Not all plants can germinate in a hydroponic system, but when it’s possible to seed something using hydroponics, you should. Growing plants from seeds in your hydroponic system is challenging but rewarding work. Transporting sprouts from soil can damage roots and stress out the plants; however, when growing straight from seeds in hydroponics, you only move the roots into a larger medium. The process may take some effort to perfect, but by using this basic guide to seed starting for hydroponics, you can limit the mistakes you make the first time and learn how to grow beautiful plants.
When you’re starting seeds in hydroponics, it’s important to remember your grow medium should provide the seeds a cozy environment in which to take root. Seed starters are made from rockwool or coco coir, and they’ll provide your seeds with enough room to begin growing. Because these materials are sterile and don’t provide nutrients to the seeds, you’ll need to give them nutrients on your own just as you would with a plant further along in the growing process. Furthermore, much like your larger grow mediums, you must soak the seed starter plugs before use. Keep seeds in a small tray before you move them to your main hydroponic system.
Taking Care of Your Seeds
Seed care requires you to be a bit gentler than you might be with your fully grown plants. Never soak the seedlings while they’re in the tray—only keep them damp. The environment of your tray should be warm and humid, but never warmer than 90° F. To keep the tray humid, you’ll likely need an enclosed space for the seeds and seed starter plugs. At FloraFlex, we call this system an incubator, and it looks much like a large ice cube tray with a lid.
Until you notice that the seed has germinated, keep the tray in darkness. Only give your seeds a diluted amount of hydroponic fertilizer. Once you see plant growth, you can slowly provide the seedlings with light. Start with only a little bit of light, and move towards stronger lights as they get bigger. Watch how close you move them to the light—more than 6”, and they can get scorched.
If you see roots peeking out from the plugs, you know it’s time to transplant them to your normal hydroponic system. Move these healthy seedlings to your larger growing mediums and grow them as you would any other hydroponic plant. Check in with them after a couple of days to make sure they’ve taken root in the new growing medium.
Growing from seeds rather than from seedlings will save you money and allow you to try gardening new varieties of plants. We hope this basic guide to seed starting for hydroponics has displayed how easy germinating your own seeds can be when you give them the proper attention they deserve. When you’re looking for seed starter plugs or a hydroponic drip irrigation kit for your fully-grown hydroponic garden, FloraFlex has the tools you need.