Hydroponics for Kids - 5 Tips to Get You Started

You can teach hydroponics for kids at home by experimenting with different hydroponic growing methods. 

Hydroponics (also called hydroculture) has many benefits. Creating an indoor garden with your kids is a fun way to learn more about it while also experiencing its advantages. If you have limited space, minimum access to good soil, restricted access to water, or simply want to experiment with a new way of growing food, then hydroponic gardening is an excellent method to try.

In this article, I give you five guidelines to start a hydroponic garden with your children.

hydroponics for kids

5 Tips to Help You Start an Indoor Hydroponic Garden

Create a Lesson Plan on Hydroponics for Kids

While learning as you go is a fun method, knowing some things about hydroponics before growing crops this way is essential.

Depending on their age, you can teach your children about hydroponic gardening and the different methods you can use to create a water-based planting system.

It’s a good idea to familiarize your kids with what plants need to grow, how a hydroponic system provides this, and the advantages of an indoor hydroponic garden. 

You can use images, videos, and hands-on experiments to teach them about hydroponics and how each component of a hydroponic system works.

Choose the Best Hydroponic Plants

Deciding which crops to grow in your hydroponic system should be first on your list when you’re ready to get started. The best hydroponic plants have the following qualities:

  • Durable
  • Lightweight
  • Small, shallow roots

Luckily, there are many fruits, vegetables, and herbs that you can use in your indoor garden for kids. The easiest-to-grow choices are:

  • Peppermint
  • Basil
  • Rosemary
  • Lettuce
  • Spinach
  • Tomatoes
  • Peppers
  • Strawberries
indoor garden for kids

These are all low-maintenance plants that grow well in indoor hydroponic gardens. Most of them take less than two weeks to germinate and will carry produce within 90 days. 

When choosing the plants best suited for your hydroponic setup, think about where you’ll place the system, how much light it’ll get, your typical indoor temperatures, and how much your kids will enjoy eating what they grow. 

Start with a Basic Hydroponic System

From the many hydroponic setup designs available to use, the deep-water culture (also known as the direct water culture) hydroponic growing method is the simplest for beginners.  

Simply put, deep-water hydroponics requires plant roots to be completely submerged in water. The plants are encased in a grow cup or net pot from where their roots dangle in nutrient-rich water. An air pump is used to oxygenate the water, which results in accelerated plant growth. 

Deep-water culture hydroponic systems have a simple design, so your kids can easily help you build one. It also requires little maintenance.

Create a Quality Indoor Lighting Setup

When creating an indoor garden for kids, you miss out on valuable natural light. Hydroponic plants still need an average of 8 – 10 hours of direct sunlight each day. 

Your indoor system will need a quality lighting setup that can provide it with 14 – 16 hours of bright light per day. You must then follow the artificial lighting with 10 – 12 hours of darkness. A setup with an automatic timer works best.

Your indoor hydroponic garden will thrive on metal halide artificial lights, but LEDs and fluorescents also do a decent job. 

If you set your hydroponic garden in front of a window that gets at least 8 hours of daylight, you’ll only need to run artificial lights for an extra hour or two each day.

Maintain Proper EC Levels for Your Hydroponic Plants

The EC (electrical conductivity) levels in a hydroponic system significantly impact the crops it yields. 

You should aim for an EC level between 1.5 and 2.5 dS/m, although some plants require lower or higher levels. The ideal EC levels for the easiest-to-grow hydroponic plants are:

Plant Ideal EC Level
Peppermint
1.4 – 2.0
Basil
1.0 – 1.6
Rosemary
1.0 – 1.6
Lettuce
0.8 – 1.2
Spinach
1.8 – 2.3
Tomatoes
1.5 – 2.5
Peppers
1.8 – 2.8
Strawberries
1.8 – 2.2

In a Nutshell

Hydroculture is a great way to teach kids about plants, how to research different growing methods, and science. It’s interesting, interactive, and has many advantages.

While creating and caring for your indoor hydroponic garden, encourage your kids to take photos, track their progress, invent their own unique systems, and develop new hydroponic ideas. 

Once you’ve mastered the easy-to-grow hydroponic plants, you can give some more challenging choices a shot. Remember to keep the process engaging because the best way to teach hydroponics for kids is to get them excited and hands-on with it!

Author Bio

Wendy Donnelly

Wendy Donnelly

Wendy Donnelly has spent decades out in various gardens around the world. But now, settled back at home she enjoys gardening with her children and grandchildren by creating special gardening spaces that entice all the senses. Wendy created Fun Gardening for Kids to share her passion and get the next generation involved in the world of gardening.