Hydroponics Vs. Soil: Do Hydroponic Plants Grow Faster?
There are plenty of advantages to growing hydroponically over soil-based gardening. Among them include the ability to grow more plants in a smaller space, fewer pests to worry about and no weeding. Another advantage is that many plants grow faster when raised hydroponically.
In fact, some plants are ready for harvest 30 to 50 percent faster than they would be if they were grown in the soil. That means in some cases you could double your harvest from a similar number of plants over the time it takes to grow in a traditional garden. That number could be even higher when you consider that you lose fewer plants to pests and diseases when planting hydroponically.
But wait, that’s not all! If your hydroponic garden was set up on the same space as a traditional garden, your output would grow even more since hydro plants use up less space than soil-grown plants. Now you have the potential for double the plants with fewer losses in half the time!
Hydroponic Growth Rates
Why is it that plants grow so well in a hydroponic system? It’s because you’re giving plants everything they need and then providing them with the perfect conditions to use it. There are no cloudy days. No droughts. No nutrient deficiencies. It’s a virtual smorgasbord for your veggies thanks to a steady supply of high-nutrient liquid fertilizer!
These perfect conditions translate into robust and continuous growth and maturation through the various plant stages. There’s an important distinction there to note – the plants will often grow large (thanks to an abundance of nutrients) while speeding through their maturation process. After all, every plant’s goal is to mature into the flowering stage where it can propagate itself by going to seed.
Best Plants for Hydroponics
Want to test the “speed limit” of your hydroponic system? There are several plants that are known to be the fastest growing plants for hydroponic gardens. With these plants, you’ll be upping your yields like never before!
- Lettuce (Bibb, butter crunch and romaine) – Leafy veggies like lettuce are fast growers on their own right. When you put them in a hydroponic system, they’re practically supercharged with growth. Some leaves will be ready as soon as three weeks.
- Lettuce (Iceberg and other head lettuce) – These veggies have a longer in-soil growth time, but still do well in a hydroponic system. Look for them to be ready in six to eight weeks.
- Herbs (Basil, majoram, oregano, peppermint and spearmint) – Herbs can see a 25 percent increase in their growth rate in an indoor hydroponic garden. Mints, for example, will produce throughout the season and the more leaves you harvest, the more the plant will grow.
- Leafy Greens (Kale, mustard greens, spinach, Swiss chard and watercress) – These vegetables can be ready for harvest in as little as a month when growing in a hydroponic system. Keep an eye on them to harvest them early and before they grow bitter.
A Word of Warning
While hydroponic systems can provide you with an amazing harvest of fantastic greens, you still need to be wary of invading pest insects and diseases. The very nature of hydroponic gardening provides great protection from crawling insects and fungi, but problems can still arise. With that in mind make sure you have insect control and disease fighting supplies available for your hydroponic garden.
Another concern is that when things go wrong in a hydroponic system, they can go catastrophically wrong. An accidental over-application of liquid nutrients can destroy all your plants in a matter of hours, so be sure to follow the feeding schedules of your fertilizers. Also be sure to monitor water quality and temperature.
Your Hydroponic Plans
Are you ready to jump in and get started with your hydroponic garden? If so, Safer® Brand is ready to help you along the way with its line of OMRI Listed® gardening supplies. You can also turn to the Safer® Brand Facebook Community, where you’ll find like-minded hydroponic gardeners.
Finally, be sure to subscribe to the Safer® Brand E-Newsletter, which delivers helpful gardening and pest control articles to your inbox.