Hydroponic Herb Gardening: An Easy Introduction To Hydroponics

Why hydroponic herb gardening?

Hydroponic herb gardening is a natural entry point into the world of hydroponics. Herbs are a great starting point because they are generally hardy, grow quickly, and can flourish in smaller spaces—making them perfect candidates for hydroponics.

The Incredible Benefits

Let’s delve into some of the compelling reasons why you might consider starting your hydroponic herb garden.


One of the biggest advantages is the space you’ll save. Traditional gardening requires ample land, but with hydroponics, even a small apartment balcony or windowsill can become your herb haven. That means that an entire garden can thrive in a corner of your kitchen.

Accelerated growth

Then there’s the growth rate. Under the proper conditions, your basil and parsley can nearly double in size in half the time it would take in soil.

Water conservation

It might sound counterintuitive, but hydroponic systems use significantly less water than traditional gardening. The closed-loop systems recycle water, ensuring minimal waste.

No soil-related issues

Bid farewell to pests, weeds, and soil-borne diseases. Your hydroponic herbs will be free from these common issues, making the gardening experience smoother.

Potential Challenges of Hydroponic Herb Gardening

But, as with all things, there are challenges to consider before diving in headfirst.

Initial setup costs

Starting a hydroponic system might require a bit of investment upfront. Whether it’s purchasing grow lights, reservoirs, or the nutrient solution, the initial costs can add up.

Technical know-how

There’s a learning curve. Balancing nutrient solutions, and ensuring proper light exposure are a couple of things you will have to understand. But they are not too different from what is required for soil-based gardening and once you get the hang of it, it’s like second nature.

Power failures and vulnerabilities

Your plants rely on the continuous functioning of the system. Power failures can halt water pumps, causing potential damage to your garden but there are other techniques such as the Kratky Method which reduce or eliminate reliance on power sources.

Getting Started with Hydroponic Herb Gardening: Suggestions & Examples

Here are some suggestions and examples to help you get started.

Plant selections for hydroponic herb gardening

While many plants can be grown hydroponically, some herbs are better suited to this method than others. Here’s a list of herbs and the reasons for their ease or difficulty in hydroponic systems:

Easy to Grow Hydroponically:

Basil (Ocimum basilicum)

Basil thrives in hydroponic systems, growing faster than in soil. It requires consistent moisture, which hydroponics provides. Its roots develop rapidly in water, ensuring a healthy plant.

Lettuce (Lactuca sativa)

Although not an herb in the traditional sense, many people grow and use lettuce similarly. It has a short growth cycle and does very well in water-based systems, especially deep water culture (DWC).

Mint (Mentha spp.)

Mint’s vigorous growth habit makes it well-suited for hydroponic systems. It also benefits from the consistent moisture, growing lush and aromatic.

Cilantro (Coriandrum sativum)

Cilantro grows relatively quickly and can benefit from the steady nutrient supply in a hydroponic system. The consistent water can also help reduce bolting (premature flowering).

Chives (Allium schoenoprasum)

Chives are hardy and can adapt well to a variety of growing conditions, including hydroponics. They have straightforward nutrient requirements and grow steadily in water culture.

Difficult to Grow Hydroponically:

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)

Rosemary is a Mediterranean herb that prefers well-draining soil and can be susceptible to root rot in constantly wet conditions, like in some hydroponic setups.

Lavender (Lavandula spp.)

Similar to rosemary, lavender thrives in well-draining soil with conditions that mimic the Mediterranean. Too much moisture can lead to root rot and other issues.

Oregano (Origanum vulgare)

While it’s possible to grow oregano hydroponically, it tends to prefer soil-based growth. Like other Mediterranean herbs, it’s accustomed to drier conditions and might not flourish in constantly moist environments.

Sage (Salvia officinalis)

Sage, yet another Mediterranean herb, prefers less frequent watering and well-draining soil. In hydroponic systems, especially those that are water-intensive, sage might struggle and be more susceptible to diseases.

Thyme (Thymus vulgaris)

Thyme has a delicate root system that can be prone to diseases in constantly wet conditions. It also prefers the drier conditions of its native Mediterranean environment.

It’s worth noting that with proper care, monitoring, and adjustments to the hydroponic system (like using ebb and flow or wick systems that aren’t constantly wet), many “difficult” herbs can still be grown successfully. However, the aforementioned herbs are generally considered easier or more challenging based on common hydroponic practices.

Start with basil, lettuce, chives, mint, or cilantro. These are beginner-friendly and yield great results.

DIY vs. purchasing a ready-made system

For the hands-on folks, creating a DIY system can be rewarding. However, if you’re looking for convenience, numerous ready-made systems are available in the market.

Examples of hydroponic herb gardening systems

From nutrient film techniques to deep water culture, there’s a range of systems to explore. You can start with a simple wick or Kratky system and then venture into more complex setups after you get the hang of it.

Embracing the hydroponic revolution

Hydroponic herb gardens are more than just a trend; they’re a testament to innovative and sustainable farming. While challenges exist, the benefits are compelling. As enthusiasts, it’s our job to unlock its full potential. So, are you ready to join the revolution?

Frequently Asked Questions

Can any herb be grown hydroponically?

While most herbs can be grown hydroponically, some are easier to manage than others. Start with the basics and then experiment.

How often should I change the nutrient solution?

Typically, every 2-3 weeks. But always monitor your plants for any signs of nutrient deficiency.

Is it expensive to maintain a hydroponic herb gardening system?

After the initial setup, maintenance costs are relatively low, especially when considering water conservation and increased growth rates.

Do I need special lights for my indoor hydroponic herb gardening system?

While natural light is best, grow lights can supplement or replace sunlight, especially during winter months.

Can I mix different herbs in one hydroponic system?

Absolutely! Just ensure they have similar growth rates and nutrient needs.

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Jim Gomes

I have been fascinated with gardening and growing plants of all types. My parents and grandparents had green thumbs and grew all types of flowers, fruits and vegetables. I have always followed the "old ways" practiced by them and to the maximum extent possible have tried to avoid the use of chemicals in my garden. I hope to be able to help others to do the same.

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