There’s nothing more fun than reviewing some of the best hydroponics systems. As you’re going to see, I’m quite passionate about detailing everything these systems have to offer and what they’re lacking.
This article will address a variety of people because it will include reviews for indoor garden hydroponic systems but also reviews for a DCW made from a container with a lid and a DWC made from buckets. I’m not too happy about those 2 DWC models, you’ll have to wait and see why.
Later on, we’ll talk about types of hydroponics systems and which ones are better to start off with if you’re a beginner going on the DIY route for the best hydroponics systems.
7 Best Hydroponics Systems and Indoor Gardens Reviews
I’ll focus my selection for the best hydroponics systems on 5 indoor gardens first because they serve as amazing hydroponic kits for beginners.
Usually, indoor gardens are complete and complex. They include the container, the pods, the nutrients rich solution, the adequate lighting, and a complete set of instructions. Basically, everything an absolute beginner needs to be successful. That’s what makes them such an awesome choice.
After these reviews, comes the next fun part, where we talk about complex and not-so-complex systems to grow plants hydroponically. It’s a big inclusive world.
Overall, if you want to start your adventure into growing plants hydroponically, you’ll find what you’re looking for here, whether you decide to go the DIY route or you decide that an indoor garden is just what you need. The price range is quite varied, too.
1. AeroGarden Harvest Elite – Overall Best Hydroponics System
Let’s see what makes the AeroGarden Harvest Elite one of the best hydroponics systems and why I put this one as my first recommendation. It’s also one of the most affordable AeroGarden models, even though that still doesn’t make it cheap.
The top feature for all these models from AeroGarden is that they are technologically advanced. Even complete beginners are capable of growing an indoor garden without problems or too much research.
Just read about what comes with this best indoor garden. Their website also includes product guides and advice.
It must be said that this is a complete kit. The manufacturer has thought of everything and it shows. It shows in the price, too.
AeroGarden Harvest Elite has a pretty basic construction.
It has a reservoir where water and nutrient-rich solution is added. The grow sponges (growing medium), which are hold by grow baskets, are almost completely submerged in water and nutrient solution. There are also domes that cover the seeds until they germinate.
To make things even easier, you can buy various Miracle-Gro AeroGarden Seed Pods Kit products that come with their own Liquid Plant Food that you add to the water when the system tells you to. It’s all pretty automatic and very simplified.
These completely prepared seed pods just need to be inserted in the 6 pods available with this system.
You can buy seed pods for: tomatoes, peppers, herbs, salads, and flowers.
Or you can buy the AeroGarden Grow Anything Seed Pod Kit. It works with any AeroGarden model. It includes: grow sponges, grow domes, grow baskets, pod labels, liquid nutrient solution and a growing guide. This applies to all AeroGarden systems.
I really love the fact that it comes with 6 pods (herb seed kit): Genovese basil (classic Italian basil), curly parsley, dill, thyme, Thai basil and mint. Furthermore, these herb seeds are nurtured by the Miracle Gro Plant Food, which is really an amazing NPK fertilizer. The nutrient solution is included.
But you can grow anything else, beyond the herbs that come with the AeroGarden Harvest Elite.
What you get
This is definitely not the biggest best hydroponics systems, it’s quite small with its 6 pods. It means that up to 6 plants can grow at the same time. Below, you’ll find some home kits with as many as 12 pods.
The plants can grow up to 12 inches tall.
It fits perfectly anywhere, given its smaller size. You can set it up on the kitchen counter and it will look really great.
It has an adjustable grow light, which is placed on an extendable lamp arm. This is a full spectrum 20 watt LED high efficiency grow lighting system. It will make plants grow faster and plentiful. The important part is that LEDs barely consume any energy, they’re the best.
Every beginner can use this kit without any problems and without having too much knowledge on hydroponics.
The AeroGarden Harvest Elite is focused on the technological aspects of these systems.
The lights automatically turn on and off. It also reminds you when to add water and the nutrient solution. That’s amazing when it comes to someone who is completely new to this. And for those who don’t have too much time on their hands. It’s nice to be helped out by technology.
You also get to customize the settings.
It even includes a vacation mode that keeps this indoor garden thriving even when you’re not around.
2. AeroGarden Bounty – Expensive Hydroponics System
Compared with the above Harvest Elite model, this one is considerably more expensive. These two best hydroponics systems from AeroGarden have quite a few things in common. But we’ll also see see what sets it apart.
The same seed pods kits work on the Bounty model, too. That’s a universal thing with all the models from this manufacturer.
It works on the same principle: there are grow sponges that are placed in grow baskets and covered with domes that cover the seeds until they germinate. When leaves start to appear, the domes are removed. These baskets are almost completely submerged in the water with nutrient solution.
What if offers
This is a larger size. There are 9 pods so, 9 plants can be grown at the same time. If you want to grow a varied mix of herbs, tomatoes, lettuce at the same time, you definitely can.
The plants have also a lot of room to grow, they can grow up to 24 inches tall.
AeroGarden states: sprouts in days, harvests in weeks and lasts for months.
The good news is that you don’t need much knowledge in order to achieve an indoor garden thanks to this technological best hydroponics system from AeroGarden.
It comes with 9 seed pod kits: basil (2), Thai basil, curly parsley, Italian parsley, thyme, chives, dill, and mint. These are nurtured with their Micracle-Gro liquid plant food. I would have liked if they would have included some vegetables in the kit, too. The herbs are still a really nice touch in their awesome variety.
So, the nutrient solution is included but you will have to buy some more for future growing plants.
Grow lights are quite powerful but energy efficient – 40 watt LEDs on a cordless extendable lamp arm.
The technology comes in handy: water and plant food reminders (lets you known when you need to top off either), vacation model, and a nice control panel.
There’s even a garden tips button on the control panel. Another button is the quick plant one, which comprises a set-by-step guide to set up a new garden.
If you want an even more powerful model but with the same number of pods, check out the AeroGarden Bounty Elite.
3. iDoo Hydroponics Growing System 7 Pods – Best Hydroponic System for Beginners
Here we have another best hydroponics system that doesn’t cost too much. Plus, it’s really easy to use.
If you are not ready to make a big investment, check this one out.
Moreover, it can be the perfect gift for someone who wants a garden but doesn’t have the space. You can offer them this miniature version, they should be thrilled with it. It’s very popular.
What it lacks
Let’s get the negatives out of the way so you know exactly what to expect.
There are no seeds included but you can buy any seeds you want. And they’re cheap so, I don’t see it as a big con at all.
You can grow a variety of plants from herbs to lettuce to spinach to tomatoes, strawberries, and so on. And you should definitely experiment with everything once you get the hang of operating an easy-to-use indoor garden without soil.
That’s pretty much the only thing that this system is lacking, which is impressive for sure.
What you get
Let’s start off with the fact that I’m impressed that they include the nutrient solution in their kit. I hate it when I have to spend additional money and time to buy essential things to get something started. In this case, the very essential liquid nutrients are included.
There are actually 2 nutrient solutions included, you need to use both according to the instructions. They’re solid nutrients but combining them with water is what transforms them into the liquid nutrients that you’ll pour into 4.5L of water. And that’s all you need to do.
The overall design of the system is awesome, the black color fits nicely anywhere.
The construction is what we have come to expect: a reservoir where the water and liquid nutrients go in, the pods occupied by the growing medium, and a grow light above.
The iDoo Hydroponics Growing System has 7 pods, which is big enough. Getting 12 pods is a lot but 7 pods is still a satisfying number. The potential of growing 7 plants at the same time in such a small space is great.
For the iDoo indoor garden, the surprising addition consists of a water pump.
It’s an automatic water recirculating system that can be switched off at night for 12 hours. Otherwise, it works for 5 mins and pauses for 30 mins. If you’re not bothered by the noise keep it on all the time by selecting the normal pump mode.
Another impressive feature is the grow light. First of all, it’s an extendable light post. The plants can grow up to 14.57 inches long, which is a nice length. When they’re in the germination phase you can lower the lights down.
These LEDs are pretty powerful, I wasn’t expecting this power since this quite a cheap best hydroponics system, if we compare it with the AeroGarden models.
They’re powerful 24 watts LED lights. These are full spectrum grow lights, the ones that mimic sunlight. Each has their interesting functions and iDoo has thought this through.
There are 3 light modes to choose from: normal mode (illumination 14h/day), enjoy mode (12h/day), and grow mode (16h/day). Definitely start with the grow mode and keep it until the plants are robust enough.
There’s also an alarm to let you know that the water is low and you need to add more.
How to use it
Place the seeds in the germination basket kit: it consists of the growing medium, the basket where the growing medium is placed, and a dome. The dome will be removed once the seeds start sprouting.
Add the water and nutrient to the reservoir, following the instructions for how to add both the A and the B solid nutrients. Fill the reservoir with 4.5L water, the water tank’s capacity is 5L.
Place the baskets into the pods and adjust the lights. Then press Power and that’s it.
When you need to start a new culture, you can get their replacement sponges (growing medium). Another option is to buy their seed pods kit that includes 14 sponges, 7 baskets with domes, and the A&B nutrients.
They also have the Idoo Hydroponic Growing System with 12 pods.
The even more impressive model is their iDOO 20 pods Indoor Herb Garden. Unfortunately, this one lacks the water pump. Based on the reviews, the lack of a water pump is a pretty big con. It signifies that the water needs to be changed maybe weekly.
4. Scottish Boy Intelligent Hydroponic Indoor Garden – Cheapest Best Hydroponics System
Check out this affordable best hydroponics system from Scottish Boy if you want to experiment with growing plants indoors without making a mess but you want something cheap.
It’s not as impressive as the above iDoo but it’s still a pretty awesome choice. Scottish Boy is a basic indoor garden, as basic as a hydroponic system can get.
It’s small, it won’t take up too much space and it can be placed on the counter or on the floor or on a chair. The white design looks really nice, I must admit that it has a pretty beautiful design.
What you get
There’s a small reservoir where water and the nutrient solution is poured into.
Scottish Boy Intelligent Hydroponic Indoor Garden has two main sections: each section has 9 small pods, each with its own growing medium.
Vermiculite is used as growing medium and you can replace it any time you want, which is great. It can be cheap in the long run because you don’t have to buy grow sponges, like you have to do for the other units.
The convenient aspect that lets beginners get accustomed to growing plants hydroponically is that it lets you know when it’s time to replenish the water together with the nutrient solution.
It will make a beeping sound that will stop when sufficient water has been added, ensuring that the roots won’t dry out.
The grow light looks like a narrow desk lamp, a lot of us have this model in our house. These are LED lights, which are the best grow lights for households and they are energy-efficient.
It must be said that they’re not the most powerful, only 8 watts power. The lights run for 16 hours and are turned off automatically for 8 hours.
How to use it
You need to buy your own seeds, they are not included in the package. But you can buy any type of seeds you want, they’re not expensive.
Thus, you can grow all kinds of herbs, lettuce, cherry tomatoes, chilis, strawberries – smaller plants will work better with this one.
Sow the seeds into the planting pot, just sprinkle them in the growing medium, and then pour water and the nutrient-rich solution into the reservoir. Connect the power and turn on the light.
You can let the foam cover on until the first few tiny leaves start to appear. It’s best to do the germination period with the foam cover on.
Within a week, you should see considerable growth, things move quickly with hydroponic indoor gardens.
The manufacturer also recommends changing the water weekly, since the vegetables will deplete the nutrients in the water. The water also needs to be changed weekly because this system doesn’t come with a water pump.
What you don’t get
I’m pretty disappointed that you don’t get the nutrient-rich solution to start you off. You will have to buy that separately, otherwise you won’t be able to grow anything with just plain water. It means more time and money spent. It’s a pretty big con.
There are no seeds that come with this small indoor garden from Scottish Boy. The good news is that there are no particular seeds you need to get, the normal seeds will do, which are cheap.
5. Ezorkas 12 Pods Hydroponic Growing System – Big Capacity Hydroponics Kit
At first glance, the Ezorkas Hydroponic Growing System offers some interesting features. I’ll shortly review those and see if its’ truly a top recommendation when it comes to the best hydroponics systems.
What it lacks
There are no seeds included, you’ll have to buy those. You can choose from vegetables, strawberries, leafy greens, and herbs. Whatever you want.
That’s pretty much the only thing it lacks.
What you get
This is a pretty large system with 12 pods. And the price is pretty affordable, considering what it offers.
The package includes the 12 grow media with their 12 baskets and domes.
Plus, and this is important, it also includes the A&B solid nutrients. You transform the A&B into liquid nutrients by mixing them with water, as you are instructed.
The first thing that I really like about Ezorkas is that it includes a water circulation system for increasing the oxygen in the water. It works 30 mins on/30 mins off, promising to operate on super low noise.
The interesting fact is that it gives you place to grow the plants up to 21 inches in height.
The grow light system looks great. It can be adjusted for the different growth stages.
The grow lights are really powerful LEDs, 36 watts power. They’re also plentiful in number, there are 80 full-spectrum LEDs.
There are actually 2 modes: veg mode (contains the full-spectrum light) and flower mode (contains more red light). They can also be automated to be 16 hours on and 8 hours off.
The control panels also lets users know when to add the nutrient solution. It’s a really awesome feature that makes things easier even for those who have absolutely no experience with hydroponics.
As for the water level, that one can be monitored through the water level observation window. The important thing is that the roots need to be completely submerge in water.
The water tank is not the biggest, it has a 3.5-4L capacity.
All in all, the Ezorkas 12 Pods Hydroponic Growing System is just an awesome best hydroponics system for a really nice price.
6. Growneer 6 Sites Grower Kit Household DWC System
This is the classic look of a Deep Water Culture (DWC) system. I’m not a big fan of what this manufacturer offers, although the price is not bad at all, it’s pretty much the cheapest choice here.
Impressively, for a really cheap price you can buy two of these. That’s right: you get 12 pods to grow 12 heads of lettuce at the same time.
So, why am I reviewing this one if I don’t consider it quite worthy of being among the best hydroponics systems?
Because I want to show you through a precise example of the kind of hydroponic system you can build at home if you have the inclination to do so.
What you don’t get
What makes me disappointed in this DWC from Growneer is the fact that it doesn’t come with nutrient solution. You have to buy that yourself so, it’s an extra expense to be made and time spent.
But what makes me even more disappointed is that it doesn’t include grow lights. Not even a small desk lamp, like the Scottish Boy Intelligent Hydroponic Indoor Garden includes. Although, given the low price, I can see why it lacks even a small LED lamp.
I’m not bothered that it doesn’t come with seeds, few of the above best hydroponics systems include seeds and those who do are the pricey ones and only include seeds for growing a number of herbs.
Some people complain about its size. It measure 16 inches in length. However, given that it only has 6 sites (6 places to mainly grow lettuce or herbs), I think the size is appropriate.
We can complain about the fact that it only has 6 pods but that’s another matter. After all, AeroGarden has a system with 6 pods and that one’s impressively popular.
And if you get the pack of 2, you actually buy 12 pods in total, just like the above Ezorkas Hydroponic Growing System offers.
What you get
This is the classic DWC system that so many people build at home and place them in garages or greenhouses.
It comes with: 1 grow box with cover, rockwool (12 cubes) as growing medium or for germinating the seeds, air pump, air pump tubing, airstone, connector, water indicator kit, 6 planting sponges and 6 net cups.
7. Hydrofarm Root Spa Deep Water Culture Bucket System
Well, the Hydrofarm Deep Water Culture Bucket System is definitely an exception to the above indoor gardens. This is a proper DWC culture bucket system.
But, let’s be honest: you can build this kind of system by yourself by watching some good YouTube tutorials. And it will be a much cheaper much better hydroponic system than this one from Hydrofarm.
If you only buy the one bucket system from Hydrofarm, the price is quite acceptable. It’s still a bit expensive for my tastes but not as expensive as their 4 bucket system or 8 bucket system. Those are quite pricey.
As I will explain below, where I talk about the different types of hydroponics system, this is one of the most basic of them all and it doesn’t involve a lot of parts or technical knowledge.
What you don’t get
The 5 gallon bucket system from Hydrofarm comes with an 8 inch bucket basket that will hold your choice of growing medium.
Already this model doesn’t deserve to be called the best hydroponic system because buying it means that you need to spend extra money on the growing medium. The manufacturer recommends using clay pebbles, which is a very good growing medium (the soil replacement), but the problem is that it’s sold separately, which is not cool.
I don’t get why they wouldn’t include the growing medium, it’s an absolutely essential component in a hydroponics system.
There’s also no nutrient solution included in the price.
No grow light is included in the package. That can be handled with no extra-cost if you can place the buckets outside in the sunlight. If not, you will need to invest in grow lights or place it in a greenhouse.
There are also no seeds but that’s a common occurrence among the best hydroponics systems. This last one is not a con but the rest are big cons for the Hydrofarm Deep Water Culture Bucket System.
What you get
First, there’s the 5 gallon bucket. You need to fill it with water and nutrient solution. The roots of the plants need to be submerged in the nutrient solution.
The 8 inch bucket basket is the second main component. This is where you have to place the growing medium
Well, if you want to make your own, you will discover that large buckets are inexpensive.
Making a deep water culture system by yourself is not extremely complicated and it can include a much larger reservoir than a bucket. Or it can include as many buckets as you want beautifully connected together. There are so many options for DIY hydroponic systems for beginners.
The Hydrofarm Deep Water Culture Bucket System also comes with:
- air pump for oxygenating the water and the nutrient solution in which the roots are submerged – this submersion ensures a fast growth rate
- the pump will run continuously to supply the needed oxygen – it can be manually turned on or off
- multi-purpose air hose for delivering the air from the pump to the bottom of the bucket
It does eliminate the need for an air stone, which will be needed in larger DWC systems.
The major advantage
Once you figure out the growing medium, buy the nutrient solution and figure out how much water to add and how much nutrient solution to add to the water, you can grow a large variety of plants with the Hydrofarm Deep Water Culture Bucket System: herbs, tomatoes, onions, peppers, cucumbers, flowers etc.
If you opt for the most expensive version, the 5 gal 8 Bucket System, you will actually buy one of the largest best hydroponics systems for home use. The variety of plants that can be grown in 8 buckets is considerable.
But 8 buckets is not exactly a configuration that can be housed in a small apartment. Unlike a large majority of the above best hydroponics systems, the indoor gardens, this one can’t placed on the kitchen counter.
The only major thing you need to worry about is the water level. The roots need to be totally submerged in the nutrient solution so you need to replenish that.
2 DIY Simple & Cheap Hydroponics Systems
We saw which are the best buying option for at-home hydroponics systems but let me tell you what you can experiment with during your free time. Check out this YouTube video for the visual guide.
1. Wicks system in plastic bottle(s):
- a large plastic water bottle – that will be your container but you can also use jars and buckets
- cut the plastic water bottle almost in half
- growing medium – the options are plenty but I suggest a combination between rockwool cubes for germinating the seeds and expanded clay aggregate to keep the wick and the rockwool stable
- place the growing medium in the superior part, the part with the nozzle – the growing medium is the component that sustains the plant while it grows and the seeds while they germinate
- water with nutrient-rich solution – that goes into the larger half of the cut water bottle
- you can buy the nutrient-rich solution or make your own – this is the component that makes plants grow and they grow quite fast and the yield is great
- a wick that will connect the growing medium with the water – the water and nutrients will be delivered to the roots of the plant through this wick
- you can use felt or cotton wicking strips – even cutting up long narrow strips from an old cotton t-shirt works
- plant your seeds – lettuce and herbs work really well in this tiny DIY hydroponic system
- insert the nozzle into the water and that’s it
Place the water bottle(s) in the sunlight near a window or use LED grow lights.
You will also have to change the water to keep it oxygenated and the nutrients replenished.
2. Kratky method with mason jars
Another very simple hydroponic system that pretty much anyone can make is called the Kratky method with mason jars.
Unlike the wick hydroponic system with plastic bottles, growing plants in mason jars offers you the possibility to grow a large variety of vegetables, leafy greens, and herbs.
How Does Hydroponics Work?
The simplest way to describe hydroponics is: the plants are grown in a nutrient solution instead of bring grown in the soil. Plants are grown in this nutrient solution with a water base.
Since there is no soil to support their growth, plants need a growing medium (rockwool, styrofoam, coconut fiber, peat moss, pro-mix, gravel, sand, expanded clay, composted bark, perlite).
It turns out that vegetables can grow in water alone as long as they are provided the needed nutrients and fertilizers.
It’s the alternative to classic agriculture.
This method hasn’t become of interest only to industrial producers but also to normal consumers who live in apartments or who have limited gardening space.
Hydroponics is the solution when you want to grow plants indoors all year round. And plants grow more quickly than soil-based crops.
If you’ve ever watched a documentary on climate change where alternative solutions were offered to conventional agriculture, I’m pretty sure that there was a montage showing huge greenhouses were different plants were grown in nutrient solutions instead of soil.
Or better yet, if you are curious about what new technologies can bring to the world of growing vegetables and various greens, check out the systems developed by Singapore. It’s just impressive.
6 Main Types of Hydroponics Systems
There are 6 main hydroponic systems that can be scaled down into DIY best hydroponics systems or scaled up for commercial use in huge warehouses or greenhouses:
- deep water culture
- nutrient film technique
- ebb and flow (flood and drains)
1. Deep Water Culture (DWC)
The set-up for this hydroponics system is quite basic, which is why it’s the simplest form when it comes to hydroponics systems.
It’s also one of the cheapest systems that you can do at home. However, it’s limited to mostly growing lettuce but it works for herbs, too.
The roots are directly submerged in water, that’s what makes it so simple.
For DWC systems made at home, the plants can be placed on a medium made of Styrofoam and the roots are submerged in water containing the nutrient solution.
Or it can be made from a large plastic container and the lid of the container is where the net pots are placed.
The other option is to use 5 gallon buckets as containers and link them together, as many as you have place for them.
The set-up consists of:
- a tank (nutrient reservoir) – you can use an old aquarium or a water container
- air pump – buy a cheap one, it will be enough, it needs to be on 24 hours a day
- air stone – in addition to the air pump, an air stone can be used to further add oxygen to the system, it’s an essential part in a hydroponic system because they’re a tool to add oxygen and circulate nutrition, as well as extending the life of the nutrient solution
- tubing – for connecting the air pump and the air stone
Technically, you don’t need growing medium with deep water culture but if you want to use one hydroton (expanded clay aggregate) can be a good choice. The hydroton is placed in net pots that are set in the polystyrene raft, the roots are immersed in the nutrient solution.
The water level needs to stay constant. The DWC is the system that requires high oxygen levels, since the roots are submerged.
2. The Wick System
This is what we call passive hydroponics, meaning that there are no moving parts in the system.
The growing medium is fed through the wick, the wick is the part that delivers the nutrient solution. The growing media are: coconut fiber, pro-mix, vermiculite, perlite.
Small plants will thrive in this type of hydroponics system. Large plants will consume the nutrient solution faster than the wicks can supply.
3. Nutrient Film Technique (NFT)
This is actually one of the most prevalent types of hydroponics systems. It can be made at home if you don’t want to buy one, although most beginners don’t start with this one.
For a NFT you need:
- reservoir – an old aquarium tank can work if you want to keep the cost really low
- air pump
- air stone
- airline tubing
- water pump and tubing – can be found at an aquarium store or online
- channel where the plants are placed (grow bed or PVC pipes) – can be easily expanded by adding multiple channels, the channel is installed in a slope in order to return the water with the nutrient solution to the reservoir
The water is pumped into the channel and the slope lets it return to the reservoir.
The plants are suspended directly in water and the nutrient solution, the roots are completely submerged. The nutrient solution is pumped into the grow bed/channel and then drained back into the reservoir.
The growing medium doesn’t need to be replaced after every crop. Rockwool, expanded clay aggregate, coconut fiber, and perlite are all fit for being the growing medium.
4. Ebb and Flow
This one is geared towards commercial use. You can build an ebb and flow by yourself, it involves the following components:
- reservoir – large storage totes are the preferred option with this system but buckets can also be used
- growing medium – growstones spread throughout the grow bed, rockwool or coconut fiber for the roots
- water pump
- digital timer – necessary for making the water pump pump up the water with nutrients into the grow bed to feed the roots, the timer also has the role of shutting off the pump so the solution goes back into the reservoir
- plastic tubing – there are two tubes: one for pumping up the water and one for draining it, the water must go up but it must also come down because it needs to be drained back into the reservoir
- grow tray – can be bought, convenient because it’s pre-drilled
One of the important things is determining the timing schedule for your crop, depending on what you’re growing, the size of the plants, the humidity, the growing medium.
The tricky factors with the ebb and flow are: susceptibility to power outages, pump failure, and timer failure. It’s definitely more suitable for outdoor placement.
These are some of the most widely used hydroponics systems when it comes to commercial growers.
It gets its name because water is dripped directly into the growing medium. It’s a lot more focused than the ebb and flow, where water inundates the grow bed.
They are quite ingenious, especially the Recovery Drip Systems. The recovery is added to the name because the surplus nutrient solution flows down into the reservoir to be reused. No waste, which is great on the industrial scale.
It’s also less expensive.
Drip systems require: reservoir, timer, water pump, air pump, air stone, drip line, and a grow tray with growing medium and the plants. The timer sets off the pump, which allows the nutrient solution to drip off from above directly on the plants.
Since the nutrient solution is recycled, the pH and the strength of the solution need to be closely monitored.
A drip system is also recommended if you want to grow larger vegetables, like onions, pumpkins, radishes.
The best growing medium to use with this type is one that lets the water drain slowly, like peat moss or coconut coir.
The last of the hydroponic systems that I’m briefly going to touch upon is called aeroponics. You can tell from the name that this time air is involved in those process of not growing crops in soil.
How does the air come into play? Well, the plants are actually suspended, their roots are not immersed in water but the roots receive the nutrient solution through periodic very frequent mist sprays.
Air is the growing medium.
So, yes, a timer is involved. And if there’s an electricity shortage and the plants don’t receive their perfectly timed mist, they will quickly dry out.
It’s not a system that is widely used when making hydroponic kits for home use, it’s more for commercial use because it has quite the technological component to it. On the industrial scale, it looks amazing.
What Plants Can We Grow?
The crops that can be grown at home with a hydroponics system can be restricted in yield because, as we saw, some of the best hydroponics systems don’t have the biggest containers.
On the other hand, the advantage is that we are not restricted when it comes to the variety of hydroponically grown crops. Even if we use the indoor garden in a small apartment.
In general, I’m pretty sure that you already have an idea on the variety that can be grown hydroponically:
- leafy greens – spinach, lettuce, kale, watercress
- herbs – basil, cilantro, oregano, parsley, chives, dill, fennel, chamomile, anise, rosemary, thyme, tarragon, mint, sage, marjoram
- various vegetables: tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, celery, pak choy, onions, carrots, potatoes, leeks, radishes
- even strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, grape, cantaloupe can be grown with the help of hydroponics systems
These are some of the most popular but, in theory, almost any plant and vegetable can grow hydroponically.
But if you want to grow both fish and plants at the same time, check out how aquaponics works.
For normal consumers, who don’t want to venture into growing plants on an industrial scale, the main advantage of hydroponics is pretty obvious: the ability to grow our own vegetables on a small scale.
The second advantage is that we can grow plants all year round and we can rotate between herbs, leafy greens, vegetables, strawberries, flowers in some cases. Or we can grow a combination of these.
The faster growth rate is another major advantage.
Watching something grow and knowing that you are responsible for the whole process can be quite the satisfying experience.
Even if it’s only on a small scale and you still have to go to the market and spend there quite a lot of money weekly, it can still be enough to know that you at least contributed with your own small crop.
It’s like making homemade bread from time to time. I would say that the satisfaction is pretty similar.
Plus, you won’t make a mess. In that regard, you should also check out how to grow microgreens without soil.
Hydroponics systems have also sparked an interested in people who are concerned about food supply chains. Our latest global experience has definitely made us more aware of the fragility of the world we live in.
Those who are really keen on eating organic and insecticide-free vegetables and herbs will definitely appreciate the advantages brought on by using the best hydroponics systems.
FAQs for the Best Hydroponics Systems
Let’s do a short recap on the best hydroponics systems by answering some frequently asked questions.
Q. What is the best hydroponic system for beginners?
Beginners in hydroponics start with the deep water culture system, if they want to build the system themselves. The DWC is easy to build, without requiring a lot of technical knowledge. Its basic components are: reservoir, air pump, air stone, tubing, growing medium (hydroton, pea gravel), nutrient solution, and grow lights. Other options that qualify as the best hydroponics systems for beginners are: the Kratky method with mason jars or buying an indoor garden, a small complete hydroponic system that can be placed on the kitchen counter and that comes with a lot of very helpful features.
Q. Is DWC the best hydroponic system?
DWC is not the best hydroponic system but it’s the starting point for a lot of regular consumers because it’s one of the cheapest and easiest to build. It also offers a lot of freedom in terms of choosing the reservoir: it can be an old aquarium, a collection of 5 gal buckets, a plastic storage box with a lid. DWC is the best hydroponic system for growing lettuce easily and quickly. For many, the DWC system is the stepping stone for building an NFT or an ebb and flow or even a drips system.
Q. What is the fastest growing hydroponic system?
If you have the right conditions, meaning a good growing medium, you’re using full-spectrum LED grow lights, you’re feeding the plants the necessary nutrient, the pH is the right one for the vegetables you’re growing, then any system can be the fastest growing hydroponic system. Hydroponic plants can grow 40-50% faster and can produce 30% more yield compared to soil crops, as long as they have the right conditions.
Q. Are indoor hydroponic gardens worth it?
When we mention the words indoor hydroponic gardens, we’re referring to systems like the ones made by AeroGarden, by iDoo, and by other manufacturers. Some have prices well below $100, while others cost more than $200. So, when questioning whether indoor hydroponic gardens are worth it, we must also consider these price ranges. In general, indoor hydroponic gardens are worth it if you want to grow plants without indoors, all year round, without knowing too much about hydroponics thanks to these best hydroponics systems that pack everything you need.