When you think of potatoes, you think of soil. However, hydroponic potatoes thrive and produce larger yields than soil-grown potatoes. You can also enjoy yields year-round. It’s important to buy certified seeds to start your potatoes. Hydroponic potatoes grow in perlite.
Keep reading to find out how to grow your own potatoes hydroponically!
Can Potatoes Grow Without Soil?
Potatoes can grow without soil. But like all plants, they still need nutrients, light, and water.
Hydroponic systems provide all of those things and are a great alternative if you don’t want to, or can’t, grow potatoes in soil.
Hydroponic Potatoes Pros Cons
Let’s go over the pros and cons of growing potatoes without soil.
Benefits of Growing Potatoes Hydroponically
The biggest benefit of growing potatoes hydroponically is that you can get yields all year round. The plants are also generally happier and healthier.
You have 100% control over all the environmental factors when you’re growing potatoes hydroponically so you can create the perfect environment for your potatoes to thrive.
In addition, you’ll run into fewer soil-borne diseases, bacteria, and pests.
Disadvantages of Growing Potatoes Hydroponically
Meanwhile, the biggest disadvantage of growing potatoes hydroponically is that they require more water, light, and space than other hydroponic crops.
This is because potatoes develop in the roots and not above the ground, so you need a lot more space for them to grow in your system.
Lastly, startup costs can be expensive, power outages can be catastrophic, and waterborne diseases can ruin your crops.
Which Potato Varieties Are Best for Hydroponics?
You can grow nearly any kind of potato variety hydroponically. Here are some of the more popular species of potatoes that people choose to grow:
- Gold Rush
- Lady Christ
- Red Pontiac
No matter what you grow, you should probably start by sprouting potatoes that you get from a nursery rather than a grocery store. This is because grocery-store potatoes are often treated with agents that stop them from sprouting.
Planting Potatoes in Hydroponics
There are six main steps to planting potatoes in hydroponics.
1. Buy certified seed potatoes from a garden supply store. They may be cut pieces or whole potatoes, and either option will have eyes on them.
2. Cut your seed potatoes into roughly the size of an egg so that each slice has two or more eyes.
3. Put a plastic bin in a warm, sunny spot. You want to have at least six hours of sunlight a day. Drill drain holes in your plastic bin with a 1/2 inch drill bit.
Drill a row of holes on each long side of the bin. Make the holes about two inches above the bottom of your plastic bin and two inches apart. You can’t grow hydroponic potatoes in a container without drain holes.
4. Pour perlite into your plastic container and leave two inches of space at the top. Perlite is a kind of crushed volcanic rock. It wicks moisture and is very lightweight while also providing plenty of oxygen.
Now pour copious amounts of plain water into your bin until your container with water begins to drain out of the holes.
5. Put the seed potato pieces into the perlite roughly one inch deep. Put the cut side facing down, each slice about five inches apart. Cover your bin until you see sprouts coming up out of the perlite. This should take around two weeks.
Only take the cover off to water the potatoes about twice a week.
6. Use a fertilizer mixture on your hydroponic potatoes weekly once there are sprouts. 20-20-20 fertilizer will do the trick. Pour it in until it starts to drain out of the holes. When your plants are a foot and a half high, switch to a 10-10-20 blend and add the liquid fertilizer on an ongoing basis.
How Long Do Potatoes Take To Grow Hydroponically?
It takes about 70 days to grow potatoes hydroponically.
Providing Care for Hydroponic Potatoes
Now let’s talk about how to take care of your hydroponic potatoes so you can get the best crop of potatoes possible.
The Best Temperature For Hydroponic Potatoes
Hydroponic potatoes grow best with a water temperature range between 60 degrees F and 75 degrees F.
Depending on where you live, temperatures can dip or rise dramatically from that range. In the south you can reach the 90’s while the north can reach below freezing.
So if you’re growing outside and you live somewhere with a fluctuating temperature it’s best to have a water chiller or heater (or both!). This will let you grow potato tubers hydroponically outdoors year-round.
The Nutrient Solution For Hydroponic Potatoes
The pH of hydroponic potato nutrient-rich water should be about 6. Anywhere from 5.8 to 6.2 will suffice. It’s important to keep the ppm between 1400 and 1700.
Two other important factors of your nutrient solution include water level and temperature.
The level of the nutrient solution is especially important when you’re growing a crop as sensitive as potatoes.
Meanwhile, your nutrient solution should be kept at a temperature around 70 degrees F.
Light Requirements For Hydroponic Potatoes
Hydroponic potatoes need at least six hours of light each day. But they do best when they have around 10-12 hours each day.
You can use either sunlight or artificial lights. Using growing lights will cost a bit more but can save you from pest infestations and fluctuating temperatures outdoors.
LED grow lights are the most efficient and have a wide light spectrum range.
The Growing Medium Of Hydroponic Potatoes
It’s vital to have the right growing medium when growing potatoes hydroponically. It needs to provide enough pressure to help your potatoes form, just like soil would.
The difference between perlite and soil is that perlite will produce many smaller potatoes while soil will produce fewer, but bigger, potatoes. But if you experiment with mixing different mediums you can get different sized potatoes.
Harvesting Hydroponic Potatoes
When it’s time to harvest your hydroponic potatoes all you have to do is loosen up your growing medium and pull your potatoes out of it.
Mediums like pebbles or LECA will make it very easy to remove your potatoes. Other mediums make harvest a little more tricky, but still doable.
Growing hydroponic potatoes is as easy as pie! If you’ve never had a garden-fresh potato before, you’d be amazed at what a difference it makes.
Check out the rest of our blog for more growing tips!