Hydro How-To

Looking for new ways to grow food at home?

Consider going hydro. Hydroponics (which means “working water” in Latin) is a great way to grow clean, strong plants, indoors or out. 365 days a year.

Hydro gardening is different than traditional gardening. Plants are grown above ground and without soil, using a water-based nutrient solution and a growing media. You control the growing environment so it’s easier to give plants the nutrients they need to thrive.

Root Farm Hydroponics allow you to grow a wide range of plants. Harvest your favorite fruits, veggies, herbs and flowers 365 days a year.* Food has never been so local.

* Supplemental lighting may be needed when growing indoors.

Leafy greens

Lettuce, Chard, Kale, and more


Berries, Melon, Citrus, and more


Tomato, Pepper, Cucumber, Zucchini and more


Rose, Petunia, Lavender, Hydrangea and more


Basil, Parsley, Cilantro, Dill, Mint and more

1. Choose your path

There are two ways to grow

Your Root Farm hydro garden can be grown two different ways: with growing mix (“Drain to Waste” hydroponics) or with water (“recirculating” hydroponics). Each has its advantages. No matter which system you choose, Root Farm products are made to help plants thrive in either hydro environment.

Path One: With Water

Explore the latest water-based (recirculating) hydro technology. The Root Farm Hydro Garden system uses a pump to continually recirculate the nutrient solution to plants in their growing reservoir. Nutrients are topped off as needed, and the reservoir is drained and replenished every 1-2 weeks.

Benefits of growing with water

Less nutrient solution waste

Grow up to 4 different plants together

More control to give plants exactly what they need

Hydroponics provides faster growth and higher yields (vs traditional gardening)

Path Two: With Growing Mix

In a Drain to Waste System, plants are grown with one of Root Farm’s™ soil-less growing mixes (Root Farm™ Hydro Garden Potting Mix or Root Farm™ Hydro Garden Coco Coir Blend) inside a Root Farm™ Felt Garden Pot for better drainage. Growing plants are fed a nutrient solution with a watering can, directly over the growing mix. Excess nutrient solution simply drains away. We recommend placing a tray under your felt pot to catch any nutrient solution that drains away.

Benefits of growing with growing mix

Nutrient solution is fresh with each application

Growing mixes are designed for aeration and drainage

Breathable pots drain easily and prevent root circling

High drainage allows you to apply nutrient solution more frequently, which promotes fast growth

2. Start seeds or transplants

Ready, set, grow

The Root Farm Seed Starting Kit makes it easy to grow hydro plants from seeds or cuttings.

Simply place either seeds or cuttings in the plugs provided with your tray and follow the instructions. Once plants are started, insert the plug into the Root Farm Hydro Garden System or a Root Farm Felt Garden Pot filled with either Root Farm Hydro Garden Potting Mix or Root Farm Hydro Garden Coco Coir Blend.

3. Add your nutrients

Plants get hungry, too

Just like people, plants need food to thrive. Nutrients are critical at all stages of growth to keep your hydro garden happy and strong.

Different plants have different needs during their life cycle so we designed Root Farm Base Nutrient and Root Farm Supplemental Nutrients to deliver the right elements at just the right time, whether you’re growing fresh leafy greens or heavy feeding plants like tomatoes, fruits or flowers.

Use this chart as a feeding guide:

Crop type
Seedling Stage *
Early Growth Stage *
Mature Growth Stage *
Leafy Greens or Mixed Crop Gardens Base Nutrient 1 1.5 2
All-Purpose Supplement 1 1.5 2
Fruiting & Flowering Plants Base Nutrient 1 1.5 2
Fruit & Flower Supplement 1 1.5 2
Tomato & Vegetable Plants Base Nutrient 1 2 3
Tomato & Veggie Supplement 1 2 2
* Teaspoons per gallon of water

4. Balance your solution

Keep pH in Check

The pH of your hydroponic plants should be monitored throughout the growing cycle. Most plants prefer a pH range of 5.5 to 6.5, though some plants vary.

A pH testing kit will allow you to monitor the pH level of your nutrient solution to ensure your plants are absorbing the nutrients they need. Root Farm pH Balance Up and Root Farm pH Balance Down are formulated to help you easily raise or lower the pH of your nutrient solution as needed.

5. Add Lighting

Grow in or out

Hydro gardening gives you lots more flexibility. You can grow outside in sunlight or inside with lighting.

If growing outdoors — Set up your hydro garden in an area where it will receive at least six to eight hours of direct sunlight. If using a Recirculating System, make sure any power cords or equipment are designed for outdoor use.

If growing indoors — You may need additional equipment, depending on your crops. Light, temperature, ventilation, humidity and access to water are all factors to consider. Some gardeners use a grow tent for even more control over their environment.

Lighting is vital to your hydro garden success. The kind you choose depends on the types of plants you’re growing and the space you have, as well as your level of interest and budget. Beginners may want to start with a budget-friendly lighting option such as T5 Fluorescent, while serious hobbyists may decide to invest in a costlier options such as HPS or metal halide.


You’re on your way to breaking new ground in growing.

Hydro gardening can seem overwhelming at first, but it doesn’t have to be. We’re here to help.

To get in touch, please visit the contact page or call us at  1-877-220-3090.