How to Grow Herbs in Water


Most herbs require well-drained soil to grow well. Herbs that grow in waterlogged soil will develop root rot. But there is one exception to this rule. Herbs will grow very well in the water and nutrient culture of a hydroponic garden. Hydroponics involves no soil. Instead plants grow with their roots either free floating or in a soilless substrate that is suspended in water. The plants grow heartier than soil grown herbs because all the nutrients that they need are provided when they need them.

Step 1

Check your buckets to ensure that the one-gallon bucket will comfortably nest inside the three-gallon bucket.

Step 2

Drill a set of four holes on the bottom of the bucket with the half-inch drill bit. Space each hole equidistantly.

Step 3

Drill a series of 12 holes throughout the side of the bucket with the half-inch drill bit. Divide the holes into two equally spaced horizontal rows of six. Space each hole equidistant from its neighbor.

Step 4

Change your drill bit from a half-inch bit to a spade bit. Drill four holes in the lid of the one-gallon bucket. Space each hole equidistant from the other holes. Fill the one-gallon bucket full of vermiculite.

Step 5

Rinse the soil away from the roots of your herb transplants. Slip the root ball through the hole in the lid of the bucket. Pad the stems of your herbs with cotton to hold them in place.

Step 6

Place the lid with the herbs onto the one-gallon bucket. Attach the aquarium air stone to the aquarium pump with tubing. Place the air stone at the bottom of the three-gallon bucket. Place the one-gallon bucket into the three-gallon bucket.

Step 7

Fill the three-gallon bucket with liquid nutrients gradually to allow it to filter through the vermiculite into the one-gallon bucket. Make sure that the roots of your herb plants can reach the liquid nutrient.

Step 8

Turn on the aquarium pump to add oxygen to the liquid nutrient.

Step 9

Check the pH of the nutrient weekly. According to NC State University, the proper pH for herbs is between 5.8 and 6.2 so that the herbs can take up nutrients effectively. You can lower the pH using phosphoric acid or raise it using potassium hydroxide.

Things You'll Need

  • 1 gallon bucket with lid
  • 3 gallon bucket
  • Drill
  • ½ inch drill bit
  • Spade bit
  • Aquarium pump
  • Aquarium tubing
  • Aquarium stone bubbler
  • Vermiculite
  • Cotton
  • Herb transplants
  • Liquid nutrients
  • pH tester
  • Phosphoric acid
  • Potassium hydroxide


  • Alabama Cooperative Extension Service: Hydroponics for Home Gardeners
  • NC State University: Success with Container Production of Twelve Herb Species
  • Univeristy of Florida IFAS Extension: Herbs in the Florida Garden

Who Can Help

  • Simply Hydroponics: pH
Keywords: hydropnic growing, growing herbs, kitchen gardens

About this Author

Tracy S. Morris has been a freelance writer since 2000. She has published two novels and numerous online articles. Her work has appeared in national magazines and newspapers, including "Ferrets," "CatFancy," "Lexington Herald Leader" and "The Tulsa World."