Soilless is often grouped under the term hydro, but to me and to a lot of growers, soilless acts more as a mix between soil and hydro. I think for clarity it’s better to just refer to soilless as soilless or even better drain-to-waste and use it separately from hydro. When most people refer to hydroponics they are probably referring to a re-circulating system where the roots are actually sitting in the water.
Soilless means you’re not growing in soil (who would have guessed) and that it’s inert. Inert means that the medium has no nutrients in it. You water the plants in the same way as you do with soil and this is usually called drain-to-waste. Drain-to-waste means that the water you give your plant is drained and not used again. Feeding guides/schedules that nutrients companies provide are usually broken down into three categories: soil, drain-to-waste, and re-circulating.
Soilless is a great in between when you can’t decide between soil and hydro. Soilless’ setup is much more like soil where you use a grow container like a fabric pot and you feed (hand water) in a similar way.
Coco coir is the go-to for soilless lovers and is made up of coconut husks and fibers. When using coco coir, you’ll want to make sure you wash it several times before using as it’s usually loaded with salt. But after that you can reuse it again and again for multiple grows, just make sure to flush with mass amounts of water before reusing.
Again, a mix of around 30% perlite to coco coir will create an incredible airflow for your roots and delivers them vital oxygen for maximum growth, while the coco coir holds onto the water long enough for your plants to drink. Plus, how cool is it to say that you grow cannabis in coconut husks and volcanic glass?
Please note: I recommend not mixing soilless mediums like coco coir into your soil. You might see people mixing coco coir into their soil to create better drainage. Grow mediums require different pH ranges for the nutrients to be absorbed by the plant. Most growers use a different pH range when watering in coco coir compared to soil. Perlite is completely fine, and recommended, for mixing into both soil and soilless mediums.