Can Hydroponic Plants Be Planted In Soil?

Hydroponics gardening is a growing trend among plant lovers due to its ability to rapidly produce plants. It’s a great technique for beginners and experts alike since the controlled environment gives you much greater success.

But have you ever wondered whether you could transplant a hydroponic plant into soil? Would it survive? Or would you regret doing it as you watch your precious plants wither and die? For those curious, it is possible. But you need to consider a few things to make it work.   

What is Hydroponic Gardening?

In hydroponics, crops are grown without the need for soil and, instead, are exposed to nutrient-rich water through the plant’s root system. The plants in the system only need the following to grow:

Most plants love slightly acidic water with a PH of around 6- 6.5. This allows the nutrients in the water to be easily absorbed by the plant. In contrast, alkaline water would prevent nutrient uptake by the plant and would cause mineral deficiencies.

Most indoor hydroponic systems need grow lights to help the growth of plants, replacing the natural sunlight given to traditionally grown plants.

Some of the vital minerals needed by plants are nitrogen, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium. Several compositions of mixed nutrients and minerals are readily available in the market depending on the plants that you are growing.  

In traditional horticulture, plants use the oxygen in the air to grow. But in hydroponics, since they are mostly operated indoors, you will need to oxygenate your water using an air stone or an air pump. This bubbly mechanism injects oxygen into the water so that the plants can absorb it through their roots.

Various growing media are already available for hydroponic enthusiasts such as coco coir, expanded clay pebbles, gravel, perlite, and the list goes on. 

Do Plants Grow Faster Hydroponically Or In Soil?

The discussion on whether hydroponic plants grow faster than soil-grown plants is still an open debate. However, a study held in 2018 revealed that hydroponic plants tend to grow at a significantly faster rate compared to when plants are grown in soil. The concentration of minerals and nutrients in hydroponic water seems to be vital for more significant plant growth.

Compared to soil-grown plants, hydroponic plants do not need to develop longer roots to reach the nutrient-dense water beneath them. They could just focus on growing their leaves, bearing delicious fruits, or blossoming their pretty flowers. They, also, do not need to compete with weeds and other plants for nutrients as long as they are properly spaced out and the nutrients are maintained sufficiently.

Everything You Need To Know About Transplanting Hydroponic Plants to Soil

green leafed plant field planted on brown soil

The biggest hurdle with transplanting hydroponic plants to the soil is transplant shock. This happens when a plant is exposed to a change in the water and nutrient concentration in its growing media. It throws off the plant’s growth and needs time to adjust to the new environment. Some unfortunate plants don’t adapt quickly and die.

A Step-by-Step Guide

Here are the steps to follow when transplanting hydroponic plants into the soil.

Step 1: Reduce the water given to your hydroponic plants the week before you transplant them into pots. By restricting their access to water, you’ll make their roots grow deeper and longer, which will help them adapt to finding water when you transplant them into the soil.

The roots will also start to become more resilient, which is another reason to decrease the watering regimen. Plants cultivated in water have substantially thinner cell walls than those produced in the soil.

Step 2: Select the Proper Pot Size. Before putting hydroponic plants in your garden, you must transfer them into a pot during the transition period. The plants must be “hardened off” for many weeks before they can live outdoors, and being in pots will make moving them to the ground less stressful.

For transplanting seedlings, a container with a diameter of four to six inches works ideal since it gives a hydroponic plant’s root system enough space to spread without striking the sides.

Step 3: Add Growing Medium To The Pot. For transplanting hydroponic plants, it is advisable to use loose potting soil or soil-less peat mix. The growing medium’s sufficient aeration, gentle texture, and lightweight allow roots to develop and become tougher without having to worry about heavy dirt crushing on their sensitive membranes.

Mix the soil in a different container with some water to evenly moisten it before adding it to the pot. To avoid root rot, avoid soaking the potting soil. The moist potting mix should be poured into a pot 3/4 full, and it should be carefully compacted to the point where a plant can be held erect.

Step 4: Create a hole in the planting medium, then insert the transplant. Make a hole in the middle of the pot with a spoon. To easily fit the root ball of your transplant, dig a hole that is both deep and wide. In order to quickly transition plants from hydroponic water to soil, prepare as many pots as necessary before you begin. 

 When you have finished preparing all of your pots, think about sprinkling some mycorrhiza in each hole. These unique fungi collaborate with the root systems of plants to create a beneficial symbiotic relationship that allows both to obtain the nutrients they need to survive.

Step 5: Your plants should be pruned and put into pots. Trimming back a few of the transplants’ leaves and stems is beneficial. By doing this, the plant won’t be as stressed out about having to support lush foliage during the soil change with food and water.

Less than one-third of the plant’s leaves should be cut off to avoid shock. Leave the plants alone if they are seedlings with few leaves.

Step 6: Water Your Transplants and Monitor Them. The soil of your transplants should be watered as soon as they are placed in the pot, even if your potting mix should already be damp. You should add some fertilizer to the misting water to aid hydroponic plants as they receive a constant supply of water and nutrients.

Step 7: Hardening off the transplants should start now. Put them in a room that is first bright and sunny and let them there for a few days. Move plants out of direct sunlight and check the soil moisture if you notice plants drooping.

Once they are accustomed to the sunlight and temperature shift from indoors, add two hours to their daily outdoor time.

If you notice leaves fading or shedding, relax and breathe. Maintaining adequate moisture levels will prevent wilting or drooping in plants. It’s important to keep an eye on the condition outside because the wind and sun quickly dry out the soil.

Frequently Asked Questions

clear drinking glass with green leaves

Can you plant hydroponic basil in soil?

Definitely! The good thing with basil is that it is quite resilient. Just like any other plant, remember to follow the steps listed above to guide you in transplanting this delicious herb.

Can you switch a plant from soil to hydroponics?

Fortunately, you can. However, your plants will still experience transplant shock because of the sudden increase in nutrient concentration.


A wonderful approach to increasing the size of your garden is to transfer plants from your hydroponic growing system to soil-filled containers or outdoor vegetable plots. Starting seeds hydroponically is considerably more pleasurable and reduces the risk of soil-borne diseases destroying your seedlings if your indoor growing facilities are clear of sloppy dirt.

Now that you know how to do it correctly, you can avoid transplant shock and watch your hydroponic plants thrive in their new environment!

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