain it at a reasonable cost.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *