hydroponic companion plants

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Food is always better with fresh ingredients. Getting your stack of veggies and more can be done by growing your produce at home. There are many ways to make a bountiful garden in your yard, but one popular technique is using a hydroponic system

Hydroponic gardening is a modern and efficient way for your mini garden to prosper without traditional soil planting. It focuses on the Nutrient Film Technique (NFT) and deep water float systems where roots are dipped in essential nutrient solutions to grow. Of course, you’ll also need to know how to clean a hydroponic system to ensure it works efficiently as traditional soil systems.

You can raise different kinds of vegetables, fruits, and flowers in your humble home with the help of water, from knowing how to grow tomatoes or cucumbers with water. But what kind of hydroponic plants can you grow together? Fortunately, we’ll be discussing what hydroponic companion plants you can grow! 

What is companion planting?

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Planting seeds and roots together can provide benefits in nutrients, health, and protection! Think of it as a little community of mutual interest growing with one another. 

Companion planting in hydroponics is possible as long you put together vegetables and plants that can support one another based on their families and delivered nutrients. Here are some reasons stated by the University of Minnesota why practicing companion planting can benefit your garden:


Planting short-season young plants and later-maturing crops together can save space in your garden to grow more crops around. 


USM states that plants can provide nourishment and protection for one another by strengthening soil nutrition throughout one another. Hydroponics can also be the same case as it circulates the solution around your plants to receive the sustenance for growing. 

One example is a Legume plant collecting nitrogen and releasing it into the nutrient solution for other plants to benefit. Adding Legumes like green beans or snap peas can help their neighboring plants with fertilization.

Physical Support

Placing neighboring plants together can help them provide physical support for one another. You can place a big sun-loving plant close to an indirect sunlight plant to help provide shade from direct sunlight while helping your sun-loving plant flourish.

Another example of physical support in companion planting is the Three Sisters: beans, corn, and squash. 

  • Beans help give out nitrogen.
  • Corn provides stalk beans that can climb and serve as a visual barrier against insects, also known as the squash vine borer.
  • Squashes act as a visual barrier against vertebrate animals, such as raccoons, who like to eat sweet corn.

Insect Managing

Plants release odors that can help scare off insects from eating them. Companion planting can help plants protect one another by combining scents to send mixed signals to attract or push pests away. 

  • Protection

Odors can mask off the scents of other plants to prevent them from attracting insects or parasites that can harm them! For example, Basils and Marigolds can lessen thrip populations of tomatoes in field and greenhouse garden settings. 

Insects also have visual cues like leaf colors or shapes to help them find their target plants. Adding varieties of plants with different colors, forms, and sizes together in your garden can lessen the possibility of insects flocking your plants than putting the same kind beside one another.

  • Attracting beneficial parasitoids and predators

Some insects also benefit your garden! Predators can manage pests by killing them or laying eggs inside them. They can help further protect your plants as long you provide food to prevent them from resorting to eating your plants and a habitat to keep your garden safe. 

One example of this is companion planting flowering plants with sweet corn. Plants like cowpea, buckwheat, and sunn hemp can increase the populations of insect predators or parasitoids to protect your sweet corn from corn earworms. 

Easy hydroponic companion plants to grow

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Now that you know the magic of companion planting, you can also incorporate this in your hydroponic garden. Note companion planting is a trial-and-error process that may succeed or fail depending on the environment and climate. But this does not change the benefits plants can provide to one another!

You can pair two plants to help support each other as long as they do not compete with nutrients and are protected by a herb that can help repel insects and attract predators to protect your produce.

Cabbage family

Cabbages are one of the well-known companion plants that go well with different vegetables and herbs in your garden. The Cabbage family plants thrive in cool water and can be well-protected with the correct companion plants added. Here are some types of their respectful companion plants to pair them with:

Bok choy

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Also known as White Cabbage, you can quickly grow Bok Choy in 30 days and gain 3 harvest-ready crops in one set of its roots.

For growth: Beets, Pole Beans, Lettuce, Spinach.

For protection: Herbs, Marigolds, Oregano, Rosemary, Sage, Thyme.


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Kale is one of the best and easiest to grow in a hydroponic system and is encouraged to be one of your first vegetables if you’re beginning your hydroponic garden.

For growth: Beets, Beans, Cucumbers, Celery, Lettuce, Peppers, Peas, Spinach

For protection: Rosemary, Sage, Mint

Brussels Sprouts

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For growth: Cauliflower, Dill, Beet, Beans, Peas

For protection: Rosemary, Basil, Mint, Nasturtium, Thyme.


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Spinach can also grow in your hydroponic garden. According to Agrifarm, Spinach can rapidly prosper using the Nutrition Filtration Technique (NFT) or other aqua systems to keep your nutrient solution for the plants highly oxidated. 

For growth: Kale, Peas, Cauliflower, Beans, Eggplant, Strawberries

For protection: Cilantro, Oregano, Rosemary

Herbs for companion planting

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Aromatic herbs like fresh basil can be a great insect repellant and are beneficial companion plants to most crops to ensure your garden is pest controlled. They can help trap insects and attract pollinators or other beneficial insects to improve your garden’s biodiversity. Here are the most popular herbs you can add and what are the best plants they can support:


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Repels: Mites, Japanese Beetles, Aphids, Rabbits.

Attracts: Butterflies, bees, beneficial wasps

Companions: Strawberries, Dill, Marjoram, Tomatoes, Parsley


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Repels: Asparagus Beetles 

Attracts: Predators like ladybugs, damselflies, and parasitic wasps

Companions: Tomatoes, Asparagus, Chives


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Repels: Carrot flies, asparagus beetles, flies, mosquitoes, white flies, thrips, tomato hornworms, aphids, and spider mites.

Attracts: Pollinators such as bees and butterflies.

Companions: Peppers, Tomatoes, Brussels Sprouts, Asparagus, Beets, Lettuce, Eggplants, Beans


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Repels: Spider mites, Squash bugs, Aphids. 

Attracts: Ladybugs, Tomato hornworms (If you plant these far away from tomatoes, you can distract hornworms from eating them), Predatory Wasps.

Companions: Kale, Broccoli, Cabbage Lettuce, Brussel Sprouts


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Repels: Pests overall, aphids

Attracts: Pollinators like Bees and Lacewings

Companions: Brocolli, Spinach, Peppers, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Beans, Cauliflower, Eggplants


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Repels: Carrot flies, cabbage moths, snails, beetles, black flea beetles, flea beetles.

Attracts: Butterflies, Bees, Hoverflies

Companions: Kale, Strawberries, Cabbages, Beans, Lettuce


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Repels: Flea beetles, ants, aphids, rodents, fleas, cabbage moths

Attracts: Predatory wasps, Hoverflies, Earthworms

Companions: Kale, Brussels Sprouts, Tomatoes, Oregano

Note: Plant mints far away from parsley.


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Repels: White flies, cabbage worms, cabbage maggots

Attracts: Earthworms and ladybugs

Companions: Brussels Sprouts, Strawberries, Cabbage, Shallots, Eggplants, Cabbage, Tomatoes

Note: Plant away from mint, cilantro, and fennel. 

Common hydroponic companion crops

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Most crops grown in soil planting can also be efficiently grown in hydroponic systems. Hydroponic growing allows faster and less labor planting compared to soil planting while enhancing the nutrients to add to your crops. Other plants also thrive well in aqua systems, depending on the solutions and companion planting done to improve the biodiversity of your garden.


Cucumbers grow well in hydroponics due to their need for nutrients, moisture, and warmth. Hydroponics also allows rapid growth, which highly benefits cucumbers, especially with the low insect damage compared to soil garden settings. 

You’ll also need to consider different types of cucumbers; each kind has different growing situations and methods. 

  • Bitter-free cucumber – This type of cucumber is grown bitter-free despite vine products having at least a bit of a bitter tinge.
  • Burpless cucumber – A thin-skinned and sweeter type of cucumber that may increase the possibility of burping and stomach discomfort.
  • Spineless cucumber – A smooth and fruity cucumber without white, prickly stubs 

Light exposure: 8 to 12 hours of LED grow lights.


Lettuces are known to be grown in commercial hydroponic gardens. They thrive in hydroponic systems and have been sold across the country ever since. Gardeners should also consider the secondary nutrients, supplemental lighting, and formulas needed to improve the Lettuce’s growth. They thrive in both a Floating Raft and a Nutrient Filtration Technique system.

Light exposure time: 18 hours grow light

Companion plants: Beets, Dill, Radishes, Strawberries


Planting tomatoes is one of the easiest and most popular crops with which to grow plants within hydroponic systems. They are also more effective and require less labor in hydroponics than soil planting. 

Light exposure time: 8 to 10 hours of direct sunlight 

Companion plants: Asparagus, Basil, Beans, Cucumbers, Basil

Hot peppers

Peppers also commonly use hydroponics systems to grow efficiently. They’re easy and quick to grow, like lettuces and tomatoes. The best hydroponic system you can use is a Deep Water Culture system (DWC). 

Light exposure time: 14 to 16 hours

Companion plants: Okra, Basil, Peas, Eggplants

Green Beans

Green beans are best grown in an ebb-and-flow or NFT hydroponic system with support like clay pellets and gravel. Using a hydroponic system for green bean bushes can add to a better amount of produce. 

Light exposure time: 12 to 13 hours

Companion plants: Tomatoes, Brussels Sprouts, Strawberries, Kale, Lettuce, Peas, Cauliflower, Spinach, Celery, Savoy, Parsley


Strawberries grow faster and easier with a Deep Water Culture (DWC) or ebb-and-flow system. Hydroponically systems for strawberries are less vulnerable to insects and parasites and provide consistent fresh water. They are also grown vertically, allowing more space than upright plants in soil planting.

Light exposure time: 8 to 12 hours

Companion plants: Beans, Caraway, Sage, Spinach, Lettuce, Chives, Borage

Harder hydroponic companion plants to grow

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However, some plants are difficult to grow with a hydroponics system due to their shape, size, and growth rate. Here are the different crops mentioned by Rural Living Today that you’ll need to consider when establishing your hydroponic garden.

Deep-Root Crops

Deep-root crops need soil to spread and search for nutrients and moisture. You’ll need to consistently check if your plants’ roots are well-nourished and growing. The point of hydroponics is a faster and easier way of gardening, but with deep-root crops, you’ll need to put in the extra effort. Here are some examples of deep-root crops.

  • Garlic
  • Onions
  • Rutabaga
  • Turnips
  • Carrots


Growing potatoes in traditional soil planting are more efficient and cost-effective than in a hydroponic system. Potatoes are also deep-root crops, needing soil to grow faster and healthier.

Vine Crops

Vine crops are also similar to deep-root crop systems that need to spread out and need lots of nutrients; they may end up competing for the nutrients of their companion plants. However, some vine crops work well in hydroponic systems like cucumbers and tomatoes. Larger vine crops like potatoes may be too competitive as they need as many nutrients to grow.

Big Bush Plants

Large plants will take more time, especially for their size and needed nutrients. Examples of these are bush-type plants like zucchinis and squashes. Bush plants can take up your whole garden and are too large to be supported by a hydroponic container.


Melons are great for hydroponic systems due to their water-based consistency. However, if you’re a starting hydroponic gardener, the best is to start with easier crops and then plant melons once you’ve gotten used to hydroponic systems.

You will also need to build a trellis to support heavy crops like melons. Allocate a whole section in your garden for melons to accommodate their size.


Corn takes up a lot of space to grow, making it a not-so-companion planting-friendly plant in a hydroponic garden. You’ll need a large garden area to accommodate enough corn and companion plants. But, it will still be hard to grow something above a row of corn as it also needs overhead space.


Now that you know the hydroponic companion plants you can pair with one another, you can help enrich your hydroponic garden by pairing certain plants to help protect and support one another!

For beginning a hydroponic garden, it’s best to start small and further learn by having smaller and easier vegetables and seedlings planted in the same system that can support each other as they grow. Other essential factors to consider are your garden’s hygiene, light, temperature, and space to ensure your hydroponic growing system flourishes!