Net Pots for Hydroponics | The Best Grow Cups To Use & FAQ

In the world of hydroponics, planting in net pots is as planting in holes in the ground is to traditional gardening. 

They are also akin to the pots you grow houseplants in. But, in hydroponics, they house the growing medium that anchors the plants.

Without net pots, there is nowhere to place your plants and allow them to root, within your hydroponic growing system.

If you’re curious about exactly what is a hydroponic net pot, let us help you better understand.

Net pots are webbed or slotted containers with holes in their sides and bottoms. They come in many shapes and sizes but are generally round or square. Net pots secure plants and their growing medium in hydroponic systems allowing water and nutrients to flow freely to and from the root system.

Small Hydroponic Net Pot

Net Pots: What To Know

Many hydroponic systems utilize net pots for anchoring plants into the system. Depending on the type of hydroponic system net pots are used with or without the addition of a growing medium. 

Most net pots are reusable, designed with a plastic mesh body that promotes superior circulation of water, nutrients, and oxygen.

Let’s have a look at some of the most important factors to understand about them, below.

What Are Net Pots Used For? 

Generally speaking, net pots are used as anchors in hydroponic growing systems. Another major use of net pots is containing the system’s growing medium. Sometimes they may also be used as the actual growing medium as well.

In most cases, the net pots are submerged in the top of the growing system, or semi-submerged. For example, they allow the plant’s roots to dangle in the water and soak up water and nutrients in the deep water culture system.

Ebb and flow systems, on the other hand, suspend the net pots in growing pipes that are flooded and drained. The pots hold the plants in place and allow them to intake nutrients and oxygen as needed.

What Can I Put in Hydroponic Net Pots? 

Net pots can be filled with just about any sort of growing medium for hydroponic growing systems. That said, a few growing mediums such as sand and peat moss aren’t very feasible.

The best mediums to fill net pots with include:

  • Rockwool
  • Clay pebbles
  • Clean gravel
  • Grow sponges

Can You Use Soil in Net Pots? 

Soil is not suggested for use in net pots. The main reasons that soil isn’t an ideal medium for them are that it tends to become too compacted or waterlogged. 

In addition, seeds planted in soil, in net pots, are prone to rotting. Plant roots may also become damaged or break off when you try to remove them.

Are Round or Square Net Pots Better? 

Round and square net pots are equally useful. There are several factors, however, that make a marked difference between round and square net pots though it isn’t clear if one is all-around better.

Square net pots tend to fit more seeds and allow for easier removal of plants. But, they might not fit as well in some growing systems.

Round pots allow a larger number of pots to fit into a growing tray or hydroponic system. In round pots, roots may wrap around the pot and become tangled.

Why Do Some Net Pots Have Lids? 

Net pot lids are designed to fit over the top of net pots, their main function is protecting the plant’s root systems from excessive light. Additionally, lids help reduce the amount of water lost due to evaporation.

Does Net Pot Lip Size Matter? 

The size of the net pot lip matters in regards to how securely it fits into your hydroponic growing system. Most hydroponic gardeners prefer net pots with more lip than less. Net pots with little to no lip are more liable to slip out of place.

Can You Reuse Net Pots? 

As with many hardy growing mediums like clay pellets and smooth gravel, most net pots can indeed be reused. Before reusing them, however, make sure to properly clean them. 

Some gardeners give their pots a quick boil to sterilize them in-between each reuse. Depending on the quality, a net pot can be reused for many years.

What Can You Grow in 2 Inch Net Pots? 

Two-inch net pots are excellent for growing systems, especially NFT (Nutrient Film Technique) and ebb and flow type setups. They are most useful for growing seedlings and small leafy veggies like lettuce and spinach. Net pots are also extremely ideal for propagating clones due to their small size. 

How Much Do Net Cups Cost? 

There is no standard price for all net cups. Expect to pay between $5 and $10 for a dozen. For a pack of 50 net pots (or more) prices range from $8 to over $20. The biggest determining factor in how much any given net cups cost is its overall quality.

There are also shipping costs to consider if you order online.

What Can I Use Instead of Net Pots? 

Net pots are the best option for hydroponic growing systems, but there are a few alternatives:

  • Foam cups
  • Plastic bottles
  • Plastic cups
  • Gardening containers
  • Grow sponges

Keep in mind that these options weigh less than net pots and may require additional weight to keep them in place in your growing system. The best way to do so is by adding a growing medium such as pebbles or clay pellets.

In addition, all of the above will require a bit of cutting (to make holes or slits) in order to replicate the functionality of net cups. Also, cotton balls may help to stick your plants to the bottoms of the cups if you don’t add a growing medium for extra weight. 

What Size Net Pots Do I Need?

Depending on the type of plants you are growing, the size of the net pots you need varies. Below, we discuss exactly what size net pots you need for some of the most popular things to go with hydroponic systems.

What Size Net Pots for Hydroponic Lettuce?

The best size net pots for hydroponic lettuce and other small leafy hydroponic crops is two inches. Three-inch and four-inch pots may also be useful for species that grow larger than normal.

What Size Net Pots for Tomatoes? 

Hydroponic tomatoes are most typically grown in two-inch net pots. However, larger tomato plants may do better with four-inch net pots. If growing tomatoes in five-gallon bucket systems, six-inch net pots are the best.

What Size Net Pots for Peppers? 

Pepper plants that are grown hydroponically require two-inch, four-inch, or six-inch net pots depending on what species you grow and what sort of hydroponic system you use.

What Size Net Pots for Strawberries? 

Strawberries do best grown in two-inch to four-inch net pots depending on the variety of berry. In addition, your hydroponics setup could require a specific size pot.

What Size Net Pots for Spinach? 

Spinach, like lettuce, is most successfully grown in two-inch net pots. Anything large is a waste of space and growing medium.

What Size Net Pots for Mason Jar? 

Standard size mason jars require a two-inch net pot. For larger mason jars, measure the opening and buy the correct size net pot.

DIY Net Pots for Hydroponics

There are several mediums that make great DIY net pots:

  • Foam cups
  • Plastic cups
  • Plastic bottles
  • Gardening containers
  • Used coffee pods

Steps for Making a DIY Net Pot

  1. Select a proper sized container that fits your growing system the best
  2. If using a plastic bottle of some sort, remove the top with scissors or a razor knife
  3. Drill holes into the sides and bottom of the containers (or use a sharp knife)
  4. Thoroughly clean out the container (boil it for a minute or two, unless it is foam or extremely thin plastic)
  5. (optional step) Measure, cut, and insert mesh liner into the container and use clips or rubber bands to hold it in place
  6. (optional) Add an appropriately sized net pot lid to the top of your container

Once these easy-to-follow steps are completed, your new DIY net pot is complete and ready for use!

Best Net Pots: Recommendations

Below, we’ve reviewed several of the best net pots currently available. If you’re growing something hydroponically, one of these net pots could be the right one for you.

Main Recommendations

CZ Garden net pots are great for hydroponic systems that grow small vegetables, flowers, and clones. The Hydro Crunch net pots are ideal for growing medium to large crops such as squash and tall tomato plants. For five-gallon buckets, the Hydrofarm Bucket Basket is the perfect net pot.

Best 2 Inch Net Pots: Cz Garden 2 Inch All-Star

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These two-inch net pots from CZ Garden are made from heavy-duty non-toxic UV-resistant plastic. They feature numerous slots on the sides, star-shaped cutouts on the bottom, and a wide-lip design. They are compatible with most hydroponic systems and are useable for growing a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, flowers, and herbs.

Pros

  • Consist of non-toxic materials
  • Promotes superior root development
  • Larger than the average lip
  • Money-back guarantee

Cons

  • Aren’t suitable for big hydroponic crops like squash or large root veggies

Best 3 Inch Net Pots: Cz Garden 3 Inch All Star

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The second set of net pots from CZ Garden on our list is the three-inch All Star round cup-style net pots. These popular pots measure three and a quarter inches wide and two and a half inches tall.

They are ideal for hydroponics, aquaponics, and aeroponics. Everything from leafy greens and small root vegetables to flowers and clones is ideal for growing in these pots.

Pros

  • Grabs more surface due to wide lips
  • More openings than other net pots
  • Works for a wider variety of crops than two-inch net pots
  • Money-back guarantee

Cons

  • A bit more expensive than typical three-inch net pots

Best 4 Inch Net Pots: No/Brand Heavy Duty 4 Inch Net Cups

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Measuring four inches wide, these pots work with most hydroponic and aquaponic systems that have wide openings. They feature more slots than many other four-inch net pots on the market and are perfect for growing medium to large plant species.

These wider than ordinary net pots are also easy to use, clean, and transport.

Pros

  • The package comes with 100 pots
  • Reusable for years
  • Works for larger hydroponic crops like melons
  • Satisfaction guaranteed or your money back

Cons

  • Not ideal for growing smaller hydroponic crops like lettuce and spinach

Best 6 Inch Net Pots: Hydro Crunch 6 Inch Net Pots

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Hydro Crunch six-inch net pots consist of UV-resistant plastic material that’s non-toxic. They have numerous slots on the sides and bottoms which promote excellent water flow and root development.

The pots are long-lasting, reusable, and easy to clean as well. Each pack includes 24 individual netted pots.

Pros

  • Great for growing large hydroponic crops like watermelon, tomatoes, and more
  • Are reusable for years to come
  • The package includes two dozen pots
  • Affordable compared to other net pots of the same size

Cons

  • Not compatible with smaller hydroponic systems

Best Net Pot for 5 Gallon Bucket: Hydrofarm Bucket Basket

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These six-inch plastic net pots are actually 12 inches wide due to their extra-wide lips. They measure six inches deep and are made with durable heavy-duty materials.

If you’re growing large crops hydroponically these pots could be the perfect component for your five-gallon bucket growing system. 

Pros

  • Features extra-wide six-inch lip
  • Works well for all the largest species grown hydroponically
  • Heavy-duty design
  • Ships super-fast

Cons

  • Not ideal for small or medium plants
  • Only fits five-gallon buckets

Best Net Pots With Lids: HORTIPOTS 3.75 Inch Pots

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Hortipots’ 3.75-inch net pots are perfect for seedlings, clones, leafy veggies like lettuce, and small root veggies like beets. They are made of UV-resistant PP plastic materials that are reusable, so you only need to buy them once.

The pots have a lip for gripping and slotted sides and bottom. Even more, they come with reflective pot lids at no extra charge.

Pros

  • Comes with reflective lids that protect roots
  • Fits well with most hydroponic grow systems
  • Perfect for use in cloning machines
  • Works well for small to medium plants including fruits, vegetables, flowers, and herbs

Cons

  • Does not work well for growing larger heavier plants like melons

A Final Word About Hydroponic Net Pots

Understanding what net pots for hydroponics are, and which ones are the best for you and your needs, is crucial for successful hydroponic gardening.

Hopefully, our article answers all of your questions about net pots and picking out the right ones for you and your growing system.