Hydroponic Systems are a great way to grow herbs indoors. The basic principle is you grow your herbs in a container filled with water and nutrients. An air pump is used to keep the water oxygenated & circulating around the herbs root system.
Since the nutrients are in the water, they are absorbed directly through the herb’s roots. A hydroponic herb garden is very efficient since the roots of the herbs get both water & nutrients simultaneously in a controlled environment which results in a fast growing, very healthy herb plant.
Table of Contents
- Who Grows Hydroponic Herbs?
- Hydroponic Herb Garden Benefits
- Types of Hydroponics Systems
- How to Setup a Hydroponic Herb Garden (video)
- More Fun At-Home Herb Growing Kits
- Summary of Hydroponic Gardening
Who Grows Hydroponic Herbs?
The answer is more people than you think. Have you ever seen the pots of basil in the supermarkets that are stored in water? Those are grown in commercial hydroponic herb systems.
Commercial growers love using hydroponic systems since they can grow a large number of herbs in a small growing space. This maximizes their profitability. But home gardeners can also enjoy the benefits of growing hydroponic herbs.
Hydroponics systems can be used either indoors or outdoors it all depends on where you live and the space you have available. An indoor hydroponic herb system is a great way to easily grow your favorite culinary herbs without bringing the mess of the outdoors inside. An outdoor hydroponic garden can be equally nice – you can make it as big as you like!!!
Home Hydroponic Herb Garden Kits
Indoor Herb Garden Starter Kit by Savvy Grow.
If you are just getting started in hydroponics, a great kit for growing herbs is made by the company SavvyGrow.
The SavvyGrow kit includes a medium bucket with 6 plant slots, air pump, tubing, growing medium, water indicator, an airstone to oxygenate the water and instructions. The size is just right for tabletop growing at 16 x 10.8 inches.
To use the kit, you’ll start your seeds first. Once they have their first or second set of true leaves, you transplant them to the growing system. To achieve best results, it is also recommended to purchase a nutrient mix such as Ph UP and Ph Down and a grow light.
Miracle-Gro AeroGarden. This robust countertop herb kit is one of the most well-known indoor gardening systems on the market. Almost all gardeners have come across the Miracle-Gro or AeroGarden brands at one point during their lives.
Included in the AeroGarden design is a 30-watt LED light system that turns on and off automatically, a control panel on the front which lets you know when your seedlings need water or nutrients, and can fit up to seven different herb plants at once.
The kit contains a variety pack of gourmet seed pods 2 types of basil, thyme, mint, parsley, chives, and dill, plus enough nutrients for a full year. According to the manufacturer, the AeroGarden is“Advanced Hydroponics Made Simple”. This kit is a must-have for the gourmet cook or avid gardener who loves to grow their own herbs, regardless of the season.
The Aerogarden herb kits come in several different sizes – from the 3 plant Sprout Family to the Farm Series that can grow up to 36 plants. Check out our comparison of the 6 most popular Aerogarden models.
The Smart Herb Garden.
One popular home herb garden kit that uses the same hydroponic concepts is the Smart Pot by Click and Grow. Perfect for growing indoors, this little system is styled to fit on your countertop.
They call it the smart pot since it has a mini computer system built-in to automatically give the plant the right amount of nutrients, air, and water. The Smart Herb Garden has 3 cartridges that grow basil, thyme and lemon balm – three favorites in the kitchen.
Hydroponic Herb Garden Benefits
Here are 4 great benefits of creating your own Hydroponic Herb Garden.
1. No Messy Soil – Hydroponic Herbs are Grown in Water.
Let’s face it dirt is just that – dirty. Most gardeners, myself included do not mind getting their hands dirty while outside digging in the earth, planting our vegetables and herbs, or enjoying their harvest.
It’s all part of the package & we take the good with the bad – nice fresh sunshine, birds chirping in the air, dirt up to our elbows while all around our gardens are flourishing. That is just fine and we like it that way.
However, that all changes when it comes to indoor gardening. We don’t have the same perks that we enjoy outside. When you are gardening indoors, we have to be a lot more careful since this is our home – where we eat, spend time with our loved ones & sleep.
Lots of indoor gardening goes on in the kitchen & that’s not always the best place for dirty fingernails or empty herb pots. This is what makes hydroponic systems so nice when you want to grow your own herbs indoors – No messy soil!
2. Hydroponic Herbs Grow Fast!
Hydroponic herbs can grow anywhere from 25% to 50% faster than herbs grown in conventional garden soil. The roots get fed consistently from the nutrient solution in the water. You never have to worry about over or under watering or having your plants dry out.
Since the conditions are much more consistent in a hydroponic system, this translates to your plants growing that much quicker. You will still need to provide a strong light source & constant temperature for your hydroponic herbs to grow into healthy plants. This is true with all methods of growing herbs indoors.
3. Year-Round Supply.
Since we are growing indoors, we don’t need to worry about the temperature fluctuations outside.
You can create your own hydroponic herb garden at any time of the year. You can start seeds in January, then enjoy a nice harvest of basil within two months. Imagine having fresh herbs in March!
4. Less Maintenance.
Once you have your hydroponic herb garden setup, the only maintenance it should require is to change the nutrient solution every 7-14 days. You don’t need to constantly be checking to make sure your herbs aren’t drying out or growing too big for their pot. There should be plenty of room for the roots to grow in the water reservoirs.
Unlike traditional indoor gardening, there is also very little concern over having your plants infested with fruit flies, fungus gnats or other critters growing in the soil. Even store-bought potting mix can be prone to getting infested with insects, though the hitchhikers normally come from the plants we buy in the nurseries.
Hydroponically grown herbs are much less likely to fall prey to insect attack since they are kept in a sterile environment. And for many people that is one of the best reasons to grow hydroponic herbs. It is a clean, bug-free way to grow indoors.
Types of Hydroponics Systems
There are a few different types of hydroponics systems which are used in the home environment. Here is a basic explanation of each.
1. Deep Water Systems.
These are the most common types of hydroponics systems and well suited for beginners. The hydroponic herbs grow in a large reservoir of water which is kept fresh & oxygenated by a small air pump.
2. Ebb & Flow Systems.
The ebb and flow systems keep the main water tank separate from the growing herb pots. A pump is used to fill the pots with water & nutrients, then drain it back into the main reservoir. These units are operated on a timer which controls the pumping system.
3. Drip Systems.
These hydroponics systems keep the plant’s roots in a sterile medium. The system will drip feed the water and nutrients into the herb pots. A timer is used to keep the drip feed system on a schedule, normally running for a few minutes each hour.
4. Aeroponic systems.
These systems use a misting spray to feed the roots. The roots get their water & nutrients from the mist while receiving oxygen directly from the air.
Creating your own indoor hydroponic herb garden is another way to enjoy growing your own culinary herbs. If you would like to start your own indoor culinary herb garden, but don’t want to bring the mess of the outdoors inside, then growing hydroponic herbs is a perfect solution.
How to Setup a Hydroponic Herb Garden (video)
Watch this video from Becky Stern to see how to set up an outdoor hydroponic herb garden with herbs from the farmers market. She uses a Rain Forest hydroponic kit available from General Hydroponics.
More Fun At-Home Herb Growing Kits
Recycled Grow Bottle Kits. Have you ever tried growing herbs in a wine bottle? A mini-version of the home hydroponic kit is the bottle garden kit available from Urban Leaf.
The kit includes three bottle garden inserts with smart soil, the herb seeds (sweet basil, dill, and parsley), plus the labels. You supply the wine bottles and grow fresh herbs on the kitchen countertop or window sill.
The bottle garden kits use the same hydroponic concepts as larger systems, just in a streamlined design.
A wine bottle is a good size for growing individual herb plants. And once the growing cycle is complete, you can reuse the inserts to grow more herbs.
The Aquaponic Water Garden. Another fun way to grow herbs at home is in the Water Garden, a self-cleaning fish tank that grows plants. To be fair this is not a true hydroponic system instead, it works using aquaponics.
The water garden is a harmonious system replicating what happens in nature. The fish keep the system clean by eating the algae and their natural waste is used to feed your plants. In turn, the plants take up the nitrates in the water keeping it clean for the fish.
On top of the system, are the plant pots and grow stones where your herbs or microgreens will grow. On the bottom is a fish tank suitable for 1 betta fish. The Betta fish is also known as the Siamese fighting fish and do best when kept by themselves. The fish, of course, are not included in the system. Those you can buy at your local pet or aquarium store.
Summary of Hydroponic Gardening
The hydroponic herb garden is a quick, no mess solution to growing culinary herbs. Indoor hydroponic systems have become even more popular due to the growing availability of easy to use kits. Grow your own hydroponic herbs and enjoy abundant harvests in up to half the time and space.