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The 5 best indoor gardens: Smart tech for your green thumb

What is the best indoor garden? The Gardyn Home Kit is our top pick. But one size doesn't fit all. There are other indoor gardens available, some of which are smart gardens. You can use any of them to grow herbs or even vegetables in your home.
allison-murray
Written by Allison Murray, Staff Writer on

Some of us just aren't blessed with the gift of a green thumb. Still, if having fresh herbs or vegetables sounds too good to pass up, there are ways to make it happen, even for those who are not horticulturally inclined. Indoor smart gardens do most of the work for you when it comes to growing herbs and vegetables, including reminding you to water and adjusting the lights to the appropriate setting.

We've rounded up the best indoor smart gardens that include features like vacation mode, autonomous watering, customizable seed pods, and more to get your garden growing in no time. 

Complete with an artificial intelligence-based assistant app, this five-foot-tall vertical gardening system debuted at the 2021 Consumer Electronics Show. Gardyn can grow up to 30 plants simultaneously using integrated LED lighting, sensors, and a six-gallon water reservoir that is fully autonomous for weeks without adding any water. The free app lets you see more details about your plants, including when a crop is ready to be harvested or your plants' temperature, humidity, and water levels.

This indoor smart garden also has a vacation mode to preserve your plants when you are away, and you can even remotely check in on them in the app through Gardyn's embedded vision system. Gardyn lets you grow greens, herbs, fruits, veggies, and flowers, all with minimal effort on your end since the AI tech takes care of your plants for you.

Pros

  • AI tech with cameras and sensors
  • One-year warranty
  • Accompanying app

Cons

  • Most expensive option
  • Requires Wi-Fi

If you're strictly interested in the world of microgreens, the Ingarden is a great indoor smart garden option that also looks super sleek in your kitchen. This indoor smart garden uses autonomous watering complete with a ventilation system and wicking structure so you can easily grow microgreens. Simply place the included pads onto the growing beds, pour water over them, hold the light timer at the top for three seconds, and get fresh microgreens about a week later.

Ingarden offesr various USDA-certified organic superfood microgreens such as arugula, cress, radish, etc. You can grow up to three pads of microgreens at a time.

Pros

  • It comes in sleek colors like mint and rose
  • No soil involved
  • Certified organic plants

Cons

  • Customers noted that sprouts grow at a slightly slower rate than traditional methods
  • Only grows microgreens, so limited variety of crops 

Those looking to get into indoor smart gardens but don't want to spend a lot should consider the iDOO Hydroponics Growing System. Even though it's the cheapest option on this list, it still has seven plant pods so that you can harvest many different plants at once.

Some of its features include 24W LED lights that simulate sunlight spectrum, two water pump modes and a five-liter water tank, and three light modes depending on the stage of your plants' growth. It also has an adjustable light height so that the light moves as your plants get taller as they grow.

Pros

  • Adjustable light height
  • Low-cost option
  • Different water and light modes

Cons

  • The different light modes can be finicky
  • Very bright light -- do not put near where you sleep

Perhaps one of the most recognizable brands in the indoor smart garden space, Aerogarden has plenty of smart garden planters to begin your indoor garden. The Harvest Elite is a compact option that still allows six plants to grow. As your plants grow, its extendable lap arm gets up to 12 inches tall to allow more room.

The planter itself has automatic reminders for water and food, so you never have to guess when your plants need something. A big plus about Aerogarden is its Grow Anything Kits that allow you to put any seed you want into its seed pod, meaning you get more options with what you grow rather than only a specific selection of seeds to choose from.

Pros

  • Can plant any seeds you want
  • Quiet water pump
  • Vacation mode setting

Cons

  • Expensive seed kits
  • Water needs to be refilled fairly often 

The Click & Grow indoor smart garden 3 is your best bet if you have a small space to work with. At 9 x 4.9 x 12.5 inches, it's the most compact option on our list but still holds three plants of your choosing. You can choose from more than 50 plant refill capsules, including peppers, chives, catnip, yellow tomatoes, and more. Click & Grow's plants contain a patented nano-material called Smart Soil that automatically releases oxygen and water to your plants and is inspired by NASA technology.

The device's lamp has a 16 hours on/eight hours off cycle to optimize your plants' growth. In addition, its water float indicator will let you know when it's time to refill the tank. And, since there is no water pump, the Click & Grow is completely silent.

Pros

  • Compact
  • Easy to set up and use
  • Completely silent

Cons

  • Fill indicator could be better
  • Only three plant pod spaces 

What is the best indoor garden?

The Gardyn Home Kit is our top pick, but here is your decision tree

To narrow down which of these indoor smart gardens are right for you, think about your physical space limitations and your expertise level on growing plants. For example, the Gardyn indoor smart garden saves space since it grows upwards, but its high-tech features are geared more towards people who have at least grown herbs and veggies before and know the basics.

However, for true gardening beginners, an indoor smart garden like the Click & Grow or the Ingarden are great options since they are both easy to use and only hold three plants, so you don't have a lot of different crops to worry about at once.

Quick comparison

Gardyn Home Kit

Ingarden

iDOO Hydroponics Growing System

Aerogarden Harvest Elite

Click & Grow indoor smart garden 3

Price

$700

$100

$70

$205

$131

Number of Plants

30

3

7

6

3

Dimensions (L x W x H)

24 x 12 x 60 in.

15.35 x 5.9 x 7.88 in.

13.7 x 5.5 x 14.6 in.

10.5 x 6.25 x 17.4 in.

9 x 4.9 x 12.5 in.

How did we choose these indoor smart gardens?

We looked at the top brands in the indoor smart garden space to compile this list. We made sure each indoor smart garden we chose had essential features like built-in lighting and watering indicators and was easy for everyone to use based on the device's instructions. In addition, we paid particular attention to customer reviews -- both good and bad -- to make our final decision. 

How does an indoor smart garden work?

indoor gardens are "smart" since they have built-in tech and sensors that can let you know when to refill the water tank, automatically turn on/off lighting, and even adjust the height of the lights as your plants grow taller. In addition, indoor smart gardens take the guesswork out of growing your own herbs and vegetables since all you have to do is plant the seeds, and the device will let you know if something needs to be tended to.

Most indoor smart gardens also have companion apps that can provide you with tips on caring for certain plants, setting up a period when you will be away from your garden, or even letting you know your plants' growing conditions in real-time.

What can you grow in an indoor smart garden?

indoor smart gardens allow you to grow various plants inside your home or apartment. For example, you can grow herbs like basil, thyme, cilantro, lavender, and fruits and veggies like tomatoes and peppers. Each indoor smart garden brand usually sells refillable plant pods you can purchase with different types of herbs, vegetables, or flowers, but some also offer customizable pods to put whatever kind of seed you want into the pods.

Are there alternative indoor smart gardens to consider?

While all these indoor smart gardens are great options, here are a few others to consider looking into: 

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