An indoor hydroponic system is an alternate way to grow a garden inside your house without sunlight or soil. A hydroponic garden can grow vegetables, fruits, or flowers in an indoor garden. an indoor growing machine like hydroponics, you don’t have to worry about normal plant maintenance, like weeds, watering, and sometimes fertilizing.
The idea of growing plants in water – the basis of hydroponics for indoor gardening – has always fascinated me. Who wouldn’t want to grow plants the same way astronauts do in space? Don’t tell anyone, but it makes me feel like I belong with the Jetsons!
Want to know more about which indoor hydroponic system gardens I love? My top pick for the best hydroponic system to use indoors is the AeroGarden Harvest Slim. But my runner-up pick is the Click & Grown Smart Garden 9, you can’t go wrong with either.
- Best Overall: AeroGarden Harvest Slim
- Runner Up: Click & Grow Smart Garden 9
- Best for a Vegetable Garden: Mars Hydro Hydroline 12
- Top Pick for Tall Plants: iHarvest
- Best for a Large Garden: Gardyn Home Kit 2.0
Best Overall: AeroGarden Harvest Slim
The AeroGarden Harvest Slim is the best indoor hydroponics system overall for several reasons. First, you can grow six pods – non-GMO seeds with grow domes included. All seed pods have the AeroGarden 21-day germination guarantee. Finally, if your pods don’t succeed, AeroGarden replaces them for free.
But this 15 inches wide 17.5, inches tall matte plastic countertop hydroponics indoor garden can also adjust up to 12 inches in height with a 20W LED grow light that produces plants 5x faster.
And another major feature is that it’s for complete automation, with lights that toggle on and off on a timer and reminders when you need to add plant food or water. So finally, you get beautiful, healthy plants in three simple steps.
- Dimensions: 15 inches wide x 17.5 inches tall x 5 inches deep
- Seed pod quantities: 6 pods with domes
- Grow light: 20W with 12-inch height adjustment
- Water tank size: 2.6 L (2.75 quarts)
- Automated: reminders for food and water and lights operated on a timer
- Ease of use: beginner
Who’s It for?
The AeroGarden Harvest Slim is the best option for beginners who want to experience indoor hydroponics without having a large unit. With minimal effort, you can get full-grown plants ready to harvest in four to six weeks.
Runner up: Click & Grow Smart Garden 9
The Click & Grow Smart Garden may be in second place, but it was a tough battle given the nearly equal performance to the AeroGarden. The ability to adjust the lighting and price tipped the scales in AG’s favor. Check out our side-by-side comparison of Click & Grow and Aerogarden to find out more. This system grows pods of GMO 100% organic seeds of over 50 fruits, herbs, flowers, or salads.
You can grow nine plants at a time with this slim, sleek hydroponic garden that’s two feet wide (604 mm), 16 inches tall (1 foot four inches – 396 mm), and seven inches (184 mm) deep. The plants come in pre-packed Smart Soil pods that insert into the brand-specific plastic cups.
A 4 liter (1.06 gallon) water tank reduces the need for refilling to allow automatic watering. And a 13W grow light operates on a set timer for optimal full spectrum light exposure from ten fixed bulbs. A unique feature that makes this system top of the list is that the Smart Soil already has built-in fertilizer, equaling less work.
- Dimensions: 24 inches wide x 16 inches tall x 7 inches deep
- Seed pod quantities: 9 pre-fertilized Smart Soil pods and plastic cups
- Grow light: 13W full spectrum multi-colored bulbs
- Water tank size: 4 L
- Automated: lights operated on a timer. No alerts for water
- Ease of use: beginner
Who’s It for?
The Click & Grow is another perfect beginner hydroponic system to get hands-on experience without breaking the bank. Once you drop them into the holes, there’s nothing to do with the fertilized seed pods. Keep an eye on the water tank that lasts two to three weeks between refills.
Best for a Vegetable Garden: Mars Hydro Hydroline 12
The Hydroline 12 offers a more high-tech indoor hydroponics growing experience that might be overwhelming for the inexperienced. This twelve-plant hydroponic machine offers dual use as a plant grower and a cloner.
Your plants get full spectrum lighting from 106 LEDs with four timing modes and five luminosity settings for optimal light exposure. And two growth modes – flowers or vegetables, which toggle the light from red for the flowering phase to speed up the production of buds and fruits to blue for vegetable leaf growth. In addition, the lights can adjust from eleven to 19.5 inches and have five dim modes – 10, 25, 50, 75, or 100 percent.
And a six-liter water collection tank with a built-in water pump ensures your plants stay hydrated and healthy with enough water for 15 days. The pump operates on a 30-minute on, 30-minute off cycle that ensures the nutrient solution gets thoroughly mixed.
- Dimensions: 15 inches wide x 19.5 inches tall x 5 inches deep
- Seed pod quantities: 12 pods
- Grow light: dimmable 106 diodes adjustable from 11 to 19.5 inches
- Water tank size: 6 L
- Automated: four-time modes, five dimmable settings, water pump
- Ease of use: moderate to experienced
Who’s It for?
The Mars Hydroline 12 can be an excellent hands-on hydroponics unit for indoor gardeners who want extra control of the growing settings. With the ability to deliver full-spectrum LED lighting in a red base for flowers and fruiting or blue for thicker leafy vegetables with the blue lighting.
Top Pick for Tall Plants: iHarvest
The first thing we notice about the iHarvest is the elegant, timeless, versatile design that fits in any configuration – a modern condo or a rustic farmhouse.
At only 1.2 feet deep and 2.8 feet wide, the iHarvest requires minimal space with large space. The integrated trellis can support 30 plants, including many large vines like tomatoes and fruits. Stack the trellises for easy assembly and save space by going vertical up to five feet.
Then we look at the performance, like the 14-gallon water tank that automatically waters for two to three weeks. And the two 36″ adjustable unidirectional full spectrum 70-watt LED lights work automatically on a timer. You can move the detached lights as close or far away as your plants need.
- Dimensions: 2.8 feet wide x 5 feet tall x 1.2 feet deep
- Seed pod quantities: 30 plants using reusable pods
- Grow light: 20W with 12-inch height adjustment
- Water tank size: 14 gallons
- Automated: watering and lighting
- Ease of use: everyone
Who It’s for?
The iHarvest is a versatile, space-saving indoor hydroponic system that can work for families or households with multiple people enjoying fresh fruits and veggies that grow large and tall. And best of all, there’s no technology to learn or integrate for an easy-to-learn water-based garden that allows you to use your own seeds.
Best for a Large Garden: Gardyn Home Kit 2.0
The Gardyn Home Kit 2.0 contains 30 large plants in a vertical stand that only takes up 2 square feet of space. The five-foot tall, sturdy column allows for easy cleaning and strong durability. And the slim minimalistic look will go with any room decor.
Advanced technological features include a full-time, 24/7 artificial intelligence monitoring system with cameras that allow you to observe your plants. In addition, the grow station syncs to WiFi to enable you to monitor the plants from your smartphone, and it sends alerts when you need to do something for your plants. You can even set the kit to a vacation mode for automatic care while you’re away.
Choose from over fifty kinds of yCubes, small food-grade plastic pods that keep untangled roots. The yCubes drop into slots for a plug-n-play behavior. Water sensors and a water pump keep the plants hydrated and healthy. And you can control the water and lighting conditions from the app for effortless care.
- Dimensions: 24 inches wide x 5 feet tall x 12 inches deep
- Seed pod quantities: 30
- Grow light: two 60W full spectrum LEDs
- Water tank size: 5 gallon
- Automated: AI-monitored with light and water controlled through the app
- Ease of use: Everyone
Who’s It for?
The Gardyn Home Kit 2.0 is the perfect hydroponic growing system for gardeners looking for a way to grow a large capacity of plants that can grow tall without taking up a lot of space. And the advanced technological features can help gardeners of any skill level enjoy fresh plants year-round.
What Are Hydroponic Indoor Gardens?
The word hydroponics is a compound that refers to the method of plant growth – hydro means water. So, the basis of these gardening systems is that there is no need for normal planting mediums like soil.
A hydroponics garden keeps plant roots submerged in a water-based solution to grow. Since there’s no soil to give the roots nutrition, mineral nutrients are added to the water. However, some systems use other mediums like gravel, perlite, or a small pod of fertilized dirt.
Why Use a Hydroponics Garden?
You might decide to try out a hydroponics garden for several reasons. One reason many people go this route is they don’t have adequate access to an outdoor space to grow a garden. Hydroponic systems can let you grow several plant specimens without giving up space. And you can do it in any room indoors.
Another reason people use a hydroponics garden over a traditional method is the speed of delivery. You can have germinated seeds within 21 days and plants ready to harvest in four to six weeks – that’s two to five times faster than traditional growing methods.
Hydroponic gardens can also make you feel smart and high-tech. It’s a fun process that will appeal to adults and kids. And it’s much less physical labor intensive, meaning you don’t have to put as much time or effort into the care.
And because all of the work is done for you through automation – many that you can track with an app – it doesn’t matter your gardening skill level or reputation. It’s nearly impossible to screw up plants grown in a hydroponics garden when you follow all the rules and do the right maintenance and care.
The final reason you may feel persuaded to use an indoor hydroponics garden is the ease of access. Think of how convenient it would be to pluck a juicy veggie or fruit right from a plant in your kitchen instead of having to trek outside with all the dirt and bugs – or worse, have to brave people to get something from the store.
Shopping Features for Picking a Hydroponics Garden
A hydroponics garden will need to provide plants with the proper care and nutrition that they won’t get from the normal growing conditions of sun and soil. An ideal indoor system will balance light, oxygen, nutrients, and water.
Plant Pod Quantity
Hydroponic gardens can range in how many plants they can grow. The smallest systems can hold three plants, while there are also large capacity containers that can grow up to 30 plants.
While comparing different indoor water-based growing systems, you’ll also want to decide on the plant pod types. Some pods are a mix of non-soil – usually per-lite or coconut coir plugs – that wrap around the seed like a cup and have pre-mixed fertilizer and a planted seed.
Other pods come prefilled with growing medium and nutrients that allow you to use your own seeds. Another option is reusable mesh planting pods that you can recycle with new sources once the old plants finish their growing cycle.
Types of Plants to Grow
Another thing to consider when shopping for an indoor gardening unit with a built-in water tank instead of soil is the plant species you want to grow.
Most systems can only contain smaller plants with short or dwarfed growth. Herbs are some of the most popular hydroponic plants. Leafy plants for salads, bushy species like cherry tomatoes or peppers, and many flowers do great when grown in liquid conditions.
If you want to grow larger specimens like fruit vines, large tomatoes, beans, or heavier options like cucumbers, you’ll want a larger system that will offer the necessary structural support. You might also want to consider a model with unattached lighting that you can move around as the plants grow.
Your Available Space
You’ll also want to consider how much room you have for storing a hydroponics tank. Many of these systems are small enough to hold on a countertop, kitchen table, or spare room.
You may have to sacrifice a bit of space to grow many plants. But some options let you grow many pods without taking up all of your room. If you’re limited on the amount of spare space you have to store your hydroponic garden, consider styles that stack up vertically. They may take up minimal floor square footage – although you’ll lose wall space.
Are indoor hydroponics worth it?
Indoor hydroponics systems are pricey, but they are a great investment if you want fresh food grown indoors with little work or hands-on behavior.
What are 3 disadvantages of hydroponics systems?
One disadvantage of hydroponics is that they require electricity to run. If you ever experience a power outage without a generator or other energy source, your machine won’t work. And another downside of hydroponics is that you usually have to buy brand-specific planting pods whenever you want to grow plants. And the final drawback is the original expensive investment costs of the machine.
Can you do hydroponics indoors?
Most hydroponics systems are meant for indoor use. You can put these in your kitchen, a spare room, or a greenhouse. But because there are electrical components, many hydroponics are meant for inside use only.
What do you need for an indoor hydroponic system?
Indoor hydroponic systems will need adequate space for the machine and plants to grow. Some models may need extra height clearance. You’ll also need a location with access to a power outlet, and nearby a water source will make it easier to refill larger water tanks.
Are You Hydroponically Inspired?
Hydroponics makes it effortless to grow fresh food or flowers in your home without the mess and hassle of dirt-grown plants. Depending on your needs, you have several hydroponic systems to consider. It helps to know your needs before you buy, like what type of plant and the size of the plants you want to grow. You’ll also want to decide on how much room you have to spare for the base. The AeroGarden Slim is a perfect way to get started!
There are numerous options for compact indoor hydroponic systems that can easily store on your counter, table, or shelf and grow a few small specimens. And a few large tower models stack plants in vertical rows to accommodate many plants for an entire indoor garden to make you self-sufficient with healthy, free produce.
Like What You Read and Want to Discuss More?
Do you grow one of these plants in your office? Or do you have success with a plant we didn’t include? Let us know your thoughts and feedback – here. We love to talk about plants! Looking for more leafy inspiration?
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