Basil is a popular herb to grow with both traditional and hydroponic growers. It’s easy to grow basil and thrives in hydroponic systems. Here’s a guide to growing some flavorful hydroponic basil.
Recommended Basil Varieties for Hydroponics
Any variety of basil will grow in a hydroponic garden. Basil varieties differ in characteristics including growth rate, disease resistance, yield, and flavor. To find out more about different varieties of basil and their characteristics check out this hydroponic basil varieties comparison chart by Johnny seeds.
My favorite varieties of basil to grow in my hydroponic gardens are probably sweet basil and bush basil. Sweet basil grows great in my outdoor hydroponic garden during our hot Missouri summers. The bush basil is a compact plant great for hydroponics.
Getting Hydroponic Basil Started
The first step to growing hydroponic basil is figuring out what you’re going to start with.
Germinating seeds- Basil is easy to start from seed and can take anywhere from 3 to 10 days to germinate. When germinating basil seeds temperatures should be kept in the 75-degree range. I prefer to germinate my seeds using rapid rooter plugs.
Cloning basil- Basil is a plant that can be easily cloned. Cloning your basil saves you money from having to buy seeds or plants. If you’re interested in cloning your basil, check out how to clone your plant hydroponically in only water.
Store bought basil in dirt– Buying basil plants from the store and transplanting them into your hydroponic system is an easy way to get your garden started but can be the most expensive route. You can always buy a few plants and clone them to produce more. Even when out of season I often see whole basil plants for sale in the grocery store produce section.
What Hydroponic Systems Works Best For Basil?
Hydroponic basil will grow in any hydroponic system, but some setups (or layouts) work better than others. I suggest using a hydroponic system that allows you to access all of your plants for easy pruning and harvesting regularly. You could let them grow without pruning but it will reduce the plants overall yield.
What Is The Best Temperature For Hydroponic Basil?
Hydroponic basil grows best in a temperature range of 65 – 80 degrees. You can use a temperature controller to better regulate the temperature in your grow room. Hydroponic basil needs moderate humidity for best growth.
Spacing Requirements For Hydroponic Basil
Hydroponic basil plants should be given about 9-12 inches of space between plants to provide plenty of room to spread out. You’ll want to encourage lateral growth to increase yields.
How Much Light Does Hydroponic Basil Need?
Basil doesn’t need intense light and can be grown under T5 fluorescent lighting. Since we only need basil in its vegetive stage the same light can be used to grow basil from start to finish.
Though fluorescent lighting is probably the most efficient for growing hydroponic basil, you could also use LED or HID lighting. Your hydroponic basil should receive 14 to 16 hours of light per day for productive growth.
Recommended pH Level For Hydroponic Basil
The recommended pH level for hydroponic basil plants is 5.5–6.5.
Hydroponic Basil Nutrient Requirements
Hydroponic basil has simple nutrient requirements since we only need basil in its vegetative stage. To grow your hydroponic basil, use a hydroponic nutrient regiment high in nitrogen. For growing my hydroponic basil I use Dyna Gro Foliage Pro. This one part nutrient regimen is simple to use and produces plants with strong stems and heavy vegetation, which is just what you want when growing hydroponic basil.
Typically a good vegetative nutrient solution is all you need to grow most herbs, but basil requires a little more magnesium and calcium. When growing hydroponic basil I would recommend adding some Cal-Mag to your nutrient regimen.
How Prune & Harvest Hydroponic Basil
Pruning and harvesting your basil on a regular basis will promote new growth and increase your overall yields. Cutting to top off of the plant will cause it to stop growing vertically and instead laterally. More shoots produce more leaves for harvest.
When it comes time to harvest your basil you can harvest the whole plant of just the leaves. I prefer to harvest just the leaves if I have an immediate need and the whole plant when I want to keep it fresh until it’s used.
*Tip- Storing basil below 55 degrees will cause it to blacken and decay quickly. Storing basil in a vented bag at around 60 degrees will increase its shelf life to 10-12 days.
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