Which vegetables and herbs do well in hydroponics?

General    Central Florida - Zone 9A/9B

I teach horticulture at a federal correctional facility and am about to double the size of the indoor hydroponics area. And I am excited to say we are adding an indoor aquaponics within the next month. I would like to hear suggestions about vegetables, herbs & edible flowers that you find work very well in an indoor, hydroponics setting. Not everything thrives in that environment. Thanks for your help.

Posted by: Susan League, UF/IFAS Sumter Program Assistant (1 point) Susan League, UF/IFAS Sumter Program Assistant
Posted: July 11, 2015

Susan League, UF/IFAS Sumter Program Assistant commented,
I'll get pictures of my system. It is indoors so I have the lighting but am considering going to LED lights and would like your opinion on that. I'll get pictures tomorrow of the system when I get back to the facility and post it this weekend. I hadn't even considered kale so I will definitely go there and the romaine. Be back to you soon. Thank you!
almost 4 years ago.

Matt commented,
The greenhouses where I work are currently being renovated and all the lighting will be replaced with red and blue LEDs; those are the two spectrums that plants utilize. Our greenhouse manager has used them before and says that although it makes things glow purple, they work as good as or better than other lights, use a fraction of the energy, would rarely need to be replaced, and give off very little heat. I am trying to find out what exact commercial system is being installed.
almost 4 years ago.

Susan League, UF/IFAS Sumter Program Assistant commented,
This is great. I need to finish spending my budget or lose it. Thanks for the info on the red and blue LEDs.
almost 4 years ago.

Matt commented,
Here is what is being set up in our greenhouses: http://www.illumitex.com/illumitex-le...
We will be using the system with F3 spectrum. I don't have any price information so you would have to inquire with the company.

almost 4 years ago.

Susan League, UF/IFAS Sumter Program Assistant commented,
Interesting. I'm going to study this more. Not sure if Plant Village wants us continuing to "fill up" the information on this so if you wish to continue this dialogue you can certainly email me a sleague@ufl.edu . This is great information. In viewing the lights it also made me consider something for my new seed germination equipment. Although, I do need warmth (the building is extremely cold, especially in the winter). Do all LEDs emit zero warmth?
almost 4 years ago.

Lindsay McMenemy commented,
PlantVillage loves information - other people don't get to see it when it is in email dialogue so please do repost if there is more information. Perhaps as an answer to your own question :-)
almost 4 years ago.


What type of hydroponic system is it? There are several methods. A picture would be helpful if there is already a system set up. If it's going to be indoors and there is not a significant amount of natural light, additional lighting will be necessary.

I currently have a small hydroponics system (two rows of 5ft spouting) that I built for my apartment last year. It has been running more or less continuously for 8-10 months and working quite well.

Most leafy greens/herbs are ideal for hydroponics because they don't need to go through a flowering/fruiting stage which is stressful for plants and often require an adjusted nutrient mix. Herbs also grow quickly and can be continuously harvest, and are also easily replaced if there are disease problems. The higher nutrient requirement for flowering and fruiting can actually kill some herbs and small seedlings. If feasible, separate reservoirs should be used for herbs vs fruit.

By far the most successful plant I have grown is kale. I've had two plants growing since the system began running and I harvest about a bag of kale per week. Since they don't branch out, you don't have to worry about them shading the surrounding plants more than 8" away. They are also quite hardy and have survived multiple drought-stresses (from a clogged/malfunctioning water pump) that killed all my other herbs, require almost no maintenance, and are prone to very few pests/diseases in hydroponics. Other successful herbs and greens have been parsley, cilantro, basil (sweet, thai, lemon), chives, arugula, and thyme.

Last month I designated an entire row to romaine lettuce which I have already been harvesting for a couple weeks; this is very easy to grow hydroponically and has a high yield.

I did have peppers growing for a time but they require some form of pollination, although shaking them can be enough. I'm not sure about your size restrictions but they may require pruning and staking. I recommend the small-fruited varieties such as many hot peppers (cayenne, thai, etc.; chiltepin has been my most successful pepper grown hydroponically and stays very bushy, so no staking) and possibly some of the small-fruited sweet peppers. Most of the varieties seemed to grow fine with the standard "balanced" nutrient mix that I use for herbs. I have seen other vegetables grown hydropinically: tomatoes, beans, chard... most garden vegetables that are not root crops.

I haven't grown flowers hydroponically yet but nasturtium should be a good bet; the leaves and flowers are also edible, and it will sprawl out instead of growing up too tall.

Posted by: Matt (9 points) Matt
Posted: July 24, 2015

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