Are you about to start a hydroponic garden? Then, do you already know the herbs, vegetables, and flowers you can grow in it, and what you should avoid growing?
Many people believe that they can grow anything in hydroponic systems. This is true in essence, yet the plants need to be matched to the system, meaning not every plant is suitable for every type of hydroponic system (click here for more information of the various hydroponic systems).
Learning what plants you can and cannot grow in each hydroponics system helps create a successful and beautiful garden. This post reveals what you can grow in hydroponics.
So, let’s get started!
Can You Grow Anything in Hydroponics?
You can grow almost any plant in a hydroponic system. Herbs and leafy greens are the best easiest options because of their versatility.
However, some plants are less suitable for home based hydroponics, such as plants that bear large fruits, root crops, and trees with deep roots. These plants are more difficult to grow hydroponically because they require support (physical support for thick branches and heavy fruit) and larger space.
Some plants take too long to grow, while others are more delicate. I have encountered some plants that require more effort than their worth – for me – but I will let you draw your own conclusion for your garden.
What Vegetables Can Be Grown Using Hydroponics?
Are you conscious about the food you eat? If you, like me, have a passion for healthy nutrition, then you’ll be happy to know that many vegetables are an excellent option for hydroponic gardening.
Below are the vegetables that grow easily even in home based or small hydroponic gardens:
pH Levels: 6.0 – 7.0
Ideal Temperatures: 44˚-70˚F (7˚-21˚C)
Estimated Growing Time: 30 days or less
Lettuce is the first choice of a vegetable many gardeners grow in hydroponics. This leafy vegetable is known for its fast growth and is easy to care for. You can grow it in almost any hydroponic system type, including Ebb and Flow, NFT. Lettuce growing requires regular nutrient solution changes to ensure optimal growth.
pH Levels: 6.0 – 7.0
Ideal Temperatures: 65˚-68˚F (18˚-20˚C)
Estimated Growing Time: 14-20 days
Spinach is another vegetable that does well in the hydroponic system. It is ready to harvest from seedlings in about 14-20 days. You can pick a few leaves about once weekly to ensure a steady supply. I recommend picking the leaves from the plants’ outer parts, not from their inner leaves to allow the plant to grow into a strong longer lasting spinach plant.
pH Levels: 5.5-6.0
Ideal Temperatures: 65˚-75˚F (18˚-23˚C)
Estimated Growing Time: 14 days or less
When you try cucumbers in your hydroponic system, you’ll find that these green delights rapidly reach full size, and often give excellent yields. You can try growing Lebanese cucumbers, seedless European cucumber variants, or American slicers. They thrive best in warm temperatures and ample light.
pH Levels: 6.0-7.0
Ideal Temperatures: 50˚-65˚F (10˚-18˚C)
Estimated Growing Time: 3-4 weeks
Radishes might be popularly grown in soil because they grow inside or under the ground, but they also grow very quickly in hydroponic systems. These vegetables are usually ready for harvesting within a month or less. I recommend growing them from seeds in cool temperatures. This vegetable does not require any special lighting as they are accustomed to growing below ground level (the edible part is covered completely when grown in soil).
pH Levels: 6.0
Ideal Temperatures: 70 ˚-80˚F (21˚-27˚C)
Estimated Growing Time: 5-7 days
Many hydroponics gardeners like growing beans in hydroponic systems because they are extremely high yielding and low maintenance. Whether you choose to grow Lima beans, green beans, or pole beans, they germinate faster in hydroponics than in soil.
Pole beans require vertical support to hold their stems. They require a 6 pH level and a moderate temperature.
pH Levels: 5.5-6.5
Ideal Temperatures: 70 ˚-77˚F (21˚-25˚C)
Estimated Growing Time:30 days or less
Kale is a very popular hydroponically grown vegetable, especially for health-conscious individuals. These vegetables are easy to maintain and grow well in moderate temperatures. These green leafy vegetables are not only delectable but also very nutritious and considered a super-food.
pH Levels: 5.7-6.0
Ideal Temperatures: 70 ˚-80˚F (21˚-27˚C)
Estimated Growing Time:14 days or less
Celery is known for its excellent texture and plenty of flavors. You can easily grow these vegetables in an Ebb and flow hydroponic system. I recommend keeping their stalks wet and make sure that their roots are not submerged. Plant them approximately four inches apart to allow enough space for full growth.
Which Fruits Can Be Grown Hydroponically?
Hydroponics is not all about growing vegetables. This gardening technology allows you to grow a variety of fruits. Below is a list of fruits that are ideal for hydroponic systems:
Strawberries are easy to grow in hydroponic systems all year round.
Because of the climate and light control hydroponic systems provide, they eliminate the restrictions for seasonal planting and growing, which makes them a superb solution for harvesting high quality of strawberries continousely.
Whether you grow these fruits in an Ebb and Flow system or in a water culture, you can quite effortlessly get deliciously sweet strawberries.
The growing time is approximately 60 days, and they require 5.5-6.2 pH levels.
Rather than seeds, I recommend planting strawberry runners for faster fruit production. Strawberries come in various strains and it’s important to choose the ones that produce fruit throughout the year such as the Day-neutral varieties. Strawberries require 5.5-6.2 pH levels.
Blueberries are rich in essential vitamins, so I’m not surprised to see many growers choose them for hydroponic systems. Unlike strawberries, these fruits take a long time to grow. You sometimes have to wait months before you see them bear fruits. They thrive well in NFT systems and require 4.5-6 pH levels with warm temperature climate.
Tomatoes are often regarded as vegetables, but agronomically they are really fruits. I love growing both regular and cherry tomatoes in my hydroponic garden.
As a matter of fact, some hydroponics farmers grow tomatoes in commercial quantities, because as anyone who grows tomatoes hydroponically can easily find out, they yield a much greater harvest in a hydroponic growing environment than in “regular” soil.
Bear in mind that it’s important to provide the tomatoes with hot temperatures and ample light. They require 5.5-6.5 pH levels.
Having watermelons in your hydroponic garden allows you to enjoy summer fruits all year round.
They might be large and heavy but growing them in a hydroponic garden is very straightforward. These fruits thrive well in the Ebb and flow system with growing media of coconut coir or clay pebbles. These media are perfect for them since they retain water and ensure nutrient distribution.
Grapes require plenty of maintenance and care. It might be challenging to grow these vine-based fruits for newbies in hydroponic gardening, but they with enough care and a determined mind, they will produce delicious fruits later on.
Since grapes are vine-based, they require a trellis for extra support. They thrive best in a bucket system. Since they are very delicate specimens, it is recommended to check on them occasionally, ensuring they do not rot and that they get plenty of water. The ideal pH levels for grapes are between 5.5-6.
Cantaloupes have many similarities with the watermelon and are termed netted melons because of their net-like skin. They grow best in the Ebb and flow hydroponic system. For beginners, it is ideal to use nets to support them while growing. They require 6-6.8 pH levels.
7. Bell Peppers
Another fruit that is often regarded as a vegetable is bell pepper.
I recommend you do not allow bell peppers to achieve the full length if you’re growing them at home. Instead, I recommend occasionally pruning and pinching them at 7-8 inches (20 centimeters). This helps spur their growth and drives the plant to produce fuller and bigger peppers.
Deep Water Culture is ideal for growing bell peppers. However, growing them in an Ebb and flow system will allow them to grow equally well. Bell peppers take approximately 90 days to fully mature and require 6-6.5 pH levels.
When grown hydroponically, cranberries require more space than other berries. However, they provide high yields.
Since they thrive well in more acidic conditions, the ideal pH level for them is approximately 4.5.
Which Flowers Can You Grow with Hydroponics?
Do you wish to grow flowers, but your space is limited? Hydroponics does not limit your growing opportunities in fruits and vegetables.
Below are the stunning flowers that are known to work well with hydroponic gardens and tips to growing beautiful flowers in your own home garden:
Orchids require perfect lighting conditions. They do not like direct light. Coconut coir or expanded clay is an ideal growing medium for them. The humidity should not fall under 50%. It is recommended to leave a distance between the root tips and water level.
2. Peace Lily
Peace Lilies are great house plants to grow in a hydroponic garden. Their leaves offer a great architectural and decorative value. These exotic plants are vulnerable to chlorine. Ensure to rinse their roots thoroughly before transferring them to the hydroponic system.
Some species of Iris are naturally inclined to water environment, including Iris versicolor, Iris tectorum, and Iris variegata. These plants require a fresh dormant period to germinate. Keep the bulbs in a cool, dry place for approximately 13-15 weeks before placing them in the hydroponic system, to ensure a full healthy growth and bloom.
Growing amaryllis requires extra effort to care for the bulb. Keep the bulb dry at all times and only allow the roots to dip into the nutrient solution. The temperature must be between 21-24˚C to encourage the plant to bloom.
Freesia offers a distinctive sweet scent and beautiful flowers. The flowers come in various colors, including red, orange, yellow, purple, yellow, and white. Make sure that only the roots touch the nutrient solution.
Daffodils symbolize spring in many cultures. These flowers are a Mediterranean Basin native, but they are also seen in meadows in Asia, North Africa, and Europe. Growing Daffodils hydroponically requires a cool, dry, and dark environment. Before removing the bulb, allow their leaves to dry up.
Carnations are suitable for indoor hydroponic gardens and provide some of the longest blossoms. An Ebb and flow system is best for these flowers, but they also thrive well in deep water culture. The ideal pH level for them is 6. They stay fresh in mild temperatures.
What Can You NOT Grow with Hydroponics?
In hydroponic gardening, as with any kind of gardening, not all plants are created equal. Besides knowing what you can grow, you also need to know the plants you should avoid, because setting the conditions for them may be very demanding, and especially not suitable for home gardens.
Generally, plants with thick roots, large build, and heavy crops and fruits do not suit most hydroponic systems. That is because they require too much of the required resources and take up a lot of space for them to grow sustainably.
Below are the plants you cannot grow with hydroponics in a small private garden:
(Gardens with bigger facilities which are richer in resources could attempt this, and we may learn of new hydroponic system types that allow gardeners to more easily grow these plants in the near future, as hydroponics continues to develop.)
1. Large Root Vegetables
Avoid growing large root veggies in your hydroponic garden. These plants usually require plenty of soil for the roots. That way, they can spread out in search of moisture and essential nutrients.
2. Potatoes and Sweet Potatoes
These crops are currently more suitable for the traditional method of growing plants. That is especially true since they require soil for them to mature healthily and quickly. What’s more, they have extensive systems. This means they thrive better in in-ground environments than in most known hydroponic gardens.
3. Vine Crops
Some vine crops like cucumbers and cherry tomatoes grow very well in hydroponic systems. However, other vine crops do better in soil. Vine crops consume most nutrients from the system’s reservoir. So, if you plan to grow different species together, then separate the vine crops from the rest or they will end up draining the nourishment of other plants.
Corn requires plenty of space, making them not ideal for hydroponic setups. That is especially true if you have an at-home hydroponic garden.
5. Large Trees
Large trees require a strong support system. When trees grow in the ground, the soil supports them by holding their roots, but in a water based growing system, there is no soil to hold any roots, so it is up to us to take care of the support system.
That is why most tree growers still rely on the groud as their source for both nutrients and support, and only a brave few have dared to go the hydroponics route with trees.
Hopefully, the ideas I have shared to you helped to choose your plants for your own hydroponic system – be it at home, in an outdoors garden or in a greenhouse. No matter what fruit, vegetables, or flowers you choose, I am sure you’ll enjoy the entire growing process.