Using hydroponics as a growing medium allows you to grow plants without soil, but what else is possible? To establish a successful hydroponic garden, choosing the right plants is essential.
A hydroponic system can grow almost anything, but compact plants like greens do best. Lettuce, greens, tomatoes, strawberries, and peppers are some of the vegetables normally grown hydroponically. Unlike seeds, soil-grown plants have extensive roots, vining, or tall crops such as corn. The type of system and the amount of space you have determine the crops you can grow hydroponically. Your experience level is also important. Let’s learn more.
Is it possible to grow any plant hydroponically?
Growers who have little or no outdoor gardening space or live in cold climates may use hydroponics, a technique for soilless gardening. With the right conditions, including grow lights, nutrient-rich water, and oxygen, almost any plant species can be grown indoors all year long.
When the hydroponics system is maintained at optimal conditions, no matter what the weather outside is like, plants will thrive. Hydroponically growing almost any kind of plant isn’t necessarily a good idea. The effort and time it takes certain crops to grow hydroponically may not be worth it. Growing hydroponically is all about maximizing yield in smaller spaces and growing faster than traditional gardening methods. The goal of hydroponic farming is space efficiency, so you’ll want to choose plants that support this.
Taking corn as an example, consider how it grows. You must ensure you have enough vertical space for corn stalks to grow tall for them to flourish. You will only be able to grow one ear of corn per plant, even with so much space.
So, although, technically speaking, any plant can grow hydroponically, compact plants with shorter growing seasons are a better option than those that take over the entire space and take a long time to produce fruit.
Can you grow anything with hydroponics?
Hydroponic gardening is not that different from traditional gardening. Plants aren’t limited by dirt or soil – they can grow without soil. Natural light, water, and nutrients are essential for vegetative growth, and a hydroponic system ensures that they are all correctly supplied. We have an interesting complete article that compares growing in hydroponics vs. soil as well.
Hydroponically grown plants get nutrients from the nutrient solution in which their roots are growing. As long as all the necessary needs that are absent without soil are met, plants can grow without soil. Hydroponics offers the possibility of growing virtually anything.
There are different types of plants, but all of them require similar things. Plants should thrive in hydroponic systems as long as they meet all the prerequisites. Feasibility, however, is another story.
Hydroponic production is an option for commercial growers based on investment and crop yields. The shortest-season, compact hydroponic crops are easier to maintain, so you should start with them if you’re new to hydroponics.
From the start, you are more likely to be discouraged by a complex system. For experienced growers, the possibilities are endless if you are willing to experiment with different species. Even fruit trees have been grown by those with hydroponic gardening experience.
What types of plants can be grown using hydroponics?
As already mentioned, hydroponically growing almost anything is possible. Certain types of plants are more easily grown in hydroponics than others. Your choice of the system also matters. Hydroponic systems can be configured for various plants.
Although many techniques exist, they can be broadly divided into two types. Let’s see what plants are better suited for the two types:
Plants grown directly in nutrient solutions are known as solution systems. Aeroponics, Deep Water Culture Systems, and Nutrient Film Technique are examples of these systems. Don’t grow heavier crops in these systems since the plants aren’t anchored to a strong base. Plants with shallow roots and shorter growing seasons usually do well with them.
You can use solution culture systems for growing the following plants:
These systems use gravel, coconut fiber or sand as a growing medium, like Ebb & Flow and Wick systems. With these systems, you can grow somewhat heavier vegetable crops because there’s some medium at the base to provide support. Such systems are generally best suited to those with deep plant roots or heavy top growth. In medium culture systems, try growing the following crops:
What are the best hydroponic vegetables to grow?
You can grow almost any vegetable hydroponically. However, the most popular ones are:
To grow cucumbers vertically, you’ll need trellising and plenty of garden space.
What crops can you grow with hydroponics?
Some crops are ideal for hydroponic growing, and others that won’t. Choose the crop variety wisely if you want your hydroponics garden to be successful. You will also need to consider the ample light and ideal temperatures you can provide, in addition to the type of hydroponic system and the type of space you have.
Brassica family crops, fresh herbs and lettuce can be grown via hydroponic cultivation all year round. Swiss chard and other leafy greens are also good indoor plants to grow all through the year hydroponically. However, the system will need to be set up indoors for the winters, and artificial lighting will be provided. Make sure you pick varieties from seed companies that have a reputation for thriving hydroponically.
Hydroponically grown crops typically produce their best when they are raised outdoors in the summer. Even though they will also develop artificial lighting and heating, it will be expensive. In the spring and summer, you can grow tomatoes, strawberries and cucumbers hydroponically outdoors. Choosing container-friendly varieties is essential.
What can’t be grown in hydroponics?
Some crops do better in soil. Hydroponic plants can survive but typically will not yield an impressive harvest. When growing hydroponically, you should avoid the following crops:
Traditional soil farming is best for growing root crops such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, turnips, onions, and garlic. When immersed in nutrient-rich solutions rather than soil, the vegetables create edible parts below the surface.
The cost of producing larger plants, such as squash and melons, isn’t worth the effort. Experimental hydroponic growers can try growing these. However, they will need plenty of room and a system to maintain a heavy plant in a hydroponic setting. You should avoid fruit and nut trees, shrub-type plants, corn, squash, and melons if you’re a beginner or growing commercially.