AeroGardens are highly lauded by homeowners for their ability to provide fresh herbs and veggies for the dinner table. Promising cheap, soil-free gardening, the allure of the AeroGarden almost sounds too good to be true. So, is it? Let’s take a closer look at this fan favorite for indoor gardening.
We know that gardening has been proven to lower stress and encourage healthy eating—but not everyone has the time or access to land to start gardening. Growing herbs and plants is hard work, and requires a significant amount of land and attention. For city dwellers and the chronically overworked, finding a way to eat home-grown plants can
The AeroGarden promises to remove all of these issues.
By designing an indoor hydroponic that cultivates plants and requires almost no maintenance, the AeroGrow company promises to produce non-GMO herbs for months on end, with no dirt or mess. The offer sounds great, but with some of their products running for several hundreds of dollars, is it worth it?
We’ll be looking both at AeroGrow as well as their current lineup of AeroGardens. We’ll be discussing how the product grows fresh herbs and plants without soil and reminds you when it’s time to water. Finally, we’ll be covering AeroGarden reviews, pricing and warranty information, and asking the question: is the AeroGarden right for you?
How It Works
While the AeroGarden has become synonymous with growing plants indoors, it is just one of the many types of hydroponics available on the market.
“Hydroponics” is an umbrella term, encompassing a wide variety of devices and methods horticulturalists use to grow plants without the need for soil. While it might sound simple on paper, it’s not exactly an easy transition for most plants to go from soil to water. First of all, plants distill minerals from the ground to help natural processes and grow the plant.
According to the National Institutes of Health, we also know that plants are just a small part of a large and diverse ecosystem, and thrive on microorganisms and symbolic relationships with other plants to grow and develop. Simply placing a seed in water will do nothing for its long-term growth and success. The water used in hydroponics is often saturated with minerals and microorganisms to substitute for the lack of soil, and bright lights are used to help plants photosynthesize more than they may be able to by growing outside.
Finally, hydroponics are often climate controlled. Different species of plants will thrive in certain temperatures and humidities, which are artificially generated by the hydroponic, once again, to simulate the outside environment.
While hydroponics work hard to simulate natural temperatures and cultivate a good environment for herbs, they are no cheap substitute. Plants grown in hydroponics are equally as fruitful as those grown in soil. If you live in an especially harsh environment, using a hydroponic may be your only option to cultivate certain plants and herbs.
As a hydroponic, the AeroGarden follows in the footsteps of hydroponics before it but has made a few changes to make it easier for amateur gardeners to produce a fruitful harvest. This may be why AeroGarden reviews are mostly positive from first-time growers.
According to the AeroGrow website, the AeroGarden operates using proprietary Plug & Grow seed pods. These pods are filled with specific seeds surrounded which a soil-like structure that contains the nutrients and water control needed for growth. These are placed inside the device and submerge partially in the water tank.
When the device is activated for the specific type of plant, it will automatically turn on what the AeroGrow website referred to as Glow Lights. These specialty bulbs come with the promise of a full spectrum of needed light for plants. They will turn on and off for a certain number of hours that correspond to the plant you’re growing.
This operation, along with the rest of the machine, is operated by a computer system. This system maintains a clock and notifies you of when the machine needs water or nutrients.
For some plants, the machine will inform you to drop in the included nutrient tablets, which will dissolve in the water tank and continuously apply nutrients to the growing plants. These are kept under Bio-Domes, which keep them humid and growing until they are tall enough to pass the dome’s height.
While the process may sound complicated, the AeroGrow company has made it as simple as possible for the end user. Simply fill the tank with water, place the herbs in the machine, and add water & tablets as required. For most herbs, growth will occur over three weeks and plants will last about six months.
After the six month harvest, seed kits can be purchased for a wide variety of plants, flowers, herbs, and vegetables. Conversely, if you’d like to grow your own seeds, kits are also available without seeds.
Pricing And Warranty Information
Since this product comes in a variety of shapes and sizes, the price of one AeroGarden can range drastically.
Their flagship model, the Classic 6, is currently sold for around 100 dollars. This starter kit will include six months worth of herbs, and any subsequent use will require the purchase of another seed kit. These run about 15 dollars, so year-long herbs using the proprietary kits costs about 30 dollars.
The AeroGarden Harvest and Harvest touch seem to be the current middle-of-the-road option and provide spaces for six plants. Their biggest draw comes from the connection to Wi-Fi, which enables you to monitor growth and receive push notifications for when to check in on your plants. These cost around 100 to 200 dollars.
For those who need the most amount of space for an entire indoor garden, the AeroGarden Farm is the premium model. With room for 24 separate plants to grow well over 2 feet in height, it’s hard to imagine needing more bountiful harvests for your family. These cost about 600 dollars.
Compared to other consumer-grade hydroponics, the price is certainly competitive. There are very few products on the market, to begin with, so any attempt to find a lower price will most likely require a fair amount of DIY work.
The warranty offered with any AeroGrow product is a fairly boilerplate 1-year warranty. This will cover the LED lights, grow pods, and garden itself. As for the seeds sold with the product? Germination is guaranteed, or a replacement will be sent.
As a whole, public perception of the entire AeroGarden line seems to be mostly positive.
Adherents to the brand are quick to note that the product is one of few that can pay for itself over time. If you consider the costs of basil, lettuce, and other products that can be grown in the AeroGarden, we feel as if that’s a fair claim to make.
Grow pods grow as advertised on the AeroGarden, and after a week of germination under the Bio-Domes, plants will quickly grow upwards and towards the specialty LED lights. The product is also lauded for being quick to notify users when to water their plants, when to place tablets into the reservoir, and how long they can expect before the harvest.
The six-month claim for the product’s ability to last is also generally accepted. Many users of the AeroGarden tend to utilize the seedless pods and grow their own fruits and vegetables. Provided proper attention is paid, this use has also been shown to produce a fair amount of success.
That’s not to say public perception is unanimous, however. There were a few issues that seemed to repeat themselves throughout the negative reviews:
First of all, the LED lights have been noted to be especially bright and hot. This isn’t much of an issue if the AeroGarden is placed in a basement, but using an AeroGarden in a bedroom could produce a fair amount of unwanted light pollution.
The issue of LED lights also poses a serious threat to the plant life below it. If plants grow too close to the LED light or aren’t harvested in time, the plants can wither and dry up from the intense heat. In some cases, this could pose a threat of a fire hazard.
On the more affordable machines, there have also been issues with the computer system. The device seems to “forget” remind users about the water level, which might come to the dismay of those inattentive growers out there.
Overall, public perception seems to be recognizing of the flaws of both and AeroGarden as well as hydroponics. While the product makes growing herbs and plants inside as simple as possible, the process is still complex enough to warrant proper attention.
Pros & Cons
Now that we’ve covered how AeroGardens and hydroponics work, as well as the pricing and public perception of the product, let’s break down a short list of pros and cons for purchasing a product from AeroGrow.
The AeroGarden has made growing plants inside just about as simple as it gets.
The design is simplistic and will allow people to grow just about any small plant they can think of. After growing the included herbs, the more daring of users can purchase their seeds and empty Grow Pods to push the AeroGarden to its absolute limits. With several sizes available, the sky (or the LED light) is the limit.
Despite the best of intentions in design, the LED lights can glow just a bit too bright for certain plants and specific environments. A DIY job may be needed to correct this problem, but it won’t solve two fundamental issues with the AeroGarden:
The lights burn bright, and will only last a certain amount of time before replacement may be necessary—and they don’t come cheap. Grow pods will also be necessary, so there’s a recurring cost to using the AeroGarden that may or may not outweigh the savings of growing your plants.
Is An AeroGarden Right For Me?
At the start of this article, we sought to answer two questions: whether or not the AeroGarden worked, and whether or not you should get one. So, what are our answers?
Yes, and maybe.
The AeroGarden does work as advertised. Provided you obey the AeroGarden’s periodic demands for water and nutrients, you should be presented with healthy, vibrant plants. For the most part, these plants will be good both for several harvests and months to come.
Whether or not you should get an AeroGarden, however, is a different story. AeroGarden reviews are quick to point out that those extra Grow Pods necessary to continued use can rack up on price. These are usually sold in packs of six on the company website, which limits your ability to mix and match to your specific needs.
These Grow Pods, along with the need to replace the LED lights periodically, can make that initial price tag seem a bit disingenuous.
We find that the AeroGarden works best for specific people. If you are the kind of person that struggles to make anything grow in the garden, or simply don’t have the time or the energy to toil away outside, the AeroGarden is probably your best bet for fresh herbs. If you’re already a gardener or have significant experience with growing certain plants and need the AeroGarden to fix that mold, then you may be less than enthused about the product limitations. The effort needed to leverage the product to a specific plant or situation may not be worth the hassle.
Only you will be able to determine if the AeroGarden lives up to the hype. If you’re comfortable and aware of the limitations of the machine, we see no reason why an AeroGarden shouldn’t be in your home.
One thing is for sure—once you make the switch from store-bought to fresh ingredients, it’s hard ever to consider going back.