The beauty of the aquaponic system is that it combines
- The ‘tried and trusted’ system of hydroponic gardening
- And gets even better results as a result of the fish.
That means there is lots and lots of advice on which are the best plants for aquaponics to grow, based on many years experience.
5 key plant types to focus on
When you first start your aquaponic system start with easy plants (see below) but don’t worry about experimenting.
With aquaponic gardening your plants are likely to grow quicker so it’s easier to ‘move onto’ another plant and try something different.
New to aquaponics?
If you are new to aquaponics then why not have a look at the diy aquaponics plan.
Because in addition to advice on how to build and manage a system, it also provides detailed advice on the best plants for aquaponics (and which fish to use)
The best plants for aquaponics
The best plants for aquaponics tend to come into 3 main groups :
1. Leafy Greens
Virtually all the most popular leafy greens (like lettuce, spinach, cabbage, etc.) will do very well in an aquaponic system.
Bear in mind that most leafy greens will prefer ‘cooler’ growing temperatures – hence you might want to grow them together.
(As opposed to some of the best plants for aquaponics lower down who prefer it a bit warmer)
- Lettuce will grow particularly well, but do make sure they have plenty of light. Lettuce seeds like Tom Thumb (shown right) are ideal.
- Broccoli is also a great one to try – but do make sure it has sturdy staking as it is a heavy plant. But it (like cauliflower) is ideal for aquaponic as the constant supply of nutrients from the water will give them an extra boost
- Cauliflower, is the same as broccoli – and will also need a sturdy support.
- Kale – (especially curly kale) is also a great one to try.
- Cabbage will work (bear in mind they take a lot of space) – but do grow them on their own first (until large enough to stand) and then transfer them to your aquaponic system.
- Spinach is slightly more ‘tricky’ to grow. Like cabbage you need to grow them first (maybe just above the fish tank) and then just ‘let them get on with it’ – but do bear in mind they don’t like to much light.
2. Vining Plants
Some of the most popular plants (like cucumbers, tomatoes and peppers) are the ideal best plants for aquaponics.
But you will need to make sure they have plenty of support when growing. Also bear in mind the best plants for aquaponics often prefer warmer temperatures (i.e. ideal for summer if outdoors or a greenhouse if indoors).
- Cucumbers will grow best if they have plenty of light, high temperatures, humidity constant supply of water and nutrients i.e. ideal for an aquaponic system. It can be a very satisfying plant to grow as it can grow very fast and produce heavily.
- Tomatoes – Similarly aquaponic is great for tomatoes providing you give them plenty of light and warmth during the day. Try starting them somewhere else (like a seed tray) and then transplant them for best success. Most types will work but good cocktail or cherry tomato varieties like Sweet Million (shown right). Trust or Daniela. Productive heirloom cultivars include Moskvich and Thessaloniki.
- Peppers, like tomatoes, prefer warm growing conditions. Most peppers plants also require staking. Virtually all peppers will grow, and are great for growing at the same time as tomatoes.
Many herbs are ideally suited to hydroponics, and they are some of the best plants for aquaponics as they can produce even better results than ‘normally’ grow types. However do stay clear of herbs that prefer drying environments (such as sage)
But most of the herbs using in cooking (like the ones below as well as chervil, coriander, fennel, marjoram, oregano, rosemary, tarragon, thyme, etc.) will work.
Basil is one of the best herbs for an aquaponic system because it can increase its flavor.
Chives also grow especially well in an aquaponic system and can be planted very close together.
Mint is also ideal and can end up with bigger leaves then normally planted types. All mints will work such as spearmint, peppermint, and orange mint – but why not try something as spectacular as the korean mint shown right.
Dill is great for aquaponics as you can simply replace the harvested plants resulting in a constant, all year round supply.
Watercress is very easy to grow from seed, especially indoor in an aquaponic system.
Parsley, is an herb well suited for hydroponic or aquaponic growing. Since parsley has a long tap root, the hydroponic container should be at least 12 inches deep for the best results.
Growing fruit is one of the most popular methods in an aquaponic system. Virtually most fruits can be grown, such as grapes, blackberries, melons, etc. However the downside is that many require a lot of space.
The best plants for aquaponics have to include the key one to grow:
Strawberries – growing them using the aquaponic system should yield enough to feed a family all year around. And is probably one of the most cost effective ways of producing great tasting fruit. The variety we like best is F1 Sarian
But why stick to ‘edible’ products – why not try flowers instead ?
What could be more picturesque then a tank (like the table top aquaponics tank) with great looking fish, topped with flowers…. Most flowers will work but roses are especially good.
- Why not start with a rose option like the rose Garden Party (shown right).
Many, many options..
The beauty of aquaponics is that most plants will work – simpy select the best plants for aquaponics you enjoy and experiment.