Hydroponics, growing plants without soil, is a practice as old as ancient Babylonia. Plants tend to grow quickly in a hydroponic system because the nutrients are available immediately and can be absorbed more quickly then they can from soil, according to the University of Alabama Cooperative Extension. Hydroponic gardening also provides a solution to many of the pest problems soil-grown plants experience.
Cool season greens such as kale, spinach, leaf lettuce and various other types of salad greens are easy to grow in a hydroponic environment. These popular, quick-growing plants tend to do well even in dimmer lighting and yield good results for basement hydroponic gardens. Two crops of salad greens can be grown in a hydroponic solution before it needs to be replaced with a new batch, the University of Florida states.
Herbs are a popular and easy choice to sow in hydroponic gardens. Basil, mint, cilantro and chives are some common hydroponically grown herbs. Freshly grown herbs provide an especially welcome addition to home cooked meals in the dead of winter. Growers may share extra fresh herbs with friends or dry them for later use.
Zinnias, a generally adaptable and easy-to-grow flower, come in a variety of colors, sizes and shapes. As prolific bloomers, they make a lovely addition to a hydroponic garden as well as a handy source of flowers for cut flower arrangements. Compact varieties of zinnias are available for growing in small hydroponic garden spaces. Zinnias grow well when they have at least six hours of full sun per day.
Tomatoes may be sown with good success directly in rockwool. Tomatoes do best with eight to 10 hours of direct sun per day, and supplemental lighting is often needed for indoor growing. Hydroponic tomato growers should be aware that tomato plants have a high calcium requirement, the University of Florida notes.
Photoperiodic chrysanthemums are a good candidate for hydroponic gardening because they require a short day growing period, which is easy to regulate with artificial grow lights, in order to set buds. Garden chrysanthemums generally require a minimal amount of care and do well in hydroponic gardens, according to the University of Hawaii. Hundreds of cultivars of mums are available, in a range of colors including red, bronze, pink, yellow and white. Flowers varieties include spoons, spiders, anemones, singles, pompoms and standards.