Thinking about getting an indoor garden?
When it comes to indoor gardens, there are a lot of different options on the market. Here we will compare five different types of indoor gardens and see which one comes out on top!
What to look for when choosing an indoor garden?
You can buy plant stands, hydroponic gardens, or even build your own garden. But which one is the best for you?
When making this important decision we think there are a few key things to consider: the price and plant cost, the setup of the garden, the customer support offered by the company, the aesthetics of the garden and the goals of the company that makes the garden.
💰 Price and Plant Cost
Money doesn't grow on trees
These indoor garden kits are not a buy it and forget it item so they are not cheap, but they are well worth the investment (some more than others). There are two important factors to consider here: one time costs and on-going running costs (seeds, pods, and growing equipment). At the end of the day each time you harvest those herbs and vegetables will it be worth it.
SKIP TO COMPARING PRICE AND PLANT COST
🔧 Ease of Setup
A garden is only useful if you can get it set up and running properly. The gardens reviewed here range from coming fully assembled plug-and-play style to multi-hour assembly and wiring missions. We wanted to find out the fastest way to get you growing fresh vegetables, herbs and flowers.
SKIP TO COMPARING EASE OF SETUP
📞 Customer Support
For first time gardeners, customer support is hugely important. We factor in what resources are available, how fast is the support, and what kind of reviews does each company have for their customer support. At the end of the day plant food and seed pods should be easy to use in all smart gardens and you should be supported while you do it.
SKIP TO COMPARING CUSTOMER SUPPORT
🌸 Garden Aesthetics
In the eye of the beholder
Another thing to consider when choosing an indoor garden is how it will look in your home. Some gardens are very sleek and modern, while others are more traditional. Here we consider how the grow lights look in your home, how loud the watering system is, and how nice the seed starting kit might be. Choose the style that best suits you!
SKIP TO COMPARING GARDEN AESTHETICS
🌱 Company Goals
Growing in the right direction
When choosing an indoor garden, it's important to consider the company's goals. Some companies focus on sustainability and environmentalism, while others focus on smart garden technology, emphasizing specialized plant food and full spectrum LED lights or other grow lights.
SKIP TO COMPARING COMPANY GOALS
Considering Your Options:
Indoor Hydroponic Gardens
When it comes to choosing an indoor hydroponic garden, we believe there are five main companies to choose from. We will deep dive into each of these and compare using the criteria above to determine the best indoor garden on the market.
Indoor Garden Options:
We are a company that focuses on sustainability and environmentalism, which is evident in our products. Our gardens are made from recycled materials, and we use hydroponic technology to grow plants without soil. Our system has LED grow lights built in, allows for you to use your own seeds, and is perfect for a small space.
Our company was started by two sustainability scientists and this shows in our product. We are one of the only companies to have both design and utility patents on our technologies. Our unique growing technology was developed by our co-founders while they were both Masters of Science students at the University of Toronto.
Just Vertical gardens also lay claim to having the lowest seed and pod costs making them some of the cheapest gardens to run in the long term. We currently carry two indoor gardens: the AEVA and the EVE.
The standout tech feature on our LED grow lights is that they have dimmable light settings that are perfect for adding a romantic ambience to the room.
Lettuce Grow had its start in celebrity, being founded by actress Zooey Deschanel and her former partner Jacob Pechenik.
The Lettuce Grow farmstand appears to be an outdoors-first garden but it does have the option for additional lighting to bring it indoors. The Lettuce Grow farmstand has a unique, futuristic wavy look where the plants grow out of each 'wave' in the system. Whether you want to be growing in direct sunlight outside or want your smart garden inside, Lettuce Grows is a cool looking option.
While the Lettuce Grow has a unique property in being able to buy seedlings they come at a premium costing almost 300% more than comparable seed pods from Just Vertical.
Nutritower is a long time community player in the indoor garden market with their unique design being seen at schools and community centers.
Nutritower has a great educational aspect to their gardens that they pride themselves on with a specific section on their website dedicated to classroom gardening.
They have a specific focus on the Quebec area where they are based.
A more recent entry into the indoor gardening space Rise Gardens was founded by a seasoned entrepreneur and has been backed by large corporate bodies like Amazon's Alexa Fund and TELUS ventures.
This has allowed Rise Gardens to come to market quickly with different sizes of hydroponic indoor gardens and a rise gardens app. Their plants grow out of horizontal shelves with led lights mounted above.
Rise Gardens is a fast moving brand with lots of potential for disruption if their significant funding is deployed well. .
Similar to Rise Gardens, Gardyn has come to the indoor hydroponics market fast and furious and with lots of money behind them. They've brought in more than $15M in investments to date with a large portion of that coming from JAB Holding Company.
Gardyn's systems are comprised of columns of plastic pods (resembling 45 degree plumbing wyes) that sit atop an elegant water bucket and has two light strips down the front of the system.
They also offer an annual membership at $399/annually to access discounts and support.
Comparing Your Options:
Which is best for you?
Using our criteria above (price, setup, customer support, aesthetics and company goals) we'll compare the available options to help decide which indoor garden is right for you.
Comparing Price and Plant Cost
On up-front costs you can expect to spend anywhere between $1,000 - $1,400 for the larger systems from any of the companies. There isn't much variety within the upfront cost department unless you are looking to go for a smaller version of the indoor hydroponic gardens.
If you are okay with a slightly smaller garden, Just Vertical, Rise Gardens, and Lettuce Grow all offer smaller sizes that you can purchase for around $699.
Where there is a significant difference however is on the plant costs for the gardens. These costs vary wildly which can go as high as $5 per plant and as low as $1.50 per plant.
Though this doesn't seem like a big difference at first glance this can easily add up to more than the cost of the garden through its lifetime. If you were to select the garden with $1.50 seed pods vs. $5 per seed pods through three years of gardening you could easily save over $1,300.... more than the cost of the whole garden!
The winner by far in this category is Just Vertical. Our plants retail starting at $1.5 per plant and come with germination guarantees, free shipping above certain levels, and a great variety of choice.
The Runner Up and Loser
Nutritower seems like a great second choice. They don't price their seeds the same way as most other competitors so it is hard to make a 1 to 1 comparison but based on our math their seeds seem like a great deal as well.
The loser by far here is the Gardyn system, their pods (called yCubes) start at $5 per plant. Unless of course you want to subscribe to their membership which can cost up to $400 per year. Their pricing was also incredibly difficult to find with constant pushes to sign up for their membership.
Comparing Ease of Setup
Setup and first impressions are everything, and none of us want our excitement to be killed by a lengthy setup or assembly process for our indoor hydroponic garden.
Assessing ease of setup
To assess this we looked through all the user manuals and set-up videos for the indoor gardening technologies assessed here. That being said not all companies were transparent with their assembly and set-up videos... which is never a good sign.
Just Vertical is the only gardens we could confirm comes delivered fully assembled. With our gardens it is as easy as plugging it in and you are off to the races. We also have clear documentation right on our product pages.
The Runners Up and Loser
Lettuce Grows seems to have a fairly simple stacking process that we are a fan of. The Gardyn process also has very few components and comes together quite quickly.
Rise Gardens seems to have the most complex setup process due to the way their product stacks. There have also been many complaints of unclear directions from the manufacturer for setup.
Comparing Customer Support
Having access to knowledge is important, these indoor hydroponic gardens are not only so you can grow plants but also so you can grow your own knowledge.
To assess this category we looked at the customer support experience, support response times, and teaching materials provided on the backend.
We had a tie in this category and let us explain why.
First off, Nutritower provided a wealth of resources and learning tools targeted towards teaching yourself and your family about the benefits of food.
Just Vertical on the other hand has an instant support response time via the live chat on our website and has a wealth of blog articles for our users to learn.
The loser here seems to be Gardyn which seemingly has support enabled by their app subscription. Paying for support after spending $1000+ on an indoor hydroponic garden seems to be taking advantage of the customer.
Comparing Garden Aesthetics
Beauty is subjective
This is always a hard category to compare because there are personal biases at play for each person depending on what kind of space they have available. For that reason we wanted to give you more of an informational take than just our favourite.
We like to look at three main things:
- Are the lights going to be a problem? Are they intrusive in the living space? Do they have any extra features?
- How much space does this indoor garden take up?
- Form factor: is it beautiful and did they think about design?
For lights there are some concerns around the designs of Lettuce Grow and Nutritower as their lights face down or out from the unit which could lead to significant light leakage in the space.
Some nice features we did see were a dimmer switch and built in light shade on Just Vertical (romantic dinner for your plants?), and Rise Gardens and Gardyn had built in app control so you could change the lights from your phone.
Most of these gardens are true vertical gardens built to grow up and not across. The one exception being the Rise Garden which has more of a cabinet feel than bookcase feel to it.
There were two clear standouts here for how slim they both looked and actually measured out to be. Gardyn and Just Vertical both have slim and sleek profiles that only occupy about 3 square feet each.
Design and appeal
For this we really looked at these gardens with the idea of did the designers think about how this would look or did they just cobble something together. In that sense there are some clear losers: Gardyn and Nutritower both are very industrial looking, and some clear winners: Lettuce Grow and Just Vertical.
Lettuce Grow has a very futuristic almost spaceship looking design that took some thought. Just Vertical has opted for a mid-century modern look contrasting the futuristic vertical farming component on-top with beautiful walnut cabinets on the bottom to tie it all together.
Comparing Company Goals
We all want the purchases we make to reflect our own goals and values. For this section we looked at whether or not the company has a mission statement, and whether they look like they are following through on that mission statement.
Many of these companies are doing amazing things for the planet so we wanted to crown not just one winner here but three winners who all had a clear mission statement and were more than just a business out to make a profit.
Through our at-home educational initiatives, Just Vertical sent out thousands of seeds and indoor garden lessons to help parents with kids stuck at home during the pandemic teach their kids about where their food comes from.
Through their classroom gardens program, Nutritower is working to enrich kids education around the world.
Through their 1-for-10 partnership with Whole Kids, Lettuce Grows is doing some amazing work building and growing healthy food for everyone.
And the winner is...
The Green Standard in Indoor Gardening:
The Just Vertical gardens came out on top across all criteria. Our plants are the most affordable and the AEVA and EVE are easiest to set up. We offer exceptional customer support and our company prides itself in our sustainability and commitment to our planet. To top it off our gardens are breathtakingly beautiful, thoughtfully designed and elegant.