Best Plants To Grow Hydroponically: Proven Veggies, Fruits, Herbs

It’s true that just about anything can be grown with hydroponics. But, some plants grow much better in hydroponic environments than others.

If you’re planning to start a hydroponic garden, you should definitely have a look at our in-depth guide below, before you get started.

Do you know what the best plants to grow hydroponically are? 

The best plants to grow hydroponically include greens such as lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, various berries, including strawberries, and a wide range of herbs. Further, several species of flowers, such as chrysanthemums and carnations are also excellent candidates for hydroponic systems.

Best Plants for Hydroponics

Best Vegetables To Grow Hydroponically

Hydroponic Vegetables Growing in Greenhouse

Vegetables are some of the most popular plants to grow hydroponically, whether for personal consumption or for the market.

Some of the best vegetables to grow in hydroponic systems include:

1. Tomatoes

One of the very best plants to grow with hydroponics is without question hydroponic tomatoes.

Thanks to the high demand from local markets, and the fact that each plant puts out countless fruits, tomatoes top the list of best vegetables to grow hydroponically.

  • Time to first harvest: 6 to 8 weeks
  • Plant height: 6 to 20 feet
  • Growing difficulty: Low
  • Needs pollination when grown indoors?: Yes
  • Better for indoor or outdoor hydroponics?: Both

2. Cucumbers

Second on our list of the best veggies to grow with hydroponics is cucumbers. Another highly marketable plant, and one with nearly as many uses as tomatoes (eaten raw, as pickles, in relish, and more), cucumber plants are quick-growing vegetables that make enormous amounts of produce.

  • Time to first harvest: 6 to 8 weeks
  • Plant height: 6 to 8 feet
  • Growing difficulty: medium
  • Needs pollination when grown indoors?: Yes
  • Better for indoor or outdoor hydroponics?: Both

3. Lettuce

A staple vegetable in most classic gardens, hydroponic lettuce is among the fastest-growing vegetables produced via hydroponics.

It’s a versatile crop, in general, and one with a high market value at farmers’ markets and commercial markets (like local restaurants and grocery stores).

  • Time to first harvest: 3 to 4 weeks
  • Plant height: 6 to 12 inches
  • Growing difficulty: Low
  • Needs pollination when grown indoors?: No
  • Better for indoor or outdoor hydroponics?: Indoor

4. Spinach

Depending on the local market, and your own dietary preferences, spinach can be just as lucrative as lettuce and micro-greens.

It’s also one of the fastest-growing plants that thrive in hydroponic systems and is able to be grown all year.

  • Time to first harvest: 3 to 4 weeks
  • Plant height: 6 inches to 3 feet
  • Growing difficulty: Low
  • Needs pollination when grown indoors?: No
  • Better for indoor or outdoor hydroponics?: Indoor

5. Beans

When it comes to fast-growing vegetables, beans are another type of plant to consider. Not only is there a steady market demand for numerous types of beans, but most bean plants produce a high yield that just keeps coming.

  • Time to first harvest: 6 to 8 weeks
  • Plant height: 10 to 15 feet
  • Growing difficulty: Low
  • Needs pollination when grown indoors?: No
  • Better for indoor or outdoor hydroponics?: Both

Best Fruits for Hydroponics

Hydroponic Strawberries Growing in Rows

Growing fruit hydroponically is extremely profitable and creates a steady supply of extra-tasty fruit for consumption or sale. 

Among the best fruits for hydroponics are:

1. Strawberries

One of the most sought-after fruits in the world, strawberries are used in countless food products and recipes. They are also one of the fastest-growing plants hydroponically.

  • Time to first harvest: As quick as 2 weeks, as long as 3 years
  • Plant height: 6 to 8 inches
  • Growing difficulty: Low
  • Needs pollination when grown indoors?: Yes
  • Better for indoor or outdoor hydroponics?: Indoor

2. Blueberries

A rather tasty fruit that’s a bit rarer to find in grocery stores and other local market places, but happens to be one of the fastest-growing fruits you can grow with hydroponics are blueberries.

  • Time to first harvest: 3 to 5 years
  • Plant height: 6 to 12 feet
  • Growing difficulty: Low
  • Needs pollination when grown indoors?: Yes
  • Better for indoor or outdoor hydroponics?: Indoor

3. Raspberries

One of the tastiest berries that exist, and a sort that comes with a steep price tag in stores and marketplaces is the raspberry.

Used primarily as an ingredient in pies, tea mixes, and muffins, raspberries are also delicious eaten raw.

  • Time to first harvest: 2 to 3 years
  • Plant height: 3 to 6 feet
  • Growing difficulty: Low
  • Needs pollination when grown indoors?: Yes
  • Better for indoor or outdoor hydroponics?: Indoor

4. Watermelon

Perhaps not the first fruit that comes to mind when thinking of plants that are grown in hydroponic systems, watermelon are actually one of the faster-growing types of fruit to grow hydroponically.

Even more, they tend to be bigger and tastier when they’re cultivated with hydroponics.

  • Time to first harvest: 10 to 12 weeks
  • Plant height: 15 to 24 inches
  • Growing difficulty: Medium to High
  • Needs pollination when grown indoors?: Yes
  • Better for indoor or outdoor hydroponics?: Outdoor

5. Grapes

When thinking of grapes, visions of massive vineyards in France or California might come to mind. But, not only vineyards are known for producing the juiciest grapes in the world; hydroponic growers also share that honor (and their crops are higher-quality, faster-growing, and produce larger yields).

  • Time to first harvest: 3 to 5 years
  • Plant height: 80 to 115 feet
  • Growing difficulty: Low to Medium
  • Needs pollination when grown indoors?: No
  • Better for indoor or outdoor hydroponics?: Outdoor

Best Herbs To Grow With Hydroponics

Red Basil Growing Hydroponically

If you’re an impatient grower, herbs are for you. They are known for their speedy growth and, if pruned properly, their long-lasting harvest window.

1. Mints(s)

Spearmint, peppermint, and other species of mint top the list of the best herbs to grow with hydroponics due to their quick growing time and overall ease of cultivation s well as the large yields they produce.

  • Time to first harvest: 8 weeks
  • Plant height: 1 to 2 feet
  • Growing difficulty: Low
  • Needs pollination when grown indoors?: No
  • Better for indoor or outdoor hydroponics?: Indoor

2. Basil

An herb with high demand in markets around the world, this popular herb is used in kitchens and restaurants everywhere.

Hydroponic basil is also one of the easiest and most profitable herbs to grow.

  • Time to first harvest: 4 weeks
  • Plant height: 1 to 2 feet
  • Growing difficulty: Low
  • Needs pollination when grown indoors?: Low
  • Better for indoor or outdoor hydroponics?: Indoor

3. Watercress

Watercress is one of the oldest cultivated plants in the history of mankind, and it’s also a fast-growing plant by nature. When grown hydroponically, it grows super-fast.

  • Time to first harvest: 4 to 6 weeks
  • Plant height: 6 inches
  • Growing difficulty: Low
  • Needs pollination when grown indoors?: No
  • Better for indoor or outdoor hydroponics?: Indoor

4. Sage

Sage is a study perennial plant made up of several different subspecies. That said, it’s an extremely fast-growing herb with the help of hydroponics.

It’s also in high demand in local markets.

  • Time to first harvest: 2 years
  • Plant height: 2 to 3 feet
  • Growing difficulty: Low to Medium
  • Needs pollination when grown indoors?: No
  • Better for indoor or outdoor hydroponics?: Indoor

5. Chives

This popular and fast-growing herb is the smaller and mellower cousin of onions. It puts off beautiful little purple flowers and is used in home kitchens and fine dining restaurants.

  • Time to first harvest: 3 to 4 weeks
  • Plant height: 12 to 18 inches
  • Growing difficulty: Low
  • Needs pollination when grown indoors?: No
  • Better for indoor or outdoor hydroponics?: Both

Best Flowers for Hydroponics

Flowers Growing in a Hydroponic Greenhouse

Surprisingly, flowers have been grown hydroponically for decades; they’re just not the first thing that people associate with soilless growing.

1. Orchids

Touted as one of the hardest flowers to grow, orchids are an excellent species to grow hydroponically. They thrive indoors and bloom much quicker than when grown outdoors in soil.

  • Time to first harvest: 2 to 3 months
  • Plant height: 5 to 12 inches
  • Growing difficulty: Medium to High
  • Needs pollination when grown indoors?: Yes
  • Better for indoor or outdoor hydroponics?: Indoor

2. Iris

These gorgeous flowers are another sort of plant that has a reputation for being a bit trickier to produce than the average flower. That said, hydroponic systems make growing them a breeze.

  • Time to first harvest: 1 to 2 years
  • Plant height: 8 to 40 inches
  • Growing difficulty: Medium
  • Needs pollination when grown indoors?: Yes
  • Better for indoor or outdoor hydroponics?: Indoor

3. Chrysanthemums

One of the taller flowers that do well with hydroponics, these pleasant fellows are both easier to grow and bloom much quicker than most hydroponic flowers.

  • Time to first harvest: 4-8 weeks
  • Plant height: 1 to 3 feet
  • Growing difficulty: Low
  • Needs pollination when grown indoors?: Yes
  • Better for indoor or outdoor hydroponics?: Indoor

4. Daffodils

Daffodils may take longer to grow and bloom, hydroponically or traditionally, but they are well worth the wait.

That said, with the use of hydroponics, you can expect to see blooms much faster.

  • Time to first harvest: 3 years or more
  • Plant height: 6 inches to 36 inches
  • Growing difficulty: Low to Medium
  • Needs pollination when grown indoors?: Yes
  • Better for indoor or outdoor hydroponics?: Both

5. Carnations

If you’re from the USA, you’re probably familiar with carnations from events such as your high school prom or wedding.

These stunning flowers are a symbol of love and one of the very fastest-growing flowers for hydroponics.

  • Average time until first bloom: 4 to 6 weeks
  • Plant height: 9 to 24 inches
  • Growing difficulty: Low
  • Needs pollination when grown indoors?: Yes
  • Better for indoor or outdoor hydroponics?: Indoors

Fastest Growing Plants for Hydroponics

Most plants tend to grow at least twice as fast in hydroponic systems. That said, some plants are even faster-growing when cultivated hydroponically.

Some of the fastest-growing hydroponic plants are:

  • Lettuce
  • Beans
  • Tomatoes
  • Cucumbers
  • Scallions
  • Spinach
  • Radishes
  • Arugula
  • Strawberries
  • Watercress
  • Chives
  • Basil
  • Mints
  • Oregano
  • Carnations
  • Peace Lily
  • Chrysanthemums
  • Hyacinth

What Can Not Be Grown With Hydroponics?

For the most part, if it can be grown in soil, it can be grown hydroponically. However, that is not always the case. 

For example, large root vegetables for example are rather hard to grow hydroponically.

Plants that are hard to grow hydroponically include:

  • Yams
  • Turnips
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Corn
  • Carrots
  • Rutabaga
  • Potatoes (technically they can grow hydroponically, but don’t always do well)
  • Vine-growing fruits (excluding watermelons, which do well but require extra support for their weight, and grapes)
  • Full-size fruit trees
  • Herbs that don’t like a lot of water

Hydroponic Growing Tips for Success

The following are a few of the best tips for success growing plants hydroponically:

1. Pay Close Attention to the Water Quality at All Times

Water is one of the most critical aspects of successful hydroponics. This includes constant monitoring of pH levels, EC levels, and temperature. 

Never let pH levels drop below 5.5 or rise above 6.5 (unless you are an expert grower cultivating exotic plants that require a higher or lower pH level).

Likewise, keep an eye on the water temperatures and make sure it stays at roughly 70F (give or take one or two degrees, literally)

2. Do Test Runs Before Getting Started for Real

Hydroponics is not rocket engineering, but it is also a bit more complex than tossing seeds into a bucket of dirt, sticking outside under the sun, and watering it. 

Before you get started with your real crops, make sure to do a few test runs to get the hang of your system and work out the kinks.

While performing test runs, practicing mixing fertilizer/nutrients to your system is one of the most crucial steps to practice and perfect.

3. Follow a Strict Cleaning Schedule and Change Water Regularly

Hydroponic success depends on how well you manage your system, among other variables. Regularly changing out the water is one of the most important habits to develop.

Every time you change out the water, make sure to scrub clean the reservoir as well as re-introduce the correct level of nutrients.

Also, after cleaning, and adding nutrients, make sure to test and rebalance the pH and EC levels regularly as well.

4. Understand What You’re Getting Into and Perform Ongoing Research

Hydroponics comes in many shapes and forms, some of which are more suited to certain environments, climates, lights, and plants. 

By researching, and reaching out to experts, you’ll come to understand which type is best for you

Further, you’ll learn all the best tips and tricks for each species of plant that you’re growing, as well as how to maximize your system’s performance and output.

Final Words

The list of plants that you can grow hydroponically is a big one, as you can see on the table at the top of this article.

That said, the list of best plants to grow in hydroponic systems is a bit shorter (as we highlighted for you in the sections above).

Hopefully, our guide helps you build a better understanding of which plants thrive hydroponically as well as to decide which ones are best suited for you and your system.