Hydroponic lettuce is by far the most common leafy green grown hydroponically. For commercial growers it makes sense to grow hydroponic lettuce because you can produce up to 4 times more lettuce hydroponically than in soil. For home hydroponic growers it makes sense because it’s so easy to grow and it takes around 1 month to grow it from seed.
Hydroponics is a method of growing plants without soil. Plants are grown in a nutrient rich solution which is faster and unlike soil, disease free.
What do you need to grow hydroponic lettuce?
To grow lettuce hydroponically you need a very basic hydroponic setup. You need to sprout lettuce seeds. The hydroponic system can be a Kratky hydroponic system that doesn’t need any pumps, pipes or complicated things (it simply a bucket with nutrient solution), but of course you can also go for NFT hydroponics or Ebb and Flow. You also need hydroponic solution that can be purchased or you can even make your own hydroponic solution at home. Depending on how much light you have available, you might also need some led lights.
Khang Starr shows us how to Make a Mini very basic Kratky Hydroponic System for Lettuce. He uses baby formula containers and drills a hole on top to place the netpots. The seeds are started in 1.5 Inch Rockwool Cubes and moved to the hydroponic system as soon as the true leaves appear. Clay pebbles are used to further stabilize the roots.
Of course, if you dont want to go the DIY path and want to have a ready made hydroponic system, you can’t go wrong with Aerogarden or iDoo.
Can you grow hydroponic lettuce anywhere and anytime?
That’s the hydroponic idea. If you provide the right temperature, nutrient solution and light, you can play God with the lettuce 🙂 Lettuce requires a pH 5.5-5.8 and the optimum germination temperature is 64-68°F. The ideal EC of the nutrient solution ranges from 1.4 to 1.8 mS/cm and a pH of 6.0–7.0.
Of course, if you could use natural light it’s even better than led lights, but if you don’t have enough light here is a compare video: Kratky Hydroponics Under LEDs vs. Windowsill Deep Water Culture Under Sunlight.
What type of lettuce is best for hydroponics?
Some of the best types of lettuce for hydroponic growth include Butterhead lettuce, Romaine lettuce, and iceberg lettuce. These types of lettuce grow well in water and have good productions in a hydroponic system. Of course, choosing the best lettuce is also a matter of personal preference.
Tikki O. compares 8 lettuce varieties you can grow with ease Oakleaf, Iceberg, Red Romaine, Parris Island COS romaine, Lollo Rosso, Black Seeded Simpson, Prizehead, and Ruby Red.
You can even try to regrow store bought lettuce:
Hydroponic lettuce pests and diseases
While hydroponics is far less prone to pests and diseases than soil based agriculture, you can still get into trouble: water mold (e.g. Pythium or Phytophthora), root rot and the regular greenhouse diseases that include Botrytis gray mold, powdery mildew and downy mildew.
Greenhouse pests can also be a problem: aphids, thrips, whiteflies and mites.
Read more about hydroponics