Best hydroponic plants provide a practical and rewarding way to grow fresh produce indoors and out of season. Whether you’re new to hydroponics or an experienced grower, this guide will highlight low-effort options as well as high-yield crops for maximum productivity in your indoor system.
Some of our favorite picks include Swiss chard, bok choy, and peppers for the vegetable garden plus fresh herbs like basil, thyme, and dill and we’ll also discuss factors like light and nutrient requirements, difficulties, and tips for success with each plant. So if you’re looking to expand your collection of hydroponic beauties or just starting out, you’ll find inspiration and practical recommendations here to cultivate an indoor garden you’ll love!
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Best Hydroponic Plant Buddies for Your LED-Lit Green Oasis
1. Butterhead Lettuce
Butterhead lettuce is a perfect hydroponic plant for beginners. It grows rapidly hydroponically with water culture or nutrient film technique. Plant seedlings or start from seed in summer or spring for a crop in six to eight weeks. Butterhead lettuce thrives in full sun and moist but well-drained fertile soil with regular nutrient solution.
Space plants 8 to 12 inches apart for optimum growth. Common issues include slugs feeding on foliage and aphids transmitting viruses. Hand-pick slugs and control aphids with insecticidal soap sprays. Butterhead lettuce provides an abundant harvest of deliciously tender leaves with their characteristic soft “butterhead” shape. Their rapid growth indoors under grow lights make them an excellent choice for urban growers and aspiring hydroponic gardeners.
Basil is one of the most popular herbs for hydroponic growing. Plant seedlings or start from seed in spring for a summer crop. Basil thrives when given full sun, warm temperatures between 65 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit and frequent watering with nutrient solution. Space plants 6 to 12 inches apart. Prune stems regularly to promote bushy growth and higher yields.
Basil is prone to aphids and two-spotted spiders mites, which can be controlled with insecticidal sprays. To maximize production, provide the basil with consistent hydroponic conditions and harvest leaves often. The fresh herbs add flavor elements to many summertime staples from caprese salads to pesto and Mediterranean dishes. Basil’s rapid growth and high yields in hydroponic systems make it a favorite plant for indoor gardens.
3. Bok Choy
Bok choy is an easy-to-grow leafy green vegetable that excels when grown hydroponically. Plant seedlings or start from seed in spring and again in autumn for two crops annually. Bok choy thrives with morning sun and afternoon shade as well as cool temperatures and regular watering with nutrient solution. Space plants eight to 12 inches apart. Bok choy is ready to harvest in 45 to 60 days when leaves reach full size.
Prevent issues like aphids and flea beetles with insecticidal soap sprays. Bok choy delivers a delicious, crunchy texture and mild, slightly mustardy flavor. The high yields from hydroponic gardens make bok choy a worthwhile crop for urban farmers and indoor gardening enthusiasts. Their abundant, crinkly leaves provide a bountiful harvest of flavor and nutrients.
Cilantro thrives when grown hydroponically, especially with systems like nutrient film technique and deep water culture. The plant prefers warm temperatures, full sun, and consistent moisture to produce abundantly. Growers can plant seedlings or sow seeds directly into their hydroponic systems in early spring and again in fall for continuous harvests throughout the growing season.
Cilantro plants require careful spacing to optimize yields, with four to six inches between plants allowing for optimum growth and abundant leaf production. Growers should harvest individual exterior leaves as needed instead of complete stems, which promotes further leaf production and higher yields from each plant.
Hydroponic systems help keep cilantro foliage clean and virtually pest-free, eliminating many common pest issues for the herb. The regularly-replaced nutrient solution and sterile environment of hydroponics make pests less likely to take hold. With proper growing conditions and harvesting techniques, a few initial cilantro plants in any hydroponic system can quickly grow to yield an overflowing bounty of fresh leaves and stems for the kitchen.
The fragrant, piquant leaves provide a crucial layer of flavor for Mexican, Indian, and many other global cuisines, making cilantro an invaluable herb for any indoor garden. With just a small year-round harvest of hydroponically-grown cilantro, growers can supply all their culinary and garnishing needs.
5. Swiss Chard
Swiss chard thrives when grown hydroponically in water culture or nutrient film technique. Plant seedlings or start from seed in spring and fall for continuous harvests. Swiss chard prefers partial sun and regular watering with nutrient solution and cooling temperatures between 50 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Space plants 12 to 18 inches apart. Harvest outer leaves or entire plants as needed.
Control occasional slug damage and leaf-mining insects by handpicking and insecticidal soap sprays. Swiss chard grown hydroponically produces abundant ruffled leaves with thick tasty stalks. Use the stems and leaves in salads, stir-fries, casseroles, and braises. With proper care, each initial planting of Swiss chard can grow to yield a generous supply of greens for months to fuel a productive indoor garden.
Kale excels in hydroponic systems, especially nutrient film technique. Plant seeds or seedlings in spring for a summer crop. Kale prefers full sun, cool temperatures between 55 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit, and regular watering with a nutrient solution. Space plants 12 to 18 inches apart. Harvest outer leaves and allow the plant to continue producing new growth.
Control occasional aphids and spider mites organically with a thorough cleansing of foliage and insecticidal soaps. Hydroponically grown kale produces an abundant supply of deeply ruffled and coarsely textured dark green leaves high in nutrition. The leaves can be used in countless dishes from salads and stir fries to kale chips. With proper care, each kale plant in your indoor garden can yield leafy greens for months to come.
Peppers thrive when grown hydroponically in systems like nutrient film technique.Transplant seedlings or start from seed in spring. Peppers need full sun, warm temperatures between 70 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit, and high humidity around 60 percent. Space plants one to two feet apart based on variety.
Peppers prefer a nutrient-rich solution with higher phosphorus and potassium levels for optimum fruit production. Control occasional aphids and mites with insecticidal soaps. Properly grown hydroponic peppers produce abundant yields of crisp fruits with concentrated flavors.
Choose multiple varieties from sweet bell peppers to spicy habaneros to create a productive indoor pepper patch. Your hydroponic peppers can increase your harvest by 10 times or more compared to soil.
Tomatoes thrive in hydroponic systems like nutrient film technique and drip irrigation. Transplant seedlings or start from seed in spring for a summer harvest. Tomatoes need full sun, high temperatures around 70 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit, and a constant supply of nutrients. Space plants two and three feet apart based on variety. Hydroponic tomatoes produce higher yields of larger fruits with concentrated flavor.
Control occasional pests like spider mites and tomato hornworms organically using sprays made from garlic and hot pepper. For optimum productivity, provide consistent conditions while removing side shoots and suckers to funnel energy into fruit production. Hydroponically grown tomatoes excel in urban gardens, increasing yields by five times or more compared to in-ground planting.
Cucumbers thrive in many hydroponic systems, especially vertical growing methods. Transplant seedlings in spring for a summer crop. Cucumbers need partial sun, warm temperatures around 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit, and vertical support for vines to climb. Space plants three to four feet apart to allow room for spreading vines. Provide a nutrient-rich solution high in potassium to promote fruit development.
Control occasional pests like whiteflies and cucumber beetles physically or with organic sprays. Hydroponically grown cucumbers produce heavy yields of crispy fruits with fewer seeds and thinner skins. Harvest regularly to promote further fruit production. Ideal for apartment farmers and small spaces, a single cucumber plant can yield dozens of fruits in your indoor garden.
Strawberries thrive when grown vertically hydroponically. Plant runners or crowns in spring. Strawberries need partial sun, cool temperatures between 50 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit, and a trellis for plants to vine upward. Space crowns 12 to 18 inches apart. Provide regular fertilizer to encourage fruit development.
Control occasional spider mites and rootworms physically or with organic treatments. Hydroponically grown strawberries produce larger fruits with more concentrated flavor compared to in-ground planting. Harvest fruits regularly to promote further flowering and fruit sets. Indoor strawberry patches enable year-round berry production, yielding an abundant harvest even from a small space in your hydroponic system.
Thyme thrives when grown hydroponically, especially in systems like Dutch buckets. Plant cuttings or start from seed in spring for a summer harvest. Thyme needs full sun, consistently warm temperatures between 65 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit, and a well-draining growth medium.
Space plants 6 to12 inches apart for optimum growth. Harvest stems as needed and stems will resprout. Rinse plants thoroughly monthly to promote health. Hydroponically grown thyme produces an abundant supply of fragrant leaves high in flavor.
The leaves can be added fresh or dried to numerous recipes where a savory herb is needed. For urban farmers and small-space gardeners, a few thyme plants in your indoor garden can yield an ample supply of this versatile herb all year round.
Mint excels when grown hydroponically, particularly in systems like ebb and flow that flood plants’ roots with nutrient-rich water on a set cycle.
Plant stem cuttings or root divisions of mint plants in spring for a summer harvest. Mint needs partial sun and cool temperatures around 60 degrees Fahrenheit to thrive. Space mint plants 10 to 12 inches apart to allow for ample growth. Fertilize regularly, every one to two weeks, with a balanced nutrient solution to encourage bushy growth and lush foliage.
Mint shows little to no issues with pests when grown hydroponically due to the replacement of nutrient solution on a regular basis. The fresh solution also washes away any eggs or larvae before they can hatch and damage plants.
The leaves of hydroponic mint provide a sweet aroma and flavor that can be used fresh or dried in beverages, culinary recipes, and herbal products. With little effort, a modest initial planting of mint in your indoor hydroponic system can quickly grow to become a bountiful crop that provides ample harvesting of leaves throughout the summer season.
The ability to precisely control nutrients, temperatures and light exposure allows mint to thrive year-round in artificial environments. With the right conditions, the hydroponic mint produces high yields of foliage that enhance recipes, beverages, and aromatherapy products.
Dill thrives when grown hydroponically in systems like deep water culture. Sow seeds directly indoors in spring. Dill needs full sun and consistent fertilizing with a balanced solution. Provide cool temperatures between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit for optimum growth. Space plants 6 to 12 inches apart. Harvest leaves and stems as needed and new growth will sprout.
Hydroponic dill has few pest issues due to regularly replaced nutrient solution. The feathery leaves and hollow stems provide a fresh, licorice-like flavor essential for dishes like spreads, pickles, and dumplings. With minimal effort, dill grown in your indoor garden can quickly become a thriving hydroponic crop that provides an abundant harvest of aromatic leaves throughout the growing season.
Oregano thrives when grown hydroponically, especially in systems like deep water culture. Plant cuttings or divide rooted sections in spring. Oregano needs full sun, consistently warm temperatures between 70 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit, and a freely draining medium. Space plants 8 to 12 inches apart for maximum growth. Fertilize regularly with a balanced solution to encourage bushiness.
Hydroponic oregano shows little to no issues with pests due to replacement nutrient solutions. The leaves provide a pungent herb essential for Mediterranean and Latin American dishes. With minimal effort, a modest initial planting in your indoor garden can quickly grow to yield a bountiful crop of robust oregano.
Parsley excels when grown hydroponically in nutrient film technique. Sow seeds directly in the medium in spring. Parsley needs partial sun and cool temperatures between 45 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit to thrive. Space plants 8 to 12 inches apart, and fertilize regularly with a standard balanced solution. Hydroponic parsley has a few pest issues due to the replacement of nutrient solution.
The leaves provide an herbaceous flavor essential for Mediterranean, Latin, and Middle Eastern recipes. With little maintenance, parsley grown in your indoor garden can quickly produce an abundant harvest ideal for year-round garnishing and seasoning in recipes. The curly leaf parsley variety yields the most flavorful leaves for your kitchen.
Arugula thrives when grown hydroponically using systems like nutrient film technique that provide a constant supply of water and nutrients. Sow arugula seeds directly into the hydroponic system in spring and again in autumn for a year-round harvest. Arugula prefers partial sun and temperatures between 45 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit for optimal growth.
Regular fertilizing is needed to replenish nutrients in hydroponic systems. Fertilize every two weeks to encourage leaf formation and reduce bitterness. Space arugula plants around four to six inches apart and harvest outer leaves as needed for multiple crops throughout the season. Letting some plants flower will replenish seeds for future plantings.
Arugula shows very few pest issues when grown hydroponically due to the replacement of nutrient solution on a regular basis. Harvesting leaves before pests can become established further reduces risks. The slightly peppery taste of arugula leaves provides interesting texture and flavor that makes them ideal for salads, sandwiches, and as an herb.
With little effort, arugula grown in your indoor hydroponic system can quickly become an abundant crop that provides a harvest of tasty leaves throughout most of the year. The ability to precisely control nutrients, temperatures and sun exposure allows arugula to thrive year-round in such environments. With the right conditions, hydroponic arugula produces high yields of tasty leaves that add flavor and nutrition to meals.
Radishes thrive when grown hydroponically in systems like deep water culture. Sow seeds directly in spring and again in autumn for two crops. Radishes need full sun and cool temperatures between 45 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit to grow quickly. Space plants one to two inches apart and rotate roots regularly for even development. Fertilize weekly with a balanced solution.
Control occasional root maggots by netting or insecticidal soaps. Hydroponically grown radishes produce an abundant harvest of crisp roots in as little as 20 days. Choose from multiple cultivars from daikon to French breakfast. With little effort, radishes grown in your indoor garden can quickly become an abundant hydroponic crop that provides a harvest of fresh roots throughout the season.
Microgreens thrive when grown hydroponically, especially in systems like the ebb and flow trays. Sow seeds directly in the medium in spring and again in autumn for continuous harvests. Microgreens prefer partial sun, warm temperatures between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit, and regular watering. Thin seedlings as needed for optimal growth.
Hydroponic microgreens show very few pest issues due to the replacement of nutrient solutions. The tender, flavorful young leaves provide a nutritional powerhouse ideal for garnishing and adding texture to dishes. With little effort, microgreens grown in your indoor garden can quickly become an abundant hydroponic crop that provides a harvest of fresh greens throughout the season.
There are many easy-to-grow and productive hydroponic plants for indoor gardens, from leafy greens to herbs and even some fruiting vegetables, and with proper care and optimal conditions, even beginners can achieve success and bountiful harvests.
- Swiss chard thrives when grown hydroponically in water culture or nutrient film technique.
- Kale excels in hydroponic systems, especially the nutrient film technique.
- Bok choy is an easy-to-grow leafy green vegetable that excels when grown hydroponically.
So fill your indoor garden with the crops you love most: colorful salad greens, tender herbs, and crisp vegetables. Sample their sweet fruit and the bounty of optimizing growing conditions, nutrients, and care.