By Irum Sarfaraz

The hydroponics system of growing uses a nutrient solution instead of conventional rooting mediums such as soil. The roots of the plants are suspended in aerated nutrient solution that flows through separate root channels, or are sprayed periodically with the solution. The best time to plant strawberries in a hydroponic system outdoors is right after the last seasonal frost. If the hydroponics garden is indoors, then strawberries can be planted any time during the year.

Use freshly dug strawberry plant runners for the planting. Wash the runners thoroughly and then soak them in a fungicide solution for 20 minutes in order to get rid of any soil-borne diseases. Even with these precautions it is very common for hydroponic strawberries to be afflicted with the soil borne pathogen red stele or Phytopthora. Use only the healthiest runners for hydroponic growing. Starter plugs for strawberries can also be obtained from hydroponic plant suppliers.

The suggested media for hydroponic strawberries include coconut fiber, perlite or Rockwell. After planting, cover the plants with a clear plastic to elevate the humidity level. Keep the plants away from direct sunlight until they have developed a strong root system.

Grow hydroponics strawberries in either a green house or a glassed-in porch. If this is not possible, use appropriate indoor garden lights to make sure the plants are getting the six to seven hours of the required full-spectrum sunlight. Maintain the temperature between 64 to 77 degrees F for optimal growth.

Feed the hydroponics strawberries with commercially prepared organic solutions for hydroponics. Maintain the pH between 5.8 and 6.2 and change the growing solution twice a month.

Since pollination in the hydroponics system cannot occur with honeybees, strawberries need to be hand pollinated. Use a small paintbrush brush on the blossoms as soon they open to transfer pollen from stamens to pistils. You can also use an oscillating fan in order to speed up the pollination process.