There are countless systems and methods used to grow hydroponic herbs, and most can be easily be done at home. The first step in growing hydroponic herbs is choosing seedlings and researching the growth time and requirements for different herbs. There is a variety of nutrients for the water that can be purchased to ensure the health of the herbs. The simplest two methods are the wick system and ebb and flow. These two systems are less high-tech than others, and can be purchased as kits or complete units.
The wick system is the simplest hydroponic system to build using a plastic container as the water reservoir, a plant tray with coconut fiber, an air stone connected to an air pump, and two long strands of candle wick. An air-stone lays at the bottom of the reservoir connected to the air pump on the outside of the system, and the two wicks travel from the plant tray to the water reservoir. The wicks serve as a transportation device for nutrients from the water to the roots of the herbs. A wick system is not built to support larger plants, but works efficiently when growing hydroponic herbs.
An ebb and flow system is a flood and drain method, and requires two plastic containers and an underwater pump with a tube/overflow line, which runs from the top container to the pump in the bottom container. The bottom is the water reservoir, where the pump resides, and the top is the plant tray. Plant trays should be filled with gravel and the chosen herbs. The pump needs to be connected to a timer that allows the system to flood and drain the plant tray a few times a day in varied time intervals, depending on the type of herb. This system is a low maintenance method for growing hydroponic herbs because once the unit is assembled and the timer is set, the roots receive their required amount of nutrients, oxygen, and water.
The benefits of growing hydroponic herbs range from expedited plant growth to water conservation. Hydroponic herbs grow at a much faster rate than herbs in soil due to the excess oxygen and nutrients that the herbs receive. Water is recycled in the hydroponic system, as opposed to the amount of water lost during irrigation. In order to efficiently grow hydroponic herbs, the gardener should choose a system that best suits his or her home, research the chosen herb requirements, and purchase nutrients to add to the water. A local garden center is a good resource on both the wick and ebb and flow systems as well as other various hydroponic herb growing methods.