How To Transplant Hydroponic Plants to Soil6 min read

From Hydroponics to Soil: A Guide to Successfully Transplanting Your Plants 

Growing plants hydroponically offers fantastic control and rapid growth. It’s an exciting way to experience the world of gardening. However, there might come a time when you want to expand your options and transplant your hydroponic plants to soil. Perhaps you’re eager to grow plants less suited to hydroponics or looking for a potentially more cost-effective approach in the long run.

The idea of switching growing methods might seem daunting, but don’t worry! Many hydroponically grown plants can adapt well to a soil-based environment.  The key to a successful transition lies in understanding the process and providing the right care to minimize stress for your plants.

Let’s dive into the best practices for transplanting your hydroponic plants to soil, ensuring they continue to flourish in their new home.


  Before You Transplant 

Choosing the right plants, preparing the soil, and getting your hydroponic plants ready are all crucial steps for a smooth transition. Here’s what you need to consider:

  • Choosing Suitable Plants:  Not all hydroponic plants are equally suited for transplanting into soil.  Leafy greens like lettuce and spinach, herbs like basil and mint, and even fruiting plants like tomatoes and peppers often have robust root systems that can adapt well to soil.  However, delicate seedlings or plants with highly specialized root structures designed for hydroponics may struggle in soil.
  • Preparing the Soil:  Invest in a high-quality potting mix specifically designed for good drainage and aeration.  This type of soil mimics the loose, well-oxygenated environment your hydroponic plants are accustomed to. Consider adding compost (around 20% of the mix) for improved moisture retention and nutrient content or perlite for enhanced aeration.
  • Preparing the Plants: A few days before transplanting, start easing your plants into the transition by reducing the strength of your hydroponic nutrient solution by half.  This gradual change will make the switch to soil nutrients less shocking for their systems.

 The Transplant Process 

The moment has arrived!  Let’s carefully move your plants from their hydroponic home into their new soil environment.

  • Gently Removing Plants from Hydroponic System:  Handle your plants with the utmost care.  Begin by slowly loosening them from their growing medium (rockwool, clay pebbles, etc.), taking your time to untangle any roots.  The goal is to minimize any damage to the delicate root system.
  • Rinsing Roots (Optional):  While not strictly necessary, gently rinsing the roots under lukewarm water can help remove any residual hydroponic growing medium. This  might make it easier for the roots to make contact with the soil.
  • Planting in Soil:
  • Select a pot slightly larger than the root ball of your plant, ensuring it has drainage holes.
  • Fill the pot partially with your prepared potting mix.
  • Position your plant at the same depth it was growing in the hydroponics system.
  • Carefully fill in around the plant with more soil, gently firming it to eliminate large air pockets.
  • Watering:  Immediately after planting, give your newly transplanted friend a thorough watering.  The goal is to fully saturate the soil without waterlogging it. From here on out, avoid overwatering which can be detrimental to roots that are adjusting to a new environment. 
  • If you are considering doing this, I want to recommend our friends at Garden Tower Project. They care about the environment and make great planters. Check out what they have to offer!

Terracotta Composting 50-Plant Garden Tower by Garden Tower Project

Aftercare for Transplanted Plants 

The key to maximizing success after transplanting is providing a nurturing environment and allowing your plants time to adapt. Here’s what to keep in mind:

  • Providing Support (Optional): If your transplanted plants are tall or a bit top-heavy, consider providing them with support. A simple bamboo stake or a small tomato cage can help them stay upright while their roots get firmly established in the soil.
  • Monitoring Moisture Levels: Pay close attention to soil moisture, as recently transplanted plants are sensitive to both overwatering and underwatering. Check the soil daily – it’s time to water when the top inch feels slightly dry to the touch.  Avoid keeping the soil constantly soggy.
  • Reduced Sunlight (Initially): For the first few days after transplanting, place your plants in a location with bright, indirect sunlight. This gentle transition allows them to acclimate to their new environment without the stress of full sun exposure.  Gradually increase the amount of sunlight over a week or so.
  • Fertilization:  Hold off on fertilizing for at least a few weeks.  The potting mix and any residual nutrients from the hydroponic solution provide enough sustenance initially. Premature fertilization can overload the roots during this adjustment period.  After a few weeks, you can introduce a diluted, balanced fertilizer designed for the specific plants you’ve transplanted.Let me know if you’d like to wrap it up with a conclusion!


By following these guidelines and providing a little extra attention, you’ll be amazed at how well your hydroponic plants can adapt to their new life in soil.  Be patient, observe your plants closely, and adjust your care as needed.  Soon, they’ll be thriving, rewarding you for the successful transition.

Additional Tips:

  • Consider researching beneficial soil microbes that can assist with the transition from hydroponics to soil, promoting healthy root development.
  • Join online gardening forums or communities dedicated to hydroponics for further tips and to share your experiences with other growers who have made this switch.


  • Q: How long does it take for hydroponic plants to adjust to soil?
  • A:  The adjustment period varies depending on the plant type and its overall health. However, you should start to see signs of new growth within a few weeks, indicating successful rooting in the soil.
  • Q:  Should I continue to monitor pH after transplanting to soil?
  • A: Yes, but the ideal soil pH range is slightly different than for hydroponics. Most plants thrive in soil with a pH between 6.0 and 7.0.  Test your soil periodically and adjust as needed.
  • Q: My transplanted plant looks wilted.  What am I doing wrong?
  • A: Wilting shortly after transplanting is common due to transplant shock.  Ensure your plant receives adequate moisture (without overwatering) and provide indirect sunlight initially.  If wilting is severe or persists for more than a few days, there might be an underlying issue.
  • Q: Can I reverse the process and transplant a soil-grown plant into hydroponics?
  • A: Yes, with careful preparation. Make sure to thoroughly wash the roots of the soil-grown plant to remove all soil particles before introducing it to a sterile hydroponic system.
  • Q: Can I use garden soil for my transplanted hydroponic plants?
  • A: While technically possible, it’s not recommended.  Garden soil can be too dense and prone to compaction, restricting the oxygen your hydroponic roots are accustomed to. Additionally, it may contain unknown pathogens or weed seeds.





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