Hydroponic plants are grown without soil, and instead, use a nutrient-rich water solution. They can grow in any climate, indoors or outdoors.
Unfortunately, the question of how long do hydroponic plants last has no definitive answer because depending on many factors like;
- The type of plant
- The growing medium (coco coir, etc)
- Their growing environment (an indoor hydroponic garden vs. outdoor)
- Light exposure
- The level of care they receive (watering frequency)
- Other environmental factors will determine how long they will live
- Which nutrient solution you’re using
- The type of hydroponics system you’re growing plants in (deep water culture, NFT, etc)
But let’s explore the question a little further.
Plant lifespan: Hydroponics vs. Soil
The lifespan of a plant grown in soil can easily be determined by looking at its root system. A plant with a healthy, dense root structure will live for years if cared for properly.
Plants that are not planted in soil typically have to manage nutrients differently than those which are rooted into the ground. Hydroponic plants tend to use less water and fewer resources because they don’t need to support the root system.
However, plants that are not planted in soil will go through stress when they sense that water is scarce because their roots can’t access it fast enough. This may cause them to wilt or rot if left untreated for too long.
The key thing to remember about hydroponic plants is that your ability to provide them with the right level of light, water, and nutrients will determine how long they live.
5 steps to keep your hydroponic plants alive longer
Here are some steps that should be taken to keep your beloved plants alive longer in your hydroponic system before harvest season:
- Regularly monitor the pH level of your water. If you notice that it’s too acidic or alkaline, then adjust accordingly to keep it in a healthy range for plant growth (between five and seven).
- Keep nitrate levels within an optimum range between 25-150 ppm at all times. The lower the nitrogen content, the better because this will slow the growth of your plants and they will last longer.
- Expose them to as much light as possible, but avoid direct sunlight for more than a few hours at a time so that you don’t scorch their delicate leaves.
- Avoid temperature extremes because these can cause stress too. Keep it between 60-90 degrees Fahrenheit (15-32 Celsius).
- Don’t forget to keep the water level at an appropriate height, as this will help your plants develop sturdy root systems that last longer.
Do hydroponic plants grow faster than in soil?
Yes, they do. Although the speed at which a plant grows depends on various factors.
However, the nutrients available to plants in hydroponic systems tend to make them grow faster compared with those that are rooted in soil because they don’t have any other resource for nourishment except what’s provided by their water source.
How often do you add nutrients to hydroponics?
When using a low-energy system, nutrients may only need to be added every once in a while so that the water remains healthy and nutritive.
On the other hand, high-energy systems will require more attention because you’ll have to add them at least twice per week. But remember: less is better when it comes to the nutrient concentration.
How long does a full hydroponic crop cycle take?
An entire crop cycle can take anywhere from two weeks to a few months depending on the plant and the hydroponic system used.
But here are some guidelines for the most popular plants in hydroponic gardening:
- Lettuce – About two weeks.
- Tomatoes – About three months.
- Strawberries – One to four years (yes, you read that right!)
- Bell pepper – About a year.
- Cucumbers – Two years.
- Herbs – Six months to a few years.
Hydroponic growing is easier than soil, but still requires patience and love. From the seed and seedling to the flowering stage and eventually the harvest, it’s important to stay on top of your game, otherwise you would yield much.
How do you know if your plant needs extra hydroponic nutrients?
If the tips of their leaves are turning brown, then it’s time to add more nutrients. Alternatively, if they’re turning yellow or pale in coloration, then that means there aren’t enough minerals available for them.
When plants become droopy and wilted after being watered, then they’re probably not getting enough nutrients.
However, if you notice that their leaves are losing color and showing signs of toxicity (such as brown spots), then it’s time to flush the system with clean water immediately because this is a sign of excess nutrient buildup.
Remember, plants like equilibrium too! They need an ideal pH level in order to grow and thrive, so monitor it regularly.
How often do you need to change hydroponic water?
Water should be changed every one to two weeks because the nutrient content will build up over time, which can cause damage.
If you don’t change it often enough then this may result in growth issues for your plants and they’ll die much faster than necessary.
What about when I’m not around?
You can set up an automatic system that will monitor and maintain pH levels, nutrient concentration, and water levels for you.
That way your plants can grow without the need of an owner around to care for them.
Conclusion: So how long do hydroponic plants last?
Generally, a hydroponic plant will last longer than a plant grown in soil.
There are many factors that will determine how long your hydroponic plants last, but if you provide them with the right conditions and care they can live for several years, before you decide to harvest them.