There’s a common misconception that hydroponic gardening is really expensive. As the hobby of hydroponic gardening has grown, so have the product options which have lowered the startup cost. But just how much does it cost to start a hydroponic garden?
What Hydroponic Costs I Will Cover…
I’m going to give you an idea of how much it costs to start hydroponic gardening, but in this article, I will not include the hydroponic system itself since the cost can vary. If you want to price hydroponic systems, then check out How Much Does A Hydroponic Systems Cost.
The Cost To Start A Hydroponic Garden
Hydroponic Nutrients – Estimated cost to start $20-$35
Besides the system itself, the greatest cost to start a hydroponic garden is going to come from the hydroponic nutrients. Hydroponic nutrient cost is first going to depend on the type of plants you’re growing. Plants harvested in their vegetative stage like leafy greens will only need vegetative nutrients. Plants that flower and fruit will need to be switched to a nutrient regimen geared to that production.
Before purchasing a nutrient solution you will need to decide between a one-part solution or a multi-part solution. I would recommend a one-part nutrient solution for beginners. Once you better understand a plant’s nutrient needs you can use the multi-part if you want to tailor your nutrient regimen to the specific type of plants you’re growing.
My Recommendation On Hydroponic Nutrients: $25-30
If you’re looking for the most simple and cost-effective vegetative nutrient solution, check out Dyna Gro Foliage Pro. It’s a simple to use 1 part nutrient solution and my go-to for growing leafy greens.
A great 1 part nutrient solution for plants that fruit and flower is a combination of Dyna Gro’s Grow and Bloom. 1 quart of Grow is enough nutrients for roughly 189 gallons of water while 1 quart of Bloom solution is enough for 94 gallons.
For a nutrient solution that you can tailor to your garden check out General Hydroponic Flora Series. It’s a 3 part nutrient solution allowing you to customize your nutrient solution to the type of plants you’re growing. It’s a little harder to judge how long this nutrient regimen will last since the amount used for each can vary by the week.
Supplements – Estimated cost to start: $20
Before I get into supplements, let me say that they are not absolutely required when hydroponic gardening. With that being said I do recommend at least adding a silicon and potassium supplement like Protekt or Armor Si to your nutrient regimen, especially if you’re growing flowering/fruiting plants. These silicon supplements improve plant strength, yield, and stress tolerance of your plants which is especially helpful for beginners.
Just keep in mind when using a general nutrient regimen you may run into different plant deficiencies that may require supplements. Some plants are more likely to need specific supplements, an example of this would be tomatoes and blossom end rot.
pH Meter – Estimated startup cost: $15
Your pH meter is going to be one of your most important tools when hydroponic gardening. Your nutrient solution needs to be kept at the proper level or the plants can’t absorb the nutrients out of the water.
Since this is a task your going to be doing often I recommend picking up an electronic pH meter. I’ve found it to be the quickest method of measurement and with regular calibration, they’re pretty accurate. If taken care of the meter should last at least a few growing seasons.
pH control– Estimated startup cost: $20
To correct the pH of your nutrient solution you’re going to need a pH regulator. There are several brands of pH adjusting solutions, many just named pH up and pH down.
It’s important to have both pH up and pH down on the hand, but in my experience, you ended up using one more than the other depending on your water quality. I recommend purchasing a small amount of each to start with, then when you find out which one you use more of, then purchase a larger bottle.
Grow Light: $75-$100
When it comes to grow lights for your hydroponic garden, it’s a lot easier and a lot less expensive now than lighting used to be. Pretty much all LED grow lights are now full spectrum or have a toggle switch so you can use that one grow light for the whole grow cycle.
Estimated Supply Cost To Start A Hydroponic Garden:
Hobby hydroponic is not as expensive a hobby as many people think. You don’t have to spend a ton of money to get your hydroponic garden started. It also doesn’t cost a whole lot to maintain.
It’s easy to find the products you need online, which also allows you to make sure you’re getting the best price. After purchasing the startup supplies the only things to purchase on a monthly basis are nutrients, supplements, and ph control.
November 10, 2019 at 6:30 pm
Hello Michael, I am a 78 year old real beef farmer from Western Maryland, My hobby is growing strawberries in my regular garden but my Arthritis is keeping my from my strawberries. I am very interested in hydroponics I think I would like to start with rain gutter or 4 inch pvc pipe. Would you please help me figure this out. Thanks Glenn S.
November 12, 2019 at 9:15 pm
Hey Glenn! I hope to be able to put together some how-to guides here soon on how to build some different systems. In the meantime, you can see my recommendation on a small gutter garden here. For the nft system, just drill holes in the top of the pvc pipe in a line for the net pots and pump the nutrient solution down the pipe so it drains back down into the reservoir.