Growing hydroponic strawberries has become quite popular in the past few years, especially with small apartment owners.
After all, who wouldn’t want fresh, sweet, and juicy strawberries every morning?
The tricky part is that if you choose to grow strawberries hydroponically, you have to provide them with the right nutrient in the right concentration.
Also, if you’re a hydroponic beginner and want to start with strawberries, some research and preparation are involved.
Don’t worry – we’ll cover all that and more in the following article!
Can You Grow Strawberries Hydroponically?
Absolutely! Strawberries have high water content, so they do very well in hydroponics.
Growing your hydroponic strawberries allows you to control the amount of nutrients, leading to a healthier and more consistent harvest.
Moreover, growing hydroponic strawberries also increases the yield so that you can harvest them for the whole year. It won’t be a seasonal fruit anymore because you can set it up outdoors or indoors with the help of artificial light.
Once you’ve set up your hydroponic system, maintaining it is easy and requires only a little time each week.
What You’ll Need to Start Growing Hydroponic Strawberries
Growing hydroponic strawberries may seem like a complex process, but getting started is quite simple. You only need a little space, basic equipment, and your chosen hydroponic system.
Here are the key things you need to consider when growing hydroponic strawberries.
Hydroponic strawberries are grown without soil, so they require a different method of pollination.
One common way to hydroponically pollinate strawberries is to use a small brush or cotton swab to transfer pollen from the male flowers to the female ones.
This process is labor-intensive, but it ensures that the fruit will be pollinated and developed properly. Keep in mind that this method is for strawberries grown inside.
If your hydroponic strawberries are located outside your house or apartment, and there are insects like bees that can help with the pollination, you don’t need to do it manually.
While traditional strawberries require soil, you grow hydroponic strawberries in a nutrient solution. These hydroponic nutrients are typically made up of fresh water and nutrients that are essential for plant growth.
The advantage of using a hydroponic solution is that it can be tailored to the plants’ specific needs. For example, the solution can be adjusted to provide more or less certain nutrients, depending on various current conditions and factors.
Hydroponic nutrients for strawberries should be high in nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, and sulfur. Chlorine is also required in trace amounts, as well as cobalt, copper, manganese, molybdenum, and zinc.
Organics tend to clump and block hydroponic systems, so for starters, start with liquid nutrients and then gradually shift to organics.
You can propagate your strawberries by using plantlets. These plants grow at the end of the stolons, or you can just use seeds.
If you grow hydroponic strawberries using plantlets, you need to take cuttings and put them on moist potting soil. You also need to provide light for them to propagate. Once you’ve seen an extended runner step, trim it and start propagating.
Light & Temperature
The recommended temperature to grow strawberries hydroponically is 65ºF-80ºF during the day and 50ºF-55ºF at night. Remember, low temperatures during the night help increase the flavor of your hydroponically grown strawberries.
Maintaining the correct relative humidity is essential in growing strawberries hydroponically. Calcium uptake is usually affected when the air is too dry, resulting in tip burn and reduced photosynthesis. There should be at least 60-75 percent air humidity for your strawberries to be healthy.
As for the light, hydroponic strawberries require 8-12 hours of light per day. If you’re planning to grow hydroponically inside a greenhouse, there will be a natural light source. However, growing them indoors will require you to have artificial grow lights.
While you can apply different hydroponic systems, these are the two most common planting techniques in growing strawberries hydroponically:
Nutrient Film Technique (NFT)
The Nutrient Film Technique is one of the most popular hydroponic systems for growing strawberries. It utilizes a shallow film of nutrient-rich water to fertigate plants.
This technique is ideal for hydroponic strawberries because it provides a consistent water supply and nutrients to the plant’s roots, giving them everything they need to produce sweet, juicy berries.
Ebb and flow
This hydroponic system is also known as the flood and drain method and is quite similar to the NFT technique. It works by having water pumped into a grow tray and allowed to flood the root system of the hydroponic plants for some time. The excess water then drains back into the reservoir.
There are several advantages to using an ebb and flow system for hydroponics strawberries. First, it helps to aerate the plant’s roots, promoting healthy growth. Second, it provides a consistent supply of moisture, which is essential for fruit production.
Water quality & pH levels
It is essential to use filtered water when setting up your hydroponic systems. This will help ensure that your strawberries won’t get impurities and chloramines usually found in tap water.
The pH level should be between 5.5 and 6.5 for your strawberries to thrive. You can test the pH level of your water using a simple test kit and adjust it as needed using pH-neutralizing solutions.
When it comes to growing strawberries hydroponically, you have several growing mediums to use like coco coir, clay pebbles and grow stones.
Because it is an organic compound, coconut coir helps with drainage, absorbency, and aeration water retention. You can use it to plant and propagate plants to support the roots of your growing strawberries.
The good thing about coco coir is that you don’t need to replace it too often because it doesn’t break easily when used or mixed with garden soil.
This growing medium helps retain water to keep your plants hydrated. It stores the water inside so that the plants can consume it whenever they need it. It also helps prevent root damage and allows the plant to get the air required.
Growstones are made from recycled glass and offer a number of benefits for growing strawberries. They are lightweight and porous, which helps to aerate the roots and prevent waterlogging.
They are also highly absorbent, which can help regulate moisture levels and prevent root rot. In addition, grow stones are eco-friendly and can be reused multiple times.
Peat moss is a type of organic matter derived from decomposed plants. It is highly absorbent, meaning it can help retain water and nutrients around the roots of your strawberries. It’s low in pH, lightweight, and easy to work with, making it an excellent choice for hydroponic growers.
Preparing the Hydroponic System for Strawberries
Before even thinking about strawberries, you need to set up your hydroponic system. This process can seem complicated, but it’s actually quite simple.
One of the most important steps in preparing your hydroponic system is ensuring that all the components are clean. This includes the reservoir, pump, tubing, and grow tray. If any of these items are dirty, it could introduce harmful bacteria into the system, killing your plants.
Before planting, you need to choose a location for your system. It should be in a well-lit spot but away from direct sunlight. Next, you’ll need to set up your reservoir – a bucket or barrel should do it. Once your reservoir is in place, you’ll need to add your nutrient solution. You can either make your own or purchase a commercial solution.
Once the nutrients are in place, that’s the time to add your plants. Strawberry plants are best started from plugs or runners. Once after planting, make sure to monitor the pH level, water, and light to grow your strawberries successfully.
Hydroponic strawberries are relatively easy to care for and produce abundant fruit.
Best of all, growing strawberries indoors is possible so you can enjoy fresh strawberries all year round! Here are some tips for planting and caring for your hydroponic strawberry plants:
- Start with healthy plants. Look for plants that are free of diseases and pests.
- Choose a well-lit location. Hydroponic strawberries need at least six hours of sunlight per day.
- Set up your strawberry plants in a nutrient solution. You can purchase a commercially available solution or make your own using a recipe from a gardening resource.
- Be sure to monitor the pH level of the nutrient solution, as strawberries prefer a slightly acidic environment.
- Water your plants regularly and fertilize them every two weeks with a balanced fertilizer.
Hydroponic Nutrients for Strawberries
Creating a nutrient solution that will meet the plants’ needs is important.
Nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus are essential for growing strawberry plants, and these can be derived from various sources. One option is to purchase a commercial fertilizer designed explicitly for hydroponic strawberries.
Another possibility is to use fish emulsion or compost tea. It is also possible to create your nutrient solution by mixing different fertilizers. Whichever approach you choose, test it regularly to make sure that it still contains the necessary nutrients.
When to Harvest Strawberry Plants
Strawberries usually take 2 to 3 years to bloom and produce fruit.
When you see the flowers, wait around four weeks for them to ripen. Once ripe, that’s the time to harvest them.
Remember that the more the strawberries produce fruit, the more you harvest, and the more they will grow. On average, each hydroponic strawberry plant can produce around ten strawberries each week and will continue to produce fruit in the coming months.
If you notice that the strawberry roots are already long, the yield and the growth will gradually slow down. That is when the older plants should be replaced with new and younger plants.
Common Problems with Hydroponic Strawberries
It might be easy to grow strawberries hydroponically, but there are problems to watch out for. Below, we’ll go over some of the most common ones.
Hydroponics eliminates most root rot concerns of strawberry growers. For instance, you don’t have to worry about fungal rots since there’s no soil. Still, that doesn’t mean the possibility of fruit rot could be eliminated in a hydroponic environment.
One disease that usually affects hydroponically grown strawberries is Botrytis Cinerea, or gray mold. This fungus thrives in cool, wet conditions and can quickly kill hydroponic strawberries. Gray mold appears as fuzzy gray patches on the leaves and fruit of infected plants.
To prevent botrytis cinerea from infecting your strawberries, it is crucial to provide good air circulation and maintain a warm temperature above 60 degrees Fahrenheit. You should also avoid overwatering your plants and remove any infected berries as soon as possible.
Another disease that can be a problem when growing hydroponic strawberries is Powdery Mildew, characterized by white or grayish-white powdery spots on the leaves and stems of affected plants.
While Powdery Mildew may not kill your strawberry plants outright, it can cause them to produce fewer and smaller berries. In severe cases, the fungus can weaken the plant and make it more susceptible to other diseases. Powdery mildew thrives in humid environments.
There are several ways to control Powdery Mildew, including using fungicides and increasing air circulation around the plants. Make sure to promptly remove any affected leaves or berries from the plant to help prevent the spread of the fungus.
Your strawberry plants should be getting the right mix of nutrients. Otherwise, they may not produce as much strawberry fruit as they should.
The most common nutrient deficiency in growing strawberries hydroponically is magnesium. This element is essential for photosynthesis and helps the plant produce chlorophyll. Without magnesium, your strawberry plants will produce fewer fruits and eventually might stop fruiting. You can easily prevent magnesium deficiency by using fertilizer.
Another common problem is calcium deficiency which leads to blossom end rot, a condition that causes the fruit to rot at the base. To prevent calcium deficiency, ensure your fertilizer contains calcium and maintain a proper pH level in your hydroponic systems.
Common pests that target strawberries include aphids, whiteflies, and mites. These pests can damage the plant leaves, causing yellowing and stunted growth. In extreme cases, they can even kill the plant.
The good news is that there are ways to combat these pests. Regular monitoring of your strawberry plant can help you catch an infestation early. Also, maintaining a healthy environment for your plants, including proper air circulation and humidity levels, can help deter pests.
Hydroponic Strawberries vs. Soil Growing
If you want to grow strawberries, there are two main methods: hydroponic and soil-based. Both have benefits and drawbacks, so choose the best method to suit your needs.
Hydroponic strawberries are grown in a water and nutrient solution without the use of soil. Hydroponic methods eliminate the need for weeding and save on watering costs.
However, hydroponic growing can require a greater upfront investment, as you’ll need to purchase a water pump and grow lights. Also, you will need a hydroponic strawberry tower to have an effective hydroponic system.
Traditional soil growing is often easier to set up. Soil-grown strawberries tend to be more forgiving than hydroponics, as plants can draw on nutrients from standard soil even if you don’t have perfect growing conditions.
However, traditional soil gardens require frequent watering and may attract pests such as slugs and snails.
Growing hydroponic strawberries is a great way to have consistent, steady, fresh strawberries.
There are some requirements to follow, but ultimately, it’s not tough to establish a hydroponic system at your home and enjoy the fruits of your labor in just a few weeks.
We hope our article helped you on your gardening journey!