There are numerous methods of growing potatoes including the regular soil-based and straw bales method. Still, one of the best ways to grow potatoes for the whole year is with a hydroponic system.
Hydroponic potatoes can be grown both indoors and outdoors, and the success also depends on the varieties and hydroponic techniques used. To help you get the bigger picture on growing potatoes without soil, we’ll go over the most important features of hydroponic growth. We’ll also go over the steps you need to take to get your hydroponic potatoes harvested in no time!
Benefits Of Growing Hydroponic Potatoes
Growing potatoes hydroponically might strike you as odd at first, given the traditional soil-based planting methods. However, there are vast benefits of using a hydroponic system to grow your favorite veggies.
First of all, you will get fewer pests this way without the need of planting potatoes in soil. Also, you get the chance to grow them all year long even if your area doesn’t get much sunlight. This can be done with the help of UV lamps and other light assistances available for hydroponic systems.
You can even grow potatoes indoors, but you’ll need a bit more space than for other hydroponic plants and vegetables. Like with pests, you will also encounter fewer soil-based bacteria and fungus, as well as get healthier plants and optimal growth for higher yield.
Finally, hydroponics allows you to control the growing conditions which can be particularly important when growing different potato species. Sweet potatoes require different hydroponic setups than regular potatoes with a longer growing period and adjusting the fertilizers used.
Potato Varieties That Grow Best With Hydroponics
Before you can grow hydroponic potatoes, you need to know everything about the species that thrive best with this type of planting. We mentioned sweet potatoes, but for the best hydroponic cycle, stick with the early maturing varieties and potatoes with a shorter growing cycle.
Here are some of the best hydroponic potatoes you can grow when it comes to different plant varieties:
- Daisy Gold
- Yukon Gold
- Red Pontiac
- Purple Majesty
Most of these species are smaller in size and therefore their stems won’t need so much spreading space as with some larger varieties.
Dealing with the space is crucial when growing hydroponic potatoes, as you will also need some additional space in between of the tubers.
It also depends on what you wish to achieve with the hydroponic potato plants. If you want to have a growth cycle as short as possible, you can settle with early maturers like Purple Majesty.
These should take up to 90 days with hydroponic systems to fully develop and reach your oven for delicious meals.
Best Systems To Grow Hydroponic Potatoes
Besides the specific potato varieties, you should also be aware of the best hydroponic systems for potatoes.
As you know, potatoes grow from tubers underground, so it makes perfect sense that you need systems that use a growing medium.
Also, this instantly eliminates the hydroponics where tubers are submerged in water. Being underwater all the time would cause the potatoes to rot before you get the chance to plan the first harvest. So, here are the best methods for growing hydroponic potatoes:
- The Wick system
- Nutrient Film Technique
- Ebb and Flow system
- Drip technique
However, even with these systems, you still need to make sure that your potatoes won’t rot.
This can happen with systems like the Ebb and Flow where the potato bed would be flooded with a nutrient solution water mix for a bit.
So, it’s important to pick a system that you can easily maintain to prevent any possible rotting.
You can customize things a bit with these systems by building your own, or purchasing a pre-built hydroponic growth system.
Growing Potatoes With the Wick System
Growing hydroponic potatoes with a wick system might be the easiest way, and the simplest setup you can build even for indoor use. This method uses tubers covered in the growing medium above the nutrient solution tank.
The fertilizer is brought to the stem of potatoes with wicks that are thin channels used to bring just the right amount of water.
There’s no chance of overwatering the tubers this way, as long as you pay attention to your system.
On top of its simplicity, the wick system is easy to build, and you’ll only need a larger container to place the tubers in.
Also, there are simple requirements to set this system up, such as a proper growing medium, a nutrient tank, and small wick channels.
Your seed potatoes can thrive with this method, especially thanks to the air supply and there’s slim to no chance that your tubers will rot.
NFT Hydroponic Potatoes
With the NFT system being fairly simple as well, you can build a self-sustained nutrient and oxygen supply to the plants.
It requires a bit more space than the wick system, and it works best if you set it up in your garden for direct sunlight supply.
Placing seed potatoes in large containers with the growing medium would be the first step of to take.
Also, you will need to adjust the system in a way where the PVC pipeline leads the water to the stems of each pot and plant individually.
As the system would be inclined, drain holes would lead the water away from the pipes and back into the nutrient tank below.
So, the constant nutrient water supply acts as fertilizer for your hydroponic potatoes, and it allows high oxygenation since the water is frequently moving through.
The most important thing is to use a plastic container to prevent the tuber from being washed away.
Using a net pot just won’t provide sufficient space for the tuber to spread its stems. That’s why you also need a growing medium, which can be perlite, coconut coir, or other medium substance.
Ebb And Flow Hydroponic System
By using the Ebb and Flow hydroponic system for potatoes, you might experience some difficulties in setting it up, but it can be worth your while. It’s also a specific option for growing potatoes hydroponically since it’s mostly used for root plants.
With the growing process reaching its peak, the water should only slightly come in touch with the stems. The fertilizer solution, therefore, reaches the plant, without leaving any space for potato tubers to rot.
Since this system isn’t like the NFT with moving water, you should only allow the nutrient-rich water to remain for up to half an hour each cycle.
You can use a timer for this purpose, and other components you might need include an overflow tube, the grow tray, a nutrient reservoir, and a water pump.
Of course, a proper growing medium needs to be implemented for tubers to thrive inside the growth container.
Along with coconut coir and perlite, you can also use clay aggregate and Rockwool that work great with hydroponic potatoes.
Drip Technique Potatoes
If you want to grow potatoes hydroponically without any chance of them being submerged in water, the drip technique might be the best for you. It uses sprinklers to spray the nutrient solution mix onto the stems of potato plants.
Of course, you still need a large container for growing hydroponic potatoes indoors, but this system is in fact quite reasonable even for indoor use.
You can plant potatoes all year long with this system, and some of the things you’ll need include a nutrient solution reservoir with a water pump.
The water pump is used to shoot the water into the channel above the potato baskets and each basket has its own sprinkler to spray the nutrient mist.
Because of this, the stems get the much-needed fertilizer, while there’s no water flowing into the growth tank.
It’s therefore one of the best solutions for growing potatoes hydroponically. There’s always enough oxygenation, and you can harvest mature tubers in a short period even indoors.
Things To Keep In Mind With Hydroponic Potatoes
Whether you use the Ebb and Flow system, NFT, or other hydroponics, there are some factors that remain unchanged. Here’s what you should know at all times if you want to plant hydroponic potatoes:
- Only use certified seed potatoes – The most important thing is to start with a quality seed potato. You can find them at fairly affordable prices, so you shouldn’t go for the cheapest option. You can also cut large seed potatoes bought in a grocery store if they have at least two eyes so you can plant these parts.
- Place the tuber directly into the growing medium – Tender tubers from which your potato plants will develop don’t need any germination before being placed in a hydroponic system. You should place the seed potatoes about an inch into the growing medium and start growing potatoes hydroponically right away.
- Use large growth containers – Always remember that using net pots or small buckets won’t work with hydroponic potatoes. Potato stems need space to spread for the highest yield, so you should aim for large plastic containers.
Step By Step Guide On Growing Hydroponic Potatoes
You can be harvesting hydroponic potatoes all season long if you set up the system properly and follow these steps for successful planting:
Step 1 – Gather The System Components And Assemble It
If you plan on growing potatoes indoors, you can use grow lights and hydroponic systems like Wick or Drip methods. The NFT might require more space and is better used for outdoor planting.
The Ebb and Flow system might work even indoors, but you need more space to set it up due to the large nutrient reservoir that consumes more space than the Wick system tank.
Step 2 – Place The Tubers Into Growing Medium Container
Planting a seed potato into the growth medium should be done instantly at the start of the hydroponic growth phase. There’s no need to wait for it to germinate beforehand, and you can even plant several seed potato pieces if it comes with two eyes or more.
It’s best to plant a piece that has at least two eyes since stems grow from these sections and you will have the highest chances of success this way. If you plant more than one tuber in the same container, make sure that seed pieces are planted a couple of inches apart from each other.
Step 3 – Prepare The Right Nutrients
Without soil-borne diseases, all you have to do is provide the right nutrient mix to your hydroponic potatoes to entice fast growth.
An NPK ratio of 20-20-20 would be the best one to grow hydroponic potatoes as they need an equal amount of Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium.
You can also apply liquid fertilizer that doesn’t require any mixing to prepare for growing hydroponic potatoes.
Step 4 – Provide The Right Conditions
Getting hydroponically grown potato tubers is impossible without proper care and conditions that entice the growth. Placing the tubers a few inches apart is the first step as it provides enough development space.
Besides the nutrient mix, you also need to provide at least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day, or at least use grow lights for that period.
You also need to drill drain holes so the water can’t damage the seed potatoes.
It’s also important to maintain the watering schedule and change the fertilizer solution every week until the sprouting phase.
If you want to grow hydroponic potatoes, hopefully, this guide can shed some light on the process. Hydroponic gardening might seem harder than regular soil-based planting, but it comes with many benefits such as extending the growing season.
Most of the systems discussed in this guide can even be used for indoor potato growing. It’s easy even to start with grocery store potatoes and grow the tubers into plants ready for harvest in just 90 days.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ):
What’s the best way to grow hydroponic potatoes?
You can grow hydroponic potatoes with techniques that don’t include submerging the tubers underwater. Since potatoes are plants that grow with stems, it’s best to stick with methods like the Drip system that only sprays the stems with the fertilizer solution.
Can you grow potatoes in just water?
By using techniques like deep water culture, your potatoes could rot due to too much water. So, it’s not possible to only grow them in water, but you can use hydroponic systems that allow the fertilizer from the water nutrient tank to be sprayed onto the stems.
How much time do hydroponic potatoes need to sprout?
With hydroponics, you can grow potatoes extremely fast and the first sprouting can occur with two weeks.