A while ago, I was looking for an easy way to grow plants indoors without soil (this may have come after one of our kids knocked a plant over and made a mess).
In my research, I came across the AeroGarden products.
They looked so cool, but I needed to know how they worked before I bought into them.
An AeroGarden works like any other hydroponic growing system. Plants are suspended above nutrient-rich water and below grow lights in a soil-less system. The water solution provides more effective growing while taking up less space making this an easy system for gardeners of any experience level.
There’s a lot more to this system, so read ahead for all the details about what it is, how it works, and what models there are.
Table of Contents
What Is An AeroGarden?
An AeroGarden is an indoor hydroponic system for watering and growing plants without soil.
It’s great for people who have a small amount of space outdoors to grow fresh plants or who want to grow plants all year-round without using a greenhouse (this is where we live with AeroGardens).
There are four main models with variations in between:
(More on these later.)
AeroGarden aims to make an easy system for growing plants anyone can use without a ton of mess.
Are AeroGardens Safe?
Some may worry that buying an AeroGarden with its pre-made seed pods means that some chemicals are used at any point during the growing process.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
With non-GMO seeds to all-natural nutrients and plant food, AeroGardens are safe all around.
There are no pesticides or chemicals used like in many commercial farming situations.
What Are Hydroponics?
As a hydroponic system, the AeroGarden shares a lot in common with all other growing systems of its type.
The word “hydroponic” contains the prefix “hydro-,” meaning water.
In this method, the seeds are left to open air. There’s no soil to keep them in.
They get all their nutrition from the water solution and grow lights.
This growth method came from California, and the idea is that plants don’t need soil to grow so long as they have nutrition, water, and light.
They don’t need more than this at all! This new hydroponic growing method saves mess from the soil and makes it easier to keep plants inside.
Since then, commercial hydroponics has risen in popularity, too, with many keeping large greenhouse systems for their plants.
AeroGarden specializes in making this system easier for the everyday person, which is why their products feature a smaller amount of spots for growing (though the Farm is still a large option).
By fine-tuning the method over the years, it’s now possible to produce a higher crop yield without the need for as many pesticides or fertilizers.
The AeroGarden is a perfect example of a hydroponic system, so rather than go into the details of how it works here, we’ll talk about AeroGardens in particular and how they work in the next section.
How Does AeroGarden Work?
This section will talk about how AeroGardens grow plants by suspending roots above water and feeding them fresh, nutrient-rich water and light by looking at each part of the product.
The bottom of the AeroGardens system is the hydroponic reservoir.
This is just a fancy word that means: this is where we keep the water solution.
Depending on the specific product, the hydroponic reservoir often has a pump to circulate water through the seed pods.
The size of the nutrient tank is usually pretty small, meaning you need to check the water levels often.
They offer a larger tank to add to your AeroGarden, making it pretty hands-off, so you don’t have to do these extra steps.
Click to check the price on Amazon.
Of course, there are a lot of different ways to make your own.
Check out tips and DIY hydroponic reservoir ideas in our article here (with pictures!).
A growth deck is where you place the seed pods and grow the plants themselves.
On an AeroGarden, there are spots for the pods to go.
This sits above the water solution in the hydroponic reservoir and below the grow lights.
The number and design of the pod spots on the growth deck depend on the exact product, and they come in many different setups to match your specific home needs.
AeroGarden’s LED lights are one of the best things about this product.
The lights serve a dual purpose.
First, they provide all the light energy necessary across the different spectrums.
It’s more than just a UVB bulb, which already does a good job. These lights stimulate the needed sun nutrients better than other generic bulbs.
On top of this, the combination of thermometer and heat provided from the lights keeps the plants in the ideal temperature range (which you often have the power to customize).
The best for most plants is 65-76° degrees Fahrenheit (16-24° C).
If you already have some growth decks and other parts on hand, AeroGarden also offers a separate grow light add-on to use with your plants.
Click to check the price on Amazon.
AeroGarden provides and sells special seed pods to use with their system.
These are dome-shaped packages with seeds in the middle.
The bottom has space for the roots to grow and reach down into the water and a hole on top for the plant to sprout through.
It’s also got a cover to prevent mold and algae from growing on the surface of the roots and starting root rot.
They claim their pods are made with some special stuff.
In our experience, they’re great, but they’re not that much better than any other seed pod.
They did design their growth deck to work best with their seed pods.
Replacing them isn’t too expensive, but feel free to get brave and try making your own later.
It’s possible to make your seed pods using a medium such as Rockwool, though AeroGarden always recommends using their special seed pods.
Check out our article on how to use Rockwool in hydroponics for more info.
Seed Pod Covers
For sprouting new seeds, you want to increase the humidity as much as possible.
In your homemade hydroponic system, you need to use some kind of dome to trap the humidity in a bit.
AeroGarden users provide a seed pod cover to help with the same function until the seeds have sprouted.
Nutrient-rich water is the key to the whole hydroponic process.
AeroGarden plant food is rich and packed with exactly what plants need to grow well.
The water solution passes its nutrients onto the plants more effectively than wet soil, which is why so many people find more success with hydroponic systems like the AeroGarden.
Tips For Using An AeroGarden
If you’re using AeroGarden, you’ll get a detailed set of instructions to help you with the process.
But there are some tips experienced users have learned over time you may want to keep in mind that aren’t in the manuals.
Let’s share what we’ve discovered here.
While leaving the plants to just grow will probably be just fine, pruning will make them grow fuller and potentially faster.
Plants spend energy on growing their whole body, from roots to tips of leaves.
If something dies or is strangled, the plant will still spend some energy on it.
Pruning, cutting, or trimming the dead or small parts of your plants lets the organism redistribute its energy to the parts growing better.
With Aerogardens, you’ll look for two main times to prune.
If you see any browning or yellow leaves, prune these and let the healthier ends get stronger.
Also, if you’re growing multiple of the same plant and one is getting close to the grow light, you’ll want to trim it back until it’s equal with the rest.
Start with the light height as low as the grow lights go. The closer they are, the more UVB and other nutrition they get.
When the plants get close to the lights (and before they touch it), make sure to raise the light a couple of inches.
A little bit of mold in your AeroGarden isn’t avoidable. It’s also a sign there is enough nutritious water and good light to grow your plants.
But a lot may impede the growth of your vegetables or even infect them.
Wipe the mold off gently when you see it with a washcloth or paper towel.
If it’s a big problem, use a 2-1 water-vinegar solution to prevent damage to your plant while also killing some of the molds.
Another thing to watch for is to keep the light from directly contacting the nutrient water solution.
In DIY systems, you’ll need an aerator to keep the water moving to prevent mold, but this won’t be an issue with the AeroGarden.
Change The Water Once Per Month
Each AeroGarden has its directions that tell you when to change the water out, but the good rule of thumb for all hydroponic tanks is to change the water once per month.
Even with aeration and fresh nutrients, the water tends to get a bit stagnant over time.
This promotes mold and algae, so we should change the water out.
If you wanted to be proactive, change a small percentage of the water (20-30%) every week and then change the whole thing every 4-6 weeks.
This will ensure your crops get the freshest, oxygenated water possible.
Types Of AeroGardens To Check Out
There are four main types of AeroGardens.
This isn’t a review article, but I do want you to know what’s out there.
Here, we’ll go over each one, the main specs, and who it may be best for.
If you do decide to check them, the links head to the products on Amazon.
Affiliate Disclosure: All links are affiliate in nature, meaning we get a small commission if you click through and buy at no extra cost to you. Thanks for supporting us!
The AeroGarden Farm is the biggest option you have.
It’s for people serious about growing as much as they can.
They come in sizes with 12 and 24 spots for pods.
Sure, they take up quite a bit of space and cost more, but they allow you to grow quickly with the simple AeroGarden system on a larger scale.
The bounty is the in-between model for sizes.
It features enough spots for 9 plants, making it perfect for those who want a little more but not a ton of space lost.
The cool thing with this model is all the fancy upgrades available, including connection with Alexa and the AeroGarden app to make your gardening regulated and maximized from anywhere.
The Harvest is their flagship model.
It allows for 6 pods and fits on almost any counter.
It doesn’t break the bank and is simple to use while giving you a good harvest (get it?).
For anyone unsure where to begin, this is where I recommend starting.
Consider the Sprout the mini-hydronic garden for those with limited space.
My sister, who lives in Chicago, has one for her studio apartment and loves it.
Sure, it only grows 3 plants simultaneously, but when space and money are an issue, it’s a great option.
AeroGarden Comparison Chart
|What we liked:||What we didn’t like|
|Farm||Holds many plants|
Easy to use
Great for bigger plants
Takes up space
|Harvest||Perfect size for counter and good yield|
Great for small plants and herbs
|Smaller yield compared to others|
|Bounty||Fits a good number of plants|
Lots of upgrades available
Easy to use
Takes up a lot of counter space
|Sprout||Takes up very little space|
Quite simple in useLow price
|Only grows 3 plants at a time|
Doesn’t fit large plants well
What Grows Best In An AeroGarden?
An AeroGarden claims it can grow any plant you want as long as you get the right size of the unit.
While this is technically true, some do better than others with AeroGardens.
In general, the smaller the plant or herb, the easier it is to grow with this.
Regarding small plants and herbs, check out our detailed review and look at the best AeroGardens for lettuce and herbs for the in-depth answer on what will work best for you.
Here are what we’ve had the most success with using the AeroGarden:
- Salad Greens
- Cherry Tomatoes
What Is AeroGarden Plant Food?
AeroGarden plant food is a nutrient packet dropped into the water to then transfer into the roots.
Remember, in a hydroponics system, all the nutrients have to come from the water.
Regular water won’t cut it; it must be packed with nutrients, and plant food is the way to go.
AeroGarden’s food is great, but it’s not the only option out there.