Small farmers, hobbyists, and commercial enterprises are using a hydroponic system, a soilless cultivation method, to grow a variety of vegetables and plants. If you’re a gardening enthusiast and want to grow plants like lettuce, basil, tomatoes, green beans, cucumbers, hot peppers, and so on, you can use water-based nutrient solutions rather than using soil. 
Now the question is can you grow broccoli hydroponically? If yes, what’s the best way to grow broccoli hydroponically? Simply put, you can grow hydroponic broccoli in most hydroponic systems including Aeroponics, Ebb and Flow, NFT (Nutrient Film Technique), and DWC (Deep Water culture)
This blog will answer the following questions:  

  1. What types of broccoli can you grow in hydroponics?  
  2. Propagation of hydroponic broccoli: Seed Vs. Clone 
  3. The Best hydroponic systems to grow broccoli. 
  4. What nutrients should you feed hydroponic broccoli? 
  5. Optimal conditions for Broccoli Cultivation: Light, Temperature and pH Level 
  6. Pest and Disease Management 
  7. How do you harvest broccoli?  
  8. Storage 

What Types of Broccoli Can You Grow in Hydroponics?

Broccoli is one of the best kinds of vegetables to grow in a soilless cultivation. You can easily grow varieties of broccoli in a hydroponic garden. However, calabrese broccoli is the most popular one to grow in hydroponics
Here is a list of broccoli varieties to grow hydroponically: 

  1. Di Cicco: This broccoli variety comes from Italy. It is small to medium in size. It has a bluish-green head that can be well-suited for a hydroponic system. 
  2. Belstar: It’s a hybrid broccoli with tight, rich dark, and green heads. This type of broccoli can grow well in controlled hydroponic conditions. 
  3. Arcadia: This hybrid broccoli variety is known for its beautiful, purplish green heads. It can grow in compact spaces and performs exceptionally well in hydroponic setups as well. 
  4. Apollo: It’s another broccoli variety suitable for hydroponic cultivation. It produces medium-sized heads with an excellent growth rate. It also has good disease resistance. 
  5. Pacman: Pacman has a large dome-shaped head. It also adapts well to hydroponic systems. 
  6. Calabrese: This is a traditional broccoli variety that comes from Italy and is compact and compatible with hydroponic growing conditions. 
  7. Green Magic: Green Magic is another hybrid variety of heading broccoli that matures as little as 60 days from transplant. Its uniform and medium-sized heads and adaptability to various growing conditions make it suitable for soilless cultivation. 
  8. Greem Goliath: As the name suggests this broccoli variety offers large and dark green heads. You can grow this variant in your hydroponic garden as well. 
  9. Early Dividend: If you’re looking for a quick harvest of small to medium-sized heads, this early-maturing broccoli variety can be an ideal choice for growing in hydroponics. 


Propagation of Hydroponics Broccoli: Seed Vs. Clone

Hydroponic broccoli can be propagated from either seeds or clones. In the case of cloning, you can use the crown or the part underneath the harvested head. Growing hydroponic broccoli with vegetative propagation can be successful. You just need to ensure appropriate conditions like ample sunlight, water, and little tender loving care (TLC). 
On the other hand, if you want to germinate seeds, first make sure to choose the high-quality broccoli seeds appropriate for hydroponic cultivation. Also, check that the seeds are disease-resistant and suitable for the selected hydroponic system. 
To germinate the seeds, you can use a separate growing medium like rock wool, or starter plugs until they develop into sturdy seedlings. Notably, broccoli often germinate within 36 hours on seedling heat mats. However, typically, it takes up to 10 days for sprouting seeds if they get an adequate temperature between 70 to 85°F.  

Transplanting Broccoli Seedlings into a Hydroponic System

After germination, once your broccoli seedlings have grown a few inches tall with 2 to 3 leaves, you can transplant them into your favorite hydroponic growing system. While transplanting seedlings, you need to make sure they have plenty of room to spread out. 
Generally, 12 to 16 inches of space between each plant is required. Before transplanting seedlings, learn about the different types of hydroponic systems and choose the suitable one. 
For instance, you can start with a deep water culture system like a bucket hydroponic which is easy to set up and maintain. If you do so, we suggest using clay pebbles as a growing medium. 
Filling your bucket with clay pebbles will leave small holes where you should place your seedlings. While doing this, make sure the seedling roots receive sufficient water. 

The Best Hydroponic Systems to Grow Broccoli


So what hydroponic system is best suited for growing broccoli? There are 6 types of hydroponic systems and to be honest, hydroponic broccoli will grow in most hydroponic setups. 
You can use any of the following systems to grow broccoli: 

  1. Deep Water Culture (DWC hydroponic system) 
  2. Aeroponics 
  3. Ebb and Flow 
  4. Nutrient Film Technique (NFT) 

Let’s discuss some of the basics of these hydroponic systems to grow broccoli hydroponically.  


Setting Up Deep Water Culture (DWC) for Hydroponic Broccoli

 If you’re planning to get into hydroponic gardening, DWC is the recommended way to do it. It can be easy and inexpensive way to grow broccoli. 
In the DWC hydroponic system, plants' roots are suspended in a nutrient-rich, oxygenated water. The basic components of the DWC bucket system are containers, air pumps, air stones, net pots, growing medium, and nutrient solution
Here's how to set it up: 

  1. Choose a container that offers enough space for broccoli plants
  2. Install an air pump and air stones in the container or reservoir for continuous oxygenation of the nutrient solution. 
  3. Place net pots in the container. Each should contain broccoli seedlings. You can use an inert growing medium like hydroton, coco coir, or perlite
  4. Use a balanced mixture of nutrient solutions according to the needs of broccoli plants. Broccoli loves nitrogen-rich fertilizers. Besides, use the NPK macronutrients – Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium. 

Growing Broccoli in Aeroponics

Using an aeroponic tower garden for growing broccoli is another recommended hydroponic method. This aeroponic system ensures the efficient use of space and resources. 
The things you need to do for the aeroponic tower garden:  

  1. Choose a vertical tower or horizontal system designed for aeroponic cultivation.  
  2. You can pick a commercially available tower or DIY setup.  
  3. You’ll need a container or reservoir to hold the nutrient solution. 
  4. A submersible water pump is needed to circulate the nutrient solution from the reservoir to the misting system. 
  5. High-pressure misting nozzles or sprayers are required to create a fine mist of nutrient solution around the plant roots. 
  6. Use a timer to regulate the on/off cycles of the misting system. 
  7. You’ll need a growing medium like perlite or rock wool. 
  8. If you’re growing indoors where full sun is missing, artificial grow lights are also needed. 

Note that since this system is complex, it might not be suitable for newbie gardeners. However, if you’re ready to go through some trial and error, it can be the most efficient way to grow broccoli. 

Ebb and Flow for Hydroponic Broccoli

Ebb and flow (AKA Flood and Drain) is the most common system appreciated for its simple operation and balanced flow of nutrients and oxygenation. Using it for growing broccoli can be an effective hydroponic method. 
Here are some of the basic components you’ll need for the Ebb and Flow system: 

  1. Select a suitable ebb and flow table or tray system that includes a flood tray (AKA Plant Tray), a nutrient reservoir, and a submersible pump
  2. Grow tray or flood tray where your broccoli plants will be placed. 
  3. You’ll need a growing medium like coco coir, perlite, or hydroton to support the broccoli in the grow tray. 
  4. A timer is needed to control the frequency and duration of flood and ebb cycles. 

Apart from these, you’ll need a balanced hydroponic nutrient solution and pH kit, grow lights (if growing indoors), temperature and humidity controllers, and support structures (e.g., trellises or stakes) to grow broccoli in an ebb-and-flow system.  

Nutrient Film Technique (NFT)

Lightweight plants like spinach, lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower, and small rooted plants grow well in nutrient film techniques hydroponic systems.  
Here's what you need to know to raise flavorful broccoli using the NFT system: 

  1. Reservoir to hold nutrient solutions. 
  2. A pump to circulate the nutrient solution through the system. 
  3. Channels or gutters to support the broccoli plants and provide a pathway for nutrient solutions to flow over the roots. 
  4. To hold the growing medium and support the plants, you need a container or growing troughs at intervals in the channels. 
  5. You can use growing media such as rock wool, perlite, or coconut coir. 

What Nutrients Should You Feed Hydroponic Broccoli?

A balanced amount of nutrients is required to grow hydroponic broccoli. These cabbages love nitrogen which is essential for their vegetative growth. Besides, nitrogen helps to promote leaf and stem development. It should be noted that broccoli has a higher demand for nitrogen during the early stages of growth
Besides, you need to feed nutrients like phosphorus, potassium, calcium, sulfur, magnesium, manganese, iron, zinc, copper, boron, and molybdenum to your broccoli plants. 
All these macro and micronutrients are necessary for the desired and faster growth. For instance, phosphorus (P) helps in the formation of broccoli heads. Potassium (K) contributes to disease resistance
Calcium aids in cell wall formation and prevents disorders. According to the University of Massachusetts, tip burn disorder can be caused by inadequate transport of calcium to rapidly growing tissues. 
Other nutrients like magnesium also play a role in photosynthesis and energy transfer within plants. Sulfur produces the essential enzymes for broccoli plants. Besides, if the plants lack iron and manganese, it may cause leaf yellowing (chlorosis)
While growing broccoli hydroponically, make sure that your hydroponics reservoir contains all these essential nutrients. Also, change the nutrients in the reservoir once per week.   

Optimal Conditions for Broccoli Cultivation: Light, Temperature, and pH Level

When it comes to cultivating broccoli using a hydroponic system, make sure it gets the proper amount of light. Besides, maintaining optimal light and pH levels is also mandatory to ensure the best growing conditions. 
Broccoli is a low-light vegetable. On moist days, it needs at least 6 hours of direct sunlight. However, if you’re planning to produce it in an indoor area where sunlight can’t penetrate, use proper artificial lights. Broccoli doesn't need very extreme light. You can use T5 fluorescent or LEDs. It’s also noteworthy that you avoid using any HID lights as they release too much heat. In an indoor scenario, broccoli plants should get roughly 14 to 16 hours of light per day.  
In the case of temperature, according to the University of West Virginia, broccoli thrives in growing temperatures from 65 to 75 °F. However, high temperatures and increased day length can cause broccoli plants to bolt. That’s why maintaining the right temperature is essential. 
When grown in hydroponic settings, you need to maintain a pH level of 5.5 to 6.5. Without an optimal pH range, essential macro and micronutrients will not be available for uptake by your plants. 

Pest and Disease Management

Broccoli grown in a hydroponic system can be safe from soil-borne diseases and certain pests. Still, hydroponic gardeners might have to face some common pests.  

Common pests for broccoli and How to Control Them

  1. Cabbage Loopers: Cole crops such as cabbage, broccoli, collards, and cauliflower are generally infested by cabbage loopers. These green caterpillars chew on vegetable leaves including broccoli. You can control them through hand-picking or biological controls like beneficial nematodes, and also by utilizing the best insecticides for vegetable garden
  2. Aphids: Aphids are attracted to young and over-fertilized plants. These gray-green, small insects have a soft body. They typically receive their energy by feeding on the underside of leaves, buds, or heads of broccoli or cauliflower. You can control them by using natural or organic pesticides like neem oil, or homemade insecticidal soap
  3. Spider Mites: Mites are considered occasional pests for Cole crops like broccoli. Still, they can be destructive if infested. Spider mites damage plants' leaves by feeding on them. You’ll need to use a strong spray or apply neem oil to control them
  4. Diamondback Moth Worms: Lavae of the diamondback moth that feeds on broccoli leaves can damage your garden. Controls through manual removal, biological controls, or commercial insecticides. 
  5. Whiteflies: These tiny insects feed on plants' juices, transmit plant viruses, and spread diseases. Use yellow sticky traps or neem oil to eliminate them from the garden.


Common Diseases Management for Hydroponic Broccoli

The most common diseases that can affect your hydroponic broccoli are downy mildew, root rot, pythium, and powdery mildew. 

  1. Downy mildew is a foliage disease (yellow angular spots on leaves) caused by fungus-like organisms. If leaves are severely infected, they will die. To prevent this disease, you need to maintain proper ventilation in your hydroponic system. Also, use a humidity controller. You can take preventive measures as well by applying copper-based fungicides
  2. Root rot occurs in hydroponic systems due to the lack of oxygen or the presence of pythium (a type of fungus). This can lead to wilting conditions when plants' roots are unable to supply enough moisture to the stems and leaves. Avoiding overwatering and managing a well-aerated hydroponic setup can prevent root rot. 
  3. Powdery Mildew is a plant disease caused by a type of fungus called Podosphaera xanthii. The initial signs of this disease are pale yellow leaves and powdery spots on both the upper and lower leaves. Older leaves are mostly prone to this disease. You can prevent it by maintaining proper air circulation, and humidity levels, and applying fungicides.  


How Do You Harvest Broccoli?

The edible part of broccoli is the flower. So, you need to harvest before it blooms. Harvest broccoli when you see the central head is fully developed. 
You can use a sharp knife or pruning shears and cut it at least 5 to 6 inches below the head. Some broccoli varieties can produce additional smaller heads from side shoots after the main head is cut. 
Take note that broccoli heads are ready to harvest when they reach 6 to 8 inches in diameter, depending on the variety. 


  •  After harvesting, store broccoli in loose plastic bags in the refrigerator. 
  • Refrigeration can keep broccoli fresh for 3 to 5 days

However, to preserve hydroponic broccoli for an extended period, try the following method:  

  1. First wash the broccoli thoroughly.  
  2. Remove leaves and woody portions.  
  3. Cut into bite-sized pieces. 
  4. Blanch in boiling water for 3 minutes
  5. After boiling, cool the broccoli quickly in ice water and then drain. 
  6. Package the blanched broccoli in freezer bags and store it in the freezer. 
  7. In this way, broccoli can last for several months


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

 Here are some relevant questions and answers related to how you can grow broccoli hydroponically. 

Can I Grow Hydroponic Broccoli?

Yes, you can grow broccoli in most hydroponic setups. Broccoli grows well in deep water culture buckets, aeroponics towers, or in an ebb and flow system. 

What Is the Suitable Humidity Level for Producing Broccoli?

Vegetables like asparagus, cauliflower, celery, beans, broccoli, peas, and radishes need high relative humidity between 85 to 95 percent. You can use a humidity controller in a hydroponic system to regulate humidity levels. 

Does Broccoli Grow Well in Hydroponics?

Yes, broccoli not only grows well but is also considered one of the best types of vegetable to be cultivated in a hydroponic system. 

How Long Does It Take to Grow Broccoli Hydroponically?

Growing fully developed heads of broccoli can take around 60 to 80 days. However, this duration may vary based on factors like the type of broccoli you decide to grow, growing conditions, and the type of hydroponic system. 

The Bottom Line

 Dear gardening enthusiasts, hopefully now you understand how to cultivate hydroponic broccoli. To sum up, if you want to produce broccoli using a soilless method, begin with seed propagation and then transfer the seeds into your selected hydroponic system. 
Maintain appropriate growth conditions, which include a balanced nutrient supply, an optimal pH level, temperature, and lighting. Even though hydroponic farmers encounter fewer plant diseases and insect infestations due to soilless conditions, they still may encounter some pests and diseases. Taking correct precautionary steps might help avoid this scenario and become a successful hydroponic grower.