What Plants Can Be Grown in Water?

You'll be amazed at how many of your faves are on the list.

By now you've likely heard the buzz about hydroponics, the technique of growing plants in either water or a soilless mix. Its growing popularity is no surprise—hydroponics is an easy and fun way to garden. (Learn more about the basics right here.) 

But what, exactly, can you grow hydroponically? Depending on the system you have, the list can include veggies, herbs, annual flowers, and small fruits like strawberries. In fact, pretty much the only plants that don't adapt well to hydroponic gardening are ones that need a lot of space to sprawl, climb, or grow (like vines and trees) and root crops (think potatoes, carrots, onions).

Easy Hydro Plants for Beginners

If this is your first foray into hydroponic growing, try one (or more) of these can't-miss plants.

  • Greens: Grow salad bowls full of greens with leaf lettuce, romaine, buttercrunch, spinach, or kale. Allow plants to reach full size, pick as baby greens for salads, or harvest individual leaves as needed—it's your choice.
  • Herbs: Basil and mint grow especially well as hydroponic plants. Harvest both plants regularly to keep them bushy and prevent flopping.
  • Strawberries: These pretty plants thrive in hydroponic gardens (including relatively small systems with multiple pots), delivering lots of delicious berries.
  • Tomatoes and peppers: Yes, you read that right! Just be sure to choose "patio," "dwarf," or "lunchbox" varieties.
  • Cucumbers: Choose bush varieties that don't vine, and place your hydroponic containers in a spot with good airflow to help reduce the chance of disease.
  • Marigolds: These perky annuals grow really well in hydroponic systems. If marigolds aren't your thing, try petunias, impatiens, or pansies.

Tips for Choosing Hydroponic Plants

As you select which plants to grow hydroponically, here are a few other things to remember:

  • If you're growing plants for kitchen use, know that hydroponic grow systems can yield a lot, so you may not need as many plants as you usually do.
  • If you're starting your hydroponic garden with Bonnie Plants® (or other young plants or seedlings), wash soil from roots carefully before transplanting them into your hydroponic system.
  • Make sure to group plants together that have the same nutritional needs. For example, put plants grown for their greens (like lettuce and spinach) together and in a separate container from plants grown for their fruit (like tomatoes and eggplants).

With experience, you can master growing many different kinds of plants in water. Start small, then follow your plants' lead and branch out!