Grow Hydroponic Basil Like a Pro: 12 Simple Tips to Get Started

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Growing hydroponic basil has been one of my coolest gardening experiences I’ve ever had. Unlike traditional soil gardening, hydroponics allows for a more controlled environment, which can lead to faster growth and healthier plants. And a ton of basil! And for this Italian girl, that’s a big win.

One of the biggest advantages of growing basil in water is the ease of pest control. Without soil, many common garden pests are simply not an issue, which means fewer chemicals and a healthier plant overall.

Since I have been growing basil hydroponically for several years now. I wanted to share some helpful tips.

Grow Hydroponic Basil Like a Pro

12 Helpful Tips for Growing Hydroponic Basil

African basil and Sweet basil in Aerogarden hydroponic
African basil and Sweet basil in Aerogarden hydroponic
  1. Understand the Basics: Hydroponic basil isn’t grown in soil but in a water-based, nutrient-rich solution. This method is cleaner and more manageable than traditional gardening, but there’s definitely a learning curve. If you’re new to it, start researching and join Facebook groups focused on hydroponic gardening.
  2. Invest in Quality Lighting: Basil needs at least 8-10+ hours of sunlight daily to thrive. If you’re growing indoors, invest in high-quality LED grow lights that mimic natural sunlight or go for an all-in-one hydroponic system like an AeroGarden.
  3. Choose the Right Variety: There are many types of basil, but some do better in a hydroponic setup than others. Look for varieties with larger leaves that grow well in moist conditions, like Genovese or Sweet Basil.
  4. Monitor Water Levels: Keep water levels consistent—never let them drop too low or get too high. This is crucial for your plants’ health. And remember, basil LOVES to drink water.
  5. Use Nutrients Specifically Designed for Hydroponics: Use nutrients specifically made for hydroponic systems. These contain the essential elements plants need to thrive without soil and breakdown in the water.
  6. Prune Regularly: Basil grows quickly and can get out of control. Prune regularly by removing the top 2-3 leaves on each stem to encourage more growth and prevent overcrowding.
  7. Perfect Temperature: Basil is a tropical herb that loves warmth. Aim to maintain a temperature of 70-80°F for optimal growth.
  8. Maintain Optimal pH: The pH of your nutrient solution should be between 5.5 and 6.5. The pH can change with fertilizers or germ growth, so keep an eye on it. If things go funky then refresh all the water.
  9. Three Propagation Methods: You can grow hydroponic basil from seeds, cuttings, or buy basil clumps from supermarkets for first-timers.
  10. Get the Right Supplies: You’ll need mason jars, net pots, Rockwool blocks or another growth medium, clay pebbles, seeds, cuttings or seedlings, a hydroponic nutrient mix, a grow light (optional), and plastic cups or a humid dome. Or cut through all that and get a hydpronic machine! I own aerogardens and idoos. They work great!
  11. Harvest with Care: After about four weeks, your basil should be ready to start harvesting some leaves. Use scissors to snip off the leaves, or your hands if you plan to use them immediately.
  12. Snip the Flowers: If your basil starts to bud and flower, just snip off the flowers to keep it growing. If left, flowers can lead to a bitter taste in the leaves and bolting.

What to do with all that basil!?

As an Italian-American we use basil in lots of things, but when you have a surplus it can be daunting. Here are several ways to use up those wonderful basil leaves.

African basil in Aerogarden hydroponic

Pesto, Pesto, Pesto: It’s time to make some pesto! Basil is the main ingredient in traditional pesto and can elevate any pasta dish. Plus, it freezes well so you can enjoy it all year round.

Infused Olive Oil: Create a flavorful basil-infused olive oil by blending fresh basil leaves with olive oil and storing it in an airtight jar.

Basil Lemonade: Get creative with your basil harvest and make a refreshing basil lemonade for those hot summer days.

Basil in Sandwiches: Use it as you would lettuce in sandwiches for a delicious and aromatic twist.

Basil Salt: Combine fresh basil leaves with coarse sea salt in a food processor for a flavorful seasoning that can be used on meats, vegetables, or even popcorn!

Wrapping Up

By understanding the basics, investing in quality lighting, and choosing the right variety of basil, you can enjoy a bountiful harvest with fewer pests during the winter months! Regular pruning, maintaining optimal water levels, and using nutrients specifically designed for hydroponics will keep your basil plants thriving.

The tips provided above aim to simplify the process, whether you’re starting from seeds, cuttings, or store-bought plants.

And once you have an abundance of basil, there are endless creative ways to use it, from making pesto to infusing olive oil or even whipping up a refreshing basil lemonade. So, why not give hydroponic basil a try? You’ll not only enhance your culinary creations but also enjoy the satisfaction of growing your own herbs. Happy gardening!

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