Indoor gardens are perfect additions to virtually any space, especially for those who love cooking with fresh herbs or want juicy cherry tomatoes in the winter. Indoor gardens come in soil-based systems and hydroponic systems. The best indoor garden is low maintenance, attractive, and most of all, functional. Check out these top picks for the best indoor gardens for your home, office, or as a gift for a friend or relative.
- BEST OVERALL: AeroGarden Harvest Indoor Hydroponic Garden
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: TORCHSTAR Indoor Garden Kit
- BEST AQUAPONIC GARDEN: Back to the Roots Water Garden Aquaponic Ecosystem
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Indoor Garden
When looking for the best indoor garden for your home or office, there are a few things to consider, including whether you’re trying to grow veggies or herbs, want a soil-based or hydroponic system, and how much maintenance you want to do. Here are some essential considerations for choosing the best indoor garden.
The size of the best indoor garden for you will depend on a few factors. For example, do you have a space in mind for the garden? You’ll need to be sure your indoor garden will fit. It also helps to think about what you plan on growing. If you’re looking to grow a few herbs, your garden can be quite small, but if you’d like to grow vegetables, your indoor garden will need to be more sizable. It also depends on how much you’ll be using it—for those who harvest and cook with herbs once a week, a small indoor garden should be fine, but avid herb lovers might want to ensure their system can accommodate vigorous plants so they don’t run out too quickly.
Most indoor gardens are designed to grow herbs, but some can grow vegetables, too. The plants you’d like to grow will influence your decision about the best indoor garden for your home. It’s important to check and see if a particular growing system is designed to accommodate herbs only, or if you have the option to grow some veggies in your garden. Some indoor gardens come with seeds and others give you the option to grow your own seeds, but be sure to verify that your garden can accommodate what you’re planning to grow.
Indoor herb gardens grow plants using soil-based, hydroponic, or aquaponic systems. Soil-based indoor gardens use a traditional potting mix for growing plants, much like you would in a garden outside. Hydroponic systems use water that directly delivers added nutrients to the roots of plants, no soil required. Aquaponic systems are similar to hydroponic systems in that there’s no soil, but there’s another component to these gardens: fish! Fish live in the water that nourishes the plants, and their waste makes fertilizer for the plants to grow. The plants then utilize the waste, which helps keep your fish tank clean and your fish healthy.
Your indoor plants will need light to grow, so evaluating an indoor garden’s grow lights is essential. Most indoor gardens come with LED grow lights, which mimic natural sunlight for vigorous plant growth. Some even have automatic dimming features to further mimic sunlight throughout the day. If you won’t be able to spend much time taking care of your garden, look for an indoor garden that has an automatic timer for the grow lights. Many keep the lights on 15 or 16 hours a day for optimal growth. Some indoor gardens don’t come with a built-in light source, so if this is important to you, be sure to check whether the unit contains lights before purchasing.
The temperature of your indoor garden is important. During the colder seasons, many herbs and other plants die off, and you want your indoor garden to flourish. Keeping the temperatures around 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit is perfect for your little plants, while seeds prefer it a bit warmer, around 68 to 78 degrees. Though your indoor garden likely won’t need a heater, you might need to consider one if you have an aquaponic system and your fish prefer it to be warmer. The temperature also matters based on where you plan on putting your indoor garden: For example, an unheated sunroom during the winter might not be the best place.
The air in your home is typically less humid than the air outside, but plants tend to prefer humidity. When looking for the best indoor garden, it’s important to consider how you’ll keep your plants moist without feeling like you have to hover over them all day. Fortunately, most indoor gardens have a light on top that acts as a sort of humidity dome to help control moisture and keep plants happy without much effort on your part. If you’re OK to mist your plants during the day—like if you work from home and have your indoor garden on your desk—you can choose an indoor garden without a dome, but most people need some sort of humidity control to make their indoor garden thrive.
Most people want a low-maintenance indoor garden system that requires virtually no attention. Though aquaponic systems will require a bit more maintenance, soil-based and hydroponic systems are very easy to get started and maintain. If you opt for an indoor garden that has an automatic light timer and a humidity dome, you really won’t need to do much to maintain your plants, making your indoor garden a self-sufficient system that gives you yummy herbs and veggies with minimal effort. If you want a system that’s a bit more hands-on for kids, consider an aquaponic system or a traditional soil system that requires a bit more effort.
Our Top Picks
Grow herbs, veggies, succulents, or flowering plants indoors with one of these gardens. Most can sit on your desk or a table in your home, taking up about as much space as a desk lamp. From hydroponic systems to traditional soil systems or aquaponic setups, you can find your best indoor garden with these attractive and easy-to-use gardens.
The AeroGarden Harvest Indoor Hydroponic Garden comes ready to go with six different pods and non-GMO seeds (basil, parsley, dill, thyme, Thai basil, and mint). The kit includes plant food, and the system tells you when to add water and nutrients for your plants. With an automatic light timer, there’s really not much you have to do to get your plants growing up to 12 inches tall. The dome on the top adjusts so you can raise it as your plants grow.
Measuring 11 inches by 8 inches by 15 inches and weighing just over 5 pounds, this indoor garden is small enough to fit on the counter in the kitchen and comes in your choice of white or black to match your decor. Since this is a soil-free system with nutrients being delivered directly to the roots, plants grow faster and should be ready to harvest in just a few weeks.
If you’re looking for an excellent indoor garden on a budget, look to the TORCHSTAR Indoor Garden Kit. With an adjustable dome and the ability to grow even succulents and flowers, this indoor garden has an automatic timer (16 hours on and 8 hours off). It doesn’t include pots or seeds, so you’ll need to have these on hand or purchase them to get started with your garden.
You’ll also need soil since this isn’t a hydroponic setup, but if you’re looking for a more traditional indoor garden that’s so easy to set up you can skip the gardening gloves, this cost-effective kit is a great pick.
If you’re looking for an aquaponic garden, consider the ready-to-go Back to the Roots Water Garden Aquaponic Ecosystem, which comes with everything you need to get started. The kit includes fish food, a water pump, and organic microgreen seeds (you also get a coupon for a free betta fish with the kit). However, you aren’t limited to growing microgreens—you also can grow succulents and other houseplants, including bamboo.
This system doesn’t come with a lamp, so place it somewhere with plenty of natural light for optimal plant growth. Easy to set up and great for kids learning about ecosystems, this aquaponic garden is a low-maintenance, affordable, and versatile option for those who want to grow edible greens or just enjoy houseplants and fish without much maintenance.
FAQs About Indoor Gardens
Have you found the best indoor garden but aren’t sure if you’re doing the best job maintaining it? Take good care of your indoor garden to see some beautiful and healthy plants without waiting for summer. Answers to some frequently asked questions about your new indoor garden can help you enjoy fresh veggies and herbs throughout the year.
Q. What plants can be grown indoors?
You can grow virtually any plant indoors, including herbs, veggies, and even fruits, with the right conditions, such as light, humidity, water, and nutrition.
Q. What plants can grow in a hydroponic system?
As long as you have the right nutrients, virtually any plant can go in a hydroponic system, especially lettuces, herbs, tomatoes, and peppers.
Q. How often do you feed hydroponic plants?
A general rule of thumb is every time you need to add water to your hydroponic system, you need to feed your plants. So if you only need to add water every two weeks, that’s how often you should feed your hydroponic plants.
Q. How do I set up an indoor aquaponics system?
You’ll need a base for the water, fish, and other aquatic life and a top for the plant. You’ll also need a pump or heater for the water, depending on your system. Generally, follow the instructions that come with the aquaponics system and it should do just fine.
Q. Do I need to change the water in an aquaponics system?
If your system is healthy, you won’t need to change the water very often, but some people will need to change theirs more often than others. Regardless, the water needs to be kept at an adequate and safe level.