Best Hydroponic System for Healthy Plants

Using a hydroponic system to grow plants isn’t new, but it’s really catching on in commercial operations around the world. People are starting to take notice of it too, and they’re incorporating hydroponic systems into their own home gardens because it can help streamline the growing process while ensuring your plants grow organically. Additionally, most plants will grow much faster using hydroponics, and it gives you the ability to grow anything you want all year round with minimal hassle. You use less space, yield more vegetables, fruits, or plants, and you conserve both water and soil at the same time. 

If you’ve never heard of a hydroponic system to grow your plants, it can seem intimidating to jump in. These systems can be expensive, depending on the size. But the benefits usually outweigh the cons. I’ve taken the guesswork away for you and picked out 10 high-quality hydroponic systems you can order and have shipped right to your door. If you’re thinking about adding to your current setup or making the switch, you can compare my reviews and use the short buyer’s guide to narrow down your final selection. 

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A good hydroponic setup is a semi-permanent system, so you should be very careful when you consider where you’re going to put it. It’s going to stay in the same place because it is very heavy and you don’t want to disturb your plants as they grow. 

1. DWC Hydroponic Bubbler Bucket Kit – Top Pick

This hydroponic system comes outfitted with a four bucket system that works well for large or medium plants, including smaller fruit trees. There are industrial-grade air pumps in this setup with air lines and air stones to ensure your plants get excellent oxygenation as they grow. All four buckets on this system come made from food-grade plastic to prevent any nasty chemicals from leaching in, and they each have a bigger five-gallon capacity to them. You can also put six-inch pots into this hydroponic system to grow mature plants and vegetables without it being too large for them. 

One of the standout features on this hydroponic system is the Deep Water Culture system that places powerful air stones in the buckets to help oxygenate the water. All four buckets come with drainage systems with water level indicators, and this will clue you in when it’s time to refill or clean the system to keep your plants healthy and thriving. You also get growing medium when you pick out this kit, and this allows you to get it set up and running quickly and easily. You will need to plan out your space as this one does have four five-gallon buckets to deal with, but it’s a solid pick for beginners. 

Benefits:

  • Holds larger plants 
  • Has a Deep Water Culture system 
  • Five-gallon capacity per bucket
  • Water level indicators
  • Very efficient drainage system 
  • Industrial-grade parts and pieces 
  • Easy to set up 

Drawbacks:

2. Moistenland Hydroponics Growing System – Step-Up Pick

You get 12 growing stations on this hydroponic growing kit, and it comes outfitted with a water reservoir, a fan to circulate air through your plants, and an overhead LED grow light to ensure your plants have everything they need to thrive. The see-through water reservoir ensures that you can tell whether or not you need to add more water at a glance to prevent it from running dry, and the grow lights come with timer settings. You can set them to run for 18 hours on and 6 hours off, and the water will circulate through the system every 30 minutes to bring nutrients and oxygenated water to the root systems. 

When you purchase this hydroponic system, you’ll get 12 coconut coir seed plugs, 12 mesh pots, and 12 clear covers to help protect your seeds until they sprout. You do have to purchase the nutrient liquid and seeds on your own because they don’t come included in the original purchase. Your plants will get a mix of blue, white, and red light that accelerates their growth patterns, and this allows you to get several harvests in one year. The fan is embedded into the light panel, and the pump is very quiet as it circulates the water. 

Benefits:

  • LED grow light included
  • Cycles on and off automatically
  • Water circulates every 30 minutes 
  • Get 12 growing stations
  • Pump is powerful but quiet 
  • Clear cover protects the young plants 
  • Has a fan

Drawbacks:

  • Plants can’t get more than 11.5-inches high

3. AeroGarden Bounty Elite Grow Kit – Mid-End Budget Pick

This growing station gives you nine stations to plant your items, and it’s a decent setup to have to start your cruciferous vegetables in the spring before transplanting them when the weather warms up. You get a powerful LED grow light on this model that will extend up to 24-inches to give your plants more room to grow, and you get dimming and brightening modes that mimic sunrise and sunset. The pots are all pre-seeded with two parsley, three basil, and one pot of mint, dill, thyme, and chives. You won’t have to sow anything, and all you have to do is drop the pods into your mesh pots, put the pots into the grow deck, and set the display. 

Once you get this hydroponic system set up, it’ll automatically operate your grow light and keep the water circulating. It will also sync with your WiFi system at home, or you can sync it in your smartphone app with Amazon Alexa to get notifications that tell you when it’s time to add nutrients or water. You get liquid nutrients included in each order to feed your plants, and it’ll track the number of days since you planted your seeds. There is a three-step water indicator level to ensure that it never runs dry, and you get a six-inch trellis to support your plants. 

Benefits:

  • Supports plants up to 24-inches tall 
  • Pots are pre-seeded 
  • Automatically circulates the water
  • LED grow light mimics sunrise and sunset 
  • Comes with liquid nutrients 
  • Offers care push notifications to your phone 
  • Three-step water indicator 

Drawbacks:

  • Not suitable for small spaces

4. XXXFLOWER Hydroponics Home Garden – Bargain Budget Pick

If you’re on a tight budget and you have some existing plants or vegetables that you want to have more of, this hydroponic system is a good pick. This product doesn’t have a pump to circulate the water or an LED grow light, but you do get three transparent glass bulbs that you fill with water to encourage strong root development. It also doubles as an attractive decor touch to your windowsill or counter. You should swap the water out every three to four days for the best results, and you can transplant your items when you see roots sprouting. This is a very vintage look, and the frame is a natural wood that is resistant to warping, wear, or tear. 

The three bulb glasses are a heat-resistant boron silicon that won’t break easily to make it more durable, and it stands just 5.5-inches wide by 11-inches wide, by 4-inches deep. You get all of the tools and equipment you need to put this system together in under 10 minutes, and the design makes it easy to monitor your plants for potential problems so you can correct them before they get out of hand and cause damage or root death.

Benefits:

  • Stylish, vintage design
  • Clear glass makes it easy to monitor root development
  • Easy to assemble
  • Very study design 
  • Has a wooden frame with a metal holder
  • Compact 
  • Easy to maintain 

Drawbacks:

  • Only big enough for three smaller plants

5. Hydrofarm Root Spa 8 – Best For Large Capacity Needs

If you have a need for a large-capacity hydroponic system, this option could fit the bill to help you grow a huge amount of vegetables in containers, including potatoes or peas, tomatoes, cucumbers, or even fruit. You get eight five-gallon buckets in each order, and they all come equipped with eight-inch grow baskets that hold a range of different soilless growing mediums like coconut coir or perlite. Every bucket will connect to a centralized pump that circulates the water to avoid it going stagnant and becoming a bacterial breeding ground. You’ll need a bigger area to set this system up, like a three-season porch or even a spare bedroom. 

You have to supply your own grow lights for this hydroponic system or have adequate lighting on-hand. The pump should run constantly, but you can manually switch it off. It’s efficient at growing larger plants, but you have to supply your own nutrients, growing medium, and seeds. This is a very user-friendly setup for beginners, and it’s very forgiving of mistakes. It’s also cost-effective to pump raw air into the nutrient solution without air stones, and you can choose from four different systems when you order to get the one that matches your needs the best. 

Benefits:

  •  Larger system 
  • Comes with eight-five gallon buckets 
  • Each bucket has a mesh growing pot 
  • Pump runs constantly 
  • Each bucket connects to a centralized pump 
  • User-friendly setup 
  • Four styles available  

Drawbacks:

  • Grow lights not included in the original purchase

6. iDOO Indoor Herb Garden Kit – Best For Small Herb Gardens

This indoor herb garden hydroponic system is great for anyone who wants to experiment with this growing style without spending a lot of money upfront or sacrificing a lot of space. It comes outfitted with 12 different growing stations that allow you to plant different or the same plants in their own pots. There is also an automatic water circulating system and an automatic LED light. You’ll get full-spectrum lamps with this setup that simulates natural sunlight, and you can choose between fruit or vegetable light mode to suit whatever plant you’re growing. The reservoir has a see-through window that allows you to monitor your water levels so you can add more whenever you notice it’s getting low. 

There is a small overhead fan on this hydroponic system to keep the air circulating between and around the plants to help avoid bacterial or fungal diseases. The lights will switch on for 16 hours a day and off for 8 automatically, and the pump will automatically circulate the water once every 30 minutes. You can liquid nutrients in each purchase to help feed your plants, and the pump is very quiet when it runs. If you don’t want it to circulate every 30 minutes, you can set it to stay off for up to 10 hours. 

Benefits:

  • Lots of customization settings 
  • Has a see-through water level window 
  • 12 different growing stations 
  • Full-spectrum LED light
  • Has an overhead fan 
  • Very quiet operation 
  • Compact design 

Drawbacks:

  • Doesn’t come with seeds

7. Miracle-Gro Indoor Growing System – Best For Leafy Greens

Anyone who wants to grow a good amount of leafy greens like lettuce or kale should take a look at this hydroponic system from Miracle-Gro. This is also a good option if space is an issue in your home or yard because it comes designed to turn into a small side table. You get four growing stations that you can use to start plants from seeds or transplant cuttings, and there is an integrated LED grow light on the underside of the table portion that will turn on for 14 hours each day by itself. There is also a bigger two-gallon water reservoir with an automatic recirculation pump to keep your plants happy and thriving. 

This hydroponic system will sync seamlessly with any Bluetooth-capable PC, smartphone, or tablet to help you remotely configure your circulation and light systems while you’re on the go. You get the liquid nutrients you need to give your plants a boost when they start to grow, and it has a wider base design that makes this a very stable option that won’t accidentally tip over as you work with it. It’s very user-friendly, and it comes in a sleek black and white coloring to fit almost any decor. 

Benefits:

  • Doubles as a side table
  • Integrated LED grow light 
  • Syncs with any Bluetooth-compatible device 
  • Comes with two packs of liquid nutrients
  • Can remotely change the light and pump circulation schedule 
  • From a reputable brand 
  • Compact design 

Drawbacks:

  • Doesn’t come with seeds 

8. HTG Supply DWC Hydroponic System – Best For Multiple Crops

This is a top-quality hydroponic system on a larger scale that is great for anyone who wants to get multiple crops out of each growing season, and it’s a unique indoor growing system to have. It’s a six-site garden system that comes with everything you need to get your operation up and running, including six 3.5-gallon buckets with low profiles, a commercial-grade air pump with a six-way divider, six lids for the buckets, a 50-foot roll of ¼-inch air tubing, and six air stones. Also, you get a 10-liter bag of growing medium when you purchase this product to give your plants a strong start. 

This is an economical hydroponic system that is easy to set up and get running, and it’ll encourage fast growth so you can get multiple crops. The air pump is 20-watts with a 16-amp output, and you can plug it into a standard 120-volt plugin. The buckets are just over 10-inches tall and 12-inches wide each, so you will need a little more space to set it all up. The RhizoCore bucket lid attaches securely to the bucket to avoid slipping, and you get space to put your growing medium and plants where you can easily monitor them.

Benefits:

  • Six growing buckets per order
  • Air pump has a six-way divider 
  • 50-feet of air tubing
  • Economical to run
  • Easy to set up 
  • Buckets have a lower profile 
  • Comes with RhizoCore bucket lids 

Drawbacks:

9. TopoLite Grow Tent Kit – Best For Versatile Use

This complete hydroponic system will work well to grow easy vegetables for beginners and experts alike. It’s a very user-friendly design that people with little or no experience will appreciate, and it comes with everything you need to get started growing healthy and thriving plants. You’ll get a 300-watt LED light and a ventilation kit to encourage your plants to get the correct light amounts and air circulation they need to stay healthy while avoiding fungal or bacterial issues. This can also be a more expensive growing kit to purchase for the smaller size, but it’s a nice all-around starter kit. 

You can choose from over 30 different sizes when you pick out this hydroponic system, and this allows you to customize it based on your wants and needs. It uses a coal-based activated carbon that is environmentally-friendly, and the carbon layer is 1.5-inches thick. You get a heavy-duty 600D Oxford cloth that is lightproof, and it has 16MM metal rods to hold it up and form the frame that are painted white. The zippers are very heavy-duty and resistant to breaking, and you get a very stable setup with some of the best heat dissipation on the market. 

Benefits:

  • Very durable materials 
  • Bag is lightproof 
  • 300-watt LED light 
  • Ventilation kit included 
  • Easy to set up
  • Doesn’t take up a lot of space 
  • Over 30 sizes available 

Drawbacks:

10. SunBlaster SBL1600200 Hydroponic System – Best For Herbs

The final hydroponic system on the list is a compact model that is perfect for growing herbs on your table or countertop without taking over the space. It comes equipped with the SunBlaster 6,400K T5HO lamp that mimics natural sunlight for your plants to encourage healthy growth. It’s an eco-friendly product that uses 100% recycled plastic for the unit’s base, and this base functions as a catch basin for any excess water to drain into that the plants don’t absorb. It also has a smart irrigation system built into the design, and this allows it to self-water without giving the plants too much water. 

This smaller hydroponic system measures 23.2-inches by 3.1-inches by 1.2-inches, and this allows you to easily set it up or move it around without any problems. It has a black and white color scheme that is perfect for a minimalist or classic design style, and it works well for microgreen or salad ingredient growth. There are NanoTech reflectors that increase how many lumens are available to the plants, and this maximizes their growth potential. Finally, you can choose from two sizes when you order this hydroponic kit to tailor it to fit your needs. 

Benefits:

  • Has the SunBlaster 6,400K T5HO lamp
  • Base functions as a catch basin
  • Self-watering feature 
  • Compact size 
  • Easy to move around
  • Perfect for microgreens 
  • NanoTech reflectors included 

Drawbacks:

  • Doesn’t come with replacement bulbs 

Hydroponic System Buyer’s Guide 

One of the most important decisions you’ll make as a gardener is whether or not you’ll use a hydroponics system or not. Hydroponics is the art of growing plants like vegetables using nutrients and water without soil. Your hydroponic system is a technique you employ to grow your plants all year round, and you can use it both inside and outside. Some use pumps and timers and some use a type of growing medium, and some plants work better in these systems. 

Timer 

Your pump system won’t run constantly, but it can be a hassle to remember to switch it on and off. If you don’t, your fruit trees, vegetables, or flowers won’t grow as well. Many of the systems on my list have a timer. The timer turns the pump on for 5 or 10 minutes every 30 minutes to an hour. This is more than enough to circulate the water through your hydroponic system and make sure all tiers get the correct amount of nutrients to grow and thrive. 

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Having a timer on your hydroponics setup will ensure that it’ll cycle the water and nutrients through every tier of your plants and encourage even growth.

Smart Display 

A lot of the newer systems come with a smart display. On this display, it’ll remind you when it’s time to add nutrients, water, run the pump. The display will light up until you do whatever it indicates you should do. They may even have a timer that you can look at to see when it’s time to switch the pump on or off. Other smart displays also control the lights. They’ll run them for up to 16 hour before shutting them off for eight and starting a timer to keep your plants on a schedule. 

LED Lighting 

It’s difficult for your plants to get all of the light they need to grow, especially if they’re indoors. Some systems come equipped with LED lighting. It may be in one color, but some offer different color schemes like red or green to ensure your plants get the full light spectrum. If the LED lights are above the plants, make sure that you can easily adjust them as your plants grow. 

Easy Setup 

Your hydroponic system should be very easy to set up and run. This is especially important if you’re brand new to growing your plants hydroponically. Look for something that comes mostly set up or with very few parts that you have to connect. Each system should come with easy instructions and diagrams that make it easy to put everything together and get it running. 

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Bigger hydroponics setups are generally more difficult to put together and get running. It’s a good idea to start small and work your way up once you get the hang of using this new system. 

Nutrient Water and Plant Nets 

Some systems come with nutrient water that you add to your water to feed your plants for up to three months. This is a liquid-type fertilizer that works very well to give your plant a boost and help it grow. Check and see if your setup comes with this water because some don’t have it. Plant nets are small nets that stick down into the hole and support the plant so it can dangle in the water. Check and see how many plants your setup supports too. 

Expansion 

Maybe you want to start with a small garden before transferring them to a larger container garden, but you decide you want to start more seedlings at once. If so, you want to be able to expand your hydroponics setup. Some companies allow you to buy more plant nets and pipes or areas for them and attach them to your current setup, and other companies make you buy a whole new system. 

Hydroponic System Frequently Asked Questions 

Hydroponic systems are very popular, and this leads to people having a lot of really good questions surrounding them. This is especially true if you’re brand new to this gardening style, so we answered a few of the most popular questions for you below. 

1. What are the types of hydroponic systems?

When you first start getting into this gardening style, you have to decide which system will work best for you. There are six systems currently, and they include deep water culture (DWC), wicking, ebb and flow, nutrient film technique (NFT), drip systems, and aeroponics. 

2. What are common plant problems with hydroponic systems?

One big reason why people use hydroponics to grow their plants is that it reduces several common issues you see in traditional gardening setups. However, it doesn’t make them 100% immune. The  most common plant problems in hydroponic setups include pests, disease, and root rot. Adequate water and air circulation can reduce the chances of developing these issues. 

3. How do you make a nutrient formula for your hydroponic setup?

If your system doesn’t come with the liquid nutrient formula, it’s easy enough to make your own at home. All you’ll have to do is add two teaspoons of fertilizer for each gallon of water in the system, and then you’ll add one teaspoon of Epsom salt for every gallon. 

Bottom Line

Hydroponics is a great way to grow a host of plants all year round. There are so many systems available that it makes sense to go slow and compare various products. My 10 reviews allow you to compare high-quality products and narrow down your search. The short buyer’s guide highlights everything you need to know about these systems to ensure you make a good choice and find a system that will last for years. 

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