Grow Your Own Food! 5 Best Hydroponic Plants For Beginners

The joy of picking and harvesting veggies and herbs that you grow yourself is akin to very few things in life. You’re also guaranteed to avoid toxic chemicals and other factors that are inevitable when consuming store-bought produce. In this article, you’ll learn what the best hydroponic plants are, what you’ll need to get your system set up, and how to grow your own produce from seed.

Herbs and vegetables are phenomenal when grown with hydroponic setups. For those who need to save on space or long-term costs, the ideal solution is to choose to set up a hydroponic system for growing fresh produce.

What You Will Need to Grow the Best Hydroponic Plants

Basic Hydroponics Equipment

AeroGarden Harvest XL

Can growing your own food get any easier when you can do it right on your kitchen counter? This bundle even already comes with 18 seed pods so you can start growing right away!

Best Hydroponic Plants Growing Medium

5 Best Hydroponic Plants For Beginners

While there are countless vegetables and herbs you can choose for your hydroponic system, it’s always best to start with the basics when you first begin your journey. Here are 5 of the best hydroponic plants that are both simple to grow and plentiful to harvest.

1. Lettuce

For beginners, lettuce is high on the list of easy veggies and is one of the best hydroponic plants you can grow for eating. Basic nutrients are needed to keep these plants thriving, and their growth cycle will allow you to harvest in no time!

  • When to Harvest: 4 to 12 weeks, depending on the variety
  • Fertilizer / Nutrient Solution: Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P), Potassium (K), Calcium (Ca), Magnesium (Mg), Sulfur (S), and other minerals which are required for healthy growth. Some products you can use include Botanicare KIND, Fox Farm Nutrient Trio, and Dyna-Gro Liquid Plant Food
  • PH Balance: 5.5 to 6.0

How To Grow From Seed

Begin by immersing the seeds in water for 24 to 48 hours to speed up the germination process. Place the sprouted seeds in a propagation tray or a netted pot filled with a growing medium like perlite or rock wool. Put the propagation tray in a well-lit area, or use LED grow lights to generate artificial light.

Lettuce requires as much as 12 hours of light per day to grow properly. Once the lettuce has germinated and begun to grow, move your seedlings to your hydroponic setup and make sure to fully submerge the roots in your nutrient solution. 

Every 12 to 14 days, you should drain the water from your system and remix your nutrient solution. Generally, you’ll want 800 – 1500 ppm (parts per million). This is measured with your EC meter, making your life uncomplicated.

Maintain an adequate nutrient supply that contains all of the macro and micronutrients required for optimal growth, and watch them grow!

2. Spinach

High in fiber and nutrients, spinach is a favorite amongst beginner and expert hydroponic growers because of the low-maintenance and quick growth cycle, from seed to harvest.

How To Grow From Seed

Begin by sprouting the spinach seeds in a propagation container that has been wet with seed starting mix or a paper towel. Place the container somewhere warm and dark until the seeds germinate and sprout.

Once your seeds have germinated and have started forming their first few leaves, you can start prepping your hydroponics setup. Load your hydroponic system with spinach-specific growing material, such as rock wool or coconut coir. Remove the spinach seedlings from the germination container and carefully transfer them into the hydroponic systems, making sure to submerge the roots fully in your nutrient solution. 

Your nutrient solution should measure between 800 – 1500 parts per million (ppm). A good practice is to drain and remix your water and nutrient supply every 7 to 12 days. For measuring your nutrient’s ppm, an EC/PPM meter is used.

Maintain a balanced nutrient supply and watch them grow right before your eyes, and then harvest when ready!

3. Strawberries

Beautiful and packed full of nutrients and flavor, strawberries are among the best hydroponic plants to grow for beginners and experts alike! Easy to propagate from a single plant as well as grown from seed, these delicious fruits can be multiplied to your heart’s desire.

How To Grow From Seed

Hydroponic strawberries can be produced from seeds. However, runners or young plants are more commonly used. Select strawberry seeds that are suitable for hydroponic cultivation (non-hybrid seed varieties). Wet the growing medium in a germination container and then sow 2-3 seeds per cube, lightly pressing them into the medium.

Cover the container with a lid to create a humid atmosphere for the seeds to germinate. Place the container somewhere warm and out of direct sunshine. Monitor the seeds regularly and remove the plastic cover as the seedlings start to emerge in 7-14 days.

Transplant the seedlings into your hydroponic system once they have a few leaves formed, fully submerging the roots in your nutrient solution. A good rule of thumb is to keep your nutrient supply balanced between 500 – 600 ppm (parts per million) by using your EC meter to measure the levels. During the early stages of growth, you can keep the nutrient levels between 800 – 900 ppm for fast and healthy growth. Drain and remix your water and nutrient solutions every 9 – 14 days for optimal growing conditions.

Maintain a balanced nutrient supply as your strawberries grow. When harvest time comes, enjoy the self-grown bounty!

4. Peppers

From store-bought peppers to seed packets, peppers of all varieties are one of the easiest plants to grow for consumption. Because of the low maintenance and high yield of fruit, this amazing plant is a must-have for your hydroponic set-up.

How To Grow From Seed

Fill a small seedling tray or propagation container with a seed-starting mix or a hydroponic growing medium, such as rock wool cubes, and the pepper variety you want to plant. Plant your pepper seeds following the package directions. Water the seeds carefully after covering them with a thin layer of growth material.

Put the seed tray somewhere warm and well-lit, like a windowsill or beneath grow lights. Keep the growth medium moist but not soggy and avoid letting the growth medium totally dry up or become too soggy. Transplant the seedlings into a hydroponic system once they have emerged and formed a set of genuine leaves.

By using your EC/PPM meter, you can ensure your nutrient solution stays between 400 – 700 ppm (parts per million) for adequate growth through its life cycle. Every 7 – 14 days, it’s best to drain and remix your water and nutrient solution to keep your pepper roots healthy and thriving.

Ensure your nutrient supply is well-maintained while enjoying the process of watching them grow.

5. Tomatoes

These versatile little vegetables are both beautiful and highly nutritious. For beginners and experts, tomatoes are almost essential for your hydroponic system because of the wide range of use in the kitchen.

How To Grow From Seed

Begin with good-quality seeds designed exclusively for hydroponic systems. Germinate the seeds by using a germination tray or a hydroponic propagation kit. Lightly place the seeds in your growing medium and then add a thin layer over them. Place in a warm and humid location like a window but out of direct sunlight. Keep your growing medium damp, but not soggy while preventing it from drying out.

Once the tomato seedlings are about 2-3 inches tall, place them in net cups filled with a hydroponic growing medium. Then put the net cups with your tomato seedlings into the hydroponic system, making sure the roots are completely submerged in the nutrient solution. For hydroponic tomatoes, keep your nutrient solutions between 1000 – 1500 ppm (parts per million) using your EC/PPM meter to measure the levels.

The Bottom Line

It all starts with setting up your hydroponic system. And while this may seem a little overwhelming in the beginning, this form of gardening has become highly popular for beginners. You save space, money, and time in the long run while still producing enough food to feed yourself and your family.

Learning to garden and grow your own food is not just a trend anymore, as many people are realizing they need to take power back into their hands and ensure their own food safety. Plus, there’s nothing like eating freshly picked vegetables and herbs. And what better way to provide yourself with guaranteed produce than growing it at home?

From Garden to Table and Table to Garden

We have what you need to start growing your own food indoors or outdoors, as well as turning your food scraps into your own organic fertilizer.

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