How to Grow Vegetables in Water


Growing vegetables in water, also known as hydroponics, has advantages over cultivating plants in soil. Less space is required with hydroponics since the vegetable roots do not need to spread out through the soil to reach vital nutrients. Instead, the nutrients are provided with the water and are readily available. Hydroponically-grown vegetables are healthier because soil-borne pests and weeds are eliminated. Vegetables grown in water are also less labor-intensive than soil-grown vegetables, according to the Virginia Cooperative Extension.

How to Grow Vegetables in Water
(Tishana Richards/Demand Media)

Things You'll Need

  • Net pots
  • Hydroponic containers
  • Scissors
  • Knife
  • Grow lamps
  • Fan
  • Clay aggregate
  • Water
  • Nutrient solution
Step 1

Place the hydroponic containers in a sunny outdoor location. Hydroponically-grown vegetables can be grown indoors, but it's necessary to provide grow lights and a fan to maintain air circulation.

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Step 2

Cut a hole in the lid of the container, using scissors. The net pot holds the plant suspended over the nutrient solution using this hole in the lid. The diameter of the hole should be large enough for the lip of the net pot to rest on the surface of the lid.

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Step 3

Punch holes in the container’s lid with a knife. These holes improve aeration of the plant roots and reduce fungal growth in the water, according to the Virginia Cooperative Extension.

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Step 4

Fill your container with water and nutrient solution. Follow the directions on the nutrient solution’s label for dilution ratios. It is important to leave space between the surface of the water mixture and the container lid to allow for air circulation, according to the University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension.

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Step 5

Clean the roots of young vegetable plants. Remove the soil and rinse any remaining debris from the plant’s roots and stem.

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Step 6

Place the plant in the net pot. Hold the base of the stem just below the top of the net pot while gently threading the roots through the openings on the side and bottom of the pot. Fill the pot with clay aggregate, a hydroponic growth medium that holds the plant and roots in place while allowing access to air and water.

Tishana Richards/Demand Media
Step 7

Settle the net pot into the hole you cut in the container’s lid. Lower the lid onto the container, making sure the roots hang freely from the net pot into the water and nutrient solution.

Tishana Richards/Demand Media
Step 8

Change the water and nutrient solution every two weeks, according to the University of Florida. The plants should receive direct light, from the sun or grow lamps, 14 hours each day, and air from a fan, if indoors.

Tishana Richards/Demand Media

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Tips & Warnings

  • Styrofoam boxes, or any container that has a lid, will work as a hydroponic container. Porous containers must be lined with black plastic to prevent leakage.
  • The interior of metal containers must be painted with asphalt emulsion. This prevents the metal from leeching into the plant’s water and eliminates rust and corrosion.
  • Nutrient solutions and net pots are available at garden centers.
  • Net pots range in diameter and depth for various plant sizes.


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