Parsley, basil, mint, rosemary…these are just a few of our personal favorite herbs. And while you can certainly grab these any time you visit the grocery store, what if we told you that you could grow these from the comfort of your own home?
By setting up an indoor hydroponic herb garden DIY you’ll have an endless supply of your favorite herbs. No more unexpected trips to the store because you’re missing one key ingredient. And with such a bounty of different herbs at your fingertips, experimenting with new recipes is fun and easy!
In this in-depth guide, we’ll teach you how to build a hydroponic herb garden DIY. It just requires some seeds (or clones if you want to speed things up a bit!), a few pieces of equipment, and some patience. Before we unveil the secrets to bringing your own hydroponic indoor herb garden to life, let’s talk about what this is for the new gardeners reading along.
What is a DIY Hydroponic Herb Garden?
A hydroponic indoor herb garden is a system where you grow plants without soil. Instead, the roots are suspended in water that’s been enriched with nutrients.
This growing method is often used by commercial growers because it results in larger harvests in a shorter amount of time. Moreover, hydroponics is regarded as a “cleaner” style of growing that cuts down on the risk of pests & illnesses, uses fewer recourses, and produces a tastier crop. It’s also perfect for home growers because it doesn’t require a lot of space.
These days, it’s easier than ever to set up a hydroponic herb garden in your kitchen, in your greenhouse, or even outdoors under the right circumstances. But – today, we’re going to make the case for taking the “do it yourself” route, piecing together individual components to make a system on a budget. Keep reading to learn why more and more gardeners are setting up indoor hydroponic herb gardens DIY style.
Why Set up an Indoor Hydroponic Herb Garden DIY?
There are several reasons to set up your own indoor hydroponic herb garden:
- You’ll have a year-round supply of fresh herbs – No more wilty, flavorless herbs from the grocery store! By growing your own indoors, you can enjoy flavorful and healthy herbs all year long.
- You’ll save money in the long run – Once you’ve invested in a quality indoor hydroponic herb garden setup, you’ll only need to worry about the cost of seeds, water, and nutrients. Over time, this will become much cheaper than buying herbs at the store (or even the farmer’s market).
- Many pre-configured hydroponic herb garden setups are cheap – they’re low-quality, and frankly, not worth wasting your time with. You can build a better system for less when you go the DIY route.
- You can choose any size or shape that fits your needs – Want a small windowsill planter? Or a large free-standing tower for your indoor greenhouse? When you build it yourself, the sky’s the limit!
Now – you may be wondering why we recommend creating an indoor hydroponic herb garden rather than taking things outdoors. After all, you have more space – and better access to light. While outdoor hydroponics is entirely possible, it’s a bit more complicated than the indoor setup – so we’re going to keep things simple.
Speaking of keeping things simple, let’s talk about choosing the right varieties for your DIY hydroponic herb garden indoors.
Which Herbs Grow Best in an Indoor Hydroponic Setup?
We’ll teach you how to build a hydroponic herb garden shortly. But first, we want to cover which herbs grow best in an indoor hydroponic setup.
The reality is that almost any type of herb can be grown indoors with hydroponics – from basil and oregano to thyme, sage, and cilantro. If you’re just getting started with indoor herb gardening, we recommend sticking to the following varieties:
- Basil – One of the most popular herbs for indoor hydroponic gardens, basil is easy to grow and maintain. It’s also incredibly versatile, so you can use it in a number of different dishes.
- Chives – Chives are another indoor hydroponic herb that’s relatively easy to grow. They have a mild onion flavor and can be used as a garnish or added to salads, soups, and more.
- Mint – Mint is perfect for indoor hydroponics because it doesn’t require a lot of light or attention to thrive. Use it in teas, cocktails, desserts, and more.
- Parsley – Parsley is a staple in many dishes, so it’s nice to have on hand. It’s also one of the hardiest indoor hydroponic herbs, so it’s perfect for beginners.
- Rosemary – Rosemary is another indoor herb that doesn’t require a lot of light. It has a strong flavor, so a little goes a long time. Use it to flavor meats, vegetables, soups, and more.
What do You Need for an Indoor Hydroponic Herb Garden DIY?
Now that we’ve answered some common questions about indoor hydroponic herb gardens, it’s time to get into the nitty-gritty details about setting up your own system at home. The first step is to gather all of the necessary supplies. Here’s what you’ll need:
- A container with a lid – This can be anything from a simple plastic bucket to a more complex system like a PVC pipe setup. Just make sure it’s big enough to accommodate the herbs you want to grow. You should also consider the space you’re going to put it in. While herbs have low lighting requirements, they do need a few hours of direct light per day. If you have a windowsill
- Net cups – these are what will hold your herbs in place in the container. Unlike traditional garden pots, these are slit throughout to allow nutrient solution to make its way through to the roots. And, these allow the roots to grow freely. You’ll want to carefully consider the size & quantity of your net cups in comparison to your bucket/container.
- Hydroponic growing medium – There are several different types of hydroponic growing mediums, including clay pellets, coco coir, perlite, and vermiculite. Each has its own set of benefits, so do some research to see which one is right for you. We recently wrote a complete guide on choosing the best hydroponic growing medium if you’d like to learn more.
- An air stone – An air stone is used to oxygenate the water. This is important because in a deep water culture system like we’re going to show you today, the roots are constantly submerged in water and nutrient solution. Without oxygenating the nutrient solution with an air stone, your plants would drown. Or, they’d develop root rot. Either way, you’ll be disappointed when you notice the herb garden you’ve worked so hard on looks lifeless! So, invest in a quality air stone.
For the setup we’re going to help you build today, that’s all you’ll really need. However, some types of hydroponic systems are more active – meaning they require the use of a water pump and a timer. These include ebb and flow systems, drip systems, and aeroponics systems. While these are great systems in their own regard, they’re a bit much for a small-scale DIY hydroponic herb garden. And, they’re not the best hydroponic systems for beginners, either.
Of course, you’ll also need some quality hydroponic fertilizer for your herb garden. These types of plants have very low nutritional needs with delicate root systems – so dilute any solution you feed them. Or better yet, find an herb-specific fertilizer.
How to Build a Hydroponic Herb Garden DIY: Step by Step Guide
Now that you’ve gathered all of the necessary supplies, it’s time to start building your indoor hydroponic herb garden! Here’s a step-by-step guide. First – we’ll discuss planing your indoor hydroponic herb garden DIY location.
Step 1) Start by Finding the Right Location in Your Home
Pick a spot in your home that gets at least six hours of direct sunlight per day. If you don’t have a lot of natural light, you can supplement with grow lights. But, for the best results, try to find a sunny spot in your home.
Lighting shouldn’t be your only consideration – you also want to take airflow and ventilation into account. Herbs are pretty easy to grow. They don’t require nearly as strict of conditions as plants like cannabis. But, they don’t want to be grown in rooms with hot, stale air, either. The room they’re grown in should have a draft or at least a ceiling fan.
It’s also important to consider any children or pets in your home. You want your location to be one that the kids or your cat won’t easily knock over or mess with. We love tall windowsills or countertops for this reason.
Step 2) Set Up Your DIY Hydroponic System
Whether you’re using a simple plastic bucket or something more complex, it’s important to set up your container before adding any plants or growing medium. This is where things get a bit tricky – so read carefully.
Start by taking off the lid of your bucket/container and drilling or cutting holes in it. These holes are where your net cups will go. So, make sure to measure the holes accordingly. From there, you can fill up the bucket or container with water and add some nutrients. You should then place your airstone in the bottom of the container and turn it on. The goal is to fill the container enough that the root mass of your plants is at least partially submerged in water when placed in the net cup.
Then, you can place the lid back on your DIY hydroponic herb garden and position it such that it gets ample light. You’re just about ready to get growing.
Step 3) Fill Your Container with Hydroponic Growing Medium
Now it’s time to fill your container with a hydroponic growing medium. As we mentioned earlier, there are several different types of hydroponic growing mediums. For herbs, we recommend coco coir or perlite. These materials are easy to find and relatively inexpensive.
One piece of advice we’d offer is to buy any sort of bulky grow media at your local hydroponics or garden center rather than online. The cost to ship these products is outrageous!
Step 4) Get Your Seeds Sprouted – or Bring Home Some Clones
This is where things start to get exciting – you’re so close to getting your indoor hydroponic herb garden DIY up and running! It’s time to sprout your seeds. We have a complete guide on how to start hydroponic seeds to help you navigate this process. But, here’s a quick seed starting guide:
Soak seeds overnight, stick them in a damp paper towel, and place them in your windowsill. Within a few days, a taproot should emerge. You can then plant this seed into your hydroponics system (with the taproot facing down). For a while, you’ll have to manually water/feed from the top. However, eventually, that tiny taproot will transform into a robust root mass – and the hydroponics system will start working it’s magic!
Starting seeds isn’t as hard as you may think. But, to shed some time off the timeline and make things easier, you can buy herbs from your local nursery (or perhaps even grocery store) and simply replant them! This can save weeks and helps you jump right into turning your system on.
Step 5) Let the Herbs Grow & Take Care of Them – Harvesting as Necessary!
At this point, all the hard work is done. You’ve set up your DIY hydroponic herb garden. And now, you can just let your system work its magic and let mother nature do what it does. All you’ll really need to do now is monitor your system. Routinely check the pH of your system and top it off with nutrients/fresh water as necessary. You can change out the water and nutrient solution altogether every month or so to keep things fresh.
The big question you’re probably wondering, though, is: when can I start harvesting my herbs?
The answer is – whenever you see enough growth that taking a few leaves won’t stress the plant out. As more and more shoots of leaves grow from your herb garden, you can snip and pluck as necessary to add some extra fresh flavor to your recipes. What’s great about having your own DIY hydroponic herb garden is that if you leave enough of the plant behind, it will continue growing. This is the type of garden that keeps on giving!
Final Thoughts on Setting up an Indoor Hydroponic Herb Garden DIY
We hope this in-depth guide to setting up an indoor hydroponic herb garden DIY has inspired you to start your own. As you can see, it’s not all that complex. You can take the DIY route to save some money while enjoying a fun little project along the way. You’ll never have that frustrating feeling of not having the final ingredient for your recipe again!
So, what are you waiting for? Whether you want to maintain your own supply of basil, thyme, mint, chives, or anything in between – it’s time to get to work and make it happen.