Growing hydroponic strawberries can be a great and fun new way to grow the juiciest, sweetest berries you’ll ever taste. You may hear the term hydroponics and think it’s an overcomplicated gardening technique, but it can actually be super simple!
There are tons of reasons you may want to give this style of growing a try, and it’s easier to get started than you think. We’ll cover all this, and then explain exactly how to grow hydroponic strawberries from start to finish. We’ve got a lot to cover, so let’s dive in!
What Will You Need to Grow Hydroponic Strawberries?
Before getting started, you’ll need to decide if you want to grow from seed or from starts. Strawberry seeds can take years before they are ready to fruit, so this is a much slower option.
Instead, you can find some young strawberry plants and plant those directly into your hydroponic system using a medium of your choice and net pots. Fill the net pots part way, stick your plant in after rinsing all the soil off its root system, and then fill the rest of the way to hold it in place. Give it a good watering right away.
Light & Temperature Tips
When growing hydroponic strawberries, you’ll often be in a climate-controlled environment. You need to provide the right lighting and temperature conditions for your berries to thrive.
Strawberries prefer warm temperatures, between 65-80 degrees Fahrenheit.
From a lighting standpoint, you need to make sure your strawberries get between 8-12 hours of light per day. Unlike some plants, there is no need to vary the lighting schedule throughout their life. You can keep them on this photoperiod forever.
If you are growing in a greenhouse, your plants will get their light naturally. Otherwise, you will need to add supplemental grow lights to provide them with what they’ll need.
Guidance on Water Quality & pH Levels
When it comes to hydroponics, water quality and pH levels are everything. Your roots are exposed directly to the water, so there is little room for error.
We highly recommend using a water filter to ensure you aren’t feeding your strawberries harmful chloramines or impurities often found in tap water.
You’ll need to make sure your pH is in the proper range. Use a pH meter to make sure your water is between 5.8 and 6.2. If you extend below or above this range, you’ll run into nutrient issues, and your plants will suffer.
There are plenty of hydroponic growing mediums you can choose from, and they all pretty much do the same thing. But, we recommend sticking with something easy and readily-available, like coco coir.
Whether you are growing organically or not, in hydroponics strawberries will need some type of nutrient solution to keep them alive. Your strawberries need an ample supply of nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorous, along with secondary nutrients and micronutrients.
You’ll need to use liquid nutrients. Organics tend to clump and clog hydroponic systems, so it’s easier for beginners to start with synthetics and to move on from there. One of our favorite lines is General Hydroponics Nutrients. These feature easy to follow feeding schedules, so you know exactly what to feed and when throughout your strawberry plants’ lives. They are beginner-friendly, very high quality, and low-priced.
If you are looking to cross-breed certain varieties of strawberries, you’ll want to pollinate your strawberries. For that matter, pollinating insects like bees may not have access to your plants, so you may need to pollinate to produce fruit.
Since hydroponic systems are an indoor growing style, you’ll need to find a supply of beneficial insects such as bees to help pollinate your strawberries.
You can easily pollinate by hand. Strawberry plants are hermaphroditic, so you don’t need to find male or female flowers. Use a cotton swab to collect pollen from one flower and transfer it to another, then repeat across all your plants, using the same swab to pollinate them all. This can become tedious if you have many plants to pollinate, but it’s simple and very effective.
Obviously the first step is finding a good hydroponic system. These vary greatly in terms of price, plant count, and performance. So you’ll need to do your due diligence when purchasing your system.
When first getting started, stick with an ebb and flow, deep water culture (DWC), or hydroponic drip system. There are plenty of awesome systems that come ready to grow, but you can also build your own.
Using a garden tray, reservoir, water pump, and a few other miscellaneous hydro components, those looking to grow on a budget can get started pretty easily and for a fraction of the cost of a typical system.
The actual building of the system is pretty easy. You just need to set up your water reservoir underneath your tray, which is where your plants will actually be grown. Then, set up your pump and your timer to move water from the reservoir into your grow tray to keep your berries waterprued and fed.
To keep your strawberries growing healthy and yielding high, you should prune off runners, also called stolons. Strawberry runners are leafless stems that extend out of the plant, sometimes with a new plant forming at the tip. Clip these off as close to the base of the plant as you can. If a plantlet has formed at the runner’s tip, you can use it for propagation!
Strawberry plants are typically propagated using seeds or the plantlets that develop at the end of their stolons.
From seed, you will need to acquire seed from a reliable seed supplier. While it’s possible to collect seed from your prior year’s berries, it may not breed true if the plant is a hybrid. Plant your seed in potting mix indoors and wait for it to germinate and develop into a small plant. Keep it moist and warm, and provide light to help the young plant develop.
With plantlets, take your cuttings and lay them across moistened potting soil. Secure the base of the plantlet to the soil and keep it warm and moist. Provide light for these, as well. They will more quickly form roots and you can trim off the extending runner stem once they have.
For both seed-starts and plantlets, wait until the plant has developed at least 2” long roots. You can then carefully unpot them. Brush off most of the soil, then rinse the roots with water to remove any soil that’s still clinging to the strawberry roots. You can then plant these in your growing medium.
The most common growing problems you’ll experience when growing strawberries hydroponically, will have a lot to do with nutrition and pH imbalances. This can be caused by underfeeding, overfeeding, too low of pH or too high of pH.
It’s up to you as the grower to diagnose this issue accurately. Keeping a detailed journal on what you are doing, what you are seeing, and what steps you take to remedy each issue is a must for any gardener looking to grow the best plants possible.
Be sure your nutrient solution is at the right levels for your strawberry plants. If the nutrient solution you’re using is too potent, you likely should dilute it with extra water. Talk to your hydroponics supplier and see what nutrient solution options they have that are optimized for strawberries and fruit production.
Timing is important. If you feed at the wrong time, you can upset the delicate balance of pH, nutrients, and water. Your strawberries can suffer as a result. Have a pH meter on hand and check your levels regularly.
If you follow your feeding schedule carefully, watch for issues, and act accordingly, you should be able to remedy problems quickly.
In Conclusion: Hydroponic Strawberries Galore!
In conclusion growing hydroponic strawberries can produce bountiful harvests if correctly set up using right technique – whatever chosen remain requires monitoring health cycle during entire duration order keep them thriving even worse cases turned near risks ruined crops once remedial action taken quickly acted upon resolved issue concerning cause negative effects experience beginning noticing signs first like wilting brown spots & yellowing affected areas leaf surface active prevention determined (& practiced!) fruitfully reap benefits foods dreamed owning own summer oasis fabulous tasty treats just fingertips reach anytime no matter weather situation may facing each new day ahead come bring surprises.