An indoor smart garden allows you to grow fresh food all year round from the comfort of your home. Smart gardens give you this flexibility by "using a mix of red, white, and blue LEDs on a cycle to mimic natural light and boost growth," says MyJobQuote gardening expert Fiona Jenkins. "Some have settings to adjust the lighting mix to specifically help vegetables, flowers or fruit."
We used first-hand experience and research to evaluate dozens of Wi-Fi and Bluetooth-enabled growing systems on ease of use, size, controls, and versatility. Our best overall pick is the Click & Grow Smart Garden 9 PRO because it's easy for beginners, offers an intuitive app, and waters and delivers nutrients automatically.
Here are the best indoor smart gardens to consider.
Best Overall: Click & Grow Smart Garden 9 PRO
Irrigation system controls moisture/ nutrient levels
Intuitive and helpful app
Slow early growth cycles
Extension arms sold separately
The Click & Grow Smart Garden 9 PRO is an affordable, compact way to grow herbs, salad greens, or flowers with minimal effort. It holds nine seed pods, and you can extend its 13-watt LED light arm to increase the grow height up to 23.2 inches. However, you need to buy these extension arms separately, which adds to the cost. To make growing even easier, the Click & Grow automatically waters your plants, and its 1-gallon tank will last about two to three weeks, on average.
The accompanying Click & Grow app is intuitive and provides a huge amount of information about the plants, their growing habits, as well as water and light controls and alerts. Instead of using a classic hydroponic system, Click & Grow gardens use Capillary Precision Irrigation (CPI). CPI technology helps control moisture in the soil by doling out water and nutrients at certain intervals that are best for the plants. An automated timer controls the lights, which you can preset to go on and off in line with sunlight. The grow light schedule is also adjustable in the app, or you can use hand gestures to turn these lights on and off.
Best Budget: VIVOSUN Z206 Wifi Control Smart Garden
Built-in fans keep flies and other insects at bay
Temperamental Wi-Fi connection
The VIVOSUN Z206 growing system is the most affordable way to get a smart garden without sacrificing advanced features. The 21-watt LED grow light arm extends to a maximum height of 21.3 inches. Fans, fitted alongside the LED, mimic wind to discourage flies and disperse heat.
The 7-liter water tank has an observation window, allowing you to check levels manually or via the app. Having such a large tank means the water will last around a month, although it does make the VIVOSUN growing system a little bulky. In our experience, Wi-Fi was temperamental, and we often had to re-pair our phone, but it didn’t seem to impact the plants.
Best Splurge: Natufia Smart Garden
Automatic climate control
Large design not suited to small spaces
Complex system not suited to beginners
The Natufia Smart Garden is a great indoor garden for serious and seasoned green-thumbed enthusiasts. Its large, vertical growing chamber integrates with your kitchen cupboards and appliances. It houses a nursery for seedlings at the bottom of the unit, and when these seedlings reach a certain level of maturity, you can move them into the main chamber.
From here, you can grow 32 different plants at any one time. The Natufia Smart system constantly monitors the water levels, humidity, and temperature, helping create the optimum climate for your plants to thrive, alongside time-release nutrients and pH tanks. While this system is a true investment not suited to all spaces or budgets, it also offers two monitoring options: via the touchscreen or the app.
Best Vertical: Gardyn 2.0 Vertical Indoor Garden
Grows 30 plants at one time
Can only be used with Gardyn seed pods
AI features only available via subscription
With the Gardyn 2.0 Vertical Indoor Garden, you can grow up to 30 plants in spaces as small as 2 square feet. Two rows of 60-watt LED lights, each fitted with 15 pods, extend vertically out of the 6-gallon water tank. These pods hold individual Gardyn yCubes growing pots of seeds. You can buy yCubes in a variety of options or purchase empty yCubes to put your own seeds in.
Sensors inside the tank monitor water levels, temperature, and humidity. You can view the readings on the Gardyn app, where you also get alerts when the system needs attention. Two 5-megapixel cameras also let you remotely check in on the progress of your plants. You need a membership if you want more monitoring assistance from Gardyn’s AI assistant Kelby. However, this subscription provides plant coaching from Kelby and 10 yCubes to use toward a selection of over 50 plants a month.
Best for Small Spaces: Edn SmallGarden
SeedPods contain time-release plant food
LED grow lights can act as a desk lamp
Not suited for third-party seeds
Only works with iOS
The Edn SmallGarden combines style with substance and ease of use. Its wooden base and soft-gray handle, which houses a row of 9-watt LED lights, resembles a miniature flower bed. Its compact size is big enough to accommodate ten soilless, biodegradable SeedPods but small enough to fits on desktops. The lights are soft enough to double up as a lamp, too.
Due to the unique size and shape of SeedPods and how they slowly release nutrients with each watering, it’s not possible to use third-party seeds in this garden. The tracking features on the Edn iOS app, which let you monitor water levels, adjust the light, and watch which plants are growing in which pods, are also only accurate when used with SeedPods. Unfortunately, there is no Android app yet.
Best Smart Features: AeroGarden Bounty Elite
Powerful lights mimic full spectrum of sunlight
App, voice, and touchscreen controls
Extendable lamp arm
Only grows nine plants at a time
Not suitable for third-party seeds
Large, heavy design
With dimmable, 50-watt LEDs that mimic the full spectrum of light from sunrise to sunset, the AeroGarden Bounty Elite provides conditions to grow plants up to five times faster than in soil. It only has space for nine plants, but thanks to an extendable lamp arm, it offers a growth height of 24 inches. This allowance makes it well-suited to growing tall plants such as tomatoes and bell peppers.
You can monitor and control the Bounty Elite from the AeroGarden app and via any Amazon Alexa-compatible device. You can use voice commands to check your garden’s status or turn its lights on or off. The built-in touchscreen on the unit also shows water levels and grow times, alongside access to light controls and garden tips.
Best Design: AVA Byte Automated Indoor Garden
AI-powered growing light
Multiple smart sensors and cameras
Inspired by NASA technology
Temperamental Alexa connection
As a former Good Design Award winner, the AVA Byte is a sleek, compact countertop garden. It uses what it calls a plant-specific extendable growing light. This light uses AI to adjust its spectrum and intensity based on what you’ve planted and the growth stage. The brand claims NASA technology used on the International Space Station’s garden is the inspiration for this functionality.
This model includes humidity and water-level sensors in the base and a high-definition camera for recording plant growth and checking in on your garden via the app when you’re away from home. This app flags any issues, offers tips, and sends harvest alerts. You can also ask Alexa to check in on your plants, although this connection often dropped out during testing.
Best for Beginners: Rise Gardens Personal Garden and Starter Kit
Easy to set up
Only fits up to 8 plants
The Rise Gardens growing system is not as compact or as stylish as other smart gardens on this list, but it’s a great choice for indoor gardening beginners. It takes no more than 10 minutes to get set up, and the app, as well as the booklet included in the box, offers the most helpful detail and growing advice of any we’ve used without overwhelming the user.
You get notifications when it’s time to add water or nutrients, and you can monitor pH levels and adjust the schedule of the built-in 60-watt LED grow lights via your phone. Rise Gardens are modular and the Personal Garden is the smallest option, with space for eight seed pods. However, if you want to expand, you can then add more modules, vertically, to grow up to 12 plants at one time.
Best for Herbs: iDOO Hydroponics Growing System
Highly customizable controls
Fan disperses heat, keeps bugs away
You can grow almost anything in the iDOO Hydroponics Growing System—from veggies to fruits and flowers—yet we’ve had the most success using it to grow a herb garden. Even if the outer casing is a little on the bulky side, it offers enough root space for the herbs to flourish and enough growth space for you to harvest 12 different batches at a time.
Its extendable arm allows you to adjust the height (up to 14.5 inches) depending on the types of herbs or other seeds planted. Alongside its 22-watt grow light is a fan that helps disperse heat, increases pollination, and keeps bugs at bay. You can monitor and control all of these features via the app. In our first-hand experience with this model, we struggled to get connected to Wi-Fi at first, but once connected, it was stable.
Best for Microgreens: Modern Sprout Smart Growhouse
Greater control over features
Suitable for all seeds
Limited planting space
If you’re looking to graduate toward growing microgreens, we recommend the Modern Sprout Smart Growhouse. Microgreens are relatively easy to grow indoors, but they do require specific water and light levels. The payoff is young, leafy greens full of nutrients on tap. To give you greater control over these conditions, the Smart Growhouse offers three full-spectrum LED light levels—partial shade, partial sun, and full sun.
The app allows you to control the light level, which means you can introduce delicate seedlings to less light at the start before gradually increasing intensity as they mature. In this way, it mimics the light and shade a plant may receive outside. Instead of seed pods, the watertight planter holds pots where you can plant any seeds of your choice. The Growhouse doesn’t have an automatic watering tank, so you need to water plants manually—but this helps prevent overwatering.
What to Look For in Indoor Smart Gardens
Instead of using soil, most indoor smart gardens use a growing system known as hydroponics. With hydroponics, plants grow in pods that contain water-based, nutrient-rich solutions. By putting the roots in direct contact with the nutrients they need, they mature up to five times faster than traditional growing methods.
Other growing systems are available, including aeroponics, hybriponics, and Capillary Precision Irrigation (CPI). With aeroponics, the water and nutrients circulate vertically using air. Hybriponics is Gardyn’s proprietary system which combines the aeroponics circulation method with hydroponic solutions. CPI technology was developed by Click & Grow and is an irrigation method that helps control moisture in the soil, distributing water and nutrients in mediated amounts at specific times.
Most indoor smart gardens will fit on a shelf, countertop, or windowsill. As a result, they typically measure around ten to 20 inches long and up to 20 inches high. Vertical gardens maximize space by growing vertically. A growing number of mini gardens are also on the market—such as Edn's SmallGarden—that cram a lot of tech into a small frame and are best suited for the tightest of spaces.
"Indoor smart gardens are usually quite small, but that doesn't mean you can't grow much in them," says Jenkins. If you're hoping to grow taller plants, like tomatoes and bell peppers, you will need extra headroom, so look for indoor smart gardens with extendable grow light arms or tall designs.
All of the smart indoor gardens we researched and have had hands-on experience with allow you to control the grow lights schedule via a Wi-Fi or Bluetooth-connected app. Some gardens and accompanying apps let you set which spectrum and intensity of light you use at different times of the day. Others give you greater control over the release of nutrients and water. Gardens with built-in sensors and cameras allow you to check in on your plants remotely, and you can control any that are Alexa, Siri, or Google Assistant compatible via your voice.
What is a smart garden?
A smart garden is a system that uses technology, including apps, growing systems—such as hydroponics or smart irrigation setups—and LEDs that mimic the sun to help monitor, automate and improve plant growing. These systems act as a proxy for the conditions for plants to grow.
“The LED lighting works in combination with the watering and feeding systems to boost growth, so plants are more likely to grow and grow quickly,” says Jenkins. The idea is to make it easier to successfully grow herbs, microgreens, soft fruits, flowers and more while saving on time and space—and with little know-how and effort.
Is an indoor garden worth it?
“An indoor garden is worth it if you like the idea of growing your own food but don’t have much time or space to do it,” says Jenkins. “People who like their gadgets will also find an indoor smart garden entertaining to use.” However, Jenkins warns that indoor gardens with smart features can be pricey and require a power source to operate. “Plus, you only get a small amount of growing space, so they’re not for everyone,” adds Jenkins.
What can you grow in an indoor smart garden?
Despite their often compact size and limited capacity, you can grow a wide variety of plants in an indoor smart garden. This flexibility is thanks to the combination of hydroponics (or similar) with grow lights that mimic the sun. In theory, anything that grows in the wild in the conditions provided by the growing system can grow in an indoor smart garden. This list includes “herbs, leafy greens, soft fruits, and compact vegetable plants such as cherry tomatoes,” says Jenkins. You can also grow flowers in smart gardens.
“Even in a basic model there’s usually a mix of automatic and user-friendly functions, so even if you’re not green-fingered or are quite forgetful your plants should still survive,” says Jenkins. The only limit that comes into play is a particular smart garden manufacturer doesn’t allow third-party seeds, meaning you’re restricted to planting only the seeds they sell.
Why Trust The Spruce?
Victoria Woollaston is a freelance science, technology, and lifestyle editor with more than a decade’s experience testing and reviewing consumer products. She’s had first-hand experience using a range of both indoor and outdoor smart gardens and grows herbs and vegetables for her family.
To learn more about the different types of indoor smart gardens, including which specifications are most important, Woollaston spoke with Fiona Jenkins, gardening expert at MyJobQuote. Using her expert insights, she narrowed down the best indoor smart gardens to those that suit most living spaces and people with a range of gardening experience and budgets. Each one offers Wi-Fi or Bluetooth compatibility at a minimum and comes with an accompanying app that offers remote control over the lights and other features.