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Strawberries are delicious fruits that can be grown hydroponically year-round for home consumption or commercial production without any hassle.

Hydroponic strawberry cultivation has several benefits like higher yields, good fruit quality, and environmental control compared to conventional field production. By growing strawberries in nutrient-rich water rather than soil, it’s possible to produce fresh, flavorful berries even in limited space.

Here’s a guide on how to grow strawberries hydroponically. 

Image Credit: Deposit Photos

Why You Should Try Growing Strawberries Hydroponically

Growing strawberries in hydroponics refers to cultivation in soilless media such as peat moss. This offers numerous benefits that make it an appealing option for home growers. Here are some of the top reasons to consider setting up a hydroponic strawberry system:

  • Increased yields- Hydroponic systems allow optimal nutrient and water delivery directly to the roots. This facilitates faster growth and higher berry production per plant than soil cultivation. 
  • Earlier maturity-optimized conditions in a hydroponic system allow strawberry plants to become established and start fruiting several weeks ahead of those grown in soil. The average time to first harvest can be reduced by three weeks. 
  • Pest and disease control—Garden pests like spider mites, aphids, and root weevils cannot affect plants growing in a closed hydroponic system. Diseases like gray mold are also prevented, preventing crop losses.
  • Extended growing season: Greenhouse panels or grow lights allow the growing climate to be controlled year-round. With proper heat and lighting, plants can keep producing berries in winter. Ever-bearing varieties can bear fruit perpetually rather than just a few summer weeks in optimal hydroponic conditions.
  • Saves space—Vertical hydroponic systems allow strawberry production in a modest footprint. Tower designs provide several stacked layers of plants in just 4-6 square feet, so no extensive garden plot is needed.
  • Easy to install and maintain– Pre-made hydroponic kits come with all required components and instructions for quick setup. Monitoring the pH/nutrient reservoir and training runners takes just minutes per week.
  • Fun and rewarding—It’s exciting to watch the bare-root runner plants quickly take off and start forming clusters of flowers in optimal growing conditions. Picking ripe, juicy berries you nurtured from plant to fruit is incredibly gratifying. 
  • Zero pesticides– a closed hydroponic environment prevents pests like mites, aphids, or root weevils from attacking the strawberry plants. This eliminates any need for chemical pesticide sprays, providing the berries are grown 100% organically.

How To Grow Hydroponic Strawberries

1. Choose A Hydroponic System

Strawberry in strawberry garden
Image Credit: Deposit Photos

Choosing your preferred hydroponic system is very important. Here are some of the best hydroponics systems for growing strawberries.

  • Deep Water Culture (DWC): DWC systems strawberry plants are suspended in a nutrient-rich water solution. Air stones supply oxygen to the roots, promoting healthy growth.
  • Nutrient Film Technique (NFT)­­: NFT systems comprise a sloped trough that permits a thin film of nutrient solution to flow over the roots, providing continuous access to nutrients and oxygen.
  • Drip Systems: Drip systems provide a controlled amount of nutrient solution directly to the base of each strawberry plant. 
  • Substrate growing: Substrate growing is the best choice, as strawberry plants grow in specific growing media, such as coconut fiber, perlite, or vermiculite. This system offers them excellent water retention capacity without compromising root oxygenation and allows you to adapt your crop to your available space.

2. Planting Techniques

Hydroponics plant row in plantation. Indoor strawberries farm. Substrate cultivation of strawberries under plastic film on the pickers ergonomic height. Smart agriculture, farm, technology concept.
Image Credit: Deposit Photos

When establishing a new hydroponic strawberry system, select vigorous young runner plants that have developed roots but do not yet have extensive foliage growth. Carefully separate the runners from the mother plant and transplant them into the hydroponic setup, taking care not to damage the delicate root structures.

For smaller container-based systems, space the plants evenly at 8–12 inches apart to allow adequate light penetration and air circulation to all sides. Plant densities can be higher in larger hydroponic rafts or NFT systems, but aim for even spacing. Proper planting technique and spacing set the plants up for success.

3. Light and Temperature

Hydroponics row in plantation. Indoor strawberries farm. Substrate cultivation of strawberries under plastic film on the pickers ergonomic height. Smart agriculture, farm, technology concept.
Image Credit: Deposit Photos

Strawberry plants need at least 12–14 hours of bright sunlight or supplementation with grow lights per day once established to stimulate abundant fruit production. Careful monitoring and control of both day and night temperatures is also critical.

Ideal daytime temperatures for hydroponic strawberries range from 60-80°F, while nighttime lows should stay between 50-65°F. Temperatures above 90°F can cause poor pollination and fruit set. Dipping below 40°F slows growth dramatically and damages flowers. Careful climate control is essential.

4. Water Quality and pH Levels

Water quality in a hydroponic system is vital for healthy strawberries. Test water alkalinity and ensure a proper balance of essential minerals. The pH of the nutrient solution is also critical to monitor, as strawberry plants are sensitive to fluctuating pH levels.

The preferred reservoir pH is between 5.5 and 6.5. Check and adjust the pH routinely as the plants grow. If municipal tap water is used, allow it to dechlorinate before mixing nutrient solutions and filling the hydroponic system.

5. Growing Medium

Strawberries ripen in a greenhouse on a farm in Cyprus 9.
Image Credit: Deposit Photos

Choosing the right growing medium is key for healthy hydroponic strawberries. Look for lightweight, porous media that provide excellent drainage and aeration while still retaining some moisture and nutrients. Perlite, coconut coir, and clay pebbles are good choices.

Avoid dense, water-retentive media that could lead to soggy roots. The growing medium anchors and supports the plants while facilitating drainage and distribution of the nutrient solution. Test different media blends to find the ideal moisture retention and aeration balance for your system and environment.

6. Nutrient Solution

Hydroponic nutrient formulas tailored specifically for fruiting plants are recommended for strawberries. Follow manufacturer mixing rates carefully. Nutrient levels should be adjusted throughout the growth cycle.

Higher nitrogen and potassium are needed during plant establishment and ramping up to flower production. Once fruit sets, increase phosphorus, calcium, and magnesium to support development to maturity. Routinely check the nutrient solution’s electrical conductivity (EC) to maintain optimal levels.

7. Pollination

Strawberry Plantation. Beautiful red berries hanging on beds.
Image Credit: Deposit Photos

When strawberries start flowering, careful pollination is required to achieve a good fruit set. In an enclosed hydroponic environment, use small paint brushes to manually transfer pollen between flowers daily. Also, tap flowering trusses regularly to help disperse pollen.

If cultivated in a greenhouse, introduce bumblebees, which will move pollen efficiently from plant to plant. Proper pollination techniques are critical for converting flowers into harvestable berries.

8. Pruning

Strategic pruning optimizes strawberry plant growth and fruit production. Initially, prune off all runners to direct energy into establishing roots and crown growth. Once established, after 4–6 weeks, allow 2–3 runners to fruit while removing any additional runners.

Prune off old leaves, dead flowers, rotten fruits, and any diseased or insect-damaged plant parts promptly to prevent issues from spreading. Consistent pruning maintains optimal plant shape and health.

9. Propagation

Strawberry plants can be purchased pre-propagated from nurseries or tissue culture labs for hydroponic growing. However, propagating your own plants from runners allows you to expand stock affordably. Strawberries send out runners from the mother plant that can be used for propagation.

Growing hydroponic strawberries requires great care and maintenance from propagation through harvesting. But the reward of delightfully flavorful and nutritious berries makes the effort worthwhile. 

Follow these beginner steps for propagating and tending to a thriving hydroponic strawberry crop.

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Purity Wamoyi
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Purity Wamoyi is a horticulturist. She studied BSc Horticulture at the University of Nairobi. She has a passion for agriculture driven by her urge to be a champion and ambassador in fighting for food security.She believes that the world would be a better place if we did the little things that bring peace and uphold humanity. During her free time, Purity loves watching soccer and is a huge ardent Chelsea fan.

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