In this article, we will explore what hydroponic basil is and tips on growing basil hydroponically.
Basil is one of the most popular plants in the world. This herb’s popularity stems from its sweet and savory undertones, as well as its alluring scent. The plant is a member of the mint family, and its cousins include rosemary, thyme, oregano, and other aromatic herbs.
Hydroponic Basil is grown in a soil-free environment, holds water, has a lovely sheen to its leaves, and transpires in the dark.
Let’s delve deeper into the importance of hydroponic basil.
Doesn’t the term sound a bit scientific? Well, it is kind of scientific.
You can grow basil in two different ways. The first is the traditional method of cultivating it in the ground. The second approach, known as the hydroponic method, is to grow it without soil. You actually grow the basil in a liquid solution that is sometimes supported by gravel, sand, perlite, or substrates. Hydroponic Basil is the name given to the basil grown in this manner.
More on hydroponics here: National Agricultural Library – Hydroponics
Now that you know what hydroponic basil is, you may wonder how it differs from traditional basil. Well, for starters, you don’t have to get your hands dirty. Since the hydroponic method does not use soil, it eliminates the requirement for well you guessed it good soil!
Furthermore, this is beneficial for those who do not have access to rich, loamy soil or do not have access to land to grow it traditionally.
This approach also prevents gardeners from having to deal with what most gardeners deal with when it comes to traditional soil gardens. Granted, dealing with soil isn’t an issue for a lot of people. But regardless, hydroponics can be a much cleaner option when growing plants indoors.
The second advantage of hydroponics is that it allows rapid growth. You can grow basil considerably faster in a hydroponic system than in soil. This is because nutrients are more easily dispersed in water. As a result, your herbs should be able to absorb their nutrients much faster.
In some cases, the basil growth rate has been reported to double in hydroponics!
Another benefit is that this approach allows you to obtain higher-quality basil. You will have more control over the product since you will be utilizing a nutrient medium.
Therefore, you can produce basil that is healthier and more aromatic by using a variety of mediums and fertilizers.
You must know that basil is a tropical (or subtropical) herb. As a result, it enjoys the heat. So, the optimum temperature range for growing basil is 70-80° F.
Basil grown in a hydroponic system requires a lot of sunlight. So your hydroponic basil should thrive with 14-18 hours of daylight. You can consider purchasing a grow light if you live in an area where the days are short, or there is insufficient sunshine.
The pH of a growing medium can change when fertilizer is added. It can also change as a result of germ growth. So if you’re serious about production, keep an eye on the pH of your nutrition mix solution. In general, it should be in the range of 5.5 to 6.5.
If you plant your basil too close together, it will be difficult for it to flourish. Instead, you should space each plant far enough to avoid crowding and eventual herb death.
Basil requires additional nutrients other than the standard nitrogen-based nutrition. These may include calcium, potassium, and magnesium. So either mention specific nutrients to the vendor or get a general hydroponic nutrient mix. You can also add micronutrients to the mix as a supplement.
Seeds: You can get a packet of basil seeds from the market or buy them online.
Cuttings: You can also grow basil from the stems of another basil plant. Simply take a branch with a length of at least 3 inches. If you are going to cut it yourself, start a little below the last leaf node.
Buy Basil clumps from supermarkets: This may be the best way for beginners and non-commercial production. Just you normal at home grower.
Many supermarkets carry basil plants. One of my favorite places to pick one up is at Trader Joe’s. You can use these basil plants hydroponically. Here are a couple of quick steps to take:
- Gently remove the excess soil from the basil’s roots.
- Rinse the plant with water to remove all soil.
- Place your basil in a hydroponic chamber or jar.
So, remember when you see these plants at the market it can be a quick and low-cost start to your herb garden.
- Mason jars
- Net pots
- Rockwool blocks or another growth medium
- Clay pebbles
- Seeds, cuttings, or seedlings.
- Hydroponic nutrient mix
- A grow light (optional)
- Plastic cups or a humid dome.
Process of Growth
This step is different for each of the propagation methods.
If you are growing hydroponic basil from seeds, first, you must water the cubes. For this purpose, you can use a germination tray to make things easier. Once you’ve hydrated the cubes, place the seeds in the tray. You should have around four seeds in each cube.
If you’re using cuttings, follow the same steps as for the seeds. They must first establish roots and then begin to expand. Once they start growing, they can migrate to a permanent hydroponic system.
Simply arrange the cut into a cube to do this. You can also administer rooting hormones before allowing it to root if you want it to develop quickly.
However, if you’re working with seedlings or transplanting, you can skip this part, as you already have germinated basil.
Again, we are going to look at each of the propagation methods.
If you’re using seeds, take the Rockwool cubes and place them in a humid and warm environment. Since these seeds need around 16 hours of sunlight, you can use a grow light to make up for the daylight shortage. In addition, use a cup or some other covering to preserve moisture. Keep in mind that basil is a tropical herb, so it will need tropical (warm) conditions to germinate.
Secondly, if you have used cuttings, the process is quite similar. Simply place the cuttings (nested in the cubes) in a warm environment.
At this point, your basil seedlings should have established their roots. Take your seedlings (or cuttings) and place them in the net pots. Then, surround them with clay pebbles to promote healthy growth and development.
Next, take the hydroponic solution you prepared earlier. It should already have a balanced amount of micronutrient supplements. Fill your mason jar or any other container you’re using halfway, but not all the way to the brim. Instead, fill it only to the point where it nuzzles the newly formed roots.
Now, here’s something important to keep in mind. If you germinate your basil seeds indoors, you’ll need to harden them off before moving them outside.
Also, keep your basil warm and moist at all times. If the natural conditions where you live do not match the ideal conditions for growing hydroponic basil, you can use grow lights and humidity domes.
When it comes to maintenance, there are two things to keep in mind. To begin with, you must replace the water every three days. Secondly, you can prepare a nutrient mix solution and store it for ten days.
Making a bucket full of the concentrated hydroponic mix is the best approach to maintaining your hydroponic basil. However, don’t prepare too much of this mix as it needs to be replaced every ten days. Also, the mixture must be a different solution from the one in the container.
In addition, replace the diluted nutrition mix in each of the containers twice a week. After draining it, fill it with water and add the appropriate amount of solution to produce a dilute solution identical to the original.
You can harvest your herbs’ leaves after around four weeks of growing. Before you cut off the main stem, make sure they’re at least 6 inches tall.
Basils tend to grow taller rather than wide. Well, the technical term is apical growth. But never mind that.
What you need to know is that you have to prune your basil’s main stem. Two weeks after moving your hydroponic basil to its permanent system, it should be tall enough to prune. When doing so, cut just above the second leaf node.
Similarly, you can cut or pinch the branches to promote growth. However, we recommended using scissors or sharp shears rather than pinching.
After about four weeks, your herbs should be ready for harvesting. If you want to use the leaves immediately, simply snip them with a pair of scissors or you can use your hands. If you plan on storing them for later use, you can dry, freeze or even perceive them in oil.
So there you have it: the five essential facts regarding hydroponic basil. Hopefully, you gained some useful knowledge regarding herbs as a whole. Furthermore, we hope you learned about a variety of different herbs and spices and how to incorporate fresh ingredients into your cooking and home.