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Hempy Write UP


let's go, let's gooo
Dec 19, 2012
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Welcome to the AFN Hempy thread. Hempy is a popular keep it simple method of passive hydro. The learning curve from soil to hempy is a small one, so those looking to try out a Hydro set up are encouraged to throw a hempy bucket in the mix and try one out!

[What is "Hempy"]

Hempy is a passive hydro method. It's a container with one drainage hole that has a small independent reservoir. It is considered a soil-less method of growing.

[What do you need?]

1. A container, round or square - it doesn't matter - the size of the container will effect the end result much like soil.

Examples of Containers
Soda Bottle (Good for Micro Hempy or SOG)
Dollar Store Trash Cans (Good for small to medium size plants)
2.5-5 Gallon Buckets (Good for monsters)

The important thing with the container is that it's not clear. If it is, you have to light proof it with Gorilla Tape, Duct Tape or something similar.

2. Medium, 3 parts of perlite media to 1 part wicking/water retention media.
The perlite can be small, chunky, mixed, it doesn't matter - the purpose of the perlite is to give the roots something to latch on to and develop around.
Wicking / water Retention media will be either coco croutons/chunks or vermiculite. I use vermiculite as it's easily accessible although I've used coco croutons in the past. Salt build up is more likely with the croutons than it is with the vermiculite.
There's information on the net about people using hydroton, river pebbles and other media in place of perlite. I do not recommend these forms of media and can offer no advice on them.

3. A drill or a way to puncture the container. The hole should be between 5/16" and 3/8" depending on the size of the container. The hole can be smaller but you may have drainage problems. It can be larger but your media may fall out.

[How to make your "Hempy" bucket]

Take your container from above, measure 1.5" to 2" from the bottom and create the hole. That's it, it's that simple. You now have your all in one reservoir and bucket.
Here's an example of a container:

Before the Hole
View attachment 171200

After the Hole (just in case you can't find the hole!)
View attachment 171197

Now to fill it with media, I fill my containers in this fashion;

First, perlite until the resevoir hole is covered;
View attachment 171199

Then three scoops perlite, one scoop vermiculite - mix. I rinse and repeat until the bucket is full. I do this with a 32oz cup.

Your media should look like this when mixed properly;
View attachment 171198

That's it, you now have a Hempy bucket ready to plant in.

[How to start your seeds for Hempy]

I typically germinate in rapid rooters or jiffy pellets. You need to germinate and start the seed in something that you can transplant. It is not recommended to just drop a seed into the perlite.
I've also started a seed in a 3oz bathroom cup filled with peat. Once the plant started, I removed the bottom of the cup (about 1/8" up) with a razor blade and planted this into the hempy bucket.
Another option is rockwool cubes (make sure you pH adjust them first!)
Once the baby plant has broken through, put it in the hempy bucket. Just deep enough to cover your starter plug/cup.


pH: 5.8-6.2 is where I've had the best results. While this is a generous range, you want your pH to be at 6.0 ideally.

ppm/EC: Follow the basic rules of ppm and EC for hydro. Start your baby plants at <250PPM and work your way up to 1000-1200PPM. If you have hard water >200PPM from tap, make sure your nutrients are made for hard water.

You top water, the same as you would a soil container.

You water until water drains from the drain hole you created on the side of the bucket. Once you're dialed in, you'll know how to water without hitting the drain hole. At first, it's advised you water with a flood tray or in the bath tub to catch the run off.

How often to water?

At first, you're going to want to water frequently - until the roots reach to the bottom of the hempy bucket. You will want to water around the base of the sprout once a day for roughly 6-10 days, SOMETIMES twice a day if your RH(Relative Humidity) is obnoxiously low.
Once the plant is established and the roots reaching the reservoir you follow the same rule as you do for soil, pick the bucket up and see how heavy it is. If the reservoir is empty, water, if it's not, wait. I water @ 90% dry bucket.
Watering frequency will always depend on the environment (heat, RH) AND the size of the plant


This is up to you, whatever nutrient line you prefer - use it. Use the hydro application. Do not use soil applications (i.e: Grow Big from Fox Farms has a soil and hydroponic application)
When you water, you want to start at a low strength much like you do for soil-less mixes. If something says ONE teaspoon - water at 1/8 teaspoon. You will very rarely, if ever, reach that full teaspoon per gallon.
Throughout the entirety of your grow, you want to stay at low dose feedings. This allows you to feed every watering. If you go up in your strength of feeding, you'll need to incorporate a flush into your cycle.

Examples of watering cycles
(One) Watering 1: Half Dose --> Watering 2: Half Dose --> Watering 3: Flush container with no nutrients, then feed Low Dose *Rinse/Repeat*
(Two) Watering 1: Low Dose --> Watering 2: Low Dose --> Watering 3: Low Dose *Rinse/Repeat*

As with all nutrient applications, you have to use what works for you. Ideally, watering method two is pretty fool proof. I would still flush my container once every 3-4 weeks just to remove salt build up. Follow the flush immediately after with a low dose feed.
Do not forget to pH your nutrient solution.

UPDATE 1/28/2013

How do I flush Hempy?
To flush a hempy bucket, you would take your container and water with the full size of the container. I.E: 2 gallon pot, 2 gallons of pH'd nutrient free water. You want to water in a tray, bath tub or over something to catch the run off from the drain hole.
You water until the top starts to bubble up, then hold it on it's side and let the water run out of the drain hole with the intention of emptying the reservoir, rinse and repeat until all 2 gallons of water is used up. I often water with a very low dose nutrient solution after this process as the media itself retains 0 nutrients. It will usually take a little longer for the media to dry out after this.

Do I check the run off of Hempy?
You can, but the two different medias used (perlite / vermiculite) don't offer much in the way of pH buffering, so typically what goes in, comes out. I've checked the PH of my run off and it's typically the same, or +/- 0.1.

What about using Hempy outdoors?
Hempy is one of the few hydro methods that are great to use outdoors. Although it's not recommended for guerrilla grows as they do require additional watering. I'd do 5+ Gallons for outdoor grows as the plants will be monsters.

UPDATE 1/29/2013 - toke's hempy advice

Tip: You may wish to add a couple supports for the plant as perlite is very loose compared to soil. Or drill holes around the top and L.S.T. the plant with plastic coated wire for added stability.
Tip: Wash or at least rinse the perlite in a big cooler or something before adding it to the bucket - lots 'o dust usually.
Tip: You can make "mini-hempy" buckets from 20oz. Plastic Cups - use a hot nail to make the hole 1" from the bottom - these work well for "up-canning" seedlings & clones later to the larger pot. They also transplant well for outside grows - the perlite makes a great root structure, and it's so light it doesn't tear it up when transplanting.
Tip: Some growers use Osmocote Plus at a rate of 1 teaspoon per gallon mixed in the perlite instead of using hydro nutes. Then use plain water or R/O water with Cal-Mag. Only the "Plus" Osmocote will work as it has all the minor nutes.
Tip: You can add a layer of Coco Coir or Hydroton on top to keep algae at bay and help keep the perlite in place.
Tip: While you can use the MG perlite at the big box store, it's usually less expensive to get a 4 cubic foot bag online or at your local garden center.
Tip: You can get bucket for free or low cost at many places - try Trader Joes for free used flower buckets, or most stores that carry flowers may have them. Dollar stores often have 2-3 gallon buckets. Pretty soon you will start looking at every container you see as a potential hempy bucket...
Tip: If you see the leaf tips get brown, go with 6.0 PH water only the next time to flush, then REDUCE feeding strength until final flush.

toke's Hempy FAQ!

Can I add anything to straight perlite?
Yes, you can use all sorts of additions... coco, peat, and vermiculite being the most common, and the 1/4 ratio is a good one. You do have to watch out for coco's affinity for Ca/Mg, and peat's ph down properties... though I don't really know anything bad about vermiculite other than it could clog the hole? It can have PH effects depending on the source.
For a first timer though, I'd strongly recommend just perlite for the main root zone. It's possible to overwater otherwise. Coco or something else on top does help keep algae away though.

The perlite I have is really small. As in it will come out the hole on the bottom. Maybe I could combine the hydroton and the perlite? Hydroton up to the hole, and then perlite the rest of the way?
I've not done that, but from what I've read, that does not work since hydroton does not "wick" the water up from the res as well as perlite. With perlite too, there are no big pockets of water to drown roots - that's why the finer stuff is actually better. It does come out of the hole... but usually not enough to matter. If it clogs, just poke it.

Is there a "feed / water" schedule?
Nope, I feed everytime. Just like a hydro plant gets fed as much as possible, so it is with hempy. Just keep the nutes to a strength the plants can handle - they let you know with the tips first. I would keep it lighter than most full strength schedules for DWC, NFT, or Aero. However, if you notice ANY burning on the leaf tips, use water to flush, and be SURE to reduce the nutes in the next watering.

What PH is good for Hempy?
It's the same range as Hydro - 5.2 - 6.2, with 5.8 as a target, but some drift is desirable to absorb the nutes over the entire range of PH.

What are the benefits to Hempy?
Simplicity is #1 - with just perlite for a medium, you don't have to worry about over-watering, and you can flush it in an instant if you go overboard on nutes. No soil to worry about, no PH checking every day... most nutes are about right with no PH adjustment at all. No root rot, no tanks to change, no lines to clean... it will not match DWC for vegetative growth rate, but it will get close, and with a low failure rate since there's no pump to break, a harvest is almost assured. Hempy will also often result in larger plants and buds than a comparable soil grow, and there is less chance of the plant becoming "root bound". I have found the roots seem to air prune on the sides, and perhaps water prune on the bottom. I've not had spiraled roots yet. You can also re-use perlite after screening the old roots out and using a enzyme treatment. You may wish to pour boiling water over the perlite to be recycled in a large cooler if you have any disease issues during the grow. H2O2 will also help keep diseases from propagating.

Why is the hole so small? And does it have to be exactly 7/16"?
The hole is small so the water does not run out immediately - it wets the perlite above, and then draws fresh air into the root system as the excess water runs out. A little bigger and you'll see more perlite run out and it will empty too fast, and a little smaller and it will get clogged constantly.

This is an on-going work in progress - we can never stop learning, even with something as simple as hempy - there's ways to make it easier, ways to make it more efficient - there's always going to be knowledge to add!

Please feel free to ask any and all questions!
Last edited by a moderator:


scope'n the dope
Staff member
AFN Global Moderator
AFN Gladiator
Jan 30, 2011
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now all the dummies like me know what it is and how to do it +rep :clap:


Nov 30, 2012
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Hey Backwoods, No need for notes I think he covered it :smokebuds:

just copy and paste


Auto Warrior
Dec 22, 2012
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Really??? ..... man thats easy as hell. I gotta see one of these in action:D


Auto Warrior
Jan 11, 2013
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I'm going to try this method once my AKR's are finished.............but that's going to be a while


RCMC Assistant Moderator
Jan 7, 2013
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This is a very good write-up. +rep for ya...

There's not much to add, but since I was asked for my :2cents:...

Before filling your container with medium, rinse your perlite. This is easily done over a screen/strainer. You want chunks of perlite, not dust...perlite dust will all settle in the bottom of your container, forming "hardpan" and making your reservoir less effective. I prefer larger (coarse) perlite myself, I tend to use larger containers and with a 3/8" hole some usually escapes if you use the smaller bagged, readily available varieties IME.

That's really it aside from variations on a theme...pretty comprehensive. :clap:


let's go, let's gooo
Dec 19, 2012
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Thanks HP, I've seen your grow journal and I've seen a lot of advice offered on Hempy, I've only been running it for about 6 months so I wanted to get any and all advice you could offer. I agree 100% the larger perlite the better and yes, RINSE the bag before you use it! See, I knew I was forgetting things!