What’s the difference between hydroponic and soil gardening?

by RightFit Gardens | Last Updated: September 26, 2021

Hydroponic gardening is simply the growing of plants without soil. Yes, you read that correctly: hydroponic gardens grow plants in a nutrient solution or static solution culture. While it needs a little more technical knowledge, it can save home gardeners and commercial growers a lot of time and produce healthy plants. Let’s look at the distinct advantage and disadvantages of both hydroponic gardening and soil gardening to see which is ideal for you.


hydroponic gardeningHydroponic plant growth is supported by a growth medium like coconut fiber or coconut coir pith and receives nutrition from an oxygenated water solution containing plant food. Hydroponic installations can be extremely diverse. Some techniques, like the wick system and nutrient film technique, are simple, while others, like the aeroponic systems, use a more complex misting mechanism to nourish root systems.

Advantage: Hydroponic gardens require little upkeep over time.

Hydroponic gardening has the advantage of being a low-maintenance choice in the long run. Hydroponic farming will require fewer resources and effort over time. To begin with, you won’t have to bother with insects or insecticides. Hydroponic gardens do not attract as many bugs as soil because it requires water. You won’t have to waste time pulling weeds out in soilless cultivation. Traditional soil gardening, on the other hand, is prone to weeds competing for root space. Hydroponics gardens are a very eco-friendly approach to maintaining large yields while lowering your environmental impact.

Soilless systems consume less water as well. How is this possible if the growing medium is nutrient-rich water? Although this technology immerses plant roots in hydroponic nutrient solutions for vegetative growth, it can save up to ten times the amount of water. Roots just take what they need in terms of water and essential nutrients, thus this is a very effective strategy that promotes a faster growth rate of healthy plants in ideal conditions.

Plants cultivated in controlled conditions have higher absorption of nutrients or nutrient uptake than plants grown with the aid of soil. The majority of the water in the soil is absorbed by the growth medium and dissipated. Because the outer cells of roots have enlarged for oxygen levels, your plant will not acquire root rot. To reduce shock, it’s recommended to use cuttings rather than moving a plant from the ground. If you’ve ever placed a sick plant next to a healthy one, you’ll see that the ill plant continues to deteriorate while the healthy plant remains unaffected.

Finally, hydroponic farming is perfect for growers with a limited area thru vertical farming. As roots develop, gardening in soil takes up a lot of space as a growing medium. Terrestrial plants are kept in hydroponic containers of nutrient solution, which can be stacked vertically. Lettuce, peppers, and herbs are examples of hydroponic veggies; anything small and leafy would work.

Disadvantage: Hydroponic gardens are time-consuming and costly to set up.

A hydroponic system can take some time to get up and running. You’ll need a reservoir of nutrient solution, an air pump to provide additional oxygen levels to your aeroponic plants, a water pump to transport water into the plant, the right flow rate and a medium to hold the plants if you create your own hydroponic system. There are six different hydroponic methods, so it may take some time to locate your perfect arrangement. Because large outdoor plant roots might restrict water flow, most hydroponic systems are best suited for tiny vegetables.

Hydroponic farms can be quite costly. With the exception of the fish, the beginning expenses for hydroponics and aquaponics systems are very similar. A hydroponic systems kit can range in price from $100 to $1,000. You’ll need tanks and pumps even if you’re building it yourself. You’ll also need chemical nutrients for your mineral nutrient solutions, as well as materials to evaluate the pH of the hydroponic solutions. Nutrient toxicity is a typical problem with hydroponic vegetables, thus it may take some time to figure out the best nutrient levels, oxygen saturation, and pH levels. The plant will be unable to absorb some elements if the pH of the nutrient solution is too acidic or alkaline, resulting in nutrient deficiency.


Soil is used in traditional farming to keep plants anchored against the weather and to deliver essential nutrients. When you think of plants, this is most certainly what comes to mind. Soil is a mixture of minerals and organic stuff by definition. Garden soil is a mix of topsoil, compost, and other organic materials used in a  garden bed. Perlite or vermiculite may be added to potting mix soil for better drainage in containers.

Advantage: Soil is widely available.

The fundamental advantage of dirt is its accessibility. Garden and potting mixtures are affordable and readily available at most nurseries. Because soil is not as complex as hydroponic solutions, it is also simple to use for new gardeners. All you need for soil is water, carbon dioxide, chemical fertilizers, and sunlight. While you may require the use of a tool from time to time, you will not be required to purchase any technical components. Root vegetables with spread-out roots, such as turnips and onions, benefit from plenty of soil.

Many organisms can be found in soil. However, not all critters that prefer dirt are hazardous. Many are beneficial to plants. Pollination is aided by bees, for example. Earthworms are also beneficial since they reside in the dirt, as they aerate plant roots and convert organic debris into fertilizing castings.

Disadvantage: Soil gardening needs a lot of effort.

Over time, soil cultivations require more effort than a hydroponic method. Because soil has a lesser concentration of nutrients, roots must grow longer to find continuous nutrient supply for the growth of plants. During the growing season, you’ll need to water, add organic fertilizers, and pull weeds on a regular basis. Traditional fertilizer methods can result in high concentrations of nitrate within plant tissue at harvest.

Dirt can get messy, so cleaning is also something to think about. Soil also necessitates extra space, which many individuals with small apartments lack. Another disadvantage of soil is that it can attract gnats, mealybugs, aphids, and other insects that can harm leaves. Fungi that cause plant illnesses may find it easy to thrive in waterlogged soil. Pest control and fungus control will take time and effort.

If you’re new to gardening or prefer working with dirt, a traditional garden may be the correct choice for you. If you’re a long-time gardener looking to branch out, hydroponic farms are an intriguing new frontier for an indoor garden. It will save you space, time, and labor in the long run while providing you with gorgeous foliage and food to enjoy and consume.