Below you will find a few examples of food that can be grown in hydroponic set ups, and that are fairly easy to cultivate. You don’t need to be an experienced hydroponic grower to find success with these food plants.
Strawberries in hydroponics
Strawberries grow well in hydroponics, and many growers absolutely low the luxury of having access to freshly picked strawberries regardless of season.
There are many different variants to chose from, e.g. extra sweet strawberries and strawberries that are bigger or smaller than average.
Strawberries are known to work well in several different hydroponic systems, including ebb-and-flow set ups, NFT and deep water culture.
If you plant strawberry seeds, it can take years before you can harvest your first strawberry. My advice is therefore that you get strawberry plants / runners for your set up.
The ideal pH-value for strawberries is the 5.5 – 6.2 range (acidic).
Bell peppers in hydroponics
Bell peppers will do best if you don’t allow them to reach their natural height. Instead, prune and pinch them to keep them around 8 inches / 20 cm tall. This will encourage pepper fruit growth.
You can start with seeds or get small plants from a garden centre. Keep in mind that peppers tend to take up to three months to mature.
Bell peppers will do best when they receive A LOT of light. Up to 18 hours of artificial plant lightning will be greatly appreciated. Please note that the lamps shouldn’t be closer to the plant than 6 inches / 15 cm. The preferred air temperature is warm to hot.
Ebb-and-flow and deep water cultures are both known to work well for bell peppers. You can expect the growth time to be around three months. The ideal pH-value is 5.5 to 6.5 (acidic).
Bell peppers are often grown in the same set up as tomatoes, since they like the same conditions.
To grow chilli peppers in your hydroponic system, follow the same instructions as for bell peppers.
Tomatoes in hydroponics
Tomatoes grow well in hydroponics but the plants need a good support system to cling on. The heavier the tomatoes, the better the support must be. If you are a beginner, we suggest starting with cherry tomatoes.
There are many varieties of basil (Ocimum basilicum). The most commonly grown for eating is Genovese basil, also known as Sweet basil. If you feel adventurous, also try growing Thai basil (O. basilicum var. thyrsiflora), Lemon basil (O. × citriodorum), and Holy basil (Ocimum tenuiflorum) as well.
The moist conditions in a hydroponic set up helps deepen the flavour of basil leaves. Drip systems and NFT system are known to work well.
Basil plants wants a lot of light and a pH-value within the 5.5 – 6.5 span. If the plant gets less than 11 hours of light, it will not develop well.
Romaine lettuce is a flavourful choice for your hydroponics system, and can be ready for harvest within a month. Ideally stagger your planting, to make sure you always have suitably mature plants to harvest each week.
Romain lettuce will grow well without any stakes or trellises. The recommended pH-value is 6.0 – 7.0 which is slightly acidic to neutral.
Spinach grows best in hydroponic systems where the nutrient solution is kept highly oxygenated, such as NFT.
From seed to harvest takes around 40 days. The recommended pH-value is 6.0 to 7.5, which means that spinach can be grown in both slightly acidic, neutral, and slightly alkaline conditions.
If you keep the temperature down (65-72 degrees F / 18-22 degrees C) the spinach will grow slower but the taste will be sweeter.
If you want to grow green beans in your hydroponic system, we recommend you chose the bushy kind since they are easier to deal with than those who grow taller.
The radish is a root vegetable that is very easy to grow in hydroponics. If you plant seeds, you can expect to see little seedlings within a week.
Radishes do not like hot environments – they prefer when it’s cool. They do not have heavy light requirements. The recommended pH-value is 6.0 – 7.0 which means slightly acidic to neutral.
Avoid if you are a beginner
If you are a beginner, we suggest you stay clear of plants that produce really big and heavy fruit, such as melons, squash, eggplant, and big pumpkin variants. Corn is also a bit tricky to grow in hydroponics and best to avoid when you’re first starting out.
Plants that need a lot of depth to root properly can definitely be grown in hydroponics, but it is a bit more complicated and required more space and support, so we don’t recommend it for beginners. Potatoes, turnips, carrots, and similar are best saved for later when you have more experience.
Decide in advance how much effort you want to put into pollination, before you select plants for your hydroponic set up. Unless you have the right pollinating animals inside your set up, you will need to hand pollinate if you plant something that rely on animal pollination to bear fruit. You have several options here. A.) Chose plants where you don’t care if they fruit because you’re interested in using some other part of the plant, e.g lettuce or ornamental flowers. B.) Chose plants that don’t rely on animals for pollination. C.) Learn how to hand pollinate and do that.