Growing Potatoes Hydroponically – a Full Guide

Introduction to growing potatoes hydroponically

The hydroponic system is a planting system on where there is no need of using soil. Instead, you use a particular medium for a plant to stand on firmly and put it on a Hydroponic. A hydroponic system has already calibrated nutrient solution and that particular solution is what the plant absorbs for its “efficient” development and growth stages. There are many reasons why gardeners choose to grow their crops using hydroponic methods instead of traditional soil-based methods. Some of the hydroponics key advantages contain more space-saving, more energy or water efficient, less weeding, and fewer pests to contend with. Hydroponics allows the grower more control and creativity in their crops so that they may provide the most ideal conditions for plants. Though, the single most compelling reason for gardeners to switch to soil-less gardening is its ability to significantly increase crop yield. In this article we also discussed the following topics;

  • Hydroponic potatoes growing conditions
  • Hydroponic potatoes nutrient requirements
  • Hydroponic potatoes growing medium
  • Optimal pH for potatoes growing hydroponically

A step by step guide to growing potatoes hydroponically

Hydroponic is a growing system for many kinds of plants including potatoes. It is a great gardening option for those who are lack of gardening space or the growing environment doesn’t have suitable soil to grow potatoes. You can grow potatoes faster hydroponically than conventional gardening. You can harvest the potatoes in one month earlier with this hydroponic gardening system. Potatoes are one of the easiest crops to grow with a hydroponics system.

Potato plants require access to plenty of water, but they can’t be kept overly wet or they will rot before they have a chance to grow. Place the prepared bin or bucket in a sunny spot that gets at least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day. Then, set it on a surface that won’t be damaged by water draining across it. Fill the container with water until the perlite or other growing medium is soaked and water begins to run out the holes.

Hydroponics gives you the ability to grow potatoes, on a small balcony, or in a small yard greenhouse. It allows you to grow them year-round in the warmth of your home, as long as the plants are exposed to sunlight through your windows most of the day. There are several methods of hydroponic gardening but the aggregate method works well with potato plants. This approach uses an inert material, for example, pebbles or perlite to support the plant and root system while it’s growing.

Hydroponic gardening doesn’t use soil and instead depend on nutrient-laden water combined with a means of supporting the growing plants. Such systems can be used for virtually any type of plant and are used to grow vegetables such as Irish or white potato plants, especially where ground space is lacking or the soil is unsuitable. Because everything hydroponic plants need is made obtainable to them on an ongoing basis, they grow faster than those grown in soil. Therefore, expect your crop of hydroponically grown potato tubers to be ready as much as a full month earlier than conventionally grown tubers. Potatoes can be grown from any potato that has produced eyes. You should start from a small slice of a potato known as a slip which is a quartered potato that has at least one “eye”; it needs an eye to initiate root growth from.

Choosing a hydroponic system for potatoes

The best hydroponic system for growing potatoes is one that uses a supportive medium for the plants to grow in and does not require that the potatoes be submerged or kept continually wet. A simple hydroponic system for growing potatoes can be made easily from a plastic container such as a storage bin or large bucket about 1/4-inch-diameter holes drilled in its sides about 2 inches up from its bottom and spaced a few inches apart all the way around the container. The bin should be at least 10 inches deep and filled with perlite.

Select an appropriate Hydroponic system for potatoes

Choosing the best hydroponic system is very important. Then, there is a big choice of indoor hydroponic growing systems on a market and it’s easy to find one for every budget. And for hydroponic potatoes, it’s always best to choose a supportive medium. One where the potatoes don’t want to be kept submerged in water continually.

A practical yet straightforward method for this gets customized from plastic containers. For instance, the huge bucket or storage bins with holes of about ¼ inch diameter drilled on the side. The space between these drilled holes is about 2 inches up from down. Also, the holes get placed a couple of inches apart. Additionally, ensure that the bin has a depth of about 10 inches at least. And, make sure to fill it with perlite. In a hydroponics system, it is all about getting the nutrient-rich water to your plant’s roots, while making sure there is enough oxygen in the water so they don’t drown.

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NFT hydroponic system for potato growing;

Here we are building an NFT (Nutrient film technique) hydroponic system using PVC pipes.

The basic idea is that we want a small, but a constant flow of water that the roots can sit in. The water contains all the essential nutrients the plants want, and the constant flow means there is plenty of oxygen in the water.

The plants need something to support them though, seeing we won’t have dirt to hold them up, this is where hydroponic system mediums come in. Then, it is good working with, perlite, vermiculite, and expanded clay balls. Then, these will give the plants support, and a small buffer to hold water.

Now, we don’t want these being washed away, so we will be putting them in little plastic cups, and let the plant roots grow out small holes into the stream of water.

Growing media for hydroponic potatoes

A common problem associated with growing potatoes hydroponically is that the endeavor almost always produces an abundance of small tubers. The potatoes harvested rarely match the size of those grown as natural, in a natural soil-based environment. As well, the total weight of the harvest of individual tuber size is generally less per plant than that grown in soil. Recent improvements in methodology, in particular in relation to the media used, show promise of bringing hydroponic potatoes up to par with conventionally cultivated ones.

A blended media, using perlite, vermiculite, and peat seems to be the best choice. It has produced significantly higher crop yield, both in total weight and tuber size than potatoes grown in a solitary media [sawdust]. Then, the solitary media does produce more tubers but small ones, very small.  For Potatoes, in general, the perlite-vermiculite-peat mix works best. The perlite draws moisture upwards from the base and maintains ample oxygen within the medium. Oxygen at the root level is vital for nutrient absorption by the potato plant. The vermiculite will help retain moisture.

Plant the seed potatoes in the perlite, an inch to an inch and half below the surface. Put them with the cut-side down. Spacing varies a wee bit depending on variety, but basically, as a rule of thumb 4 to 6 inches apart will suffice. Keep the bin covered except to give water until the potato sprouts begin breaking through the perlite.

Conditions for growing potato hydroponically

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Potato Plant.
Potato Plant.

Usually, potato plants need vast amounts of water. Though you can’t keep it overly wet and it makes the plant rot even before it can bloom into a healthy plant. You can follow the chosen bucket or bin in a bright space that receives direct sunlight daily, for about 6 hours at least. Smartly put atop a surface that can withstand breaks from watering draining across it, continually. Also, you can fill this container with water, till such time the perlite or any other medium gets soaked, making the water to flow out through the holes created. In order to enable potato plants to obtain optimal benefit from the nutrient solution provided, the pH range should be maintained around 5.8 to 6.2. Potato plants perform best in warm weather.

  • pH level near 5.8 to 6.2 for optimal results
  • Temperatures of 18 to 23°C are best
  • 10-12 hours of light daily optimal – but a minimum of 6 hours. 

The light requirement for growing potatoes hydroponically

Once the plant roots start developing and the plant begins to break the surface – you will need light. It is also at this point in the potatoes development that the emerging foliage will have a hard time getting light where it is growing in the bottom of the bin while keeping the potatoes themselves from being exposed to light. A reflective material such as Mylar for hydroponic use is advisable; foil can be used but not as efficiently.

The nutrient solution for growing potatoes hydroponically

Nutrient solution mixtures vary; you should always consult labels before adding. Generally, you would be adding nutrients or fertilizer a minimum of once a week when the sprouts emerge. A teaspoon of about 20-20-20 with micronutrients in a gallon of water is best for sprouts.

The advantages of growing potatoes hydroponically

Growing potatoes hydroponically suggests that the potato plants are away from the soil and any other allied issues. And this minimizes the problems such as pests available in the ground. And, other concern areas are salt build-up due to soil fertilization and questionable soil drainage. Also, it enables gardeners to grow their plans in habitats that are supportive, for instance, the indoor hydroponic gardens. You can grow potato plants and other vegetables all year round. The precise environment management required here can very well reduce issues related to temperature range and lighting.

Process of growing potatoes hydroponically

Use seed potatoes, or tuber pieces, from a plant nursery because grocery-store potatoes are treated to prevent sprouting. Choices contain early-maturing varieties such as “Red Pontiac” (Solanum tuberosum “Red Pontiac”) and “Gold Rush” (Solanum tuberosum “Gold Rush”). “Red Pontiac” tubers have red skin while “Gold Rush” tubers have medium-brown skin and both kinds are white inside. Cut large seed potatoes into pieces that each has one or two eyes the small, indented bud areas on the outside of the tubers or use small, whole seed potatoes. Start hydroponic potatoes at the end of March or early in April. Place the seed potato pieces 4 to 6 inches apart with each one’s cut side facing downward, and bury the pieces under 1 inch of perlite. As tubers begin to develop and keep them covered with perlite to prevent sun damage.

  • Purchase certified seed potatoes from a local seed or local garden store. These can be whole potatoes with several eyes or cut pieces with two or more eyes each. Seed potatoes work better than using potatoes you buy at a grocery store, which could have been treated to prevent sprouting and could carry diseases.
  • Cut whole seed potatoes into pieces about the size of an egg, making sure they each have at least 2 eyes. Move your plastic bin to a warm spot that receives at least 6 hours of sun each day. Drill drain holes in the plastic bin using about 1/2-inch bit. Make a row of holes on each of the long sides of the bin, two inches apart and 2 inches above the bottom of the container.
  • Pour perlite into the container, leaving 2 inches of open space at the top. Perlite is a type of volcanic rock, generally sold crushed. It is lightweight and moisture-wicking properties make it ideal for hydroponics and you can find perlite at most garden supply stores.
  • Pour water into the bin until it starts draining from the holes and plant the seed pieces in the perlite, about 1 inch below the surface. Place cut pieces cut-side down and space the pieces four to 6 inches apart. Cover the bin until sprouts peek through the perlite, which takes about 2 weeks. Remove the cover only to water the plants, which you should do about every 3 to 4 days.
  • Then, add liquid fertilizer at least once a week once sprouts appear. Mix 1 teaspoon of about 20-20-20 fertilizer with micronutrients in a gallon of water. Pour in the fertilizer solution just as you can regularly water until it starts to dribble out the drain holes.

Planting potato slips in hydroponics

Seed potatoes from a nursery or online are the best way to go, as supermarket potatoes are treated with a chemical growth inhibitor to prevent sprouting.

Seed potato from a reputable supplier for the purpose of growing is generally free of disease. If you buy a potato from the store and be sure to find out if you’re getting a bush type or a vining type.

When planting Potato slips in a hydroponic setup the potato wedge must be at the very bottom of the bin. As the plant grows -more medium must be added to keep the potatoes covered at all times. Do not allow the potatoes themselves to be exposed to much light as they will make a bitter, toxic alkaloid that imparts a greenish tinge.

Providing care and harvesting of Hydroponic potatoes

Use ordinary tap water to water the seed potatoes every 3 to 4 days, preventing the perlite from drying out. When they have sprouted, continue watering as before but alternate between plain water and a fertilizer mixture made by adding 1 teaspoon of about 20-20-20, water-soluble fertilizer that includes micronutrients to 1 gallon of water. When the potato plants’ vines are roughly 18 inches in height, switch to a fertilizer that has more potassium than other elements, such as a 10-10-20 blend, which will boost the development of the tubers. Harvest mature tubers about 3 weeks after the vines die and harvest small, tender tubers as soon as 70 days after planting.

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3 COMMENTS

  1. Hello Mr Reddy. I am into hydroponic cultivation. Would like to engage with you in formulation of fertigation recipe of a few vegetables including purple potato. kindly revert on my mail.

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