Are you looking to garden all year long? Do you want to grow fresh homegrown food from the comfort of your own home? If so we’ll help you choose one of the best hydroponic starter kits so you can start your own little indoor family farm.
If you’re just looking for the best hydroponic starter kits you can check out the following table to find a complete hydroponic herb garden and grow kit if you’re eager to get off to a fast start. Otherwise, you can read more reviews and information about all the different hydroponic systems in this comprehensive guide.
Best Hydroponic Starter Kits
Getting Started with Hydroponics
A hydroponic garden can be a fun and rewarding experience since it makes it real easy to grow plants even if you don’t have a green thumb.
Once you take soil out of the equation it will be much easier and less time consuming to produce a bountiful harvest of fresh herbs, fruits, or vegetables. You also won’t have to deal with insects, weeds or diseases, so your plants will stay healthy and robust.
If you are new to hydroponics it can be a little overwhelming to know where to start. In the following article, we’ll help you find the best hydroponic garden kit, so you can grow a great crop even if this is your first time giving hydroponics a shot.
Best Hydroponic Starter Kit Reviews
The AeroGarden Bounty (Buy Online) is one of the best hydroponic starter kits you can buy. This hydroponic kit makes it easy to grow fresh herbs on your counter-top, so you can throw out your spice bottles and relish in the tastes and aromas that dry herbs just can’t provide.
This hydroponic starter kit is also very easy to set up since everything you’ll need to get growing is incorporated into its beautiful design. First and most importantly it has a bright LED light that will provide your plants with just the right amount of light they’ll need to thrive.
It also has an interactive touch screen that will tell you when to add water and fertilizer, and you can use it to program and control the lights. The color touch screen will also display growing tips while the plants develop, so you’ll always know what to do even if you’re growing a plant for the first time.
This hydroponic starter kit has 9-pods that are large enough to grow most herbs, and they can even fit certain flowers and vegetables that stay relatively short over their lifetime. The AeroGarden Bounty also comes with a herb seed kit that contains, basil, parsley, dill, mint, and thyme. You also get a 3-ounce bottle of fertilizer with this kit, so once you open the box you can get started growing right away.
The General Hydroponics Waterfarm Complete Hydroponic System Grow Kit (Buy Online) is a full-size system that will let you grow almost any plant you like. This system is made by one of the leading hydroponic brands in the industry, and it’s built to professional standards yet it still has a very affordable price.
This hydroponic kit is perfect for someone who wants to grow large plants like tomatoes outdoors, or you can use it indoors if you have enough space and a high powered LED light.
This hydroponic kit comes with a large 5-gallon reservoir and a grow tray that fit together into a nice compact design. Water is transported through the system using an air pump that lifts the water up a tube, and then it drips out evenly around the plant from an emitter that has an innovative circular design.
This hydroponic kit also comes with a large bag of hydroton clay pebbles that will fill up the tray so you won’t have any other growing media to buy. It also comes with three 1-quart bottles of General Hydroponics Fertilizer which is one of the best hydroponic fertilizers you can buy.
Overall this General Hydroponics Waterfarm Complete Hydroponic System Grow Kit is a great system if you need to grow large plants, or if you’re looking for a starter system that will grow with you over time.
The Mr. Stacky Smart Farm – Automatic Self Watering Garden (Buy Online) is the best hydroponic kit if you want to grow more plants in less space. This hydroponic kit measures 18.5” x 18.5” x 49”, and it comes with a 16-gallon reservoir.
The Mr. Stacky Smart Farm hydroponic system can be used indoors or outdoors, so you can grow fresh food under the sun, or you can place it under artificial light. This system can hold 20 plants, and it’s perfect for growing leafy greens, cherry tomatoes, strawberries, or any other plants that will work well with the vertical design.
This hydroponic kit is powered by a 250 GPH (gallon per hour) pump, and it comes with a 7-day digital timer that controls the pump. It also comes with fertilizer, and a growing guide, so all you’ll need to do is add plants and water to have fresh fruits and vegetables ready to harvest in a short time.
The Click and Grow Smart Garden 3 Indoor Gardening Kit (Buy Online) will make gardening easy, and it can help you save some money and time. This small kitchen-top growing hydroponic kit is a perfect fit for small kitchens where space is at a premium. The whole unit measures 9” x 4.9” x 12.5”, and it only weighs 3.5 pounds when it’s empty.
This hydroponic kit can hold three plants at any one time, and it has a stylish built-in LED light that’s very energy efficient and bright. This hydroponic system uses smart soil technology that wicks up moisture from the reservoir, and it’s silent since there aren’t any pumps to make noise.
There are over 40 different herb and vegetable pods to choose from, and you get 3 basil pods included in the box to get you started. This kit also comes in three different colors, so you’ll easily be able to find one that fits into your kitchens interior design.
The SavyGrow DWC Hydroponic System Growing Kit (Buy Online) is a complete indoor hydroponic kit that comes with everything you’ll need to get off to a great start. This kit comes with a 6-gallon reservoir, and you can get it with a cover that has either 6 or 11 growing slots.
The SavyGrow DWC Hydroponic System Growing Kit also comes with growth media, plumbing, and 6 net pots. And the whole system is powered by an air pump that lifts water from the basin so it can efficiently get up to the pots.
This hydroponic kit is perfect if you already have a grow light, or if you can place it near a window or any other sunny spot. You can also grow larger plants like tomatoes or peppers since it offers enough room for the plants to spread out.
The PowerGrow Deep Water Culture (DWC) Hydroponic Bucket Kit (Buy Online) is one of the best all-in-one hydroponic kits. This simple system is made up of a large 5 gallon FDA approved bucket that comes with a lid that has a large 6-inch mesh pot.
The system is fed by a powerful 44 GPH (gallons per hour) air pump that brings water to the roots of the plant, and the airstone aerates the reservoir so the roots won’t rot. It also comes with all the growing media and rockwool cubes you’ll need to get started.
The PowerGrow Deep Water Culture (DWC) Hydroponic Bucket Kit is perfect for use in a grow tent, or you can use it in a greenhouse if you’re looking to grow plants that need more light. And if you like the single bucket system PowerGrow also makes a four bucket DWC hydroponic system at a very affordable price.
What is Hydroponics
Put simply hydroponic literally means “water gardening”. The water in a hydroponic system provides all the nutrients a plant needs so it can grow without soil.
This nutrient-rich water feeds the roots directly so the plants don’t have to search for nutrients in the soil. This allows plants to grow more quickly, and they can also produce a more bountiful harvest.
The soil just acts as a medium that holds all the nutrients a plant needs to grow. Once you provide the nutrients they need then soil just serves as structural support.
Plants will still need support in a hydroponic system, but this is usually provided by perlite, peat moss, clay pellets (Hydroton), vermiculite, or Rockwool. All you’ll need is a small amount of growth media for each plant so the roots at the base of the stem can grip onto it to help the plant stand upright.
The roots of a plant also need oxygen to remain healthy, and to prevent fungal infections like root rot. Most hydroponic systems use pumps to circulate the water which oxygenates it, and it also helps stir the nutrients up.
This covers the basics of most hydroponic systems, but there are many different types of hydroponic kits out there. In the following section, we’ll go over each one in more detail, and tell you which one is good for a beginner looking for the best hydroponic starter kit to buy.
Types of Hydroponic Systems
Finding the right hydroponic system can be challenging since there are so many different types of systems you can buy. Over the years new hydroponic techniques have been developed that improve on the performance of previous designs.
Some of these systems started out in commercial hydroponic facilities to increase yields, and now they even come in consumer-friendly versions that anyone can try. The following sections cover the most common types of hydroponic systems you’re most likely to run into.
Hydroponic Drip Systems
Drip systems are one of the most common hydroponic systems, and they are great for beginners and experts alike. A drip system uses a simple low power pump connected to a timer to deliver nutrient-rich water to each plant at set intervals for short periods of time.
The water is delivered to each plant via a drip line, and the excess water returns back to the reservoir for reuse.
The best thing about a drip system is that it saves water, and it delivers nutrients to each plant equally. It also can support a large number of plants as long as you have a big enough pump and enough drip line.
The downside of a drip system is that the drip lines can get clogged, and it can be more time consuming to maintain over time. Drip systems also need more powerful pumps to push water through the drip line, which can end up costing more upfront, and they use more energy over their entire life.
Deep Water Culture
A deep water culture system is one of the simplest and easiest to use hydroponic systems. In a deep water culture system, the plant’s roots grow directly in the reservoir, where they soak the nutrient-rich water right up.
An air pump is then connected to an air stone in the reservoir which introduces bubbles to the nutrient solution to keep the water well oxygenated at all times.
This type of system is perfect for water-loving plants like lettuce or herbs, It also can support larger plants and medicinal crops. Some plants that don’t like having “wet feet” might not do as well in these systems though so you should take that into account before you give DWC a try.
Deep water culture systems tend to use much less energy than most hydroponic systems since they only rely on an air pump. This makes them very economical to run since air pumps use less electricity than a standard impeller driven water pump.
These types of systems also need less maintenance since the water stays in the reservoir, and there are no drip lines or pumps to get clogged up.
Hydroponic Wick System
A wick system is a simple passive system that relies on capillary action to transport water and nutrients to your plants. Since it’s passive it’s great for windowsills or areas where you can’t plug in a pump.
A wick system works by drawing nutrient-rich water up through a simple wick from a reservoir. The wick works by pulling the water up to the growth media when the plants use the water up. Usually, the growth media in a wick system retains moisture, so something like perlite, vermiculite, or coconut fiber is usually your best choice.
The good thing about a wick system is that they are very simple systems to set up and run. The downside is that the wick can only move a minimal amount of water, so you can only really grow small plants and herbs.
Ebb And Flow
Ebb and flow systems are a little more specialized and they tend to be used in bigger hydroponic setups. They work by pumping in a large amount of water into the growing medium, and then the slowly let the nutrient solution drain back into the reservoir.
This cycle is controlled by a timer which turns the pump on and off at set intervals to fill the growing tray up. The pump then turns off, and then the water slowly returns to the reservoir. The growing media remains saturated for quite some time, so the pump won’t have to run until the root zone begins to dry out.
These systems can require more fine tuning to get the flood and drain cycle just right. They also need to be adjusted as the plants grow larger since the plants will require more water to thrive.
Ebb and Flow systems can also be risky if the pump fails or gets clogged since the growth media and the roots can dry. If a pump failure occurs it can cause all the plants in the system to become stunted or they might even die.
Nutrient Film Technique
Nutrient Film Technique (NFT) is a very robust system that’s great for beginners. It works by providing a steady flow of nutrients to your plants, and it doesn’t require timers or any adjustments to get running just right.
These systems simply pump water up into the growing tray and it cycles back into the reservoir. The water tends to cling to the bottom of the tray where the roots grow into a thick mat and soak up the nutrients as they pass by.
The benefits of an NFT system is that they are easy to use and they don’t need a timer, so the plants always have access to water and nutrients at all times.
The downside is that the pump can still fail, and if it does the root mat can quickly dry out and the plants can die.
Aeroponics is a more advanced method of hydroponics that has become popular in recent times. In an aeroponic system, the roots of the plants remain suspended in the air where a fine mist of water is sprayed onto them every few minutes.
This constant misting delivers nutrients to the roots of the plant, and it allows the roots to have access to oxygen at all times. This leads to super healthy root systems that have more root hairs which soak up nutrients faster, and the plants develop in record time.
The upside of an aeroponic system is that you can get very high yields, and the plants are less susceptible to diseases like root rot. Aeroponics systems can also support plants that don’t like to be waterlogged, so you can grow crops that usually don’t do well in a regular hydroponic system.
The big downside is that the system is reliant on small spray nozzles that can easily clog. That means an aeroponics system will need more maintenance to properly run. In addition, if the pump fails it can be a big problem since the roots will quickly dry out and cause the plants to die.
Benefits of Hydroponics
Starting a hydroponic garden comes with so many benefits it can be hard to name them all. Here are some of the most important benefits, and as you progress on your hydroponic journey I’m sure you’ll find so many more.
Hydroponic Plants Grow Faster
The number one benefit of growing plants in a hydroponic system is that they will grow faster, and they will have fewer problems than if you were to grow them in soil. With a hydroponic starter kit, you’ll notice that plants grow about 20% faster, and they can yield up to 25%-30% more than if you grew them in soil.
Hydroponic systems are also less likely to harbor pests and diseases. And since there is no soil most insects won’t be able to complete their full life cycle. Mold and fungal pathogens are also easier to control since you can keep the hydroponic system much cleaner than when you grow in soil.
Most plants will also use nutrients more efficiently which will let you grow your plants with less fertilizer, which can help lower the overall cost of growing your own food at home.
Hydroponics Saves Water
Growing plants in a hydroponic system can also reduce the amount of water you need to grow a given amount of fresh vegetables and herbs. Since the water in a hydroponic system recirculates you won’t have the same amount of water loss you would if you grew the same kinds of plants in soil.
In most cases, a hydroponic system will use 10 times less water than a field crop grown in soil. Hydroponic systems also help protect our waterways since they don’t leach fertilizer into our aquifers and rivers.
Grow Fresh Herbs and Vegetables All Year Long
The thing that most people appreciate most about having a hydroponic garden is that you can grow fresh homegrown food all year long. This can help lower your grocery bill, and you’ll always have access to fresh herbs and vegetables when you can’t find them in the store.
Having plants growing in your house all winter can also help cheer you up when everything outside is dormant and the weather is cold. The bright lights on most hydroponic starter kits will also help keep your mood elevated as the days get shorter, which can help you avoid seasonal affective disorder.