The Dutch Bucket Hydroponic System

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If you’re looking to grow a bunch of large plants, look no further than the dutch bucket hydroponic system, also called bato buckets. This type of hydroponic system is used by both hobby gardeners and commercial gardeners because of its simplicity and ability to grow so many plants.

Here’s what you need to know about dutch bucket hydroponic systems.

How Does The Dutch Bucket Hydroponic System Work?

With dutch bucket hydroponic systems, plants are placed in buckets that are lined up in a row. These buckets can be regular 3-5 gallon buckets or square containers called bato buckets. They typically contain 1 to 2 plants per container.

A water line runs from the water pump in the reservoir down the length of the system, with drip hoses coming off the water line at each plant. The water line can be constantly flowing or tipped with drip emitters to create a constant drip.

Diagram of how a dutch bucket hydroponic system works.

As the nutrient solution is pumped to each plant, it flows through the grow medium and over the plant’s roots. At the bottom of the bucket is a pipe leading to a drain. As the nutrient solution falls to the bottom of the bucket it exits a drain, then flows down a drain pipe and back into the nutrient reservoir. Since buckets don’t fill with water, the plant’s roots are constantly exposed to air.

What Plants Grow Best In A Dutch Bucket Hydroponic Systems?

Dutch bucket systems can be set up to grow many different types of plants, but the system is especially useful when growing many large plants and plants that vine. Since a water line is run to each plant you can really space out your buckets giving your plants plenty of room to grow.

While tomatoes are the most common plant grown in dutch bucket systems but other plants like peppers, squash, cucumbers, and beans. Remember to provide some sort of support for plants. Plants like tomatoes and pepper become especially top heavy when fruiting.

What Grow Medium Works Best In Dutch Bucket Systems?

With this type of hydroponic system, you will need to use a grow medium that wicks and retains moisture well. I typically use hydroton expanded clay in my dutch bucket hydroponic system, but you can also use perlite or coco coir.

Pros and Cons Of The Dutch Bucket Hydroponic System


Easily row many large plants at once.

Can be easier when addressing pest and disease with individual plants. You can simply remove the affected plant and plug the drip hose.

Easy to set up and doesn’t take up much space.

Less work during water changes compared to deep water culture.

Cost effective system.


Drip emitters and lines can clog.

Disease or pests can spread quickly.


With many types of hydroponic systems, it can be difficult to grow large plants. That is not the case with the dutch bucket hydroponic system. Its versatility and simplicity make it a great system for hobby hydroponic growers to efficiently grow a lot of produce in a small amount of space.

4 Answers

    1. NoSoilSolutions
      May 12, 2020 at 6:09 pm

      I use 5-gallon bucket net pot lids filled with hydropoton, but you could fill the whole bucket if you wanted. One of the most common grow mediums when using dutch buckets is perlite and you fill the whole bucket.

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