Love gardening but no garden space? No problem! The growing number of plant and herb garden kits in the market got your urban gardening needs (and even black thumbs of death) covered.
And now, they even come in lighted boxes where you can grow vegetables and flowers indoors without soil. But which one should you buy? And is this planting trend for you?
Here’s a review of the best indoor smart gardens in Australia to help you decide.
Top 6 Indoor Smart Gardens in Australia
Gardening is a rewarding hobby, and more recently, it has been a stress reliever for many. However, not all of us have the acreage or the time to tend to a sprawling outdoor garden. Indoor smart gardens are then your best alternative.
This planting solution usually comes in do-it-at-home kits, where you get a planter with a grow light, plant pods or cartridges, seeds and accessories. Some are even customisable and have all sorts of features to make planting better or faster. One thing that makes these kits exceptional is the smart incorporation of hydroponic systems.
With hydroponics, you can grow a variety of plants while suspended in nutrient-rich water. That means no soil, no mess and no pests. It undoubtedly revolutionised horticulture in the urban setting. OK, but while planting is now super easy, choosing which kit to try might not.
This buying guide and review of the best indoor smart gardens in Australia can give you an idea of excellent products or features to consider. Here’s a list of six of my favourites.
|Image||Name||Size (LxWxH)||Pod Count or Capacity||Planting System||Power||Best Features|
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|41 x 15 x 20cm||9 plants up to 61cm tall||Hydroponic with non-GMO plant pods||50W LED|| |
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|72 x 37 x 52cm||28 plants up to 8cm tall||Hydroponic with regular seeds + sponge||48W LED|| |
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|30 x 12 x 34cm||3 plants up to 20cm tall||Hydroponic with plant pods or regular seeds||8W LED|| |
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|45 x 45 x 148cm||20 plants||Hydroponic with regular seeds + coco coir||Electric and solar options|| |
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|35 x 26 x 38cm||12 plants up to 28cm tall||Hydroponic with regular seeds + biochar sponge||22W LED|| |
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|30 x 35cm||7 plants||Hydroponic with regular seeds + sponge||21W LED|| |
AeroGrow Bounty Elite Stainless Steel Indoor Garden
If you want to grow plants indoors and decorate your home, then consider the AeroGrow Bounty Elite. Instead of the usual plastic plant box, this smart garden boasts a sleek stainless-steel body that’s more durable and corrosion-resistant. What’s more, is that it can easily blend in with your indoor kitchen appliances.
Compared with similar 9-plot gardens, the redesigned AeroGrow Bounty Elite has a larger water bowl, so you won’t have to refill it as often. Its grow deck is also more spacious to give ample room for your plants to grow. I especially like that the light arm can extend up to 61cm. This way, you can grow taller plants like tomatoes and peppers with the same indoor garden. You can even add an optional trellis system to your kit for plant support.
Beginners will love how easy it is to operate. Thanks to its coloured, high-resolution control panel, you can set up the unit and start gardening in no time. This part allows you to access the menu, get tips and control the grow light. With its touchscreen system, you can make your garden adjustments with a slide of your finger.
The unit also has an automatic timer, garden status display and alert system to remind you when to add water or plant food. To start, all you need is to fill the water bowl, add the patented plant food and put in the seed pods. Plug the unit in, then use the control panel for your garden settings. Its built-in aerator pump will ensure that oxygen, water and nutrients get to your growing plants.
There are several seed kits to choose from for this smart garden. All of which are in pre-seeded pods for easy planting. These will sprout within weeks and last for months. They’re non-GMO, too, which means you’ll be growing nutritious food without the nasties!
The AeroGrow Bounty Elite, like most indoor smart gardens, grows plants through hydroponics. For enhanced gardening success, this kit also has an efficient 50W LED light system. Moreover, the unit’s Sunrise/Sunset feature makes it easy to control the light intensity and mimic the outdoor environment.
But what makes the AeroGrow Bounty Elite one of the best indoor smart gardens in Australia is its high-tech capabilities. You can install its matching app to your smartphone, connect to the Wi-Fi and get garden alerts even when you’re not home. If you own other AeroGrow garden models, you can also add them to the same app for easy monitoring.
You can also connect it to your Amazon Echo device and have Alexa help manage your growing plants. And if you need to go on holiday, press the Vacation button to set your garden in low-maintenance mode.
Some users, however, have reported technical difficulties with the unit. Problems include error messages when connecting with Alexa, Wi-Fi connectivity issues or unresponsive sensors. When you start using the kit, you might want to keep an eye on small bugs that can infiltrate your garden, too. You can resolve this by spraying the leaves with water or using a mild insecticidal soap, though.
Also, the initial cost for it is high, considering that it only has nine plant pods. You’ll have to purchase more seed pods and plant food to keep it running, too. So, it’s something to think about, especially if you’re on a budget or want to offset your indoor gardening expenses faster.
Overall, it’s a very intuitive and impressive product that increases planting success. If you travel often, live in a small home, want plant variety and have limited gardening skills, then the AeroGrow Bounty Elite is a worthy investment.
For seasoned gardeners who love planting different crops in one go, the VegeBox Home Smart Indoor Garden let you do that indoors. And you don’t even have to work with soil or plant pods to get started! All you need is a power supply, nutrients for inert mediums (in A and B formulations) and regular seeds for planting.
With its generous 28-hole planting capacity, the VegeBox H-Box unit is perfect for growing lots of vegetable sprouts, herbs, greens and flowers. There’s no need to buy expensive plant pods, so you can grow and experiment with any compatible crop.
Planting is super easy, too. You’ll start with germinating your seeds in the seeding box. When small plant roots appear, you can fill the unit with water and nutrients, then transfer the seedlings to the planting beds. Next, turn on the lights and wait until you’re ready to harvest. On average, the plants will be fully mature within seven weeks.
VegeBox H-Box is one of the best indoor smart gardens in Australia because of its lighting system. With it, your plants can grow happily under an intelligent cycle of 14 hours lighting and 10 hours lights off. The power button also smartly flashes when water or nutrient is running low.
This indoor garden is also among the few kits with specialised 44W LED light technology. It has no UV that can hurt the eyes or skin. More importantly, its balanced spectrum (IR, red, blue and green lights) ensures photosynthesis, increased production and better-tasting crops.
While the package does not include seeds and plant nutrition, the dual-purpose pump makes up for it. With this accessory, you can pump oxygen and remove waste from the water at the same time. You can also use it for draining water whenever you need to refill the 10L tank.
The VegeBox H-Box unit, however, takes up a lot of space. At 8kg, it’s quite heavy, too, so make sure to plan where to place it. But despite its weight and bulk, it offers good value for money. Yes, you would have to buy the seeds separately (and more plant nutrients later on). But they’re cheaper than buying plant pods. Moreover, this unit is stackable and supports three more VegeBoxes on top. That means you’re free to maximise that vertical space and grow more plants!
Just remember that the VegeBox H-Box unit has no extendable light arm, so make sure to know which plants can grow well in it. Also, as it lacks app and Wi-Fi connectivity, it can require more manual work and monitoring, which is difficult if you’re away from home often.
Click and Grow Smart Garden 3
Lightweight, compact and minimalist – these are probably the best words to describe the Click and Grow Smart Garden 3. Among the best indoor smart gardens in Australia, this one is perhaps the most charming of the lot, too. It’s perfect for dorms, apartments and small living spaces. The matte white plastic exterior, which beautifully contrasts with your growing greens, also makes the unit an eye-catching décor.
Click and Grow likens its smart garden to a coffee machine. And it is that easy to set up and operate. All you have to do is to load the three cartridges with the plant pods included in the kit. Cover each cartridge with the plastic dome, fill the unit with enough water then plug it in. With this simplified planting system, gardening beginners, solo homeowners and hobbyists will love reusing the Click and Grow again and again. Even kids will gladly look after this mini garden.
If you’re new to indoor gardening, this Scandi-style unit will give you that much-needed confidence as it’s virtually foolproof. And there are two reasons why. One is the use of the nanotech soil for its plant pods. Inside this smart soil are water, oxygen and nutrient pellets to ensure that each plant grows to its fullest. The other is its lighting cycle, where the unit stays lit for 16 hours and automatically shuts off for 8 hours. With these two features combined, there’s minimal room for manual work and guesswork.
Several other factors make Click and Grow Smart Garden 3 a great addition to your home. Its extendable light arm, for example, lets you grow a myriad of crops, from herbs to vegetables to flowers. Click and Grow also supplies experimental plant pods, so you can use the same unit to grow crops from regular seeds of your choice. With its long 120cm power cord and small 1.2L water tank, you can move this lightweight unit anywhere with ease.
The unit has no app or vacation mode to let you monitor your garden when you’re not home, however. The tank is big enough to keep your plants hydrated for three weeks, though.
This smart garden only has 8W light power, which will barely affect your electric bill. But keep in mind that it is a 3-pod unit with a premium price. The replacement plant pods are not cheap, and it won’t produce a lot of crops either. Then again, it’s is an excellent starter for new indoor gardeners and also for people who prefer a more manageable garden.
Mr Stacky Australia Smart Farm Hydroponic Tower Garden
Mr Stacky Smart Farm Hydroponic Tower Garden is one of the best indoor smart gardens in Australia. While it may not be your usual minimalist unit, Mr Stacky is the ideal choice when you want plant diversity, high yield and reasonable price point. The fully assembled unit is quite bulky to fit in smaller spaces. However, it will surely suit homes with small patios or balconies. You can even choose from its three colour options (black, stone or terracotta) to match your home!
All its five planters are stackable to save space, and each has four large compartments for planting. The high-quality polypropylene planters also underwent UV treatment to prevent cracking or fading. The best part is, while most smart gardens have crop limitations, you can grow almost any plant with a Mr Stacky.
You can plant beans, tomatoes, peppers, berries and even large crops like watermelon. The bottom tier is also perfect for squashes and cucumbers, making it easier for these crops to trail to the ground. If you decide to expand your tower garden, you can purchase additional planters, too, or install proper tubing to connect two or more Mr Stacky units. It’s super versatile!
Setting up the Mr Stacky requires more time and a little figuring out, though. But once assembled, planting and growing should be easy. To set it up, you need to fill each planter with coco coir and perlite (or volcanic glass for absorption and aeration) included in the package.
Once the planters are ready, you can start filling the compartments with seeds or seedlings. Next, set up the pump at the centre of the water-filled reservoir and the pump tubing, then stack your planters. Finally, plug the unit in or connect it to the solar panel to flush the coco coir and water your plants from above, all in one go! With this system, you don’t need to worry about under or overwatering your plants.
But what makes Mr Stacky a hit among plant enthusiasts (and forgetful gardeners) is its automatic water timer. With this feature, your crops will stay healthy no matter how busy your schedule gets. For your out-of-town trips, all you need is to fill the 60L water tank. The automated pump should be able to do the watering duties for you for up to two weeks.
Compared with other indoor smart gardens, Mr Stacky may require more gardening know-how and manual work. But this unit is 100% value for money. Aside from its affordable price, you can use it for planting regular seeds. You can opt for the solar-powered pump to cut your gardening expenses. With such a high crop yield, you’ll be saving on groceries, too!
Moistenland Hydroponics Growing System
Moistenland Hydroponics Growing System is one of the best indoor smart gardens in Australia for two reasons. One is because it’s a mixture of the VegeBox and Click and Grow gardens: it uses regular seeds for growing, and it has an elegant design. You can grow different crops out of regular seeds without spending a lot on plant pods. And Moistenland’s light hood with wooden finish can surely spruce up your benchtop!
The second reason is you get these excellent features at a more reasonable price. What’s more, you can grow 12 plants with this unit, making it perfect for medium-sized families or growers who want a moderate yield. But, of course, this indoor garden has more to offer, especially for gardening newbies.
For instance, setting it up is easy, too. All you need is to pre-soak the biochar sponges in water and nutrients before putting your seeds in and loading them in the plant baskets. Next, allow the seeds to germinate. Once roots appear, transfer the basket into the unit, cover the pods with the plastic dome and fill the 4L tank with water and nutrients.
Compared with regular sponges for germination and growing, biochar is a more superior material. It’s a form of charcoal derived from agricultural waste and helps with water retention and nutrient delivery. With it, you can grow plants better without soil, residue or heavy-metal contamination.
What makes the Moistenland garden one of a kind is the addition of the fan on top. This feature mimics the natural outdoor breeze, helps speed up plant growth and prevents overheating. It also works together with the built-in pump, which automatically circulates the water every 30 minutes.
Another great thing about the unit is its 22W automated energy-efficient LED system. It may have no custom settings, but its full-spectrum light works on (18 hours) and off (6 hours) at definite intervals. Moreover, it has a Dual-Growing mode button. This way, you can match your vegetables or flowers and fruits with optimal light wavelengths. This mode also allows you to recreate natural conditions indoors for optimal plant growth.
The Moistenland Hydroponics Growing System may not be the most high-tech indoor garden available. But it has several functional and unique aspects that allow you to grow plants better and save money and time.
VegeBox Stylist Smart LED Hydroponics Growing System
Growing veggies or herbs in a rectangular indoor garden is excellent. But why settle on the usual smart garden when you can grow plants in a basket-shaped VegeBox Stylist Hydroponics Growing System! Imagine having all its seven pods filled with fresh herbs or flowers. It’s the perfect compact garden and a lovely centrepiece to boot.
Like the VegeBox H-Box, this one also uses sponges to germinate regular seeds, which is a plus for those who don’t want to purchase plant pods. The light arm is still not extendable to accommodate tall plants, though. But it has the same 4-in-1 light spectrum for photosynthesis, increased yield and better veggie taste. It also has no UV light that can harm the eyes or skin. The lights turn on and off automatically, too.
As it only has seven pods for planting, the VegeBox Stylist is quick and easy to set up. The basket-like base has three parts to put together, and you only need to fill one plant tray. Filling its 1.65L water tank is just as simple. Thanks to the 360-degree water injection hole, you won’t have to deal with messy spills. Also, your indoor garden can last for up to two weeks before you have to top up.
This unit will surely fit beginners trying to get a feel of indoor gardening. It’s also ideal for small families who will use it as a food resource. However, in terms of crop diversity and yield, this product may be too limited for seasoned gardeners. It also lacks useful features that other indoor gardens have. Moreover, unlike the VegeBox H-Box, the Stylist model is not stackable for easy garden expansion. Still, it’s a viable starter and a charming one at that!
Some say that it’s easier to buy your vegetables at the grocery than spend money and time planting them at home. But, the fulfilment of growing your food and enjoying it with your family is something you won’t get from store-bought produce. And we all know that anything homegrown tastes way, way better. While it may seem expensive at first, smart gardens are sustainable and useful investments.
With more people getting into gardening and green living, it’s no wonder options for the best indoor smart gardens in Australia keep on growing. But I would have to say that the AeroGrow Bounty Elite will easily top anyone’s list.
I believe this unit is the happy median for both beginners and experienced gardeners. Its produce yield is not too small or large either. It’s durable and suits most spaces and lifestyles. Plus, its ability to let tall plants thrive indoors is a plus for me. It’s expensive and not free from flaws. But it makes urban gardening fun and rewarding for everyone, even techies!
Indoor Smart Garden Buying Guide
Aside from the garden kit brand, essential factors can also affect your buying decision. Should you go for the 3-pod system or 20? Which grow light is the most ideal? What special features should I look for (and how helpful are they)? Here are some things you need to consider if you’re looking for the best indoor smart gardens in Australia.
Capacity and size
When buying a smart garden, think about the number of plants you want to grow. Do you like to plant different types of herbs? Are you planning to grow veggies for yourself or an entire family? Indoor smart gardens have a specific number of pods for planting. The more pods there are, the more plants you can grow.
So, if you want variety or veggie supply for the family, look for large 20 to 28-pod systems like Mr Stacky or the VegeBox Home Smart Indoor Garden. Beginners and solo gardeners, on the other hand, will find smaller pod counts more manageable.
Planting capacity is also relevant to the size or dimensions of the indoor garden. The more pods there are, the larger the space you need. This factor is crucial for gardeners living in small homes. Make sure to plan where you want to put your indoor garden and measure your allotted space before buying. For best indoor smart gardens in Australia that are also compact, the Click and Grow and VegeBox Stylist gardens are excellent choices.
Grow neck and plant preference
Aside from the number of plants, you should also consider which type of plant you want for your indoor garden. For instance, would you like homegrown basil and oregano for your Italian recipes? Or how about tomatoes and lettuce for salads?
The reason for this is that plants need to reach a certain height for optimum harvest. And since you are growing them indoors, your lighting system, particularly its grow neck, is crucial. Grow neck refers to the vertical space between your garden pot and its lamp.
So, whether you want to grow small or tall plants, your unit’s grow neck should be able to accommodate their full growth. Ideally, look for extendable lighting systems that you can set up to 5cm above the plant you intend to grow. Remember that your plants need ample light supply to grow even without sunlight. Check the packaging or product description if there’s a list of compatible plants for the smart garden you want. Also, some garden kits offer readily available plant pods so you can plant different crops without the guesswork.
Power and grow light settings
The power of your smart garden refers to the wattage of your artificial lighting. Look for those with high wattage between 10W and 45W. Now, most garden models also come with either CFL or LED lighting. Both are excellent for growing plants indoors. However, the choice between the two is dependent on your plant preference and budget.
CFL is cheaper, widely available and not as harsh as LED. However, it is not as efficient and tends to heat up and diffuse the light. Its power is more limited and best for growing herbs and fresh greens. LED, on the other hand, is more versatile when it comes to crop quantity and diversity. It stays cooler (to allow stacking) and directs light to the plant for more efficient growth. Also, full-spectrum LED is now available, which produces a specific wavelength for optimum photosynthesis.
LED is more expensive, though. But if you can save up for it, the function and versatility of LED lighting make up for its cost. To make your indoor garden more flexible, you might want to look for options with adjustable light options, auto on/off or variable intensities. This way, it’s easier for you to match your plants’ requirements with your grow light setting.
Control panel and smart features
A user-friendly control panel is a vital factor, especially for first-time indoor smart garden growers. Ideally, look for models with touchscreen and lighted displays for easy setup and monitoring. An easy-to-follow instructional guide also comes in handy. You might want to check for it online or look for demo videos to get an idea of how easy or complicated it is to care for the garden.
Keep in mind that some indoor garden kits require more manual work. Others have self-watering systems equipped that all you need to do is replenish the water or nutrient and wait for harvest time. A few other useful features to consider include:
- Wi-Fi and gadget compatibility. Some garden models allow you to connect it online and control your indoor garden via your smartphone, tablet or Alexa. This feature comes in handy when you don’t stay home often or if you are on holiday.
- Alert system. An indoor garden with built-in alarm is best for forgetful gardeners. With it, you can rely on automated notifications to remind you when it’s time to change the water tank or add nutrients.
- Water pump. To protect your garden from harmful organism growth and algae, you need to keep the water circulating. Indoor gardens with water pumps make a great choice. Moreover, if you’re placing the garden somewhere near your resting area, look for those with quieter water pumps.
The cost of a smart garden largely depends on its capacity and additional features. The more pods and add-on features in the kit, the more expensive it will be. Make sure to keep these things in mind if you prefer budget-friendly options.
The initial cost is one thing, though. The extra costs to maintain your garden and plant new pods are another. So, if you’re a newbie, the best decision is to go for entry-level garden kits. This way, you have time to figure out whether indoor gardening is for you before spending more. For experienced gardeners, however, choosing premium kits will give you better planting capacities and options.
FAQs About Indoor Smart Gardens
Smart gardens are the next best thing that happened to urban-dwelling plant lovers for sure. They’re easy to use and innovative. And when used properly, these kits can give you flowers or food on the table! But is it worth buying one? What are the common problems with indoor gardening? This FAQ section should help address your concerns.
Is it better to grow plants indoors than out?
Planting the traditional way, with soil and sunlight, is easy. However, for people without space for outdoor gardening, smart indoor garden kits are just as efficient. Moreover, using them have several other benefits.
For instance, it entails less work. There’s no need to weed, till or fertilise your plants. There’s a direct transfer of nutrients to the roots, too, making plants grow faster. Also, you can grow seasonal produce year-round without worrying about weather elements, insect infestation or pesticides.
Is indoor smart gardening cost-effective?
Yes, it is. Of course, there will be an initial investment to purchase the kit plus additional expenses to maintain it. You’ll have to spend on electricity, generator (if preferred), pH and electrical conductivity testing tools, nutrient solution and new seeds or pods.
In the long run, you’ll realise that it is more time-saving compared to soil planting. Once you start harvesting, you can save money on groceries and forget about dealing with off-season produce prices.
Also, there are ways how you can make it more cost-effective. One is to pick a garden kit that’s value for money. Start small and go for low-cost models first. If you want to continue gardening indoors, you can also invest in a recycling system so you can disinfect, reuse and save water.
What are the easiest plants to grow indoors year-round?
Leafy greens, like lettuce, kale and Swiss chard, are ideal for growing indoors. They can germinate in about two weeks and ready for harvest within four to six weeks. Vegetables like hot peppers and tomatoes are also great for indoor smart gardening. These grow tall, however, so make sure to choose the right kit with adjustable grow light. For herbs, you can try basil, cilantro, parsley, oregano, mint and chives. Some can even grow together in one garden kit to save space and enjoy plant variety.
What are common problems with smart gardens?
While smart gardens are great, they are not free from problems. Despite that, their benefits outweigh the disadvantages. More importantly, there are ways how to avoid or address them. Some common issues include:
- Insufficient light. Some plants require specific light settings to grow without sunlight. Make sure to match your light supply with the plant type, or use LED grow lights. You might also find the light too bright. So, it’s best to find the right spot for it to minimise distraction.
- Bacterial infection. Planted crops, including those in indoor gardens, are prone to bacteria no matter how well you care for them. What you can do is have proper organic solutions to treat or get rid of them immediately. A water pump also helps.
- Algae bloom. Algae usually appear on top of plant pods as a slimy green or brown substance. These, while not harmful, can compete with your plants’ nutrient supply. Excessive humidity or moisture is the typical culprit. To solve this problem, you by sprinkling some cinnamon on the algae. Then use a damp paper towel to scrape them off.
- Humidity issues. Appliances at home like heaters can alter the moisture level indoors and cause our plants to dry out. Give your plant leaves a little spray of water once a day, or consider investing in a humidifier.
- Clogged-up wick. Some smart gardens use the wicking system to let plants absorb water and nutrients. Improperly positioned wicks, however, can result in a low water supply. At times, clogged-up wicks due to hard water or root matter build-up may be the problem. In this case, check the wicks from time to time and replace them when needed, once or every two years.
Can any LED light be used as a grow light?
Yes, you may. Compared with other types of lighting, LED is more energy-efficient. However, most general-use LED lights do not have the ideal power and spectrum to support optimum plant growth. LED grow lights need to have an exact colour spectrum combination that your plants prefer. But if you need to purchase spare grow lights, white LED bulbs are the closest replica of these specialised lights.