One of the most common questions I get in emails is, "What books would you recommend to someone just starting out in hydroponics?" It's a great question, because there are so many bad ones and so few good ones.
And the information available online can be confusing and contradictory - in fact, that's why I started Epic Gardening in the first place. I wanted to create a site where I could share what I've learned about gardening - be it urban, hydroponic, aquaponic, or good old fashioned soil.
Because I get this question so often, I decided to create a home for you all to reference when you need a good book recommendation. These are my personal favorites. They all have upsides and downsides, but I try to focus on books that give you a deep understanding of how growing hydroponically works instead of simple 'how-to' books (though I have included a few of those).
Complete beginners to hydroponics
How to Hydroponics, 4th Edition
In-depth system build guides
Hydroponic Food Production
More in-depth hydroponic information
Hydroponics - Questions and Answers for Successful Growing
A troubleshooting guide for hydroponics
Botany for Gardeners
A simplified fun read about botany
Hydroponics: A Practice Guide for the Soil-less Grower
A great practical hydroponics guide
Commercial Hydroponics – How to Grow 86 Different Plants in Hydroponics
Hydroponic production on a commercial scale
Hobby Hydroponics by Howard Resh
For those of you that don't know, Howard Resh is considered one of the best-known hydroponics educators and practitioners. Granted, it's a small field, but Resh has done some awesome things in bringing hydroponics to the masses.
This book focuses on small-scale hydroponics for beginners. It outlines exactly how to set up home hydroponic systems of all varieties and goes into all of the variables that plants need to survive and how to provide those variables in a hydroponic environment.
If you're just starting out in hydroponics - this is the #1 recommendation I have for you.
How To Hydroponics, Fourth Edition by Keith Roberto
If you want to jump right into hydroponics without learning too much of the underlying theory, then this is the book for you. I wouldn't recommend this - I would pick this book up as well as Hobby Hydroponics.
The benefit of this book is the step-by-step plans and photos it contains to help you set up a system. Kind of like the hydroponic herb garden or two liter bottle garden guides that I have put out - just all compiled into a book for you.
Hydroponic Food Production by Howard Resh
Another classic from Howard Resh. This book focuses more on the practical applications. How to set up a hydroponic operation, nutrient and plant physiology recommendations, and how to formulate nutrients properly.
It is a beast of a book and one that you'll find yourself referring to over and over again as you embark on your hydroponic journey. Tons of photographs and detailed notes on what systems to use with different types of plants, as well as a lot of the finer details that you won't get in many other books.
I highly recommend buying the hardcover of this one - it will be a reference book for years to come.
Hydroponics – Questions and Answers for Successful Growing by Howard Resh
If you find yourself having more specific questions as you progress in hydroponics, this is the book for you. There's nothing better out there than this.
Features 287 questions and answers from hydroponic growers with detailed answers from the field - real, practical advice that will help you improve your methods and yields.
Another one to buy in paperback format instead of digital - you'll want to mark this one up.
Botany for Gardeners by Brian Capon
In keeping with my philosophy of learning the fundamentals so you can apply them in your growing, this book brings it back to the basics. It doesn't teach you more than you need to know about botany, but what it does teach you is extremely valuable.
This is a book I would recommend picking and choosing sections as you need them. You should read the first sections completely to get a full understanding of the absolute basics, but then skim from chapter to chapter as needed.
Hydroponics: A Practice Guide for the Soil-less Grower by J. Benton Jones Jr.
This book is exactly what it says: a practical guide for anyone looking to apprentice themselves in the art and science of hydroponics.
The second edition helps give a deeper understanding of what plants need to grow and how you can accelerate the growth process hydroponically. It's great for beginner to intermediate lever growers.
I know I promised recommendations for beginners...but I couldn't resist. This book is the best one I've found yet on how to grow at a commercial scale. It's one of the few that goes into the specifics of how to treat many different types of plants - 86, to be precise.
It's hard to find, but if you can get your hands on this book, I would highly recommend it.