A Hydroponic herb garden addresses the problem that every plant enthusiast with no outdoor planting space faces. This modern way of gardening has attracted attention from gardeners and growers alike. Because you can control every variable to ensure optimal plant growth and avoid taking up too much space, this type of indoor gardening has become an appealing option for most gardeners. With fresh herbs available right at your fingertips all year round, who wouldn’t want to try their hand at hydroponic gardening?
If you’re unsure what exactly a hydroponic garden is or how it works, don’t worry. We’ll address what you need to know in this article. In short, hydroponics is a cultivation method that forgoes soil and instead uses water to deliver nutrients to plants. Gravel, pebbles, or clay typically provide physical support for plants. Nutrient solutions and other supplements mix in with the water. Gardeners must take caution when it comes to the pH level, as the water must have the right balance before being circulated by an electric pump or a wicking system.
Soil causes plants to expend more energy when gathering nutrients and provides a higher risk for soil-based diseases and infestations. With a hydroponic system, nutrients are more accessible, making it easier for plants to concentrate their energy on growing leafy greens and flowers instead.
If you’re interested in hydroponic herb gardens and having fresh herbs all year round, then check out this ultimate guide to setting up and caring for one.
Benefits of a Hydroponic Herb Garden
Grow Plants Faster
The growing rate of plants in a hydroponic setup is 30-50% faster than plants in soil. With hydroponic herb gardening, you can maximize the growth of your plants to their fullest potential. The quicker they grow, the more they provide. Since the hydroponic method allows you to control the environment, you can also ensure that they grow larger and healthier in an optimal setting.
Save More Water
Hydroponic gardens typically require only 10% water for growth. Plants grown in traditional fields need up to 80% water to do this. If water conservation is important to you, you might want to consider going down the hydroponic route. With this system in place, water gets reused. The herbs absorb the exact amount of water that they need while the run-off gets sent back to the system.
Water loss can only happen in two ways一through evaporation or system leaks. With the hydroponic method, you can grow high-quality herbs and vegetables and conserve water simultaneously.
Fewer Pests and Diseases
Because hydroponic herb gardens eliminate the need for soil, you also reduce the risk of animals such as groundhogs and gophers ruining your garden. You also remove the threat of soil-based diseases such as Fusarium, Pythium, Rhizoctonia species, root rot, and more. With an indoor garden free of soil, you have more control over the variables that can benefit and harm your plants.
Hydroponic Herb Garden Control pH Level
Using water instead of soil enables you to control the pH levels more efficiently. You can therefore manage the number of nutrients your plants soak up from the water mix you use. Doing so ensures optimal plant growth and provides you with healthier herbs and better produce.
Improve the quality and taste of your herbs. Because you don’t depend on soil to get nutrients to your plants, your herbs get to grow in a controlled environment without pesticides or herbicides.
Plants that are grown hydroponically retain more nutrition compared to those found in grocery stores. The nutritional value of herbs tends to decrease as soon as you harvest them. Since you grow your garden near you, you can easily snip some and incorporate the freshest herbs into your meal.
Ensure that your herbs and vegetables remain fresh, delicious, and free of dirt and chemicals. Not only will you get to have fresh produce all year long, but you also guarantee the safety of what you put on the table.
You no longer have to worry about not having enough space for gardening. If you live in an urban area with no open fields for traditional gardening, you can easily set up your hydroponic herb garden anywhere you’d like. Whether it’s in your backyard, front yard, or a tiny pocket of space near your window, you can still grow quality herbs without the garden taking too much space.
Hydroponic gardens have been effective in providing remote and isolated areas with food all year round. Weather and soil conditions have no impact since you get to control every variable that affects plant growth. It’s a compact and economical way of growing herbs.
Grow Diverse Herbs
Hydroponic herb gardening allows you to grow a wide variety of herbs. Even if it’s the most obscure herb you’ve ever tried on a trip abroad, you can quickly grow it hydroponically. Easily impress your family and friends with hard to come by herbs. Not only will having your garden reduce your grocery costs, but you can also enjoy infusing, incorporating, and cooking herbs however you want all year round.
How To Set up Your Hydroponic Herb Garden
Choose Your Plants
The plants you want to grow determines the type of hydroponic setup you need. There are different types of hydroponic systems, and some systems work better with specific plants. Once you pick out the kind of plant you want to grow, you can plan for the hydroponic system, along with the space you need for the garden and the type of lighting you’ll use.
Pick Your Hydroponic System
Take the time to learn about the different types of hydroponic systems. While it might seem tedious, having this knowledge helps you decide which system to use specifically for your garden.
Beginners should start small, so they can get accustomed to tending to hydroponic gardens first. Having a smaller garden enables you to learn firsthand and address any issues that might arise. Once you get the hang of it, you can proceed to expand your garden. This method lessens any possibility of getting overwhelmed with learning how to care for numerous plants in a new environment.
Remember to consider your budget, your space, the type of plants you want to grow, and the expected amount of yield when choosing your system.
Get a Light Source for your Hydroponic Herb Garden
The success of anyone’s garden, be it indoor or outdoor, lies in the light. Plants need light for photosynthesis. If you fail to provide a light source for your plants, they’ll grow sickly, or perhaps, not grow at all.
When it comes to indoor gardening, scrimping on your light source might not be the best idea. If there’s anything you want to spend on, it’s proper lighting. Research what light setup will work best with your system and the plants you’ve chosen. Factor in the cost, light intensity, light spectrum, and size of your garden. Try to find the best possible option to give your plants a good chance.
A full spectrum LED grow light works well with most plants. They’re cheap, and you can use them for leafy greens and fruit plants. If you need a non-fussy and effective lighting system, choosing LED grow lights might be the safest option.
Select Your Grow Medium
Indoor gardeners use a grow medium instead of soil to support the plants physically, maximize root growth, and supply nutrients, water, and air. There are different types of grow mediums such as Rockwool, oasis cube, expanded clay, coco chips, perlite, and more. There’s no exact answer as to which type of grow medium will work the best with your setup when it comes to hydroponic gardening.
You must always consider the type of hydroponic system you have and the plant you’re growing. From there, consider cost, water retention, and pH stability. Weighing in on these factors can help you choose the grow medium suitable for your hydroponic herb garden.
If you’re looking for a versatile grow medium that will work well with any plant, check out hydroton expanded clay pebbles.
Buy Hydroponic Nutrients and Supplements
To help indoor herbs grow, gardeners use hydroponic nutrients and supplements as fertilizer. These nutrients typically come in one, two, and three-part systems. It’s better for hydroponic herb garden beginners to use the one-part nutrient solution to learn the basics. Once you have a richer understanding of your plants’ needs, you can opt to use a more advanced supplement.
These supplements provide the three most essential nutrients: nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. The nutrients help your plants grow more robust and less susceptible to diseases.
Acquire a pH Meter
Measuring the pH level is a crucial part of every hydroponic herb garden. Plants absorb nutrients within a specific pH range. To boost plant growth and provide better care, you must continuously check your nutrient solutions’ pH levels. Having an accurate pH reading helps you adjust the optimal level for better absorption of nutrients.
Unlike outdoor gardens, you have the power to adjust and tweak variables in a hydroponic system. You can leverage this by using a pH meter, may it be in the form of a liquid kit, test strips, or electronic meter.
Start Your System
Once you’re done with your research and have all the things you need, it’s now time to set up your hydroponic system. First, you have to put water in your system and let it run. This step helps you catch any leaks. Once you have your water going, it’s time to mix your nutrients. Wait for 15 minutes before you test your solution. Adjust the pH level accordingly.
Lastly, add the plants to your system, then proceed to turn on the lights to help your plants grow. Make sure you monitor and make adjustments for optimal growth.
How To Take Care of Your Hydroponic Herb Garden
Provide Strong Indoor Lighting
As mentioned earlier, the great thing about hydroponic gardens is the flexibility to use grow lights, not limiting photosynthesis to the mere daylight hours. Making use of these lights enables you to grow larger vegetables and lush herbs at a faster rate.
Equipping your hydroponic herb gardenwith dependable artificial light does wonders for your herbs. Intense lighting also affects the taste of your herbs. If you want great leafy herbs that taste incredible, opt for a more robust light setup. It’s an essential element in your garden you must never scrimp on.
Six to eight hours’ worth of light is beneficial when it comes to growing common herbs. Some herbs, however, can thrive on less light, such as parsley, mint, and chives. These types of herbs can grow with less than six hours’ exposure to a light source.
Get the Right Temperature
Temperature plays a crucial role in a hydroponic herb garden. If you want to grow herbs indoors successfully, make sure that the temperature is between 65 and 70 degrees.
Most herbs thrive in warmer temperatures. Sudden temperature drops prove detrimental to plants. Take basil as an example. Basil loses its color and starts to wilt just 24 hours after a drop in temperature. To care for your plants, make sure the room is at a healthy, warm temperature.
If you want to slow down plant growth, you can reduce the temperature to 60 to 65 degrees F. Take note that certain plants go through a dormant phase where they prefer cooler temperatures. This period typically doesn’t last long.
That’s the beauty of indoor gardening. You get to control and maintain the optimal temperature for your plants.
Ensure the Right pH Level
Because you aren’t using any soil, you must ensure that the plants are still getting the right amount of nutrients through water. It can be challenging to find the exact measurements needed. Generally, herbs absorb moderate amounts of water. They can also mature in a small jar filled with water.
However, the size of the jar and the amount of liquid needed can be ambiguous as well. As a rule of thumb, you can opt to use a wide-mouth mason jar and fill it with water. Different herbs might need different amounts of water. However, it should be consistent with most herbs.
Use a pH meter to check your water’s pH level first. Springwater with a pH level of 6 comes highly recommended by most herb experts.
Hydroponic herb gardening means keeping your plants in a vegetative state almost permanently. When your herbs start to put out flowers, you must harvest them and let the plants continue to grow. Herbs tend to lose some of their taste once they begin to “bolt.” Harvesting continuously helps your herbs grow and produce more greens. Don’t be afraid to harvest your herbs when you need them.
Final Thoughts on Hydroponic Herb Garden Setup
Researching plant growth and hydroponics is essential when it comes to starting your hydroponic herb garden. Different hydroponic systems have varying effects on plants. If you want to find a hydroponic system that suits your garden’s needs, you must do your due diligence and read up on every bit of information you can get your hands on.
This type of gardening has a lot of benefits. However, you’ll find that it entails a lot of work as well. For beginners, it’s better to start small. Keep things simple at first when learning about how to maintain your indoor herb garden.
If you’re someone who finds satisfaction in herb gardening and frequently cooks your meals with fresh herbs, hydroponic herb gardening is the way to go. You’ll be able to enjoy fresh herbs at a low cost, no matter the season, and no longer have to settle for dried herbs at the grocery store. Simply snip some off from your garden.
FAQs for Hydroponic Herb Garden Setup
The same way you would take care of an outdoor one. Mind the light, temperature, and water, but in a slightly different way. Because you no longer have to rely on sunlight, you must utilize strong grow lights for your garden.
Maintain a healthy temperature between 65 and 70 degrees. Herbs thrive in warmer climates. You must also ensure that the pH level of your water is at 6. Before you add any nutrient solution to your water, you must first check the pH level using your pH meter. Use the meter to regulate the pH level when needed.
For starters, this type of gardening allows you to have fresh herbs all year round. You get to conserve water, control variables for optimal plant growth, and enjoy better tasting herbs. You no longer have to depend on sunlight to make your garden flourish. You can ensure growth with indoor light, water solution, and a well-built hydroponic system. It’s a much easier way of gardening than the traditional method in which you have to worry about pests and the weather.
When you want to set up a hydroponic herb garden, you must conduct thorough research. Hydroponic systems vary a lot depending on the type of plants you’re growing. You should know which plants work best with what kind of hydroponic system. Once you’ve made your choice, you can proceed to buy indoor lights, a nutrient solution, a grow medium, and a pH meter. Owning these tools ensures the success of your indoor garden.
A hydroponic herb garden enables you to have fresh herbs whenever you need them. You can then add fresh herbs to your meal, elevating the taste and increasing the nutritional value. You can also share the herbs with family and friends. Here are some of the herbs that thrive in this set up:
- Green Mint
- Lemon Balm
- Rose Mary
There are seven different types of grow medium you can use in your indoor garden:
You have to make sure this is pH balanced before using. One of the most commonly used grow mediums, Rockwool, is a porous medium made of rocks.
- Oasis cubes
Unlike Rockwool, you don’t have to presoak oasis cubes. You can use this grow medium for seeds and cuttings. It’s commonly used for germination.
- Expanded clay pebbles
This grow medium is the best choice if you want to invest in your herb garden for the long term. Once you’ve harvested your plants, you can clean and reuse the clay pebbles for your next batch of crops.
- Coco Fiber
Made from coconut husks, this grow medium is steadily becoming more popular among hydroponic growers. It retains moisture well and provides excellent airflow to the roots.
Perlite is a type of volcanic glass that pops when heated. It provides excellent airflow to the roots and better water drainage. Expensive and reusable, most growers mix perlite with vermiculite to produce more outstanding results.
This is a type of mineral rock. Vermiculite works great in retaining moisture. In contrast to perlite, which can’t hold water well, this grow medium retains too much moisture. The high amount of moisture vermiculite retains is often unhealthy for roots. To counteract this, growers often mix vermiculite with perlite.
If you’re growing a more extensive garden, rocks can be the best grow medium for you. Easy to come by and relatively cheap, stones work well with different hydroponic systems. However, you have to mind the heat. The sun or any light source can heat the rocks, raising the temperature of your nutrient solution.