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A Simple Guide to Starting Seeds for Hydroponics

A Simple Guide to Starting Seeds for Hydroponics

So, You Want To Start Seeds for Your Hydroponic System…

But you have no idea how to get started?

That’s where Epic Gardening comes in!  When I first started gardening, I was messing around in soil (which I still do to this day).  Starting seeds for hydroponics systems was unknown to me until I started to grow in Deep Water Culture and Ebb and Flow systems.  I didn’t want to deal with the mess of starting seeds in soil and transplanting into a hydroponic system…so I had to learn how to do it the soil-less way!

If you’re an Epic Gardening reader, you know that the benefit of hydroponics is the absolute control you have over your growing environment.  Knowing that, I didn’t want to germinate seeds in soil and then transplant into a my hydroponic system, adding a bunch of dirt to the system.

There had to be another way.

Here are just a few reasons why you want to start seeds in a hydroponic system as opposed to soil:

  • Cleanliness
  • Speed of growth after germination – this is a cool one.  As soon as your tap root pops out, a hydroponic system is going to help it grow faster than soil and prevent it from becoming rootbound.

Step 1 – Get Your Materials

You don’t need much to get started.  If you build your cloner yourself, the rest of the materials will cost you under $50 bucks and will last you for quite a while.  If you decide to go with a store-bought cloner, it’ll bump up the cost a bit but you’ll also be getting a much higher quality product.

Here’s what you need:

  1. Hydroponic Cloner – The Fizzy Farm from Zero Mile Farms is an AWESOME system that has been thoroughly tested by Epic Gardening.
  2. 2″ Net Pots
  3. Rapid Rooter Starter Plugs
  4. Seeds – find at your local nursery if possible, or buy many places online.  A personal favorite of mine is
  5. Air Pump
  6. Air Stone
  7. Tubing

Step 2 – Fill The Cloner with Water

Fairly simple step here.  All you need to do is fill up your reservoir to just under where your net pots sit.  Don’t worry about pHing your water or using reverse osmosis right now – standard tap water will be fine.

Step 3 – Set Up the Air Pump

Place the air stone in the reservoir and connect the tubing.  Connect the other side to the air pump and plug it in.  You should see some beautiful bubbles start to come out of the air stone.  These bubbles are what will keep the roots of your seeds moist and stimulate growth.

Step 4 – Place Starter Plugs and Seeds

Soak each starter plug in some water and then place it in a net pot.  The moisture will help the seeds germinate.

Drop 2-3 seeds in each starter plug.  We use more than 1 seed because not all seeds will germinate and we want to make sure that every starter plug has a sprouted seed – otherwise we’ll have to replant!

Step 5 – Maintenance

  1. This system is very easy to maintain as your seeds sprout.  If you want, you can place a transparent cover over the top to keep in some moisture and increase the temperature of the system, but it’s not necessary.
  2. Make sure to moisten the starter plugs with a few sprays from a spray bottle every day so your seeds have enough moisture to sprout.
  3. When your seeds sprout, clip off all but the strongest seedling from each starter plug.

That’s it!  Your seeds should sprout in 3-5 days for most plants and you’ll be ready to start growing some truly epic plants in your hydroponic system in no time!

Video Guide

Need more info?  Visual learner?  No problem…I recorded a video series just for you:

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

Let me know what you think in the comments below :)

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About Kevin

Kevin is the creator of Epic Gardening, a community dedicated to teaching urban gardening, hydroponics, and aquaponics. He enjoys skateboarding, piano, guitar, business, and experimenting with all kinds of gardening techniques!