Grow Plants Hydroponically

Say goodbye to soil and hello to water-based gardening.

Hydroponically Grown Purple Bell Pepper

Hydroponically Grown Purple Bell Pepper

This gorgeous purple bell pepper grew successfully without soil.

Photo by: Image courtesy of Grow Up! Hydrogarden

Image courtesy of Grow Up! Hydrogarden

This gorgeous purple bell pepper grew successfully without soil.

Pop quiz: You have a plant, a pot and some water. What are you missing? 

Answer: Nothing. 

Plants grow in soil; it's gardening 101. But plants can also grow without soil thanks to a method called hydroponics. "Hydroponics … uses nutrient-rich water to feed and nourish the root systems of plants, promoting faster growth and higher yield," says Barrie Freeman, inventor of the Grow Up! Hydrogarden

Grow Up Hydropgarden

Grow Up Hydropgarden

Vertical garden systems like the Grow Up! Hydrogarden save space and thrive on their own.

Vertical garden systems like the Grow Up! Hydrogarden save space and thrive on their own.

For those who've been sticking seeds in soil for decades, it might seem odd that plants can survive in other mediums like aggregate, sand, pumice or perlite, but Freeman says it's the future of farming. "Large scale hydroponic farming is practiced worldwide as a healthy, space-saving, highly successful method of growing food," she says. "It's also great way to garden for those with a balcony or small space." 

And it isn't exactly a newfangled concept: Sir Francis Bacon published a book called Sylva Sylvarum in 1627 about growing plants with water instead of soil. 

Like soil gardening, hydroponics takes many different forms, but Freeman's Hydrogarden includes pots, a lid, PVC plumbing, perlite, a pH tester, nutrients and a 20-gallon reservoir in which water and nutrients are pumped to the top of the planter and circulated throughout. "All the essential nutrients that plants require to grow are constantly available to the roots and it uses 90 percent less water than soil gardening," she says.  

Here are a few other of Freeman's dirty truths about soil-less gardening: 

  • You can grow plants in any climate and zone as long as you're mindful of the growing season of each plant. 
  • With proper lighting and ventilation, hydroponics can happen indoors and out.
  • Many pests are eliminated but no garden is completely free of bugs. 
  • Annuals and smaller root ball plants work best. Freeman grows everything from arugula and beets to beans, cauliflower, eggplant, strawberries, Brussels sprouts, melons, tomatoes and squash hydroponically.

Next Up

Aquaponics: Grow Fish and Flowers!

This soil-less system puts produce and protein on your plate.

The Perfect Plants for a Garden Pond

Attracting wildlife into the yard brings it to life, and a pond is a magnet for wildlife. 

Dig In: Plant a Pizza Garden

Create delicious homemade pizzas with fresh-grown herbs and tomatoes from your garden.

Hot Stuff: Grow an Indoor Tea Garden

HGTV offers tips for creating an indoor herbal tea garden.

Grow a Tea Garden

    Brew a cup of tea using ingredients you grow yourself.

Grow a Kitchen Herb Garden

Herb gardens make an easy, tasty addition to your winter kitchen.

Grow Guide: Edging Gives Definition to Your Garden

Choose brick, English or metal edging for a neat border and a lawn barrier.

How to Plant a Mini Herb Garden for Your Porch

Skip the dried, store-bought herbs and pick yours straight from your own miniature portable garden.

How to Plant a Container Water Garden

Add a water feature in a pot for your small garden.

Tips for Planting a Rock Garden

Creating an optimal environment and choosing the right plants are essential to creating a rock garden.