You don't have to wait for the outdoor growing season to have fresh herbs, vegetables, and flowers—an indoor garden system makes it possible year-round. Plus, many options take care of the watering and feeding for you, while providing enough light to keep plants happy, no matter where you place them in your home.
You can even start your seeds while it's still cold outside. “Indoor grow systems can help you get a jump start on a colorful garden by starting seed trays in February and March. Being able to experiment with a variety of seeds is a very fun project in the cold, dreary winter months,” says Melissa Lallo Johnson, a master gardener based in Kansas City, Missouri.
And, there's no need to head to the grocery store for fresh basil if you have it growing in your own kitchen. We researched the best indoor garden systems and assembled, monitored, and tested several for three months in our lab. In all cases, we evaluated products based on their size, capacity, system type, and ease of use.
AeroGarden Bounty Basic Indoor Gardening
Easy to set up and maintain
Grow light and watering is on a timer
Instructions and touch screen easy to understand
Large watering basin and plan capacity
Need to use special pods
With the AeroGarden Bounty Basic Indoor Garden, you can grow up to nine herbs, vegetables, or flowers year-round. After testing this garden for three months in our lab, we found it to be an almost effortless way of indoor gardening. Set up took less than five minutes, with just a few pieces we had to snap into place, followed by plugging it in. The touch screen then lit up with a "Quick Plant" page to let us know the next steps, which were easy to follow.
This high-tech indoor garden is equipped with 30-watt LED grow lights to provide full spectrum light and promote photosynthesis, eliminating the need for natural sunlight. According to the manufacturer, plants will grow up to five times faster in this unit than they would in traditional soil. In order to accommodate plants as they grow taller, you can easily adjust the height of the light panel up to 24 inches. In fact, we experienced this first-hand when the dill pod grew faster and taller than expected (and the dill burned at the top a bit).
This indoor garden has plenty of advanced features to make gardening a cinch. The touchscreen control panel displays your plant’s vital statistics and reminds you when to add water and plant food. Plus, it even tells you how many days it estimates until you will see growth. A lighting timer turns the unit on and off automatically, and a large water bowl allows you to go longer between refills. It also has a vacation mode, so your plants stay nourished even when you’re out of town.
To top it all off, the AeroGarden Bounty Basic Indoor Garden comes with a gourmet herb seed pod kit, which includes basil, mint, parsley, and more. Although you can only use AeroGarden's pods with this system, we love that they are each marked with the expected height—short, medium, tall—so you know where to plant them in the unit (front for smaller plants, back for the taller ones). Keep in mind that this is a larger garden, and since it comes with a lot of features, it is a bit expensive. You'll also need to make sure you have the right space for it, in an area where you know you won't be disturbed by the light—you can time it to mostly be on at night, but it may overlap during times you are awake and working or watching TV.
Price at time of publish: $300
Dimensions: 16 x 6 x 8 inches | Plant Capacity: 9 | System Type: Hydroponic | Maintenance Level: Low
Best for Small Spaces
Click & Grow The Smart Garden 3
Very simple to set up
Self-watering system and LED grow lights
Nothing to indicate it is set up properly
Water level indicator is subtle and easy to forget about
After testing the Click & Grow Smart Garden 3 for over three months, we found that it's easy to use and perfect for small spaces. Measuring less than five inches wide, this stylish indoor garden will take up minimal space on a countertop. Despite its small size, this unit has energy-efficient LED grow lights, a built-in timer, and a self-watering tank to encourage optimal growth. We found the lights to be even more aesthetically pleasing than the AeroGarden Bounty Basic and the Gardyn 3.0, and dimmer. However, the light was powerful and our basil plants flourished.
We also found this garden very simple to set up, in fact, it was even easier than the AeroGarden Bounty Basic. With this system, we just had to plug it in, insert the pods, fill it up with water, and wait for the garden to grow! However, we did miss having a message guiding us on what to do next. The water and light are on a timer, although we found the water level indicator to be easy to ignore. Make sure you keep an eye on it so your plants don't get too thirsty. As your plants grow, this garden does come with two extension arms that we found easy to click on. We found them handy when our basil grew too high and also burned at the top (we were surprised by how quickly the basil grew!).
The Click & Grow Smart Garden 3 includes three basil pods to get you started, a perfect ingredient for pizza, salad, and pasta recipes. We do wish it came with a variety of herbs instead of all of the same type, but you do have the option to use your own seeds (using the Grow Anything Plant Pods). or purchase additional pods from the manufacturer; Click & Grow has over 50 plant varieties to choose from. Due to its compact size, this indoor garden is best suited for growing herbs rather than vegetables. If you intend to harvest food, you should opt for a larger model.
Price at time of publish: $91
Dimensions: 9 x 4.9 x 12.5 Inches | Plant Capacity: 3 | System Type: Hydroponic | Maintenance Level: Low
Gardyn 3.0 Indoor Garden & Vertical Garden Planter
Grows up to 30 plants at once
Produces up to 10 pounds of produce per month
Monitored by AI technology
Fairly easy to assemble
Unit is expensive and app requires a monthly or yearly fee
A bit noiser than some other options
We love the Gardyn 3.0 because it allows you to grow up to 30 large plants vertically—all within two square feet of space. We assembled and monitored this hydroponic system for over three months in our lab and found it fairly simple to set up, taking us about 20 minutes in total. We loved that it comes with everything you need: LED grow light, water tank, light timer, 30 plant seeds, plant food, and additional accessories. It even comes with caps you can put on any empty spaces. According to the manufacturer, this system lets you harvest up to 10 pounds of produce every month, which is enough for two big salads every day.
Once assembled, the unit is 2 feet wide, 1 foot deep, and 5 feet tall, so even though it makes great use of space, you'll still want to make sure you have the right spot for it in your home. And although it wasn't very loud, we did note that it was louder than the AeroGarden and the Click & Grow—when it was watering, you could hear the sound of water trickling through the irrigation system. Also note, KELBY, Gardyn's advanced AI, monitors your plants and water levels and will send you notifications via the app. However, you will need to pay a monthly or yearly subscription fee. This is in addition to the price of the system itself. But if you are looking to splurge on an advanced indoor garden system that provides plenty of space for growing larger fruits and vegetables, this is an excellent choice.
Price at time of publish: $899
Dimensions: 2 x 1 x 5 feet | Plant Capacity: 30 | System Type: Hydroponic | Maintenance Level: Low
TORCHSTAR Grow Light Herb Garden
Ideal for potted plants
Full-spectrum LED lights
Adjustable light panel
Seeds, pots, and soil are not included
Some reports of malfunctions
The Torchstar Indoor Garden is an affordable and effective option for growing small plants and starter seeds. It features full-spectrum LED grow lights to encourage optimal plant growth. The lights run on an automatic timer, which turns on for 16 hours and off for 8 hours to mimic natural sunlight. The height of the LED panel is easily adjustable, so you can make room for plants as they grow. This unit comes with a 5.58-foot power cord and plugs into a standard outlet.
The drip tray measures 17 inches wide and almost 8 inches deep, providing room for several plants. It also comes in handy for retaining any water that seeps through the pots. Just keep in mind that seeds, pots, and soil are not included; you must supply your own. Unlike more expensive models, this indoor garden doesn’t have any advanced features. You’ll have to do most of the gardening work yourself.
According to the manufacturer, the Torchstar Indoor Garden has a lifespan of 25,000 hours. However, we read a few reports that the timer and lights stopped working within a short period of time. Be sure to take advantage of the two-year warranty if you encounter any problems.
Price at time of publish: $50
Dimensions: 17.72 x 7.48 x 17.72 inches | Plant Capacity: Not listed (3 pictured) | System Type: Full spectrum irradiation | Maintenance Level: High
Best for Starter Seeds
SunBlaster LED Mini Greenhouse Kit
Ideal for seedlings
Easy to set up
Encourages rapid plant growth
Some reports of broken pieces and faulty lighting
The Sunblaster Mini Greenhouse Kit has a high-humidity dome, making it an ideal choice for seedlings. With a high-efficiency LED grow light strip, heavy-duty tray base, and enclosed greenhouse, this kit will have you growing in no time. All you need to do is add your own soil, seedling plants, and water. The high-efficiency 6400k LED grow lights are designed to mimic outdoor conditions and encourage rapid plant growth. Since this unit does not have a timer, however, the lights are operated manually.
Measuring 21.65 x 11.81 x 9.84 inches, this mini greenhouse can accommodate several plants without taking up too much on a table or countertop. If you need additional growing space, recessed light tracks allow light strips to run over multiple greenhouses so you can arrange them side by side. We read some reports of broken pieces and faulty lighting, so be sure to take advantage of the one-year warranty if you encounter any problems.
Price at time of publish: $88
Dimensions: 21.65 x 11.81 x 9.84 inches | Plant Capacity: Not listed | System Type: DIY | Maintenance Level: Medium
Best Wall System
Worth Garden 36 Pockets Self Watering Vertical Planters
Vertical, space-saving design
Lightweight and easy to mount
Holds up to 36 plants
Automatic dripping system
Trickier to use indoors
This wall-mounted unit from Worth Garden allows you to grow up to 36 plants vertically, making it a great choice for small apartments and other areas with limited space. This kit comes with 12 modular wall planters and each planter has three pockets. At only 1.6 pounds, these plastic planters are easy to mount on a wall, railing, or balcony. You can grow a variety of plants in one area or use them throughout your home. This set of vertical planters is intended for indoor and outdoor use.
This set features an automatic dripping irrigation system that’s compatible with standard taps. Water drips from the top row to each succeeding row, ensuring all of your plants receive adequate moisture. The watering system is a bit trickier to use indoors because you need to protect your walls and floors from getting wet. To make things easier, you could manually water the pots. This unit requires some assembly and the pots can be secured on a wall with regular screws.
Price at time of publish: $120
Dimensions: 18 x 13 x 15 inches | Plant Capacity: 36 | System Type: Automatic dripping irrigation | Maintenance Level: Medium
Planter's Choice 9-Herb Window Garden
Ideal for beginners
Comes with 9 different herbs
Includes helpful accessories
100 percent money-back guarantee
Some reports of pots breaking
Repotting is often required
If you prefer a hands-on approach to indoor gardening, the Planter’s Choice Window Herb Garden is an excellent starter kit. It comes with everything you need to grow herbs indoors–reusable pots, drip trays, bamboo markers, nutrient-rich soil discs, gourmet seed packets, and a planting guide. This kit allows you to grow nine different herbs including basil, thyme, parsley, and oregano. Each drip tray can hold three pots, and they’re perfectly sized to fit on a windowsill or other small ledge.
Since this is a starter kit, you’ll likely need to transfer the herbs into larger pots as they grow. We read some reports that the pots broke shortly after users planted the seeds. If you’re not completely satisfied with this herb garden kit, the manufacturer offers a money-back guarantee with no questions asked. Although the Planter’s Choice Window Herb Garden lacks the advanced features you’ll find on more expensive models, it’s affordably priced and an ideal choice for a do-it-yourself herb grower.
Price at time of publish: $35
Dimensions: 4 x 4 x 4 inches | Plant Capacity: 9 | System Type: DIY | Maintenance Level: High
Best for Microgreens
Ingarden Superfood Microgreens Indoor Growing Kit
LED grow lights and built-in timer
Includes 3 microgreen seed pads
Very fast results
Some reports of missing parts
This sleek indoor garden system from Ingarden is specifically designed for growing microgreens. It features a stylish stainless frame and a handcrafted ceramic base. At less than six inches wide, it’s slim enough to fit on a windowsill or bookshelf. Plus, this indoor garden is equipped with smart features to make operation a breeze. The automatic LED grow lights run on a timer and the hydroponic technology is fully automated.
According to the manufacturer, the Ingarden grows microgreens 25-50 percent faster than traditional farming—all while using less energy and reducing food waste. This kit includes three microgreen seed pads, which means you’ll have radish, broccoli, and mustard growing in no time. We read some reports of missing parts, so be sure to inspect your product thoroughly upon arrival.
Price at time of publish: $169
Dimensions: 15.35 x 5.9 x 7.88 inches | Plant Capacity: 3 | System Type: Hydroponic | Maintenance Level: Low
Back to the Roots Indoor Garden
Fish tank and indoor garden all-in-one
Great learning tool
Ideal for growing microgreens
Includes helpful accessories
Doesn't have a light
Tank may require regular cleanings
The Back to the Roots Water Garden does double duty as a fish tank and year-round garden—making it also a fun activity for children. In this aquaponic system, the fish waste fertilizes the plants, and the fish feed on the decomposing plants. It’s important to note that the fish also require supplemental food on a daily basis. This kit includes almost everything you need for a complete aquatic system—a water pump, water dechlorinator, organic radish and wheatgrass seeds, fish food, and even a fish coupon.
According to the manufacturer, your organic microgreens should grow in about 10 days. Despite the tank being self-cleaning, some users say it still needs to be cleaned on a regular basis to keep fish healthy. This system doesn’t come with a light and we read complaints that the water gets murky very quickly. You could install your own light or place it near a window, but make sure the water doesn’t get too hot in the sun.
Price at time of publish: $100
Dimensions: 13.4 x 13.4 x 9.5 inches | Plant Capacity: 3 | System Type: Aquaponic | Maintenance Level: Medium
Best for Large Plants
Miracle-Gro Twelve Indoor Growing System
Accommodates large plants
Controlled via an easy-to-use app
Can double as an end table
More complex assembly
No manual controls
The Miracle-Gro Twelve Indoor Growing System is one of the largest hydroponic indoor gardens on the market, providing ample room for leafy greens like lettuce and kale. The base measures about 16.5 x 16.5 inches and it stands over 34 inches high. Although it allows taller plants to thrive, it takes up a lot more space than other options. This unit consists of a durable steel frame with a flat polyethylene surface at the top, allowing it to double as an end table. Note that this indoor garden is fairly complex to assemble: The side braces need to be attached with a wrench and the wiring must be connected.
Once it’s set up, this unit has plenty of smart features for almost effortless growing, all of which are programmed through the Miracle-Gro Twelve app. You can set reminders for feeding and harvesting, adjust the lights, and monitor the water level with your smartphone or tablet. Although the app is easy to use, some would prefer the option to control it manually. The full-spectrum LED grow lights are pretty bright, but you turn them off via the app if they’re too distracting.
Price at time of publish: $321
Dimensions: 16.5 x 16.5 x 34.3 inches | Plant Capacity: 12 | System Type: Hydroponic | Maintenance Level: Low
Best for Mushrooms
Back to the Roots Organic Mushroom Grow Kit
Grows mushrooms indoors year-round
Yields up to two crops (6 to 8 servings)
100 percent organic
Very easy to use
Some reports of poor results
Not the most aesthetic option
This kit from Back to the Roots is a simple, DIY option for growing organic mushrooms at home. It requires very little maintenance—all you need to do is place the box near a window and mist it daily. Each box can grow up to two crops, and each crop produces three to four servings of mushrooms. Most users see results within a week. Note that mushrooms are grown right in the box, which isn't as aesthetically appealing as a planter or pot.
The Back to the Roots Mushroom Growing Kit includes organic soil infused with mushroom spawn as well as an instruction booklet. We read some reports that the kits yielded far less mushrooms than promised, and a few yielded none at all. The good news is that the manufacturer will send a replacement kit if you’re not satisfied.
Price at time of publish: $20
Dimensions: 4 x 3 x 5 inches | Plant Capacity: 2 crops | System Type: DIY | Maintenance Level: Low
After testing for over three months, we found that the AeroGarden Bounty Basic Indoor Garden takes a lot of the guesswork out of gardening, earning our top spot on this list. It comes with automatic lights and a touchscreen control panel, which reminds you to add food and water as needed. Plus, it comes with nine different pods. If you’re looking for a more affordable, space-saving option, we love the Click & Grow The Smart Garden 3, which we also tested for over three months. Simple and stylish, this system allows you to grow three plants at once and has a grow light and watering system to keep your plants healthy.
What to Look for in Indoor Garden Systems
When choosing an indoor garden system, you’ll want to consider where you intend to store it and how many plants you intend to grow in it. A small herb garden will fit easily on almost any countertop. Avid cooks that want to keep an assortment of herbs on hand should opt for an indoor garden that could hold as many as nine to 12 plants. If you want to harvest larger vegetables, consider a vertical garden to maximize your growing space. Our top choice for growing vegetables, the Gardyn 3.0 Indoor Garden & Vertical Garden Planter, allows you to grow up to 30 plants at once.
Ease of use
An indoor garden with a traditional soil system typically requires the most maintenance. You’ll have to do a lot of the gardening work yourself (potting, watering, etc.). Most hydroponic indoor gardens have automatic lights and self-watering systems, so you only need to add water and fertilizer occasionally. Our best overall pick, the AeroGarden Bounty Basic Indoor Garden, has an automatic timer and alerts you when it’s time to add food and water. An aquaponic system, like the Back to the Roots Indoor Garden, requires very little gardening, but you will need to monitor and feed the fish daily.
Most indoor gardens are designed to grow herbs, flowers, and a few smaller plants. If you want to grow larger plants such as mini tomatoes and leaf lettuce, you will need a large-scale indoor garden that provides ample space. Our top pick for larger spaces, the Miracle-Gro Twelve Indoor Growing System, stands over 34 inches tall and is high enough to accommodate vegetables.
Indoor gardens grow plants in one of three ways: soil, hydroponic, or aquaponic systems. With a soil-based system, indoor plants are grown in a potting mix, similar to an outdoor garden. Hydroponic systems use water to deliver vital nutrients to the roots of your plants and don’t require any soil.
Aquaponic systems have a unique component–a fish tank that mimics a natural ecosystem. Fish waste acts as a fertilizer and encourages plant growth. In turn, the fish feed on the decomposing plants, though supplemental fish food is required. Our top pick for an aquaponic system, the Back to the Roots Indoor Garden, produces sprouts and microgreens, plus it’s a fun activity for children.
Grow lights mimic natural sunlight and provide a full spectrum of light for optimal plant growth. Without grow lights, your plants must receive an adequate amount of sunlight to stay alive indoors. A small herb garden might get enough sun on a windowsill, but you’ll likely need LED grow lights for larger plants to thrive in your home. Many indoor garden systems come with a built-in lighting system, or you can purchase your own grow lights.
Are indoor garden kits worth it?
An indoor garden kit lets you grow herbs, flowers, and vegetables year-round and complete control over the climate. You can adjust the temperature, amount of light, and, in some cases, the humidity level to meet your plants' specific needs. With consistent monitoring, you can be certain that your plants receive the appropriate amount of water and nutrients.
How long do indoor gardens last?
The longevity of an indoor garden depends upon the type of plants you grow and whether or not they receive proper care. Herbs, flowers, and vegetables all have specific requirements for survival. You will need to provide adequate light, water, and other vital nutrients to keep plants alive and healthy.
Do indoor gardens use a lot of electricity?
Many indoor garden systems are equipped with LED grow lights, which are more energy-efficient than other types of bulbs. New models typically require 30 watts or less of electricity—a minimal amount of usage. “My setup is all LED so there is barely any difference in my electric bill,” says Melissa Lallo Johnson, a master gardener based in Kansas City, Missouri.
Are indoor gardens cost-effective?
If you’re growing your produce and herbs at home, rather than purchasing them from a store, chances are you’re cutting down on costs. To save money, Johnson suggests having your seedlings ready for planting so you don’t have to purchase annuals and perennials.
Why Trust The Spruce?
This article was written by Sage McHugh, a writer for The Spruce who specializes in the home and garden sector. To select the best indoor garden systems for this roundup, she considered dozens of products, carefully evaluating products based on their size, capacity, system type, and ease of use. For additional insight, she interviewed Melissa Lallo Johnson, a master gardener based in Kansas City, Missouri, and the host of Art of Gardening, a vlog and podcast that features influential gardeners from around the world.
Jenica Currie, a commerce editor for The Spruce, updated this article with testing insights from three of the top products (AeroGarden Bounty Basic, Click & Grow The Smart Garden 3, and Gardyn 3.0) that we set up, monitored, and tested in our lab for over three months.