The 7 Best Indoor Garden Systems of 2021

Create your own indoor plant haven with these clever systems.

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The Rundown
"Aerogarden is one of the early leaders in at-home hydroponics and indoor gardens."
"This self-watering, self-fertilizing unit is both stylish and functional."
"With LED lights and a self-watering tank, you’re immediately set up for success."
"If you’re on a budget or you’re trying to produce a lot of plants, then this one is perfect."
"It looks small at first, but you can actually grow up to 50 plants with this tabletop design."
"Short on space? This growing system will be perfect because it doubles as an end table!"
"This little unit comes with little seed capsules. Add them to the unit with water, and then the smart garden takes does the rest."

Even without a any outdoor space, you can still grow plenty of veggies, herbs, flowers, and other plants thanks to innovative new technology like grow lights and hydroponics. Indoor garden systems can really open up a lot of possibilities for gardeners. They are simple to set up, easy to use, and produce great results. 

While some of these units have a high price tag, the big benefit to these high-tech gardens is that you can grow your own fresh greens all year long, and tuck them into spaces where it would otherwise be impossible for plants to grow. Whether you’re just looking to get started with a tabletop option or you want to go all in to grow lots of plants, there are many great choices. 

Here are the best indoor garden systems you’ll want to consider.

Best Overall: AeroGarden Harvest

AeroGarden Harvest

AeroGarden is one of the early leaders in at-home hydroponics and indoor gardens. Plus there are a lot of options to choose from, from countertop gardens to larger units that will hold more than 20 plants (or pods). With widespread availability, you can often find AeroGardens and the replacement pods at local garden centers and stores.

All of AeroGarden's units are quite compact, and most are designed to sit on a countertop. They all come with an initial seed kit of your choosing to get you started. Several of the models feature different housing colors, like black, white, or sage.

You can usually find pretty good promotions and deals, either through the AeroGarden website or other online retailers. They have good customer service, which I know from experience when I was missing a variety I ordered. So if you have any issues, just reach out and they’ll try to make it right.

Best Tower: Lettuce Grow Farmstand

Lettuce Grow Farmstand

This self-watering, self-fertilizing unit is both stylish and functional, and has a range of customizable options. The Farmstand can be used inside or outdoors, but if you're looking to grow indoors you'll want to be sure to include the Glow Rings lights. The different sizes can hold anywhere from 12 to 36 plants. You can buy seedlings as individuals or bundles, and body of this vertical garden is made from ocean-bound plastic.

Don’t worry about the ongoing maintenance—there’s very little. You'll just adjust the water and add a few scoops of the included fertilizer once per week. According to Lettuce Grow, The Farmstand uses 95% less water when compared to traditional gardening. There's also an app to help you learn about how and when to harvest.

"It can take some time to set up a larger Farmstand for indoor use with lights, so I’d recommend you give yourself a couple of hours. But once you’ve put it together, it’s incredibly easy to maintain and the plant growth is really fast and exciting to watch." ~ Margaret Badore, Treehugger Senior Editor 

Best Splurge: Rise Gardens Single Family Garden

Rise Gardens Single Family Garden

Rise Gardens are proud to say, “Our indoor gardens look so good, they don’t have to hide in your basement,” and they definitely meet this promise. With an attractive modernist design, the Single Family Garden can be tucked next to a counter in your kitchen or behind the couch in your living room.

With LED lights and a self-watering tank, you’re set up for success. The system uses seed pods which are available from Rise Gardens, or you can buy seedless pods and add any seeds of your choice.

In addition, you can download an app to track plant growth, and it’ll tell you exactly when to adjust nutrients, water, and light. There are several different sizes to choose from. If you want a really big system, the triple family garden can hold more than 100 plants.

Best Budget: Luna's Elegant Home Plant Sites Hydroponic Unit

Hydroponic Garden System

If you’re on a budget or you’re trying to produce a lot of plants, then this hydroponic system is worth considering. It has four layers of PVC pipe to hold 56 plants, and comes with a water pump, timer planting baskets, planting sponges, and hose. You will need a bucket or water tank of some kind to complete the set up. It's Fair Trade certified.

With several of units, you could turn an extra room or basement into a huge growing zone. However, while this unit is great for beginners, keep in mind that there’s no built-in lighting. So you may want to purchase additional grow lights if plan to use it in an area without a lot of sunshine.

Best Tabletop: OPCOM Farm Tabletop Hydroponic Grow Box

OPCOM Farm Tabletop Hydroponic Grow Box

It looks small at first glance, but you can actually grow up to 50 plants with this tabletop design. The open frame is designed in a way that can accommodate plants that grow up to 3 feet, including vines. The kit includes two seedling trays, three starter trays, 12 sprout sponges, fertilizer packets and pH adjusters, and pre-seeded strips to grow lettuce and basil.

The built-in LED lights are adjustable (and replaceable) so you can make them work for any plants you grow and just switch them out when the time comes. It has an automated system, helping to simulate night and day for your plants. This setup can also be used for starting seeds in the spring.

Best for Small Spaces: Miracle-Gro Twelve Indoor Growing System

Grow Light System

Short on space? This growing system will be perfect because it doubles as an end table or extra storage area. This system is all automated, just download the app and connect it to bluetooth. Then you can make adjustments with the touch of a button.

The base measures 16.5 x 16.5 inches, and it stands 28 inches tall, and the reservoir holds two gallons of water. After harvest, you can keep replacing each plant with new seeds. You’ll be able to grow up to four plants at a time, and you could even fill it with flowers for a purely decorative look.

Best Kitchen Unit:: Click & Grow Smart Garden 3

Uncommon Goods Smart Garden Grow Kit

This little unit comes with three little basil seed and soil capsules, add them to the unit and then the smart garden does the rest. All you’ll need to do is add water once a month. With an imprint of only 11.8 inches by 4.5 inches, you can easily find a spot for this on your kitchen counter. Then when the herbs you’re growing are ready, just snip them off and add them to your favorite dish. Basil will continue to grow for months.

When your basil is finished, Click & Grow offers a wide rage of herbs, vegetables and flowers (view on Click & Grow), from mint and chives to kale and chili peppers. If you want to grow more plants, the company also makes a nine plant unit (view on Click & Grow).

Final Verdict

Our top pick of indoor garden systems is the AeroGarden Harvest (view on AeroGarden.com). However, if you’re looking to grow a lot of plants, check out The Farmstand (view on Lettuce Grow), which starts with a 12-plant tower that you can add to when you’re ready. 

FAQs

What are the pros and cons of indoor garden systems?

The biggest prod to an indoor garden system is that you can grow plants year-round. If you have a shorter gardening season than you’d like (don’t most of us?), then having a system is the perfect way to get your gardening fix. Also, since lettuce and herbs are some of the easiest plants to grow indoors, you’ll be eating better, healthier, and with more flavor. Finally, one of the best benefits is that these units are so easy to use. You’re pretty much guaranteed to have success.

As for cons of indoor garden systems, it can be a costly to get started. Many of these units aren’t cheap, so you have to think of it as a long-term investment that will pay you back over the years. Another con is that you need to have the space, especially for larger units. It's also worth noting that these units need electricity to run, so the placement of your system may be limited by where you have access to electrical outlets.  

Are these high-tech systems really eco-friendly?

For the most part, yes. While you are still using electricity in most cases to run these units, technology has helped them become really efficient over the years. In addition, having a system will actually help you live more sustainably because you’ll be growing your own food. This is always a good way to reduce your carbon footprint overall.

As you look for units, definitely read how they are made and try to seek out efficient options. Some are better than others, and manufacturers will usually put details like this in the descriptions. For instance, some are made from recycled materials or include replaceable pods and lights—all good options. 

How much food can I grow in an indoor garden system?

A lot more than you might think! This will depend a lot on the size of the system you buy, but some can hold more than 100 plants. Keep in mind that these systems are a good long-term investment. It’s not always about the amount of plants growing at once because you can only use so much. Instead, get the size of the unit that works for you or your family, and keep it replenished. You should be able to keep a steady rotation to always have fresh options, and leafy greens are an important source of nutrients. 

Do hydroponic garden systems require a lot of maintenance?

No. In fact, most of these systems were specifically designed to be low-maintenance. Many have apps, telling you exactly when to add water, fertilizer, and other needed adjustments. The biggest thing you’ll have to do for most is to keep it watered (often only once a week but some as infrequently as once per month). Some systems may require the occasional change of bulbs, but most use long-lasting LED lights.

It's a good idea to wash out system every year, or whenever you completely change out all the plants.

Why Trust Treehugger?

Treehugger wants to help you be eco-friendly both inside and out. The author, Stacy Tornio, is an experienced gardener and garden writer.