Most people new to hydroponics gardening often wonder what type of plants they will grow. With the correct nutrient balance and setup, new hydroponic gardeners can grow any plant in their hydroponics garden.
Hydroponics involves growing plants within a system filled with nutrients. Therefore, plants get a constant supply of nutrients and have the energy to flower and develop fruits.
A wide variety of plants can grow with hydroponics. This includes vegetables and herbs, which last longer, grow within no time, and are easy to plant. Hydroponic gardeners will find that these are the best plants for hydroponics and we will tell them why.
The following vegetables grow well in hydroponic gardens:
This is the simplest vegetable you can grow in your hydroponics garden. It is easy to maintain, rapidly grow and take up little space, reasons why beginners should start with them.
They are easy to maintain because of their shallow root systems that match their short height above the ground. To get the best results, lettuce should grow fast.
- Tips for growing: Space the time you plant your lettuce to ensure you have an endless supply. Takes approximately 30 days to grow.
- Temperature: Grows well at temperatures of 55 degrees Fahrenheit at night and 75 degrees Fahrenheit during the day.
- Light: Successfully grows under T5 fluorescent grow lights and does not require a lot of strong lighting.
- Nutrients: Grows well with 8-15-36 hydroponic fertilizer with a pH of 6.4 for seedlings and 6.0 for mature plants.
Spinach requires little water to grow in a hydroponic system compared to an in-the-ground garden. It rapidly grows in a hydroponic system that is highly oxygenated. They take about 40 days to grow and are easy to move to your hydroponic system a week after they sprout.
- Tips for growing: Keeping the temperatures lower than recommended below may slow the time for growing. You should start your spinach seeds in Rockwool.
- Temperature: Grow temperatures should be between 65 degrees Fahrenheit and 72 degrees Fahrenheit
- Light: Requires little light to grow successfully.
- Nutrients: Performs well in a pH nutrient solution range between 6.4 and 6.8
3. Bok Choy
Hydroponic gardeners grow Bok choy, also known as Chinese cabbage, because of its high nutritional value and wonderful flavor. It thrives well in cool temperatures and grows hydroponically in both the fall and spring. The plant will bolt if exposed to prolonged cold or hot temperatures. You can prevent bolting in warm temperatures by using a partial shade.
- Tips for growing: Bok choy is temperature tolerant, which makes it suitable for many hydroponic systems. It takes 45-50 days to mature.
- Temperature: Grows well at cool temperatures ranging between 55-75 degrees Fahrenheit
- Light: Can grow in full sun or partial shade
- Nutrients: Grows well in a hydroponic nutrient solution of pH 6.3
They are one of the most common vegetables grown hydroponically. They grow rapidly and fruit quickly. This makes them do quite well in hydroponic systems. Tomatoes seedlings take two weeks to germinate then you can move them to your hydroponic system. However, tomatoes grow successfully from transplants instead of seeds.
- Tips for growing: To develop fruits, tomatoes need pollination. In the absence of bees or wind, shake the flower clusters
- Temperature: Ideal temperatures are 65-80 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and 55-65 degrees Fahrenheit during the night.
- Light: Tomatoes need a lot of light. Use supplemental lighting for up to 18 hours daily to improve production.
- Nutrients: Grows well in a phosphorous hydroponic nutrient solution of 4-18-38 with a 6.2 pH adjustment
Pepper grows very fast in hydroponic systems than in soil gardens. Do not let these plants grow to full height. Spur pepper growth by pruning and pinching it at about 8 inches. They require a lot of water and lighting to grow because of their origins in Central America.
- Tips for growing: Provide lighting of up to 18 hours daily. Raise the light rack as the plant grows to maintain a 6-inch distance between the lights and the plant.
- Temperature: Ideal temperature should be 70-80 during the day and 60-70 F
- Light: Peppers need a lot of lighting and do well in full sunlight
- Nutrients: Requires a potassium nutrient solution of 11-11-40 with a pH of 6.2 for seedlings and 5.8 for mature plants
Cucumber is a common vining plant grown in commercial and personal gardens around the world. They are a good fall crop since they grow quickly. There are three main categories of cucumbers. They include slicing, pickling, and burpless. All these perform well in hydroponics and grow well.
- Tips for growing: Space your cucumbers well to prevent the leaves from shading each other. Proper spacing enables them to absorb enough light.
- Temperature: They do well in high temperatures ranging from 65-80
- Light: Require full sun or lighting for 6 hours daily
- Nutrients: Rapidly grows in hydroponic fertilizer of 8-16-36 with a pH of 6.0-6.5
Celery is a cool-season crop that takes longer to grow in hydroponic systems. It takes about 140 days. You require a lot of patience and planning to grow this vegetable in your hydroponic garden.
- Tips for growing: The fastest way to grow your celery is through transplants. However, growing from seeds is likely to be more productive.
- Temperature: They do well in temperatures ranging from 60-75
- Light: Require full sunlight for 6 hours each day. May also use fluorescent grow lights
- Nutrients: Does well in a nutrient solution of pH 6.4. Add a mineral supplement of calcium and magnesium, or humic acid
The following herbs grow well in hydroponic systems:
Tarragon has a shallow root system that propagates the plant to 2-3 feet tall. It is a perennial herb whose leaves come in handy when seasoning vinegar. The leaves, when harvested, emit a strong tarragon-sweet smell.
- Tips for growing: Space your tarragon plants between 18-24 inches apart
- Temperature: Daytime temperatures of 65-70 and night temperatures of about 10 to simulate outdoor conditions
- Light: Prefers full sun but requires some shade. Grows satisfactorily under standard fluorescent grow lights
- Nutrients: The nutrient solution should have a pH range of 6.5 (neutral)-7.5 (mild alkaline).
Mint is a popular herb with hydroponic gardeners because of its pleasant smell and natural repellant to insects and pests. Easy to transplant mint using cuttings. It is ideal to grow mint in water because it has fuller foliage. This makes it suitable for hydroponics.
- Tips for growing: It is necessary to check signs for any nutrient deficiencies on your plant such as yellowing of leaves. This requires additional nutrients.
- Temperature: Ideal temperatures range between 75-90 during the day and 50-75 at night
- Light: Grows satisfactorily in full sun but also does well in light shade. Can do well under fluorescent grow lights.
- Nutrients: Prefers a pH nutrient solution range of 6.0-6.5
Oregano is a hardy perennial herb whose sprawling stems grow up to 2 feet tall. Propagates well either with seed or division. Great for flavoring pizza, marinara sauce, and spaghetti. Grows well near basil and is excellent to grow alongside tomatoes.
- Tips for growing: When propagating, it germinates rapidly in rapid rooters or root cubes. Replant in 3-4 years when they become woody.
- Temperature: Requires daytime temperatures ranging from 70-80 and nighttime temperatures of 60-70
- Light: Grows exceptionally well under high-output T5 fluorescent grow lights
- Nutrients: Requires a nutrient solution with a pH range of 6.0-8.0
Basil comes in different varieties that vary in height, appearance, and taste. However, all have similar growing habits. They respond quite well in hydroponic systems. Therefore, they grow rapidly under these systems.
- Tips for growing: Known as a summer plant, you can grow basil all year round under a protected environment.
- Temperature: Ideal temperatures of 50 at night and 85 during the day
- Light: Requires six or more hours of sunlight daily but does not do well under any type of shade
- Nutrients: Prefers a nutrient solution with a pH range of 5.5-6.5.
Grows well from seeds in hydroponics systems. Extensively grown for seasoning used in meat and flavoring in cheese and sausages. You can harvest sage leaves before they bloom and dry them in a well-aerated room safe from direct sunlight.
- Tips for growing: Provide enough spacing, at least 3 feet, between each shrub since they often exceed 3 feet in diameter.
- Temperature: Ideal temperatures of 70-80 during the day and 60-70 at night
- Light: Can grow well under fluorescent grow lights
- Nutrients: Grows well in a pH range of 6.0-6.5
6. Lemon Balm
Lemon balm has a distinct lemon scent and flavor making it quite a suitable garnish for sorbet. It grows to 2 feet tall and has small 2-lipped flowers in the late summer. It grows in clumps and spreads in a vegetative way as well as by seed.
- Tips for growing: Grows easily from stem cuttings, or seeds. In ideal conditions, the plant seeds itself prolifically become a nuisance
- Temperature: Ideal temperatures of 70-80 during the day and 60-70 at night
- Light: Grows well under T5 fluorescent grow lights
- Nutrients: Preferred temperature range of 6.0 to 7.5
Gardeners grow rosemary for its aromatic leaves used as a seasoning in different foods. It has white and wooly foliage on the underside and dark and shiny above. It is the easiest herb that you can grow hydroponically whether for flavoring or decorations.
- Tips for growing: Tolerates moderate shade but requires full sunlight. It is hardy and drought resistant and thrives with minimal care.
- Temperature: Enjoys warm temperatures ranging about 70. Temperatures below 30 are not ideal.
- Light: Requires at least 6 hours of sunlight daily. Thrives well in warm, sunny climates.
- Nutrients: To get the best quality from Rosemary, the nutrient solution should have a pH of around 6.
Factors To Consider
It is necessary to consider several factors before choosing which plants are best for your hydroponics system. Some of the factors that you should consider include the type of hydroponic system you want to build, the amount of space available, your level of experience, and personal reasons for selecting hydroponics.
Types of Hydroponics Systems
There are two types of hydroponic systems. These are the solution/liquid culture and medium/aggregate culture. In the solution/liquid, culture plants grow directly in a nutrient-filled solution. It is suitable for rapidly growing; shallow-rooted plants for instance herbs, spinach, radishes, and lettuce. Examples of these systems include Aeroponics and Nutrient Film Technique.
On the other hand, medium/aggregate culture systems use a growing medium such as Hydroton, gravel, or sand. The growing medium is suitable for heavy plants because it provides support. They are suitable for vegetables and herbs with deep roots such as beets, chicory, and comfrey. Beans, tomatoes, squash, and cucumbers could grow using this system. Examples of this system include Wick or Ebb & Flow Systems.
Amount Of Available Space
One of the major factors you have to consider when choosing a plant to grow in your hydroponic system is space. If you have limited space, it is best to avoid large plants such as melon or squash. Leafy greens and herbs are suitable for growing in small systems because they are easy to grow giving better rewards. They grow rapidly and you can harvest them continuously.
You can use advanced systems to grow large plants if you have a large space, for example, a greenhouse, patio, or garage. Such a system can support plants with deep roots. You can easily do experiments in a large system such as producing several varieties of your favorite vegetable or fruits.
Level of Experience
The level of gardening experience and your reasons for entering into hydroponics come into play when deciding which plants you want to grow. For individuals with minimum experience, quick-growing plants are easy, to begin with. You can get maximum benefits with little experience. Starting with an overly complex system is likely to discourage you.
For the experienced gardener, it is possible to try out complex and more exotic plants and systems. You can go to the extent of growing an entire nut tree or fruit hydroponically, particularly if you have enough space. Such gardeners can grow tobacco, large melons, sunflowers, honeysuckle or blackberries, and pumpkins. The only true limit for the experienced hydro gardeners is themselves.