What Can You Grow in a Hydroponic Tower? Best Plants & Crops

As a gardener with limited outdoor space, I was thrilled when I discovered hydroponic towers. These vertical systems offer the ideal solution for cultivating fresh herbs, veggies and flowers in compact areas. Hydroponic towers utilize stacking pots or columns to create multiple levels of growing area. This allows you to grow upward instead of outward! With a small footprint, they can slot nicely into corners on balconies, patios, and rooftops.

When I first set up my hydroponic tower, I was unsure which plants would thrive in this unique vertical environment. Through trial and error, I learned that certain crops like leafy greens, herbs, and strawberries really flourish in tower conditions. The key is choosing varieties that are naturally compact and fast-growing. In this guide, I’ll share the best plants I’ve had success growing in my own hydroponic towers after much experimentation. I’ll offer tips to maximize your vertical yields whether you’re a beginner or expert tower gardener.

We’ll look at how hydroponic tower systems provide continuous nutrients through a recirculating irrigation design. And I’ll advise on steps you can take like lighting and nutrient management to really optimize your tower’s production. If you’re eager to try vertical gardening but aren’t sure where to start, read on! I’ll help you pick the perfect plants and get the most out of your hydroponic tower. Let’s dive in.

How Do Hydroponic Towers Work?

Before diving into plant choices, let’s first understand how hydroponic towers function to support vertical growing. Their unique design makes towers well-suited for compact and soilless cultivation.

Vertical Growing Space

The defining feature of a hydroponic tower is the vertical stacking structure. Rather than spreading out horizontally, towers provide growing space by going upward.

Towers contain multiple pots or columns arranged above one another along the height of the tower. The columns are full of an inert growing media like perlite, vermiculite or coconut coir to anchor plant roots.

This tiered configuration means towers can accommodate many plants within a very small footprint. All the available space moves in a vertical direction, so you can maximize plant density even with a little floor area.

In my small 4×4 ft garden, I can fit 5-6 tower planters and grow 50+ plants in the same space as just 10-12 plants grown horizontally!

Continuous Flow of Nutrients

In addition to efficient use of vertical space, hydroponic towers also provide a constant supply of nutrients to plant roots.

The columns are connected to a central irrigation system. A reservoir at the base contains nutrient-rich solution that is pumped to the top of the tower and allowed to flow down through each column via gravity.

This creates a continuous flow of nutrients directly past the plant roots. The excess solution then drains back into the reservoir for recirculation.

I only need to periodically refill the reservoir and balance the pH/nutrients. The tower system handles keeping roots consistently fed!

Ideal for Small Spaces

Hydroponic Tower

The vertical orientation and recirculating hydroponic design together make towers perfect for balconies, patios, rooftops and other compact growing areas.

You can tuck a tower into just about any unused corner and obtain a density of plants impossible otherwise in that space.

I love that I can grow on my patio without a large garden plot. Towers let you grow UP to optimize small square footage!

So in summary, the vertical configuration and ongoing nutrient flow are what enable hydroponic towers to be such space-saving dynamos. Now let’s look at how to pick the best plants to maximize their potential.

Best Crops for Hydroponic Towers

When cultivating in hydroponic towers, carefully selecting suitable crops is key to maximizing your vertical yields. Through testing different plants in my towers, I’ve found these categories to be winners:

Leafy Greens

Lettuces, kales, spinach, arugula and other leafy greens are ideal picks for tower growing. Here’s why they thrive:

  • Fast growth – Leafy greens quickly grow to maturity in as little as 30-45 days, allowing you to reap multiple harvests from a tower through the season. I can grow 3-4 lettuce crops in a single tower each summer!
  • Constant moisture lovers – The continuous flow of nutrient solution in a tower provides the consistent hydration leafy greens need to flourish. Drying out quickly stunts them.
  • Compact size – Many leafy varieties grow in a bushy rosette shape without sprawling, making them perfect for crowded tower conditions. I like ‘Little Gem’ lettuce.

Leafy greens give you a lot of bang for your buck. You can fill a tower with them and enjoy hefty harvests all season long.


No hydroponic tower is complete without fresh herbs! Mint, basil, oregano, chives and many others also prosper in towers.

  • Versatile uses – Homegrown herbs let you flavor foods, create beauty products, craft cocktails and more right on your patio!
  • Densely packed – Herbs tolerate being crammed together better than most vegetables, and towers maximize space.
  • Continual harvesting – Unlike veggies, herbs can be harvested little by little as needed, extending production from each plant over months.

If you cook at home, loading a tower with herbs is an absolute must to have them on hand. I rely on my herb tower for everyday cooking.


Trailing cascading strawberry varieties are a unique opportunity for tower growing.

  • Hanging vines – Strawberry’s vining growth habit is perfect for spilling out of tower pots in a beautiful curtain of greenery and fruit.
  • High yields – With ample light and nutrients from the tower, each strawberry plant can bear pounds of sweet berries for months on end.
  • Sun lovers – Strawberries need at least 12 hours of sunlight daily to fruit well, so supplemental lighting may be required indoors.

For a stunning edible tower, strawberries are a top choice. Train the runners around the columns and watch your vertical space transform into a fruitful wonder!

The compact, fast-growing nature of leafy greens, herbs and strawberries makes them primed for hydroponic tower success. For small-space gardeners, these crops unlock immense possibilities.

Maximizing Yields in a Tower

Picking the right plants is step one, but optimizing your hydroponic tower performance involves some additional strategies. Here are techniques I use to maximize productivity:

Choosing Plant Varieties

While categories like herbs and leafy greens thrive in towers, variety selection within those crops makes a difference.

  • Consider dwarf, bushy and compact varietals. Tall lanky plants outgrow a tower’s vertical space quickly.
  • Look for determinate tomato varieties under 3 feet that won’t sprawl. Indeterminate cherry tomatoes also produce well without expanding infinitely.
  • Miniature vegetables like baby carrots, midget watermelon and dwarf cucumbers are bred to stay small and capitalize on a tower’s limited room.

The general rule is the more petite and restrained the mature plant size, the better it will perform squeezed into a tower. Let varieties that grow modestly by nature maximize your vertical real estate.

Supplementary Lighting

Insufficient sunlight exposure hinders any plant from reaching optimal yields. Towers grown indoors should utilize grow lights to supplement natural daylight.

  • LED grow lights are electricity-efficient and long-lasting. Arrange panel lights around each side of the tower to bathe all stages in light.
  • Provide full spectrum light that includes red, blue, and white wavelengths for balanced photosynthesis.
  • Extend daylight hours to at least 14-16 hours. Fruiting plants like strawberries need 12+ hours minimum to flourish.

Photosynthesis is the engine driving plant growth and crop production. Vigilant light supplementation guarantees towers have enough fuel for the dense yields you desire.

Diligent Nutrient Management

The closed loop irrigation system of a hydroponic tower demands attentive nutrient stewardship for healthy crops.

  • Monitor pH and EC levels daily to ensure they stay in acceptable ranges for your target plants. Spinach, kale and lettuce like 5.8-6.2 pH, for example.
  • Change reservoir water weekly to replenish depleted nutrients and prevent disease. Top off as needed between changes.
  • Use a complete nutrient formula suitable for leafy greens or fruiting plants. Towers lack a growing media to provide any nutrition.

With no soil to buffer imbalances, staying on top of your tower’s nutrient levels and plant needs is non-negotiable. But doing so rewards you with optimal vitality and productivity.

By selecting compact plant varieties, supplying ample light, and managing nutrients closely, your hydroponic tower will thrive as an edible skyscraper! Maximize your vertical real estate with these planting and care tips.


Growing plants in hydroponic towers comes with some common questions. Here are helpful answers to a few frequently asked ones:

How many plants can I fit in a tower?

The number of plants a hydroponic tower can hold depends on the plant variety and tower dimensions. As a general estimate:

  • 3-5 foot tower = 5-10 plants

For smaller plants like lettuce and herbs, you can plant more densely at 1 plant per column. Larger plants like tomatoes need more space, around 1 per 2-3 columns. Leave some columns empty between bigger plants.

Getting the right density takes trial and error. Crowd too many plants and they compete for light and nutrients. Too few misses chances to maximize vertical space.

What size tower is best for a small patio?

For standing on a balcony or patio, a 3 foot tower is ideal. This provides roughly 1-2 square feet of footprint but still ample vertical growing room.

Mini 2 foot towers can work but sacrifice some plant capacity. Towers taller than 3 feet are prone to wind and instability outside.

A 3 foot tower won’t overwhelm limited space but still lets you grow a wide variety of crops. It’s a versatile option for small outdoor areas.

Is a hydroponic tower hard to maintain?

Towers do require some regular maintenance like monitoring pH/EC levels and changing nutrient water 1-2 times per week. But they are relatively low maintenance compared to other hydroponic systems.

The recirculating irrigation design handles watering so no daily plant tending needed. Towers are self-contained and designed to be user-friendly.

Overall, hydroponic towers strike a nice balance between productivity and ease of care for the busy home gardener. Set up properly, they can largely run themselves.


Key Takeaways on Hydroponic Towers

  • Ideal for leafy greens, herbs and strawberries
  • Choose compact, high-yield plant varieties
  • Use supplemental lighting for best results
  • Monitor nutrients and reservoir diligently
  • Excellent productivity from a small footprint

Enjoy Fresh Produce Year-Round!

Hydroponic towers let you grow great tasting and nutritious produce year-round. Enjoy salad greens and herbs that surpass store-bought in freshness and flavor.

With a properly managed tower, you can harvest vertically grown crops indoors or outdoors in any season. Become self-sufficient for staple veggies, fruits and herbs.

Tower gardening opens up new possibilities for growing in tiny spaces that otherwise seem unsuitable for cultivation. Discover the joy of reaping edible abundance, even with a limited garden area!

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