Hydroponics vs. Soil: Which Is Faster?

3.9 based on 54 ratings

Updated on Jan 13, 2014

Grade Level: Middle School; Type: Plant Biology


Determine whether a bean plant grows faster and taller using a traditional soil planting method or hydroponic method.

Research Questions:

Which method of growing the bean plants worked the best? Which produced the fastest growth? Which produced the tallest growth? Overall, which do you think was the better medium – soil or water?


  • Bean plant seeds
  • Four plastic plant pots
  • One bag of potting soil
  • Two- to four gallons of distilled water
  • Two peat pellets
  • Two potting nets for hydroponic growing
  • Ruler
  • Journal/logbook

Experimental Procedure

  1. Prepare two soil pots with potting soil. Plant bean plant seeds about ¼ to ½ inch into the soil and cover loosely with a sprinkling of soil on the top. Give the plants plenty of sun and keep them in the same climate. Any variables between the soil and hydroponic plants can affect the experiment, so try to keep variables nonexistent or at a low.
  2. Prepare the hydroponic growing pots by placing the seeds in a peat pellet and saturating with water to cause them to “puff up.” Make sure the bean plant seeds are covered by a little bit of peat before “planting.”
  3. Fill the other two pots with distilled water. Place the hydroponic potting nets on top of the pots, making sure that the water touches the nets. Place the peat pellets with the seeds inside the nets.
  4. Water the soil plants every three days or when the soil feels dry to the touch. For the hydroponic pots, sprinkle a little water on the peat pellet to keep the pellet moist. As the roots grow, they will grow down into the pot of water. Remember to keep the pot full!
  5. Observe, record, and analyze: Measure the hydroponic bean plants and the soil plants every three days or so. Determine a good schedule in which to measure the plants. Record in millimeters how tall the plants are getting and how quickly they are growing. Compile a chart of the results.

Reference: Science Fair Adventure: Soil vs. Hydroponics

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