Even though potatoes aren’t the first thing that comes to mind when discussing hydroponics, they can be grown successfully in a soil-free environment.
Is hydroponic potato cultivation possible? If done properly, hydroponic potato planting presents a few challenges.
They need a longer light cycle of 6 to 12 hours, a water temperature of about 70 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit, a pH of 6.0, and a larger grow bed than other systems. Growing media like vermiculite, peat, and perlite are the best options.
Everything you want to know about growing potatoes in a hydroponic system is here.
Growing Potatoes in a Hydroponic System
It’s common knowledge that most gardeners cultivate potatoes in the open air and soil. Yet, you can easily produce potatoes in a hydroponic system.
If you’re short on square footage but still want to try hydroponics, you only need a greenhouse, balcony, small nook of a room, or garage.
You will also need “grow lights” if you are not setting up your system in a greenhouse or outside, but not in a room with a lot of windows that let in a lot of natural light.
Hydroponic Potatoes: Possible or Not?
Yes, it is possible. Hydroponics allows for the growth of potatoes. Since they are such an important food source, scientists have invested energy and time to discover how to grow potatoes successfully in hydroponic systems.
Hydroponic plant cultivation is an area of particular focus for NASA scientists. It provides food for space explorers and astronauts on long missions.
This research has provided a lot of information regarding the requirements of hydroponic potatoes. This means that the ordinary gardener has a direct link to one of humanity’s greatest achievements with the potato.
The key to successful hydroponic potato growing
Knowing the benefits and drawbacks of growing hydroponic potatoes and not confusing one for the other is the key to success.
Even small potato varieties require a sizable plot. These potatoes have immense roots along with their enormous, sail-like leaves that grow on long, graceful vines.
Be ready to accept that fact and provide them with a grow bed large enough to house the entire massive plant and root system.
In addition, moisture can harm them easily. If your potatoes sit in water or a humid environment, they will rot. Because of this, they are perfect for low-water-use precision drip systems.
Find the sweet spot, and you will have a water-wise system that can yield a plentiful harvest of tasty veggies over a lengthy period of time.
What is the hydroponic system for potatoes?
- Nutrient Film Technique
If you build a nutrient film and give the roots plenty of areas to grow, you’ll have a bountiful harvest. This method is widely used for growing seed potatoes and can be adapted to the home garden.
The film’s dry surface promotes healthy tuber growth. For the best outcomes, ensure your setup allows the roots and leaves to spread out.
- Hydroponic drip irrigation
In huge containers with a drip system, potatoes will flourish. It’s simple to find a container that fits your needs and fits in the space you have. It also uses relatively little water.
The potatoes will do well with much less water than you expect in these setups. In addition, a careful farmer can make potatoes thrive with little effort.
The best varieties of potatoes for hydroponic systems
You can’t go wrong with potatoes that taste good to you. Hydroponic systems make it easy to grow ordinary supermarket potatoes. Hydroponically grown potatoes will be smaller than conventionally grown ones, but the flavor will stay the same.
Due to their small tuber size, fingerling potatoes thrive in hydroponic systems. The Bellanita is a fast-maturing cultivar that you can harvest and be ready to eat in just 60 days.
Also ready for harvest approximately 70 days after planting is the Norland variety. Its red, waxy skin is resilient to diseases.
How do you prepare seed potatoes from a tuber?
A ‘seed potato’ is a small tuber that is the starting point for new potatoes. These are small potatoes that were developed specifically for use in household gardens. They undergo rigorous disease screening and consistently deliver on expectations.
One amazing thing about potatoes is that they can grow from a small piece of a store-bought variety. You can make several starters from a single, entire potato with multiple eyes. In addition, you can use this method to maximize the yield from a given seed potato by slicing it into smaller pieces.
You can remove each eye from the potato by cutting it out. This leaves about 2.5 centimeters of space around the sprout. The pieces of the seed only need to spend the night in a cool, dry spot before they’re ready for planting.
How you can grow hydroponic potatoes
If you want to grow potatoes in perlite, this is the hydroponic system to use at home. This simple hydroponic method for growing potatoes was developed by the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences at the University of Florida.
You won’t require aeration stones, an EC meter, or other machinery. To use it, expose it to sunlight.
You’ll need these items for this method:
- Soluble fertilizer with a 10-10-20 ratio
- Potato cuttings or seedlings
- Micronutrient-rich 20-20-20 fertilizer
- A huge, sturdy plastic bin with a 10-inch depth
Get your container ready. Each side of the container should have a series of holes drilled into it, beginning two inches from the bottom. This will ensure proper drainage while allowing for a 2-inch-deep reserve of nutritional solution in the base of your container.
Fill the container with clean perlite, leaving about an inch of headspace, and set it in your grow spot. Think about how the water will drain. If you’re doing indoor gardening, set it over a tray big enough to hold the solution overflow.
If you’re growing potatoes outside, pick a spot with at least six hours of direct sunlight daily.
Just fill the container with water until you soak the media. Indoor growers, remember to turn on your lights.
It is best to plant seed potatoes whole, one inch deep, and 4 to 6 inches apart in the growing medium. If you’re using cuttings, make sure the cut side is down and the eye is facing up when you plant them in the perlite.
The first sprouts of the potatoes won’t appear for another 14 days. Keep the perlite around the seed potatoes moist by watering them every few days until then.
Apply liquid fertilizer once you see new growth. Make sure you dilute water-soluble 20-20-20 fertilizer at 1 teaspoon per gallon. Soak the perlite with the fertilizer solution before it begins to drain.
Water the perlite every few days to keep it moist but not soaked. Until the shoots reach a height of 18 inches, you should alternate between clean water and a nutrition combination.
The tubers will be ready to harvest in about 70 days. You can harvest them early as “chats.” As the crop is ready for harvest, the plant will begin to die from the top down.
Harvest the potatoes by taking them out of the perlite, rinsing them off, and setting them somewhere to dry. Plant waste that accumulates beyond reasonable use can be composted or recycled.
This way of growing potatoes is the safest, cleanest and most straightforward harvesting option available. There’s no need to dig!
What to consider when growing hydroponics potatoes
Planting potatoes needs a cooler climate. The ideal temperature range for growing these tubers is 68 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
At least 10 to 12 hours of broad spectrum light from a grow lamp setup or 6 hours of direct sunlight each day are ideal for growing potatoes. Don’t let the photoperiod become too long, as that can cause the tubers to shrink.
Potatoes require more potassium because they are a high-potassium crop. If your electrical conductivity is too strong, they will go crazy for leaves.
Aim for an EC of 1.5–2.0 to boost tuber production and add more potassium once the plants reach a height of 1.5 feet.
- Growing Medium
When growing plants at home, perlite is the medium of choice. You can go on to more advanced materials after mastering the hydro spuds first.
In commercial agriculture, it is customary to use a mixture of equal parts organic material such as coco coir or peat, vermiculite, and perlite. Hydroponic systems using sand are also a popular method for growing seed potatoes.
Don’t cut back your potato plants. The better your harvest, the more leaves you should let the plants develop.
- PH of Water
Keep your water slightly acidic to ward off diseases. Hydroponic root crops are susceptible to fungal problems; however, you can avoid these by maintaining a pH below 7. The ideal pH range is 5.8–6.2.
Don’t crowd your square footage with more than 2 plants. This will keep diseases at bay and increase harvests.
There are a wide variety of tuber diseases that can affect potatoes. If you buy your potato seeds from a reputable company, you can avoid most of these problems. Maintaining a clean environment and eliminating pests also help.
Beware of leafhoppers and beetles in the garden. Insecticide sprays are effective against both pests including ants.
Aphids are the major enemies of indoor gardening. You can manage them effectively by spraying the leaves with a solution of one tablespoon of Castille soap per gallon of water.
Tips for growing potatoes in a hydroponic system
Growing hydroponically grown potatoes isn’t the most difficult crop, but it does take extra room because of their larger size.
Steps you can take to guarantee a fruitful harvest:
- Check for leaks and do routine maintenance on your hydroponic growing equipment.
- Monitor the condition of the plants carefully and respond quickly if necessary.
- Feed your potatoes the right kinds of nutrients.
- Have an open mind and grow from your experiences.
- Be sure to replenish the water and nutrients in your hydroponic system regularly.
- Check your water reservoir’s EC and pH every day and make any necessary adjustments.
- Grow the crop with the best lights available.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I grow potatoes if I soak them in water?
A common science experiment in elementary schools involves placing a potato in water and seeing the growth of its beautiful vines. Yet, this is not a sustainable method of farming.
The nutrients in the potato are what give the early vines their energy. The plant will not be able to generate new tubers without heavy fertilization.
How much more can hydroponic potatoes produce?
When growing potatoes indoors, the amount of space you provide them significantly impacts the harvest you get. A smaller rig will only allow you to collect a certain amount of harvest, while a bigger one will provide more.
In what time frame can potatoes be grown hydroponically?
Depending on the cultivar, the potatoes are ready 2 to 3 months after planting. That’s about a month earlier than potatoes are traditionally grown.
Young ‘chat’ potatoes have a good flavor and texture. As soon as one of these miniature marvels appears, you can remove it from the setup.
Start your hydroponic potato garden now
Growing food near where it’s consumed has several advantages, not the least of which is that potatoes are grown hydroponically. Hydroponics makes it possible to grow potatoes, which are one of the most important foods, anywhere.
Hydroponic potato growing is a resourceful strategy. It ensures reliable access to a nutritious food source, regardless of the weather. Care must be taken to protect potatoes from too much water and light.