Cost of Hydroponic Nutrients

The first time you walk into a hydroponic store there can be a little sticker shock.  At first it doesn’t look too bad, $14 for this bottle…oh wait I have to buy these three as well and you leave the store paying $80 to grow some basil and lettuce.  Being cheap I like to know how much I will be spending on a hobby before I start out so I did a little exercise.

I took a look at the major nutrient manufacturers and determined using their recommended feeding schedule what it would cost per gallon to complete a 4 week vegetation cycle and a 8 week vegetable and bloom cycle.

To be fair I only included products that provided the primary/secondary macronutrients and micronutrients.  Though I am not discounting the effectiveness of various supplements that these companies provide and I wanted to stick with the basics and have a close to an apples to apples comparison as possible.

  Avg, Price Size Nutrients Used
over 4 weeks (Veg Only)
Cost per Gallon of mixed nutrients Nutrients Used
over 8 weeks (Veg/Bloom)
Cost per Gallon of mixed nutrients
General Hydroponics       $ 1.08 $ 2.80
   FloraGrow $ 12.50 qt 8.08 tsp $ 0.53 12.12 tsp $ 0.79
   FloraBloom $ 12.50 qt 2.02 tsp $ 0.13 14.14 tsp $ 0.92
   FloraMicro $ 15.95 qt 5.05 tsp $ 0.42 13.13 tsp $ 1.09
Dutch Nutrient Formula       $ 0.82 $ 2.30
   Advance Grow A $ 7.50 L 11 tsp $ 0.41 11 tsp $ 0.41
   Advance Grow B $ 7.50 L 11 tsp $ 0.41 11 tsp $ 0.41
   Advance Flower A $ 7.50 L 0 tsp $ – 20 tsp $ 0.74
   Advance Flower B $ 7.50 L 0 tsp $ – 20 tsp $ 0.74
Dyna-Gro       $ 0.66 $ 2.03
   Liquid Grow $ 15.00 qt 3.5 tsp $ 0.27 3.5 tsp $ 0.27
   Liquid Bloom $ 18.95 qt 0 tsp $ – 7 tsp $ 0.69
   Mag-Pro $ 17.95 qt 0.875 tsp $ 0.08 3.875 tsp $ 0.36
   Pro-TeKt $ 13.90 qt 4.25 tsp $ 0.31 9.75 tsp $ 0.71


At first glance these numbers look pretty promising, until you remember the fact that this is the cost per gallon.  So if you had a 40 gallon reservoir this can make your cost obvious jump up significantly.  Fortunately in my case I only fill my tank up to 9 gallons so a 4 week cycle would cost me on average $7.68 for a 4 week vegetative cycle or $21.39 for a 8 week vegetative and bloom cycle.

Now given I am planning on growing some legal herbs in my hydroponic system (basil/oregano/cilantro) and maybe a little lettuce.  This would result in some pretty expensive produce.  For this reason and that fact I love chemistry and don’t get to play with it much these days I am planning on going for the less expensive homemade nutrient route, which I will provide more details once I get some more conclusive results of success or failure…

11 Responses to “Cost of Hydroponic Nutrients”

  1. Phil Says:

    Buy dry nutrients. They are a lot cheaper. $60 will last a year.

  2. Vegetable Garden Blog Says:

    That is some great info. If doing this small scale, but having a high yeild, it makes it pretty economical!

  3. Matt W Says:

    Have you considered aquaponics, using waste from food fish to feed your hydroponic vegetables? From my research, the plants take care of themselves if you can keep the fish happy. Of course, fishkeeping is a challenge and an expense, but you can stock extremely high densities of fish because the plants keep the water clean. The only limit to the fish you can keep is the amount of oxygen you can pump into the water; it is possible to raise 100 pounds of live tilapia in a 100 gallon tank with plant based filters.

    Here’s a trailer for a video on the subject.

    The DVD itself is good, but the information is available free online.

  4. Red Icculus Says:

    Floramato or GH Maxi series are really cheap. If you really like liquid nutrients or don’t want to constantly check pH, pick up FloraNova, which has humic acid that chelates and makes more nutrients available regardless of pH swing.

  5. The Cheap Vegetable Gardener Says:

    MattW, funny you mentioned that. Actually considered that for this system, the main problem is the fish tank would be almost completely dark. Great to prevent algae but probably not a happy environment for some goldfish (9 gallons is little small for tilapia :))

    Red Icculus/Phil, that is a good idea I should add the cost analysis for dry nutrients compared to liquid.

    Veg Garden, that is very true and can’t put a price on the fun of growing. Trip to hydro store is definitely cheap than a round of golf.

  6. Legal Bud Reviews Says:

    Phil’s on to something, I was going to recommend dry ingrediants too.

  7. shaneSDR Says:

    You might consider vermiculture for rich (and cheap) plant nutrients. Eisenia Foetida can produce nutrient rich worm castings that could be made into a tea for your plants. Cheap, high quality, and organic even.

  8. Nancy Garso Says:

    Thanks for the information – we are contemplating this and still haven’t made the jump to try hydroponics. And again, something our kids can do.
    nancy and mark garso

  9. The Cheap Vegetable Gardener Says:

    It has been fun for me, think I will extend it into my outdoor garden this year

  10. Grandwheatgrass Says:

    I have used liquid nutrients and I’m being killed by the cost. I have grown basil, tomatoes, and peppers. They all worked well, but are they worth the cost? What dry product have you used and what would you recommend?

  11. Grandwheatgrass Says:

    I have used liquid nutrients and I’m being killed by the cost. I have grown basil, tomatoes, and peppers. They all worked well, but are they worth the cost? What dry product have you used and what would you recommend?

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