The best vegetables to grow with hydroponics include lettuce, tomatoes, and chard. In theory, you can grow practically any plant in such conditions. But do bear in mind that the ones that we have already mentioned will, most likely, do much better than the others.

So, are you thinking about creating a hydroponic garden and growing vegetables on your own? Of course, you would face some challenges along the way. But there are too many benefits that definitely сover all the ‘cons’.

How can you grow a beautiful and fresh vegetable with hydroponics and how does this thing even work? Let’s find out!

You should also read: Best Hydroponics System For Herbs

How Does Hydroponics Work?

In a nutshell, if you are a hydroponic grower, it means that you are not using any soil. The plants that grow in soil need to constantly search for the necessary nutrition with the help of plant roots. In the case of hydroponics – you deliver the nutrients to the plant directly through the water.

Growing plants in such a system lets you control exactly how much water, nutrients, and even light the plants receive. You can also keep an eye on the pH balance and protect your garden from various diseases (fungus in the soil, for example, can lead to plenty of unpleasant conditions).

Did you know? Plants that grow hydroponically can use only 10% of the water required for field-grown ones?

Why Can’t All Vegetables Be Grown in a Hydroponic Environment?

You can certainly experiment and try and grow practically anything in your hydroponics garden. However, some results might be disappointing.

Why Can’t All Vegetables Be Grown in a Hydroponic Environment?

That’s why experts recommend starting from growing hydroponic vegetables that are more likely to be a success. If you are an experienced grower who wants to try out something new, then you can try giving a shot even to the plants that are considered less ‘successful’.

Why exactly are not all vegetables 100% perfect for hydroponic gardening?

Some plants take up too much space.

With a soilless system, in the majority of cases, the amount of free space that you have is extremely limited. Especially, if you have decided to set up an indoor garden

So, you might want to avoid working with the veggies that are too bushy or simply too big.

Some plants need bees to pollinate them.

The plants that have both female and male flowers on them need a little help from the bees. Without these insects, your green friends won’t thrive.

You can learn to pollinate the plants yourself, but it’s an extra step that you might not have time for (below we still mentioned a few veggies that will need your assistance, in case you want to go the extra mile).

Best Hydroponic Vegetables

What are the go-to veggies that you can try and grown in your hydroponic setup? Here are a few cool options.

Lettuce

Light: if you decide to grow your hydroponic lettuce indoors, you would need plenty of blue light (LED lights that have the blue spectrum). Do bear in mind that the vegetable does not like direct sunlight and hot places.

Lettuce

If your hydroponic garden is located outdoors, you would want to make sure that the leafy green gets around 10-12 hours on light daily.

What hydroponic system should you go for?

A deep water system is, unfortunately, not the most efficient one and the lettuce is more likely to catch a disease in such a system.

Ebb and flow is great for outdoors; drip system is one of the best indoor options as it can adapt to any size of the space and is silent; aeroponics is more suitable for the indoors and is a more advanced system.

The nutrient film technique is not the best pick for inexperienced growers.

  • Temperature: between 60 and 75 F.
  • pH: between 6 and 7.
  • EC level: between 0.8 and 1.2.

Expect your lettuce to grow within 30 days or even less.

Quick pro tip: This vegetable is extremely sensitive to excessive light and heat. If the leaves are yellowing, browning, drying, softening, or drooping, make sure to adjust the lighting conditions.

Cucumbers

Even though cucumbers are a vining crop, they do well in a hydroponic system. Such cucumbers will have no seeds and thinner skin that doesn’t require peeling.

Cucumbers

Light: these vegetables love light. They need 12-14 hours of light daily and are not afraid of full sun.

What hydroponic system should you go for?

If you are growing the vegetables indoors, a deep water system and an ebb and flow system will get the job done. For outdoors, go for drip systems and large ebb and flow systems.

  • Temperature: during the day, maintain temperatures between 70 and 80 F. As night falls, the cucumbers will appreciate a 10-degree temperature drop.
  • pH: between 5 and 6.
  • EC level: between 2.2 and 2.7.

The timing would depend on the variety, but usually, your fresh vegetables will be ready for harvest in 50-70 days. 

Quick pro top: cucumbers are the kind of vegetables that need to be pollinated. You can hand pollinate the veggies using a Q-tip – rub it against the male flower and then transfer the pollen to the female (these ones have a small cucumber at their base).

Chard

Swiss chard is one of the fastest-growing hydroponic plants. You will be able to enjoy fresh vegetables in only around 35 days (pick no more than 5 leaves from a plant at a time).

Chard

Light: chard doesn’t mind direct sunlight and requires at least 8-10 hours of light per day. It does great in artificial lighting as well.

What hydroponics system should you go for?

You can use nutrient film technique systems, media beds, and float systems.  

  • Temperature: during the spring, keep the temperature between 60 and 80 F. In fall – between 50 and 70 F.
  • pH: between 6.2 and 7.
  • EC level: between 1.8 and 2.3.

Cabbage

You can certainly grow such leafy vegetables as cabbage hydroponically but do remember that some heads grow large (up to around 8 lbs). Choose an appropriate hydroponic system that won’t be affected by the weight of the vegetable.

Cabbage

Light: cabbage needs at least 6 hours of sunlight per day. If you are attempting to grow the vegetable indoors, make sure to use LEDs.

What hydroponics system you should go for?

The most common choices include NFT, Kratky, deep water culture, aeroponics, and floating raft beds. 

  • Temperature: between 40 and 70 F. Cabbage is one of the vegetables that grows well in cool climates and even tolerates frost, so it might be a great option for you if you live in a northern climate.
  • pH: between 6.5 and 7.
  • EC level: between 2.5 and 3.0.

Quick pro tip: cabbage is a relatively heavy feeder. So, you would have to make sure that the veggies don’t run out of nutrient-enriched water.

Eggplants

There are plenty of different types of eggplants for you to choose from. If your indoor garden lacks space, you can easily go for the tiny cultivars. 

Eggplants

Light: these vegetables need at least 8 hours of light per day.

What hydroponic system should you go for?

Eggplants are compatible with practically all types of hydroponic systems. However, if you decide to go for deep water culture, make sure to install the necessary equipment that would be oxygenating the water (to prevent accumulation of salts). 

  • Temperature: between 70 and 80 F or slightly above that. Bear in mind that the vegetables don’t do well in cooler temperatures. 
  • pH: between 5.5 and 6.0.
  • PPM: between 1750 and 2400.

Wear gloves and long sleeves when harvesting your beautiful eggplant as the vegetable has prickles that can irritate your skin. 

It will take the eggplant up to 120 days to grow from seed.

Zucchini

zucchini

Light: these guys require at least 14 hours of light per day. So, having grown lights, if you are growing zucchini indoors, is essential.

What hydroponic system should you go for?

Kratky is a good option for beginners. Experienced growers can go for aquaponics. Wick systems and ebb and flow systems provide good support for heavy plants as they utilize a growing medium (clay pellets, Hydroton, or sand).

  • Temperature: you wouldn’t need to lower the growing temperature at night. The vegetables grow best at temperatures around 75 F.
  • pH: around 6.0.
  • EC level: this study shows that zucchinis can grow quite well at different EC levels (2.2 and 4.4). 

Just like with cucumbers, you would have to pollinate the zucchinis (especially, if you have an indoor system). You can use a paintbrush to gently dab it into the center of the flowers and then transfer the pollen.

You will be able to harvest your first zucchinis in about 2 months.

Beans

There are quite a few different beans for you to choose from. Below we will be providing the necessary information to growing green beans in a hydroponic setting.

Beans

Light: these vegetables love full sun and should get around 12-13 hours of light on a daily basis.

What hydroponics system should you go for?

Beans grow best in an NFT system and an ebb and flow system. You can also go for the Dutch bucket system (opt for loose grow medium).

  • Temperature: between 70 and 80 F during the day and 65-70 at night.
  • pH: between 6.0 and 6.5.
  • EC level: between 2.0 and 4.0.

The best thing about growing beans hydroponically? These guys require very small amounts of nutrients.

By the way, you will be able to enjoy your fresh vegetables in about 2 months.

Bell Peppers

This is not the easiest veggie that you can grow in a hydroponic system. But if you have already mastered a few other vegetables, you can definitely give a bell pepper a go.

Bell Peppers

Light: 14-18 hours of light per day. Fluorescent lights are usually not intense enough for peppers. So, if you are growing the veggies indoors, opt for LED and HID grow lights.

What hydroponic system should you go for?

Always take the weight of the plant into consideration. Usually, ebb and flow, deep water culture, and drip systems work well with bell peppers. You can also go for a Dutch bucket system.  

  • Temperature: keep it between 65 and 75 F during the day. It is advised to drop the temperature a bit during nighttime (about 10 degrees).
  • pH: between 5.5. and 6.5.
  • EC level: around 2.2.

You would need to hand pollinate the peppers.

The lovely veggies will be ready for harvest in 50-80 days.

Tomatoes

Even though botanically speaking, a tomato is a fruit, nutritionists qualify it as a ‘vegetable’. Moreover, this plant is one of the easiest to grow hydroponically. 

Tomatoes

Light: the vegetables need 12-18 hours of light every single day. Young tomatoes require more blue light, while the blossoming vegetables would need red lights.

What hydroponic system should you go for?

You can try the Dutch bucket system (a development of the drip system). Fortunately, tomatoes will grow well in practically any system, with ebb and flow being the most popular choice.

  • Temperature: between 60 and 90 F. 
  • pH: between 6.0 and 6.5.
  • EC level: between 2.0 and 5.0.

Quick pro tip: if you don’t want your hydroponic tomatoes to grow high, take a pair of disinfected scissors and cut the main stem (make sure to leave 2 buds below the cut).

To Sum Up: What vegetables can you grow with hydroponics?

Now you know that you can at least attempt to grow practically any kind of vegetable in a soilless system. However, if you are just getting started, you might want to go for the most popular options that are very easy to grow.

Those include lettuce, tomatoes, and chard. Bell peppers, cabbage, eggplants, zucchinis, cucumbers, and beans might be a bit more challenging to grow, but you can certainly go for it if you want. 

Simply remember to pick the right hydroponic system, grow light, and nutrient solution for your vegetable garden. Also, do keep an eye on such growing conditions as the temperature, pH, and EC level as these things directly affect the health of the plant. 

Anyway, we hope that you have found this article helpful and we wish you the best of luck with your hydroponic farming!