Best Vertical Hydroponic Garden – 2023
Jules Walters • Published: Oct 3, 2023
A vertical hydroponic garden is a smart solution to the lack of growing space we face in cities and towns, and the ever greater need for new farming solutions.
And, as the name suggests, these gardens use vertical space, allowing plants to grow upwards rather than spread to the side. It means almost everyone can grow plants and join the food-to-table movement from home, even if you only have two square feet of available space.
For this article, I’ve checked out and listed below 7 of the best vertical hydroponic gardens for indoors and outside. There’s something for everyone here, from countertop devices to tower solutions, and for newbies to experienced gardeners.
What are vertical hydroponic gardens?
Hydroponics is defined as the process of growing plants in sand, gravel or liquid. The term comes from the Greek words for water and work. Unlike soil, the chosen growing medium will be sterile, lessening the risk of disease and pest invasions.
In a commercial setting, hydroponic farming of herbs and vegetables is growing rapidly. And it’s not just good business. It provides a big environmental benefit too.
The process of watering and fertilizing is typically mechanized – so it’s much more time, material and cost efficient than traditional farming in open fields.
A recent offshoot of hydroponic systems is referred to as aeroponics. You can read more about it in my blog “What is aeroponics?”.
Jules’ picks for the best vertical hydroponic gardens
The 16-liter tank and self-contained irrigation system means no trailing tubes, and enough water that you can leave it to itself for at least a week.
This product makes a lot of a little space. It can also go outside, where it may be more at home than indoors – so long as there’s no risk of freezing.
This is a great vertical system for getting started, and ideal for kitchen countertops or window sills, shelves and alcoves.
You just need 2 feet of width space for this model, and 2 feet of height to allow for the adjustable light to fully extend.
This is a well designed, all-in-one system, ideal for starting off herbs and salad plants. And its slim size makes it a great one for newbie gardeners with limited indoor space.
The built-in grow light is height adjustable as the plants grow – and you can harvest your crops from there. It’s not a true hydroponic system, though, as you’ll need to move the small plants into soil pots or outside beds once they’ve got going.
Keep one on your kitchen counter or a handy window sill. If you like it, you may want a second one.
This trolley-style configuration from Ahopegarden Direct has a narrow, yet functional design. And with a generous pod capacity, customers clearly like it.
It’s great for size, and wheels allow you to move it around the house. You can even put it in a corner for the night if you want the space back.
Tower Garden Hydroponics Growing System | Indoor Vertical Garden 2.0 with Double Layer 8 Sections LED Timed Grow Light
The makers optimistically call this product their Sky Garden.
Well, it is the tallest among my picks, and the only two reviewers I’ve found so far appear very happy with their purchase.
The tower’s product blurb makes a similar claim to the ones from other vertical hydroponics companies: that this system will produce “40% more yield – 3 times faster – (and use) 95% less water”. The comparison implied of course, is with traditional gardening in a soil medium.
The AEVA model from Canada would not look out of place in a high-end kitchen.
See for yourself. t’s a nice-looking, well made piece of furniture – as well as a vertical hydroponic garden.
And there’s no lack of complimentary reviews from happy customers, both on and off the Just Vertical website. And AEVA has a slimmer sister, EVE, for those with under a thousand dollars to spend, and limited space to play with.
And this system will rise with you – from one to three levels – as your ambition grows. The starter unit is in the mid-price range for home systems. But I would go for the base unit and see how much you like it before buying all 3.
Also: I wouldn’t recommend this one for complete beginners, or small apartments, and definitely not for outside. There are cheaper and more compact options here for getting started.
The main types of vertical hydroponics systems
There are several types of vertical hydroponic gardens for both outdoor and indoors, which can make the most of limited space. Here are some of the main types:
Tower systems are vertical structures that consist of multiple stacked planters. Each tower planter has openings for individual plants, allowing the roots to grow in a nutrient-rich solution.
The vertical tower can be free-standing or attached to a wall, and most are suitable for both indoor and outdoor gardens.
A-frame systems are designed with a frame structure that looks like the letter A shape. A series of shelves or troughs are attached to the frame at different heights to take the plants.
These systems are versatile and can be used in indoor spaces like garages or greenhouses.
Pallet gardens use repurposed wooden pallets as the vertical structure. Plants are usually grown in the spaces between the boards or in attached containers.
Pallet gardens are generally deeper from front to back than other systems, and most suitable for outdoor spaces such as balconies or patios.
Wall-mounted systems are perfect for indoor gardening, especially in areas with limited space. These systems usually feature planters that are mounted directly on walls, using special brackets or hooks.
The planters can be arranged horizontally or in a vertical pattern for a more efficient use of space.
Stacked tray systems consist of trays or containers that are stacked vertically, allowing plants to grow in each level. These systems are often used indoors and can be easily adjusted or expanded based on available space.
Tubes or pipes
These systems use tubes or a PVC pipe array mounted vertically, with plants planted in multiple openings or pockets. Nutrient-rich water is circulated through the structure, providing irrigation and nutrients to the plants.
Frequently Asked Questions
What do I need to make a vertical hydroponic garden?
The key things you will need are: a water reservoir such as a small tank or basin, a submersible pump; grow lights as a dedicated light supply; temperature control; plant nutrients; a growing medium that’s an alternative to soil; and floor space! There’ll also be some system-specific equipment, which may come as an optional add-on to your chosen system. Note, it won’t be a proper system without at least one water pump if you want to eliminate a lot of manual irrigation!
Depending on your location and climate, you may also need a dehumidifier to prevent mold developing on or around your plants, and to keep your home environment healthy.
For more on this, read my blog on how to begin an indoor vertical hydroponic garden. And do watch a few introductory YouTube videos.
What are the disadvantages of vertical hydroponics systems?
A vertical hydroponic system can be more expensive to set up and maintain compared to traditional soil-based gardening. The initial investment for lighting, pumps, nutrient solutions, and other equipment can be substantial.
Setting up and managing a vertical hydroponic system naturally calls for some knowledge of hydroponics; including monitoring pH levels, nutrient solution, and water circulation. It will take a bit of time and effort to learn and master the techniques involved, but it’s worth the effort to have home-grown food.
Hydroponic systems need regular maintenance to achieve the right conditions for plant growth. This includes adjusting nutrient levels, monitoring pH, preventing the growth of algae or mold, and ensuring they have enough light and water. This could take as little as five minutes a day in a coffee break for those working from home.
Vertical hydroponics indoors need artificial lighting and usually a water pump or two, which will result in increased electricity use.
The best hydroponic products will come with energy-efficient LED lights and a submersible pump included.
Limited plant variety
Vertical hydroponic gardens may not be suitable for all types of plants. Some plants with larger root systems or those that require deeper soil may not thrive in a vertical environment. Leafy greens, herbs, and smaller fruiting plants are generally more suitable.
Although vertical hydroponics can maximize space, it’s still limited by the vertical space available. If you have low ceilings, or lack a dedicated area for a vertical setup, it may not be feasible.