Ebb & Flow Grow Systems

By | December 2, 2015

The Ebb and Flow Grow System is one of the most popular hydroponic systems, especially for beginners and can also be referred to as the “flood and drain system”. All you need are the basic supplies for this system and there is very little maintenance.

This system actually runs by flooding a grow tray to soak the plant roots whilst allowing the nutrient solution to drain back to the reservoir. This process occurs several times per day but will depend on what types of plants you’re growing.


DIY Ebb and Flow Grow Systems

You’ll need the following hydroponic supplies:

Ebb and Flow Tray 

The tray should be a hardy plastic to support your plants, the growing medium and the nutrient solution. It’s important that the tray drains well so that the tray bottom is dry, otherwise if you see puddles, it can over water your plants causing the roots to rot.

Buckets or Modules 

You don’t have to use a tray. You can also use buckets to grow your plants individually and this method will give you the opportunity to expand your hydroponic system.

Support Structure

If the reservoir isn’t sufficient enough to support the tray, you will definitely need to purchase a tray that will.


The reservoir will contain the hydroponic nutrients solution, so it’s wise to thoroughly clean and disinfect the reservoir prior to filling it. The reservoir should also be dark in colour in order to block as much light as possible. This will prevent algae growth.

Fittings and Pipes 

The pipe will pump the nutrient solution into the tray and also the overflow drain. The overflow drain must be positioned at the highest point where you want the water level to rise to, as this will prevent the nutrient solution from flooding.


Plastic containers to hold your plants.

Growing Medium 

The most popular choices for a growing medium include: rockwool, perlite and coconut coir.

Pump and Timer 

The pump will flood the grow tray and the timer that you set will regulate the pump by turning it on and off.


Ebb and Flow Setup

In order to prepare your Ebb and Flow Supplies correctly, you need to firstly install the fill fitting and the overflow drain into the grow tray. Position the grow tray against the support structure and then position the reservoir underneath it. Place the submersible pump inside the reservoir, then attach fill fitting onto the grow tray. Now attach the pump to the timer.

Last but not least, test your system making sure that there are no leaks and that the overflow drain is operating correctly.

Now, set the timer to flood the grow tray at regular intervals at least 3 to 4 times per day, although the number of times will hinge on the size of the plant and the particular type of plant you are growing. Each flood cycle should pump one third extra nutrient solution than the tray can take. You must replace the nutrient solution at least every 2 weeks and religiously monitor the pH level daily. The pH level should be around 5.6.