Many people who have the gift of outside space can take huge advantage of the growing season. But what about those who don’t have land to work with? Or what about the winter months? An indoor smart planter or garden can help level the playing field and can adapt to your space with a variety of designs and sizes, and they couldn’t be easier to use.
There are a variety of indoor smart planters on the market now, most of which are outfitted with LED grow lights and self-watering mechanisms, so your manual involvement is pretty minimal. You can cultivate various edible plants including herbs for soups, sauces, marinades, cocktails, leafy greens for salads, and some even support fruit growth!
If you’re someone who appreciates the value and taste of fresh, homegrown produce and the thought of saving money or avoiding grocery markets excites you, you might be keen on learning more about these easy indoor smart gardens or hydroponic grow systems. But, what do each of these offer, and which system is best for your indoor harvesting goals?
In this article, we’ll review three of the most popular at-home smart garden systems — Lettuce Grow vs Tower Garden vs Gardyn — to see which is worth investing in for today and for the years after you have your outdoor grow space (manifest!!).
Cutting to the chase: Which indoor garden kit is best for you?
Are you pressed for time? Here’s the TLDR:
If you’re new to gardening, we recommend Gardyn Home Kit.
If you have limited indoor space, we recommend the 12-plant-size from Lettuce Grow’s Farmstand.
And, if you have a space that gets a lot of sunlight, Tower Garden’s HOME Growing System, which does not include artificial lighting, is your best bet.
If you have the time or want to find your perfect home garden match, continue reading to see how they compare on a more comprehensive level.
Should you grow your own produce?
Companies like Lettuce Grow, Tower Garden, and Gardyn, that make it easy to grow your own food at home, have exploded in popularity. Initially prompted by the pandemic, stores across the US providing home-grow systems saw an incredible increase in sales from 2020-2021. Whether people were looking for a new hobby, a way to avoid any additional human contact, or simply wanted to grow their own produce, home gardens are providing benefits all across the world.
Talk about Jack and the beanstalk-like growth!
Before we dive into what makes each at-home produce planter unique, it’s worth asking if and why it makes sense to grow your own veggies vs just purchasing them in the store or at a farmer’s market.
1. Healthier diet
Much of the produce that we buy from grocery stores contain pesticides and other unnatural chemicals. According to The California Department of Pesticide Regulation, 4% of fruits and vegetables sold in grocery stores have illegal amounts of pesticide residue. Besides being repulsive, having to wash off pesticides is a hassle, and no washing method is 100% effective. One of the major benefits of growing your own produce is knowing exactly what was used (and more importantly – not used).
2. Convenience for less
Although, yes, there is some work involved, growing your own produce can actually be more convenient than venturing out for one missing herb or veggie for a recipe. It can also save you money – think about it – buying seeds that can be reused for years to come vs buying produce for your single salad? The economic choice is obvious. Want to make your life even easier? What about using a smart oven to get creative and efficient with your cooking of the delivery, too??
Expanding on the reusability of seeds, a high harvest yield after a low initial investment means that growing your own produce is often less expensive than buying mass-produced veggies at the store, and don’t even get me started on the price of buying comparable organics at a local store or market.
On that note, when it comes to buying houseplants online, there are ways to find the same level of convenience! Check out our review of the best online plant stores.
4. Fresher taste
Fruits and vegetables that have more time to ripen in a garden actually contain more tasty nutrients than typical store-bought ones that are picked early for preservation purposes. Thus, growing your own veggies offers you added health benefits, not to mention a more delicious flavor profile. As a bonus, you can also control when to harvest your produce and what veggies to grow, rather than relying on what’s available seasonally.
Can we also point out the bragging rights to your friends at dinner parties? Yeah, I grew this entire salad!
What is hydroponic gardening?
Hydroponics (basic definition: growing plants without soil) uses less water and less land, making it possible to grow year-round and in spaces that couldn’t usually be utilized for gardening. Lettuce Grow, Tower Garden and Gardyn all utilize some form of hydroponic gardening, relying on water or mist and nutrients.
Hydroponic plants take in water or mist loaded with fertilizer to promote root and leaf growth, and instead of expanding outward in the earth to search for sustenance, their roots grow long. The energy plants save by allowing their roots to dangle freely allows them to grow faster – 20-30% faster – and use up to 95% less water per plant. A win-win-win for you, your plants, and the environment!
Lettuce Grow vs Tower Garden vs Gardyn: Which indoor garden kit is the best?
Let’s first break down some of the most important discerning factors between our three indoor home garden kits. When selecting the ideal one for your space and wellness needs, there are several aspects to consider. Price is obviously crucial, so let’s begin with a quick comparison and summary of the costs involved.
Online Produce Store: Lettuce Grow vs Tower Garden vs Gardyn
– If only ordering seedlings, depends on number of seedlings
– Farmstand ships free
– If ordering a farmstand and seedlings together, first 24 seedlings ship free
– Free in the contiguous U.S.
– Extra charge for Hawaii and Alaska
– Seedlings for new orders arrive within 1-3 business days of Farmstand delivery
– Refills ship 1-2 business days after your order
|– Orders are expected to ship within 3-5 days of the order date||– Depending on location, most orders ship in between 3-10 business days|
|Shipping range||Contiguous U.S.||U.S., except Alaska (if shipping to Hawaii, you need to call customer service)||All of the U.S.|
|Cost of planters offered||Farmstand with multiple sizes: $348-$1149|
– FLEX Growing System: $620
– HOME Growing System: $970
– HOME Growing System (No Lights): $670
– Family Garden: $2000
– Community Garden: $6240
Gardyn Home Kit 1.0: $899
Gardyn Home Kit 2.0: $999
|Sizes offered||Five sizes: 12, 18, 24, 30, or 36 seeds|
– FLEX System: 20 seeds
– HOME System: 32 seeds
– HOME System (No lights): 32 seeds
– Family Garden: 84 seeds
– Community Garden: 336 seeds
|One size: 30 seeds|
|Kinds of seeds||3-4 week old pods||Seedlings you’ll germinate for 3 weeks and then plant in Tower Garden||yCubes, a seed wrapped inside a pod that sprout within a few days|
If the idea of avoiding the grocery store is one of the biggest perks of these home gardening systems for you, you might really like the idea of grocery or meal delivery kits.
Check out our reviews on some of those services and brands for some more inspiration and convenience options:
- Product and grocery delivery: Misfits Market Review, Good Eggs Review, and Misfits Market vs Imperfect Foods vs Hungry Harvest
- Booze delivery: Drizly vs Saucey
- Plant delivery: Bloomscape vs The Sill vs Rooted
- Plant-based meal plans: Daily Harvest vs Revive vs Sakara vs Thistle
Lettuce Grow review
Source: Lettuce Grow
Lettuce Grow provides you with the physical location, teachings and long-term support to grow your own ENTIRE garden in a small space – indoor or outdoor. Their focus is on hydroponic gardening, aka a self-watering and self-fertilizing system – without any soil. This increases produce, accelerates growth and improves flavor, all while saving you time, space and money.
Lettuce Grow’s number one product is The Farmstand, which comes in five different sizes and the option for an indoor or outdoor growing environment. The size you choose dictates how many individual plants you can grow, and, don’t worry, Lettuce Grow provides guidance on choosing the options that are right for you.
Next, you can choose which bundle of veggies you want to grow – you can either build your own bundle or pick from their pre-selected kits. These include a seasonal build, a ‘salad lovers’ bundle, ‘italiano’ for the herb-lover, and many more, all of which can depend on your size and garden location.
Your only job is to add water and nutrients to the reservoir every week and occasionally adjust the pH (Lettuce Grow helps you with this, you’ll be a horticulture pro in no time!).
Lettuce Grow provides a sleek planter that requires little to no maintenance and can yield a ton of tasty food, all with no experience necessary.
What is the Lettuce Grow’s Farmstand?
Source: Lettuce Grow
The Farmstand is available in five sizes, ranging from 12 to 36 plants and between $248-649. The garden takes up about four square feet and must be plugged in at all times. This means it’s small enough that even someone living in a studio apartment could grow their own vegetables!
The Lettuce Grow gardens come with detailed instructions, so you’ll have no trouble with assembly or use. It comes with a base, water pumps, tiered planters, and optional grow lights (if growing indoors). The Farmstand operates with Lettuce Grow’s seedling pods that are already 3-4 weeks old when they arrive. They fit into small pods on each level of the Farmstand and can be purchased separately or bundled together.
Maintenance is minimal after your seedlings are set, pretty equivalent to the effort of owning a pet fish. Your weekly jobs are to:
- Make sure there is adequate water in the tank
- Add a scoop of each of the two given fertilizers
- Complete a pH test to make sure your plants are on the right path
Checking the pH to keep something alive sounds intimidating, but it’s pretty simple. The pH level determines your plants ability to absorb the nutrients and is easily checked with a kit provided by Lettuce Grow. If your pH is too high (6<), you simply lower it with a powder.
To make things even more simple, the grow lights and watering system are on timers that you can adjust according to your Farmstand’s temperature and location. A typical water cycle is 15 minutes every hour during the day and every two hours at night.
What can you grow with Lettuce Grow’s Farmstand?
The Lettuce Grow sells over 200 different plant kinds that are ideal for hydroponic gardening.
The following are the categories offered and some examples (this is only a few!!) of the types of seedlings available from each:
- Herbs: sage, cilantro, oregano, dill
- Flowers: viola, dianthus, calendula
- Fruits and vegetables: strawberries, cherry tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, zucchini, celery
- Leafy greens: lettuce, Swiss chard, spinach, cabbage
Lettuce Grow also offers a quiz to assist you in selecting ready-to-plant seeds curated for your area and season.
How much does the Lettuce Grow Farmstand cost?
The smallest Farmstand for outdoor use costs $348 and has enough space for 12 plants.
If you intend to use the Farmstand indoors, Lettuce Grow recommends installing grow lights, aka “glow rings”, which sell for an initial $200. Any subsequent purchases or Individual rows and Glow Rings cost $75 apiece. The lights are on for at least 14 hours a day, which, according to Lettuce Grow, costs roughly 15 cents each day in extra electricity.
Here is a breakdown of the other Farmstand sizes and their associated costs:
|Farmstand size||Total for outdoor use||Number and cost of Glow Rings||Total for indoor use|
|12 plants||$348||2 for $200||$548|
|18 plants||$424||3 for $275||$699|
|24 plants||$499||4 for $350||$849|
|30 plants||$574||5 for $425||$999|
|36 plants||$649||6 for $500||$1149|
Gardyn’s growing systems are their Gardyn Home Kit 1.0 and 2.0, two of the most comprehensive personal hydroponic gardens on the market, making producing vegetables and fresh food easy and enjoyable. The Gardyn systems definitely don’t require a green thumb to master and create healthy meals and delicious salads. With a little practice and the help of some simple guidelines, Gardyn’s Home Kit may become the most convenient element of you and your family’s self-care regimen.
How do the Gardyn Home Kits work?
The Gardyn systems have a capacity of 30 plants that begin as a seed wrapped inside a pod called a “yCube,” which snaps into slots along three columns and begins to sprout within a few days. The Gardyn app automates the water and lights for optimal growth, requiring even less work than other home gardens. You’ll be able to harvest your produce within 3-4 weeks and – on average – yield the same amount of produce as a 1,300 sq ft outdoor vegetable garden.
A two-foot-long six-gallon tub of water sits at the structure’s base and the entire structure protrudes about 16 inches from the wall. A pump inside pushes water up the plastic poles, where it drips down to the plant roots on a timer.
Gardyn uses cameras and sensors with smart AI growth monitoring, named Kelby, to analyze and optimize plant growth, and two LED bars to provide all the necessary light for healthy growth. Outside of what you’re given with the kits, the only equipment that you’ll require is a power outlet, a home Wi-Fi connection and a smartphone app.
What are the differences between the two systems: Gardyn Home Kit 1.0 vs Gardyn Home Kit 2.0
Gardyn’s two Home Kits both have many of the same features, including the size and capacity, Kelby AI monitoring system, LED grow lights and more, but the newer Gardyn Home Kit 2.0 has some upgrades including some of the following in the chart below.
|Gardyn Home Kit 1.0 vs Gardyn Home Kit 2.0||Gardyn Home Kit 1.0||Gardyn Home Kit 2.0|
|Design||Patternless columns||Artful vine pattern|
|Water sensor||Measures water level in tank||Measures water level and plant water intake|
Quiet and efficient
Quiet, efficient and energy-efficient
Embedded monitoring for plant irrigation
|Welcome kit||1 welcome kit picked by Gardyn|
Choose from 3 welcome kit options:
What is Gardyn Home Kit’s smart assistant (Kelby)?
After you’ve purchased and installed the Gardyn, you’ll want to download and install Kelby on your phone. Kelby is the name of Gardyn’s smart assistant, which can be accessed via the Gardyn app. The app itself comes with tons of tips and tactics, but the true benefit is that Kelby alerts you when it is time to add water or plant food.
The Gardyn gathers environmental data such as temperature, humidity, and water level to be used as data points. Kelby integrates all of this data to present the user with advice on addressing any concerns and keeping your garden producing at the most optimal level.
Two stationary cameras are mounted on the light posts and are aimed at the plants, snapping still photographs every 30 minutes. You may use the app to see the most recent photo taken, which is useful if you want to check on plants when you’re away from home for an extended period of time.
What can you grow using Gardyn Home Kit?
The Gardyn system provides over 50 different varieties of produce, all of which are organic, non-GMO, and farmed in the United States. A la carte, they cost $4.99 each, or Gardyn’s membership pricing includes 10 free plants per month – both with the ability to return your seed if it does not sprout within 90 days.
Here are some examples of each category’s produce:
- Fruits: cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, sugar snap peas, jalapenos, sweet & banana peppers, mini strawberries
- Herbs: basil, chives, cilantro, dill, Mexican tarragon, mint, catnip, oregano, Italian parsley, rosemary, sage, Thai basil, thyme
- Greens: arugula, romaine, kale, celery, bok choi, swiss chard, watercress, wasabi green, butterhead, cardinale, green mustard, matilda, red mustard, rouge d’hiver, tatsoi
The starter set includes salad greens and herbs. After that, you can order whatever seed pods you desire – paid for individually or through monthly subscription.
How much does the Gardyn Home Kit cost?
As listed in the comparison chart, the Gardyn Home Kit 1.0 is $899, and the 2.0 model is $999. Gardyn is constantly having sales, so be sure to check online for any discounts! At the time this was written, both were discounted by $150 or more. Both of these include free shipping, a 60-day return policy and a 1 year warranty.
In addition to the device itself, the starter kit includes over 30 different yCube pods, as well as a bag of plant food (powered minerals and nutrients) to be blended in the water tank and accessories to help with gardening and changing over time.
There is a membership service to consider, as with much technology these days. A Gardyn membership sends you 10 new yCubes every month – plus more perks. Those original starter pack plants will most likely need to be replaced after three months, so if you don’t have a membership, you’ll have to buy extra refill pods on your own.
You can purchase a monthly, one-year or two-year membership with the following prices:
|Total||❌ – cancel anytime||$408||$686|
The perks of a membership include:
- Ten yCubes or plant food each month
- 60% off any additional yCubes
- Free shipping
- Vacation mode
- AI guidance through the app (when to add water, how to optimize, etc.)
- Access to Gardyn growing experts
A year’s worth of yCube delivery will cost $408 if you sign up for a subscription – around 120 plants. If you purchased the same quantity a la carte, it would cost around $600, so we would advise you to stick with the membership and reap its benefits.
As a final consideration, The Gardyn indoor gardening system has been reported to consume 75Ws per second on average for the pump, lighting, and cameras. This equates to 54 kWh each month. So, based on the national average of 13.19 cents per kWh, you’ll spend around $7.00 each month to run it – not bad for an entire garden, if you ask me…
Tower Garden review
The Tower Garden by Juice Plus + uses cutting-edge aeroponic gardening technology to let you create your own custom growth system and focus on creating healthier habits for you and your family. Tower Garden has two models that have different features for your needs or goals, each taking up less than 3 sq ft.
The new Tower Garden HOME Growing System is designed for people who want to grow greens and herbs indoors, while the FLEX Growing System is a slightly larger model that can be used indoors or outdoors and supports growing vegetables, herbs, fruits and flowers. Both have many optional add ons that make either choice very customizable.
What is the Tower Garden’s FLEX Growing System?
The Tower Garden is an aeroponic vertical growing system that allows growth of 20 full-sized vegetables, herbs, fruits and flowers and can be used both indoors or outdoors.
The FLEX Growing System includes starter seeds and a variety of starter supplies, a pump, timer, drain tube, plant food, a pH test kit, and pH adjusters. The system and materials are constructed of high-quality, USDA-approved, UV-stabilized, food-grade plastic.
What is the Tower Garden’s HOME Growing System?
The HOME Growth System is also an aeroponic vertical growing system, but can only be used indoors and only supports growth of greens and herbs.
The HOME Growing System also includes starter seeds and a variety of starter supplies, pump, timer, drain tube, plant food, a pH test kit, and pH adjusters and is made of the same plastic, but the The HOME has the addition of LED growth lights, a baby greens extension kit, and water monitor that the FLEX system does not offer.
How much does the Tower Garden by Juice Plus + cost?
Both systems offer tons of different accessories and supplies to add on to both the functionality and features, but also the cost. The below shows the starting price for both growing systems:
What are aeroponics?
The Tower Garden uses aeroponics, a sophisticated sort of hydroponics that allows your plants to grow in an air or mist environment, rather than soil. This system is not to be confused with hydroponics, the water-based technology that does not require soil. The Tower Garden does still require some water, but not nearly as much as hydroponics systems do.
Using aeroponics and carefully prepared plant food, you may grow up to 30% more produce in the same amount of time as traditional soil gardening. Instead of soil, Tower Garden plants grow in rockwool, a medium that provides plant roots with oxygen and consistent moisture to encourage rapid, healthy growth.
The Tower Garden’s pump pulls from the reservoir for water combined with the plant food for greater nutrient uptake and growth for a range of plants. The solution cascades down the Tower Garden through a pump in a slow drip to evenly reach the plant roots.
The timer makes sure this is continuously repeated, so your work is virtually nothing, other than occasionally checking the water level and cleaning the pump filter. There is no weeding or digging, and very little waiting. The well-written instruction booklet will teach you everything you need to know – so what do you have to lose?
What can you grow using Tower Garden’s HOME Growing System?
More than 150 wellness-promoting plants can be grown with the Tower Garden’s Home Growing System, including fruits and vegetables, herbs and flowers. The top 10 plants they see grown are basil, chard, cucumbers, eggplant, kale, lettuce, peppers, squash, strawberries and tomatoes. The only significant exceptions are root crops that require soil to grow, such as carrots, potatoes, and onions.
Tower Garden’s HOME Growing System has the edge over others in that it allows you to grow larger size fruits and vegetables such as squash and melons of all types, which cannot be grown in Lettuce Grow’s Farmstand or Gardyn’s Home Kit.
Can you return produce or accessories purchased online from Lettuce Grow, Tower Garden, or Gardyn?
What is Lettuce Grow’s return policy?
Lettuce Grow accepts returns on their Farmstand within 90 days of the delivery date. To start a return, contact them through email or by phone. To finalize a return, you must receive prior authorization and a prepaid return shipping label from the company, and you must return the Farmstand within 10 days of receiving the return shipping label. Returns are subject to a $50 shipping fee, as long as the Farmstand is still in its original packaging, with all its parts, and in new condition. If you ship the Farmstand back to them in packaging other than the one it came in, the shipping cost by the carrier will be deducted from the refund (ranges from $50-$200).
What is Tower Garden’s return policy?
Tower Garden accepts returns within 90 days of the purchase date, minus a $50 return fee.
What is Gardyn’s return policy?
Gardyn accepts returns on their Gardyn Home Kit within 60 days of the delivery date, provided it is shipped back in its original packaging and in new condition. The cost of return shipping is deducted from the refund.
Indoor garden reviews: what are customers saying about Lettuce Grow, Tower Garden, and Gardyn?
Lettuce Grow reviews
Customers adore Lettuce Grow’s Farmstand for everything from its trendy design and ease of use to encouraging them to eat healthy. Some customers even find the running water involved in use pleasant and soothing, which may be a nuisance for some.
Customers praise Gardyn Home Kit for its healthy and abundant yield, as well as the cutting-edge app that provides excellent guidance on how to cultivate and harvest the produce.
Tower Garden reviews
Many customers like the Tower Garden because it is so simple to put up that even a novice can do it, and after the initial process, it’s virtually hands-off.
The verdict: Which is the best indoor home garden system? Lettuce Grow vs Tower Garden vs Gardyn
Gardyn’s Home Kit 1.0 and 2.0 are the smartest planters. If you have the blackest of black thumbs and are just starting your gardening journey at home, you can reap the benefits of its smart assistant Kelby, which basically dictates every step from watering, adding nutrients to harvesting and recipes – plus it takes pictures. If something concerns you, you can seek the insight of the Gardyn experts that comes with their membership.
You can also get 10 yCubes or plant food every month, more yCubes at a 60% discount, and much more with a membership. This is ideal because you need to replace the seeds every few months or so. Finally, if you travel frequently, the Kelby app’s Vacation mode is meant to optimize growth while you are away. Plants continue to develop, but at a reduced rate, ensuring that they are still fresh and healthy when you come home.
If you don’t need a plant stand that can hold 30+ plants, The Lettuce Grow’s Farmstand, which comes in a variety of sizes, could be your best bet. With the smallest size still including space for 12 plants, it takes up less space and is more reasonably priced. If you’re dipping your toes into the waters of home gardening for the first time, the 12 plant Farmstand might suffice.
Lettuce Grow also provides the most seed varieties, with over 200, and they arrive pre-sprouted, allowing you to harvest 3 weeks earlier! Perfect for all of you aspiring and eager gardeners out there.
Tower Garden is ideal if you want to have the option of keeping your garden indoors or outdoors, as the features and accessories are much more customizable. Planters from the Tower Garden also serve a larger community, such as schools, restaurants, or charity organizations, selling their Tower Garden Community Garden, comprising of 12 Tower Gardens and 336 plants.
Have you ever tried any of these smart home planters – or one that wasn’t mentioned? How was your experience? Let us know in the comments below