People as me all the time how to grow hydroponic strawberries at home? Is it possible?
It is, in fact, a clean, efficient, and fun way to grow hydroponic strawberries. The yield with regards to strawberries grown hydroponically is larger as compared to the traditional soil method.
However, you can’t completely cross out the traditional method because hydroponics also demands planting the seedlings in that way. So, here I am going to give you the whole process on how to grow hydroponic strawberries, and also we have included the ideal varieties you can choose from.
Things To Consider While Growing Hydroponic Strawberries
Before you get to know the answer to how to grow hydroponic strawberries, carefully consider its associated grow terms.
- Germinating Seeds
Growing hydroponic strawberries right from the germinating seeds can take around 2-3 years to produce fruit. It is the reason you are recommended to not start it right this way.
Rootstock comes into use especially in the case of the Ebb and Flow hydroponics system. You have to thoroughly wash it as it is quite dirty to place into the system. And, foam inserts or hydroton can be used in the NFT systems.
Runners start to grow in the plants after strawberries get fully established. These runners are further required to be removed to start the new strawberry plants. The rooter plugs are ideal to remove them from the moist growing medium.
Best Technique for Hydroponics Strawberries
You may come across many popular techniques of growing hydroponic strawberries or even other flowering plants and vegetables.
Some of those common methods are the Deep Water Culture and Aeroponics method in which the plant is constantly in touch with the nutrient solution. But, neither DWC nor Aeroponics is ideal to grow strawberries in hydroponics.
On the other hand, the Ebb and Flow, Drip System, and NFT are said to be ideal for the purpose. The roots of the strawberry plant are flooded with nutrient solution and water in the Ebb and Flow hydroponics technique.
The system needs a timer so that you can put it at flood and drain cycles. A bunch of strawberries can be grown with this one system. The drip system is also efficient for hydroponics because drippers will get to feed the plants throughout the day from the top.
Vertical systems like NFT are great for strawberry production as they let the fruit dangle over the sides while making it super easy to harvest.
Selecting the growing medium for hydroponic strawberries
The highly recommended options in terms of growing medium are clay pebbles, coco coir, and Growstones. Whatever growing medium you choose, it must keep your plant upright and hold its roots in the right place.
For easy availability, the coco coir is the best to stick with.
It is truly inert and won’t even disturb the pH of nutrient solution in strawberries. Adding a bit of perlite to it helps increase the water drainage and aeration.
Choosing the nutrient solution for hydroponic strawberries
You can either use soilless or soil medium for growing hydroponic strawberries. Well, the strawberries need a rich nutrient solution to keep them alive. You will require a good amount of nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus along with other micro and secondary nutrients.
It’s great if you use liquid nutrients for the purpose. Also, starting from the synthetic hydroponic nutrient solution avoids clogging and clumping of the system.
There are two categories of nutrients that you need to look for the ideal survival of the strawberry plant.
- Essential Nutrients
NPK (Nitrogen, Potassium, and Phosphorus) are the basic essential nutrients needed for hydroponic strawberries. Phosphorus is essential for roots, nitrogen for the growth of the cell, and potassium for photosynthesis.
- Trace Elements
Then, you have to consider trace elements such as manganese, iron, copper, zinc, cobalt, molybdenum, and chlorine among other nutrients.
Temperature, Light, and Spacing Requirements for Hydroponic Strawberries
Strawberries can tolerate mild temperatures for ideal growth and production. On average, you will require around 35˚F – 85˚F temperature with 10-12 hours of light. Make sure that the temperature doesn’t get too hot or too cold.
In terms of spacing, keep it at least 6 inches between the strawberry plants.
EC & PH Levels
The optimal PH level for growing hydroponic strawberries falls in the range of 5.8 – 6.2. In the case of non-adjustment in the pH level of nutrient solution, simply add the potassium hydroxide to increase the PH level. You need to add phosphoric acid to decrease the PH level of the nutrient solution.
On the other hand, the ideal EC for growing hydroponic strawberries is said to be 1.0 dS/cm whether you are using it with soilless or soil growing media. Simply use the freshwater and flush the excess salts if accumulated at the roots.
Step-by-Step Process for Strawberry Hydroponics
After you have considered the important factors to grow hydroponic strawberries, it’s high time to check the process of doing so.
Step 1: Start by selecting the variety of strawberry to grow
At the very first step, you need to select the best variety of strawberries to grow among the Everbearing, June bearing, and Day Neutral varieties. Well, you have already studied the different kinds of strawberries above.
What you need to do here is select the variety that you feel comfortable growing whether in terms of yield, growth cycle, and other requirements.
The day-neutral strawberry varieties are said to be ideal for beginners as they produce harvests throughout their lives.
Step 2: Strawberry garden from cutting or seed
Now, you have two options to start your strawberry garden. You can either start it from seeds or cuttings. Well, starting your strawberry garden from seeds is a long way to go. It takes years and years just to start the garden and do the right propagation.
Instead, you must get and try your hands on clones or cuttings of strawberry plants. It is why cutting out the traditional method wholly is not preferred. In this way, you can get the harvest very quickly without investing much money and time.
Step 3: Make an ideal environment
Hydroponic strawberries are generally grown indoors or in greenhouses. Here, you can control the environment in terms of temperature, light, and humidity.
Due to the unpredictable environment, you will definitely need to grow lights to fulfill the requirement of 10-12 hours of light a day to the strawberry hydroponics system.
Also, make sure to keep the day temperature between 65˚F – 85˚F and night temperature between 50˚F – 55˚F. At the same time, controlling the humidity is also essential. For this purpose, you can use a dehumidifier and create ample airflow.
Step 4: Maintain the EC and PH level of the water as directed above.
You are required to maintain the EC and PH level of water in the nutrient solution as suggested which is as follows.
PH level 5.8 – 6.2
EC level 1.0 dS/cm
You can also consider the use of a filter to provide clean water to your strawberry hydroponic system.
Step 5: Care and Maintenance of Strawberries Hydroponic System
Now is the last step to take care of and maintain your strawberries hydroponic system. It is the practice of most experienced growers that train and prune their strawberry plants after the flower starts to appear.
Pruning is useful as it helps the plant to be more focused on producing fruit rather than the plants. It further leads to a bigger size and higher quantity of strawberries. You must also follow some pest management systems to keep your strawberry plants healthy and optimistic.
Remember that the common pests for strawberries are thrips and spider mites. So, whatever pest management or control system you use, it must control these pests.
Step 6: Harvesting
Check for the signs of ripeness to harvest the hydroponic strawberries. Generally, the strawberries are ready to harvest in 4-5 weeks after the first flower startup.
Also, look for the consistent red color, firmness, and softness of strawberries. It is because the green strawberries are not ready to harvest.
Different Varieties of Strawberries You Can Grow Hydroponically
Before you dive into the comparison table of different varieties, know the description of each variety as follows.
There are tons of varieties of strawberries that you can choose from but mainly, they are being divided into three categories. You can grow strawberries in hydroponics according to the season.
- Short Day/June Bearing Strawberries
Short Day/June Bearing strawberries are the ones with the most varieties. On average, it only requires two to three weeks to produce these kinds of strawberries. So, these are the fastest as well.
As the name signifies, the June-bearing strawberries produce most of the harvest around the month of June. That can be a good and long-duration harvest if you have put the equivalent care and effort into the strawberry hydroponics.
June bearing strawberries are further classified into Mid Season, Early Season, and Late Season. It takes around 14 days for these strawberries to set fruit. The Early Season variety will usually start fruiting in late spring.
Then, there is an early midseason and midseason where early midseason starts to set fruit in 5 days and the midseason starts it around 8 days after the early season.
The late midseason begins around 10 days whereas the late season will start fruiting in around 14 days after the early season. Fragaria x Ananassa, Benton, Annapolis, and Allstar are some popular varieties of this season.
- Everbearing Strawberries
The harvest period of these strawberries is contradictory to the name they have. They usually produce two to three harvests per year depending upon the ideal conditions. However, everbearing strawberries put the fewer runners than June bearing varieties.
Their common kinds are usually Laramine, Picnic, Fragaria x Ananassa, and Fragaria vesca. You can easily plant them in limited locations or hill system.
- Day Neutral Strawberries
Day-Neutrals are ideal if you want high yields than everbearing strawberries. They can produce the fruit all year without being severely affected by changing temperatures and light conditions.
They generally produce small to mid-sized fruit in the month of mild October season. And, the temperature to set strawberries and flowers is required between 35 degrees to 85 degrees. The only drawback with the day-neutral strawberries is the small size.
Growing Conditions for Main Varieties of Hydroponic Strawberries
|Main Varieties||Light Conditions||Temperature||Grow Cycle|
|Short Day/June Bearing||10-12 hours||60˚F – 80˚F||5-6 months|
|Everbearing||12 hours full sun||60˚F – 80˚||6-7 months|
|Day Neutral||10-12 hours light||35˚F – 85˚F||4-5 months|
Ideal Sub-Varieties To Choose For Hydroponics System
Douglas is one of the sweet-tart flavored strawberries with a bit of solid texture. And, the month of December is said to be the ideal time to grow hydroponic strawberries.
Tuft is another strawberry kind that is pretty high in nutrients and said to be one of the best varieties for health.
Strawberry Tioga is what is known as ‘Fragaria x ananassa’. It is the sweetest and June-bearing variety.
Brighton strawberries are generally recognized by the place they are produced into. It is linked with Berry Patch Farms located in Brighton, Colorado.
Chandler strawberries are a bit firm and large berries that are being produced from early season to midseason.
- Red Gauntlet
Red Gauntlet is another robust, vigorous, and heavy cropping plant with glossy, heart-shaped, and medium-sized red berries.
Keeping in mind the conditions of deteriorating and unpredictable weather, most of the cultivators around the globe are resorting to hydroponics techniques, the reason being the more predictable production than the traditional method.
But, you need not eliminate the traditional soil method as discussed above. Here, you will require it at the first step to plant seedlings.
Here, you are ready to enjoy red strawberries that don’t need any drying, trimming, or curing. It is the ultimate process to know how to grow hydroponic strawberries. Hopefully, you get to know all the pre-conditions and steps to be followed in a strawberry hydroponic system.