Can Hydroponic Herbs Be Planted In Soil?

If you’re like I am, you’ve probably stood at the kitchen sink with a set of expensive herbs you’ve just purchased or grown, and wanted to know if you could keep those fresh herbs longer, and grow them out if possible, but didn’t know if hydroponic herbs can be planted into soil. After much research, experimentation and consultation, I’ve concluded that planting hydroponic herbs in soil suceeds most times, but only if you take care to not shock the plant by following some essential steps. This guide will walk you through everything you need to know about transplanting hydroponic plants, including the popular hydroponic basil, to soil.

Contrary to some misconceptions, hydroponic plants can indeed be transplanted to soil. The process requires careful attention during and after the transition to ensure the plant’s survival.

Gardeners often start seeds hydroponically to get a head start on their springtime garden. Other growers may transfer plants to soil pots to sell them or to make room for new plants in their hydroponic system.

However, it’s crucial to be cautious when transitioning water-grown plants to soil due to the potential for transplanting shock. The plants and their roots need time to adjust to their new environment to thrive.

Risks of Transplanting Hydroponic Plants to Soil

The main risk associated with transferring plants from water to soil is transplanting shock. This shock occurs when the plant’s root system, which is more delicate in hydroponically grown plants, experiences a sudden change in moisture and nutrient supply.

In a hydroponic environment, water effectively delivers nutrients, resulting in plants with shorter and thinner roots. When these plants are transplanted to soil, they must adapt quickly to avoid wilting, yellowing, or even dying off.

Understanding Transplant Shock

Transplant shock is a temporary setback in plant growth caused by a sudden change in the plant’s growing conditions. It can lead to stunted growth, and in severe cases, can cause the plant to die.

Hydroponically grown plants are particularly susceptible to transplant shock due to their tender “water” roots. However, with careful handling and attention, it’s possible to minimize this shock when transferring hydroponic plants to soil.

Steps to Transplant Hydroponic Plants to Soil

Here is a step-by-step guide on how to safely transplant your hydroponic plants to soil.

Step 1: Gradually Reduce Water Supply

In the week leading up to the transplant, start reducing the amount of water your hydroponic plants receive. This step will encourage the root system to grow longer, preparing them to seek water in the soil.

Additionally, cutting back on the watering schedule will strengthen the roots. The cell walls of water-grown plants are typically thinner than those of soil-grown plants. By gradually reducing water supply, you’re allowing the roots to toughen up, which is crucial for their survival in the soil.

Step 2: Choose the Right Pot

Before introducing your plants to the garden soil, it’s best to transition them into a pot first. This allows the plants to adapt gradually to their new environment.

A pot with a diameter of four to six inches is ideal for transplanting seedlings as it provides enough room for the root system to spread without hitting the sides.

Step 3: Use an Appropriate Growing Medium

When transplanting hydroponic plants, it’s best to fill the pot with a loose potting mix or a soil-free peat mix. These materials are light, soft, and aerated, allowing the roots to grow and strengthen without the pressure of heavy soil against their membranes.

Ensure the potting mix is evenly moistened but not soaked. Fill the pot to 3/4 full with the mix and gently press down to create enough firmness to hold the plant upright.

Step 4: Prepare for the Transplant

Dig a hole in the center of the pot that is wide and deep enough to accommodate the root ball of your plant. If you’re transplanting multiple plants, prepare all your pots before you start the transfer.

At this stage, consider adding a mycorrhizal inoculant to each hole. Mycorrhiza is a type of beneficial fungi that forms a symbiotic relationship with plant roots, aiding in nutrient absorption.

Step 5: Trim and Transfer Your Plants

Before the transfer, it’s advisable to trim back some of the plant’s leaves and stems. This reduces the plant’s stress to maintain dense foliage during the soil transition.

Once you’ve trimmed the plants, lift them from the hydroponic system and carefully place the root ball into the hole in the pot. Fill the void with more potting mix and firm it around the stem to hold the plant upright.

Step 6: Monitor and Water Your Transplants

After the transfer, mist the soil of the transplants immediately. For the first week, mist the pots daily with a diluted fertilizer mix.

Gradually reduce the watering frequency until you’re watering the plants only once a week or so. As the roots strengthen, their need for constant moisture decreases.

Step 7: Harden Off the Transplants

“Hardening off” is the process of gradually acclimatizing indoor-grown plants to outdoor conditions. Start by placing the transplants in a bright, sunny room for several days. Then, gradually increase their time outdoors, starting with the warmest part of the day.

Monitor the plants closely during this period. Yellowing or falling leaves are not a cause for panic, but wilting or drooping could indicate a lack of moisture.

Can You Transplant Hydroponic Basil to Soil?

Indeed, hydroponic basil can be transplanted to soil using the steps outlined above. Basil, being a hearty herb, typically handles the transition fairly well. However, it’s essential to monitor the plants closely for signs of transplant shock and provide them with the care they need to thrive in their new environment.


Transplanting hydroponic plants, including basil and other herbs, to soil is a viable way to expand your garden. The key is to handle the transition with care and give the plants time to adjust to their new growing conditions. With the right approach, you can enjoy the rewards of both hydroponic and soil-based gardening.


Located in Portland, Oregon, Tim started gardening in his 20's and after a couple of decades felt like he had some things to share.

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