Hydroponic Herbs

Herbs are one of the most rewarding crops and most are also easy to grow. 

But hold on, you don’t have a garden nor any soil! So, what’s the answer? Now even you can do it! How, simple: with hydroponics.

Herbs are particularly suited for hydroponic gardening: they are often small plants, many are fast growing, and they have become a favorite even with total newcomers to hydroponics.

So much so that you can even buy a hydroponic kit for herbs with everything incorporated quite cheaply nowadays – actually, you have a wide choice of these. 

You can even try experimenting with several different varieties of one favorite herb, like basil.

But which herbs are ideal for hydroponics? To give you a little inspiration, here are some of most reliable and productive and herbs for growing in hydroponics:

1. Parsley
2. Basil
3. Thyme
4. Chives
5. Mint
6. Chamomile
7. Watercress
8. Sage
9. Oregano
10. Lavender

So, if you want to have these wonderful herbs ready for the pick in your kitchen or anywhere else at home, just read on and you’ll find out how you can do it!

10 Of The Best Herbs To Grow In Hydroponics

1. Parsley


There’s an Italian saying that goes, “You are like parsley.” What does it mean? Quite simply that you are everywhere. And why would it be? No kitchen should ever run out of parsley, as this herb, even as a garnish, can go virtually on any dish, even as garnish.

Parsley is not just an herb with a flavor that is, to say the least, so deeply rooted in our culture that it’s a classic though. Parsley is a natural antibacterial, as it contains myristicin; it is good to keep your bones healthy and it is rich in nutrients like:

  • Magnesium
  • Potassium
  • Calcium
  • Vitamin K

This native herb of the Mediterranean, already used by the Ancient Greek has also another great quality: once you get the first crop, it will grow back… and again, and again…

Parsley is also one of those herbs that lose a lot of flavor and aroma if they are not fresh. Thus, if you want to have herbs growing in your hydroponic garden, parsley is a must.

Tips For Growing Parsley

  • The best nutrient solution pH for parsley is 5.5.
  • The electrical conductivity (EC) of the nutrient solution is best kept between 0.8 and 1.8 for parsley.
  • It’s not a demanding plant, just give it plenty of light and warm temperature and it will grow healthy and happy (60 to 65oF or 16 to 18oC is ideal, but it will survive freezing temperature of 10oF or -12oC!)
  • You can easily grow parsley from seed hydroponically; just soak some rockwool cubes in water, put them in a tray with a little water in it, plant two seeds per square inch, push them into the rockwool. Then place the tray in a sandwich bag or similar and wait for the little plants to germinate.

2. Basil


The herb pesto is made from, but not only; arguably one of the herbs with the freshest flavor, super rich in essential oils, synonymous with Italy, which even has a region named after it, basil is one of the easiest herbs to grow hydroponically.

What is more, unless you can make pesto, there is no way you can preserve the flavor and exhilarating scent of basil by freezing it or preserving it.

Basil must be eaten fresh. The good news is, it is a fast growing plant and in less than two months from seeding you can start tasting it.

Tips for growing basil

  • It’s easy to recreate the conditions basil loves indoors: plenty of light, warmth and a sheltered place.
  • You can easily propagate bail by stem cuttings, even hydroponically, using rockwool as a growing medium
  • The best nutrient solution pH for basil is 5.5.
  • The nutrient solution’s electrical conductivity for basil should be within the range of 1.0 to1.6.
  • If you want to keep your basil for long, do not pluck the leaves lower down the stem; pick the top leaves instead; just leave some buds under the point you cut and it will branch off from there.
  • Again, if you wish to keep harvesting it, do not let it flower; as soon as it does, it stops producing leaves, the leaves it has lose flavor and nutrients and they will start to wilt. The flowery tips are also bitter, unlike the leaves. Still, you may want to let it flower at the end of its life, for seeds and to let the plant conclude its natural cycle.

3. Thyme


There’s an old French proverb that reads, “Never two without three,” (or “jamais deux sans trois” in its original form).

And with two herbs that express all the beauty, flavor and smell of the Mediterranean, we could not forget the one Odysseus smells at the beginning of Homer’s epic poem when he wakes up, with the salt of this very sea in his hair, on the Island of Phaeacian island of Scheria: thyme.

A plant you will see growing among rocks in the region, it has hard, almost woody stems unlike basil or parsley; but its tiny oval leaves are packed with a very refined flavor, which can turn even the most boring dish into haute cuisine.

Not just this, but thyme essential oil is even stronger than tea tree oil (so much so that you always need to dilute it). It is in fact, a very powerful natural disinfectant, rich in, for example:

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin C (in huge quantities)
  • Copper
  • Iron
  • Manganese

Unlike other herbs, thyme is a perennial; a low growing shrub that will be with you for many years.

Tips For Growing Thyme

  • With this plant, you will also save on nutrients, as it only needs very little. On average, in fact, you can use half the average dose – and it will actually grow better. This plant is used to very poor soil in Nature.
  • Thyme grows well with every light condition; from full Sun to total shade, so, no worries here.
  • The ideal electrical conductivity for thyme is between 0.8 and 1.6.
  • The nutrient solution’s pH should be between 5.5 and 7.0.
  • You can easily propagate it with stem cuttings; it is a very strong and resilient plant; just cut a stem during the vegetative phase and plant it in wet rockwool. It will do all the rest as long as you keep it fairly moist.
  • Do not harvest it when it is in bloom; in this time, the leaves lose most of their flavor and properties. Instead, enjoy the many and beautiful flowers that go from white to purple via pink. In fact, thyme is also a delicate and elegant ornamental plant.

4. Chives


Let’s admit it; chives are one of the cutest and sweetest herbs ever. Maybe underrated because they have that “oniony” flavor, they are a non “invasive” herb in sauces and many other dishes though.

They are also very fast growing plants, so, they are very productive in terms of the time and effort you will need to put in.

Yet again, even if dried chives are “feasible”, fresh chives are a completely different and more rewarding experience.

Tips For Growing Chives

  • Because of their shape and fairly small size and height, they are perfect for zip grow hydroponic towers, or any form of vertical gardening. You can have plenty in a small space, even to give away to neighbors and friends or, if you are so inclined, to sell them for profit.
  • The best pH for chives is just above 6. You may not be able to keep it perfectly steady, but aim for about 6.3 to 6.6, but anything between 6.1 and 6.8 will be fine.
  • Chives love light; make sure they get at least 12 hours of bright light every day.
  • Keep the electric conductivity of the nutrient solution between 1.8 and 2.4.
  • Chives are resistant to changes of temperatures, even fairly sudden ones. This makes them ideal for outdoor gardening as well. Still, the best temperature is between 65 and 80oF, or 18 to 27oC.

5. Mint


Mint is not just an herb – it’s a whole mindset. When I was young, children were divided into two: those that liked lemon flavored popsicles and those who liked mint ones.

The flavor of mint is arguably the most appreciated and common around the world; you can find it in drinks, candies, sweets, jellies and, of course, also salads and even salty dishes.

Mint is also a very generous and strong herb; it grows fast, it is almost disease free, and it gives a lot for the little attention it requires.

Rich in essential oils, mint does not only give you a fresh smelling breath; it also has many properties that are good for your health:

  • It helps you digest food and it treats indigestion.
  • It has an anti-nauseous property; it can be used even to prevent sea-sickness and plane sickness.
  • It helps your brain work well and fast.
  • It treats IBS (irritable bowel syndrome)
  • It can be used by women ease breastfeeding pain.

Tips For Growing Mint

  • Like most herbs, mint loves sunlight. If you have it indoors, make sure that it receives between 12 and 16 hours of light every day. If outdoors, an East to South facing position is ideal.
  • You can grow mint in a fairly wide pH range: between 5.5 and 6.5.
  • The best electrical conductivity range for your nutrient solution is between 2.0 and 2.4 for mint.
  • Mint likes fresh air at night, but not cold, ideally, between 50 and 55oF, or 10 to 13oC. During the day, temperatures between 55 and 70oF, which is 13 to 21oC. However, if the temperature goes above 85o or 29oC, the plant will stop growing.
  • Mint also likes humidity while it is rooting; you should keep it between 70 and 75% in this phase. It needs to be even higher if you are growing your mint plants from cuttings: between 85 and 90%.

6. Chamomile


How many sweet dreams has chamomile blessed us with? The sound of the name of this herb itself is soothing and comforting.

If you have had the luck of seeing a chamomile field, even a wild one, then you will know that this plant is a harbinger of peace. It is only fair that when we think about this herb, we always picture the smiling face of a sleeping child.

Already used by the Ancient Egyptians, this plant has become a worldwide favorite as a natural relaxing and sweet flavored home remedy to soothe our nerves after a hard and irritating day at work.

What is more, if you grow chamomile at home, you will have a permanent and living source of aromatherapy.

Just the aroma of this herb has great soothing properties, and it can bring calm and relaxation into your home and family just with its presence. And beautiful flowers too!

Tips For Growing Chamomile

  • Chamomile loves the Sun too; however, it can manage with only 4 hours of light a day. A South facing position is ideal for this plant. If you use grow lights, this plant needs to rest too; it always needs a good 8 hours of sleep every night, in the dark.
  • The ideal temperature for this herb is between 60 and 68oF, which is 15 to 20oC.
  • If you grow it outdoors, it will dry up if winters are severe, but in warmer climates chamomile is an evergreen plant.
  • When you harvest the flowers, avoid damaging the plant; use a small, sharp and (importantly) disinfected knife to avoid spreading disease, wipe it with alcohol to eliminate germs and other pathogens. A grafting knife or pruning knife would be perfect.

7. Watercress


Growing naturally in clean and fresh steams and rivulets, watercress is not just suitable for or adaptable to hydroponics; it is a natural hydroponic herb.

With its tangy peppery flavor, this is an herb that grows fast and strong and that you can find on the salad shelves next to lettuce in many supermarkets nowadays.

Unlike most of the herbs we use, which come from the Mediterranean, watercress is an Asian herb, though it is now extensively cultivated also in Europe and the U.S.

It is such a rich and nutritious plant that it is regarded as a “super food” by many; in fact it is packed with:

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin K
  • Calcium
  • Manganese
  • Antioxidants
  • 40 different types of flavonoids!

In fact, studies show that it is one of the best sources of anti-oxidants in the whole world.

Watercress is so rich in therapeutic substances that it is useful to…

  • Prevent some types of cancer.
  • It has astounding effects on your heart’s health.
  • It protects people against osteoporosis.
  • It boosts your immune system.
  • It can even make you lose weight.

Sure you still want to do without it?

Tips For Growing Watercress

  • Propagating watercress hydroponically is the easiest thing in the world. Just take a stem cutting, put the lower part of the cutting in the nutrient solution, and literally within days it will grow roots.
  • Propagating watercress hydroponically is the easiest thing in the world. Just take a stem cutting, put the lower part of the cutting in the nutrient solution, and literally within days it will grow roots.
  • The ideal nutrient solution pH is between and 6.5 and 6.8.
  • The best temperature for its growth is between 77 and 86oF, which is 25 to 30oC, but it will stand temperatures outside this narrow range, especially below, down to 46oF or 8oC.
  • Watercress wants a low electrical conductivity of the nutrient solution, between 0.4 and 1.8.

8. Sage


Sage brings up the idea of dryness itself, but, you will be surprised, it can be grown hydroponically, and easily too.

This herb with velvety leaves and very dry and hard stems, with its unique distinctive flavor can, in fact, grow with its roots nourished only by a bit of nutrient solution.

This herb which you can use fresh or dry can turn even the most boring casserole into a rich and flavorsome dish worthy of a king. But there is more… it is a big source of essential oils and it is rich in:

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin K
  • Beta-carotene
  • Folate
  • Phosphorus
  • Potassium
  • Magnesium

As a consequence, it also has many benefits for your health, for example:

  • It is a natural disinfectant and great for oral hygiene. You can literally brush your teeth with its leaves.
  • It is good for your memory and helps your brain work well.
  • It lowers LDL cholesterol, the bad one.
  • It may even be useful to prevent some forms of cancer.

Tips For Growing Sage

  • The pH of the nutrient solution should be between 5.5 and 6.0.
  • Sage loves sunlight; it will need at least 12 hours of light every day, both indoors and outdoors.
  • It also likes very warm conditions, ideally, between 75 and 85oF during the day (24 to 30oC) and above 60oF at night (or 16oC).
  • The optimum electrical conductivity range for sage is between 1.0 and 1.6.
  • Keep humidity low and ventilate the room often if you grow it indoors or in a greenhouse etc.

9. Oregano


Any dish with tomatoes gets a boost if you add a sprinkling of oregano, yet another Mediterranean flavor. Most commonly used in its dried form, oregano can also be eaten fresh.

This is an herb that grows well in hot and well lit places, where it can develop its essential oils that have huge benefits:

  • This herb too is rich in antioxidants.
  • It is good for your breathing; you can, in fact, use it to fend off the symptoms of colds and flu.
  • It has anti-inflammatory properties.
  • It may have antiviral properties.
  • It is being studied as an herb that can help prevent cancer.

Despite its dry look and original habitat, oregano well adapts to hydroponics too. Finally, it also has an extra benefit for your hydroponic gardens: aphids can’t stand its scent, so, it works as natural pest control.

Tips For Growing Oregano

  • Oregano likes a fairly high pH, above 6.0 and up to 8.0. In the wild, in fact, you will often find it in very alkaline soil, like clay for example.
  • The best electrical conductivity range for oregano is between 1.5 and 2.0.
  • The temperature range oregano likes is between 55 and 70oF, or 13 to 21oC.
  • If you grow it outdoors, place it in full Sun or part shade, it likes plenty of light. If you have it indoors, and you use LED grow lights, set them on a long light cycle, between 12 and 14 hours daily.

10. Lavender


The queen of herbs; actually even more… Lavender is one of the most precious plants Mother Nature has given us.

If you have ever happened to stroll in the countryside of Southern France or Italy and Spain, you can’t have missed the magic beauty of lavender fields… Vast seas of purple waves, that, if you look closer, are teeming with life!

I think lavender has no match when it comes to feeding butterflies, bees, bumble bees and other insects.

You will find them dancing in the scent of this very feminine plant, and mixing their colours with lavender’s own, some would say, “spiritual” hue.

This plant has been our loving companion, in food, soap, ceremonies and even as medicine at least since the Pharos erected temples in Ancient Egypt. And now lavender is witnessing a revival, and it has also entered the world of hydroponics.

Why has this herb been such a protagonist in our history? Put simply:

  • It has great soothing and relaxing properties.
  • It calms nerves and makes you sleep, and sleep very well.
  • It has anti-fungal properties.
  • It lowers blood pressure and slows down heart beats.
  • It treats hot flashes during the menopause.
  • It is a natural pain relief remedy.
  • It helps reduce the symptoms of asthma.
  • You can even use it to heal skin blemishes.
  • It stimulates hair growth, as a recent study shows.

Tips For Growing Lavender

  • Lavender grows into fairly large shrubs, so, keep plants about 3 feet, or 1 meter apart. This also makes it unsuitable for indoor gardening, unless you choose a dwarf variety, but still make sure it gets plenty of fresh air.
  • Lavender is suitable for a drip system, aeroponics or ebb and flow, but not for other systems. Also, do not over-irrigate your plants, as they prefer dry conditions.
  • This plant needs a lot of light; at least 6 hours of full sunlight (or strong LED light) every day.
  • The nutrient solution pH for lavender should be between 6.4 to 6.8.
  • Keep the air dry and well ventilated; humidity can be a major issue with the health of your lavender plants.
  • Lavender likes hot places; it will grow better at temperatures above 65oF, or 18oC. It will stand very high temperatures too, but the quality of your plants will lower, and you will get a smaller concentration of essential oils.
  • Keep the electrical conductivity of the nutrient solution between 1.0 and 1.4.

The magic world of herbs, now also in your own home with hydroponics

Herbs have always been associated with magic, apart from cooking, cleaning and even perfumes; used by Shamans and Druids since time immemorial, people have even been tortured and killed for using them to heal themselves and their neighbors; they were called “witches” and accused of harnessing some sort of “unnatural” energy.

But there is nothing more natural than herbs themselves… They are a gift from Nature, maybe a door to a transcendental experience; one of healing, peace and wellbeing. Of course, they also taste and smell nice…

And if you don’t have a kitchen garden, but you understand how good herbs are for your quality of life, health as well as for the flavor of the food you offer your guests, don’t worry!.

Just a small hydroponic kit on top of the fridge can be a good starting point to turning your whole kitchen into a useful, colorful and above all, aromatic herb garden.

Adriano Bulla

Written By

Adriano Bulla

After many years as an academic in London, Adriano Bulla became a writer, publishing books like A History of Gardening, Organic Gardening and Elements of Garden Design; he then decided to become a gardener, following his childhood dream, and has been following his dream writing and gardening professionally in Southern Europe, where he has specialized in new and innovative organic gardening fields and techniques, like permaculture, regenerative agriculture, food forests and hydroponics.

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