Skip to main content

6 crops that will thrive in your winter hydroponic garden

Hydroponic gardens are a fascinating way to grow plants indoors. There are many different plants that can be grown hydroponically, and they can be grown year round with some preparation. In winter, there tends to be less light, and more drafts. As such, you may need to move your hydroponic garden, if possible, so your plants get enough light and avoid any cool spots or drafts. Adding a grow light or heat lamp may also be necessary, if you live in an area with darker, colder winters. No matter your climate, we have six crops you can grow hydroponically this winter.


Cilantro is a controversial herb, but, if you’re part of the population that enjoys it, it’s a great choice for winter hydroponic gardens. Cilantro prefers cooler temperatures and has a tendency to bolt (produce flowers, rendering the leaves bitter and unpleasant to eat) quickly in warmer weather. It does need roughly 12 hours of light a day for optimal growth, so a grow light may be helpful. Be sure to keep cilantro above the water level in your system, as it can develop bacterial leaf spot if the leaves become damp.

Cilantro grown hydroponically
Image used with permission by copyright holder


Carrots can be a little trickier to grow hydroponically than other vegetables, because, as root vegetables, they need some extra support to keep them upright and healthy. Some systems that better accommodate carrots are wick, drip, and ebb and flow, as these systems grow the carrots in a solid medium, rather than suspending them directly in water. With these systems, carrots can be grown easily throughout winter with only a few considerations. Carrots need plenty of room to grow, or else they may become stunted or malformed. They also need 12 to 16 hours of light a day.


If you’re looking for something that’s a little easier to grow than carrots, then you might want to try oregano. Oregano prefers temperatures that are slightly warmer than cilantro or carrots, but still well within average room temperature. It also needs only 12 hours of light a day, so you may or may not need a grow light, depending on where your hydroponic garden is situated. One benefit to oregano, besides its many uses, is that one plant can be harvested multiple times. Since you harvest the leaves, one plant can provide you with a continuous stream of oregano.

Chives growing in a hydroponic system
Image used with permission by copyright holder


Both chives and garlic chives are easy to grow indoors, even in winter. They prefer warmer weather, from 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. In many cases, this is within average room temperature ranges, but it does mean they need to be kept clear of any drafty windows. Chives will almost certainly need grow lights, as they need 14 hours of light a day. Chives can grow with less light, but they are likely to go dormant, resulting in a smaller harvest. However, chives that are not dormant can provide sizable harvests, starting when the plants reach about six inches tall.


Spinach is a common addition to fall vegetable gardens, but you can grow it through winter in a hydroponic system. Spinach enjoys cooler weather, so you don’t need to worry about turning up the heat. 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit is the ideal range for spinach, and temperatures over 75 degrees Fahrenheit can cause it to wilt. Give your spinach 12 hours of direct light, either from the sun, a grow light, or a combination of both. Keep an eye on it when it gets close to harvest time, to avoid spinach that has bolted and become bitter. Spinach is sensitive to pythium, a parasite that can be found in some hydroponic systems and causes root rot. Be sure to clean your system and any surfaces the plant will be touching before you plant it.

Spinach growing hydroponically
Image used with permission by copyright holder


Broccoli is surprisingly easy to grow in a hydroponic system, and it can be grown in any season. It grows fairly quickly, being ready to harvest in only a few months. Broccoli is naturally a cool weather crop, and it begins to bolt when temperatures reach 70 degrees Fahrenheit. This preference for cooler temperatures, even compared to other cool weather vegetables, makes it a great choice if you like to keep your home on the chilly side.

It needs 14 to 16 hours of light a day, but be sure your grow lights aren’t too close to the broccoli, as they can heat the air. The main thing to consider when growing broccoli is spacing. They need at least a foot of room to grow properly.

These six vegetables and herbs will make a wonderful addition to your winter hydroponic garden. Depending on the location of your hydroponic garden and what temperature you like to keep your home at, you might not even have to do much prep work! You can enjoy crisp, fresh vegetables even in the middle of winter by adding these plants to your hydroponic garden.

Editors' Recommendations

Cayla Leonard
Cayla Leonard is a writer from North Carolina who is passionate about plants.  She enjoys reading and writing fiction and…
Can you grow plants in water beads? Here’s what you need to know
Find out what common houseplants you can grow this way
A tulip in a vase with water beads

Keeping your plants healthy includes keeping them hydrated, but what is the best way to do that? There’s traditional watering, automated watering systems for when you’re out of town, and even water globes. One option you may have heard about is growing plants in water beads. Is this really an effective way to keep your plants hydrated, though, or are the potential risks more troublesome than they’re worth? This guide to gardening with water beads will answer all your questions.

What are water beads?
Water beads are gel spheres that come in a variety of sizes and colors. They absorb water and slowly release it over time, which is why some gardeners use them to keep their plants watered. Water beads can be made from a variety of materials, including both naturally occurring and manufactured substances.

Read more
A guide to growing rosemary indoors from seed to spice up your dishes
Tips for a delicious rosemary harvest
Potted rosemary plants on a table

Many herbs can grow indoors under the right conditions. Rosemary belongs to this lot. The easiest way to do it is to purchase existing seedlings and repot them at home, leaving them with room to grow. Because of that, many people don’t readily know how to grow rosemary from seed — at least indoors and in a way that will help the plant thrive.

Some of the most important questions to keep in mind when growing rosemary indoors from seed are: What kind of soil does rosemary like? How do I care for my indoor rosemary? By answering those queries, we’ll help you grow successful rosemary plants.

Read more
Ensure your succulents thrive in winter with these 4 tips
How to keep your succulents warm and healthy in winter
Succulent in planter

Succulents are known for their hardiness, but they do appreciate extra consideration during the wintertime. Most plants, including succulents and cacti, become dormant during the winter. They need less water, light, and fertilizer, but the trade-off is that they can be damaged by the cold. If you experience especially chilly winters where you live, succulent care can be intimidating. Caring for succulents in winter doesn't need to be difficult, though. These tips and tricks will help ensure your succulents stay happy and healthy even in the coldest months.

Our ultimate guide to thriving succulents
While you might keep your succulents indoors, they're still bound to feel the effects of a seasonal transition. Here's how to make sure the winter weather doesn't hurt your beloved plants.
Cut back on watering and fertilizing
The cardinal rule of succulent winter care is to cut back on watering. As plants go dormant in the winter, they won't use as much water, so overwatering can lead to root rot. Water your succulents and cacti thoroughly but infrequently. Once every one or two months should be sufficient for most succulents. The best time to water is when the soil is dried out and the leaves look slightly wrinkled.

Read more