Think your cool, sparse urban apartment needs a bit of green flair to perk it up? You're not alone — and you're more right than you think. Studies have shown that the presence of greenery in our lives and workplaces drastically reduces our stress levels. That tree through your window and suffering pot plant on your kitchen sill are doing you more good than you think. But what if you have no garden, time, or indoor space to cultivate a lush green paradise? Worry not — technology's got you covered.
The benefits of growing at home, particularly herbs and other "usable" plants, have become more evident in the wake of the recession, where people with minimal indoor space started to look for ways to cut their budget. Why buy basil from the bodega when you can cultivate it at home? And now there are seriously smart options to help you grow stuff water-free, monitor your plants, fit pots into teeny spaces, and keep things simple. Even if you're time and space-poor, you can still be a green goddess.
Click And Grow Smart Garden
The Click And Grow smart garden is one of the big ones — it’s got all the marks of a seriously smart indoor garden. It comes with NASA-endorsed “smart soil,” which means you don’t need to fuss around with fertilizer, and has plant refills (a bit like printer cartridges) to slot in if you decide you don’t like your latest crop. Some models also come with LED lights with their own timer, which also flashes when your plant needs watering. Get one here.
Image: Click And Grow.
Windowfarms are the modern Brooklyn interpretation of the Hanging Gardens Of Babylon. Instead of curtains, you hang these babies in front of your available window, and they modulate their own watering by pumping it from the reservoir at the bottom. They’re massively popular, but maybe not great for people with limited light. Get one here.
Naava Smart is a Finnish product — the word “naava” means “lichen” or “wall-growing plant” — that was explicitly designed to get more greenery into workplaces. It’s meant to purify indoor air and uses an invention called a “rhizosphere” to draw air in to its wall of 33 plants. It also, awesomely, self-monitors using built-in sensors. It’s currently only available in big workplace-friendly walls, but the Naava company is looking at making smaller ones for homes.
Image: Naava Smart.
Genie Kitchen Garden
This is the product for people with serious space issues. TreGren does two indoor smart gardens, the Genie and the Herbie, and while the Herbie functions a lot like the Click And Grow, the Herbie is smaller scale, and works with only one or three plants at a time. It works hydroponically — no soil, only water and added nutrients — and that fancy handle is actually an in-built LED light. And it pumps water on its own, every 40 minutes for 10 seconds. How laid-back is that? Get one here.
Image: Genie By Tregren.
Want to get an indoor garden, but not sure about using non-biodegradable materials? This new planter is your answer. By designer Danielle Trofe, they’re made of agricultural byproducts bound together by liquid mushroom (no, really) and formed into pots. She’s working with Ecovative, who produce the material, and while they don’t have a model of the pots ready to buy yet, they do have a packet that allows you to make the mushroom-stuff yourself for just $9.99.
Green Wheel By Design Libero
The Green Wheel by design house Design Libero is a unique solution to being space-poor and garden-deprived. Instead of requiring a whole row of flat plants, the wheel rotates, dipping the roots of its plants into a water reservoir at the bottom of the wheel — giving you more plants in a limited amount of space. It’s a concept that NASA came up with but didn’t pursue. It isn’t commercially available yet, but you can check it out here.
Image: Design Libero
Plantui Smart Garden
This award-winner is big in Germany, Finland ,and Denmark, and has all the features of a smart garden you’d want — 18 LED lights, with different settings for each stage in a plant’s life; automatic watering systems; and an adjustable height so that it can allow for growth in your baby chives. It’s also very low-energy (only 60kW per year), and, in case it all goes horribly wrong, is entirely dishwasher safe. Get one here.
Bulbo LED Garden
Got a jonesing for some greenery and a seriously dark basement apartment? LED light gardens are your answer. Bulbo Lights are designed for indoor growing even in the most light-poor places, from individual lamps to put your plants in the spotlight to a wide strip lamp for multiple ones. You can use them on existing plants, or they have a start kit of seeds, pots, watering cans, soil and a water dispenser to get you started.
Bitponics is marketing itself as a Personal Growing Assistant. A small module, it’s designed to fit onto any hydroponic smart pot you’ve already got, automate it to do as much as possible on its own, and give you loads of updates, tips, and reminders about how to make it flourish. It’s a smart system that’s currently coming off the back of a successful Kickstarter and will hopefully be available — both free and in a premium, $9-a-month model — soon.
Minigarden Corner Pots
These are the ultimate garden for girls with absolutely no counter space. The stackable corner Minigardens are designed for incredibly small places, and are made out of seriously smart material: it’s UV-protected and recyclable. They also come with optional internal drip-feeders, though these do need to be manually operated. Get one here.
The Aerogarden is the smart garden for people who love pushing buttons. It has a bunch of different models, from smaller automated versions to the bigger Ultra, which has its own spectacular control panel for adding nutrients, watering, and setting lighting schedules. As with many of these other models, it’s hydroponic, and the bigger ones have trellises so that unruly herbs can get pinned down. Get one here.