Hydroponic Drip System

Thomas Angas by Thomas Angas | Last Updated: April 17, 2020

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The hydroponic drip system is without a doubt one of the more popular active hydroponic systems using an water pump to pump water through your system.

In this guide, we take a look at what the drip system is, how it works and how to set the system up.

By the end of this post you’ll understand all there is to know about drip systems.

Let’s get started!

a picture of a ph meter in use

What Is The Hydroponic Drip System?

The hydroponic drip system (also known as the trickle or micro irrigation) is a system that was first developed in Israel to efficiently deliver water and nutrients to plants. The system uses an air pump to pump solution around your system and quite literally drips in into your plants.

As the water is released in a very controlled manner rather than simply being sprayed it’s incredibly efficient and massively reduces water wastage.

Originally used in traditional soil gardening, it didn’t take long before hydroponic gardeners saw the potential and started using it in their setups – in fact, this is one of the most popular systems for commercial growers.

How Does The Drip System Work?

The drip system works by using a combination of pumps, tubes and emitters to pump water from the reservoir into individual plant pots. A timer is used to control the flow so plants aren’t drowned.

As each plant has at least one emitter the drip system is incredibly versatile allowing you to control the flow of water to each plant.

One of the most important things to keep in mind is that the water will keep “dripping” until the system is shut off – failing to do so can see your plants being drowned. Thankfully this is a simple as just using a timer on your pumps.

While you do need to do a little planning to get these systems optimised, once you’ve got them set up they’re extremely easy to automate – another reason commercial growers love them.

How to Setup A Drip Hydroponic System

A hydroponic drip system can be as simple or as complex as you want to make it. The setup below is our go-to beginners drip system setup.

What you’ll need:

Our Basic System

  1. Connect up the emitters, PVC and thin tubing.
  2. Place the water pump into your bucket and the emitters into each plant pot
  3. Take a drill and make a hole in one corner of the tray
  4. Place the tray above the reservoir and angle the tray so any water runoff goes towards the corner with a hole.
  5. Finally add your pots on the tray.

To get started you’re going to want to use your timer to schedule your water pump to come on three times a day.

Pros & Cons Of Drip System

Like all hydroponics systems, the drip systems has some pros and cons associated with it:


Control – the beauty of this system is the level of control you have over everything from nutrients right through to how frequent your plants are watered each day.

Scale – this system is super easy to scale. If you want to expand your grow you just need to add more emitters and tubing.

Stable – the drip hydroponics system doesn’t take much maintenance and there isn’t much to go wrong once it’s up and running.


Takes planning – to get plants growing properly within this system you do need to plan a little from how many plants you want to grow through to how often you’ll need to water them.

Nutrient maintanence – one thing to keep in mind is that this system will need a regular check on both nutrients and pH levels if you’re recycling the water.

10 Best Plants For A Drip Irrigation System

Most plants grow well in a drip system so here are some our favourites:

The Bottom Line

Happy Gardening!

Thomas Angas, the founder of Authority Gardening lives with his wife and two darling pups. He spends his free time writing, hiking and learning how to become a better gardener. He launched Authority Gardening in 2017 to help people all over the world their gardens grow.