Last updated on January 10th, 2022
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At its purest meaning, hydroponics is the growing of plants in water (or sand or gravel), but without soil. My review looks at the simplest hydroponic kits, none of which come with grow lights.
If you are in the market instead for smart indoor gardens as pictured above – those with automatic timers or custom schedules for the lights and the water – head over to my Top 5 Best Indoor Smart Garden Kits review for all the best recommendations.
In this Best Home Hydroponics Kit review, I look at the pros and cons of each kit, along with the important features before I make my recommendations. Because none of the kits come with grow lights, please check out my recommendations on these within my Best LED Grow Lights – A Beginners Hydroponic Buyer’s Guide.
Best Pick – Large Kit
Best Home Hydroponic Kits For Beginners Review
1. DWC Household Hydroponic System Growing Kit
The DWC Household Hydroponic System Growing Kit comes with everything you need – except seeds and nutrients– to start a hydroponics garden indoors.
The green plastic tub has six compartments, one for each plant. Grow herbs, flowers, vegetables and fruits organically in these fairly large planting baskets, as long as the plants mature before they reach 30cm in height.
You receive planting sponges to germinate your seeds on, one for each plant. The advantage here is that, as each seed probably needs different nutrients, you can customise the correct blend for each plant. Once the seeds have germinated, you transplant them into the planting containers and put them in the tub. All this is covered in the included instructions with the product and on the sales website.
Although this kit doesn’t come with a grow light, it does have a watering system. There is an air pump and a hose with the watering system as well as a bubble stone attachment that gently releases the air into the water in the tub to keep it aerated. This keeps the water healthy and prevents mould from growing.
Our Buyer’s guide discusses what parts to expect with your low-tech hydroponics kit and suggests some additional items that will help you to be successful in this endeavour.
- Green plastic tub with room for six separate plants.
- Watering system/air pump system works to aerate the water in the tub.
- Can feed each plant separately according to the individual needs.
- Need to provide light and nutrients.
The DWC Household Hydroponic System Growing Kit sits on a kitchen counter or other suitable location and lets you grow six healthy plants in individual compartments. Specialise in herbs or perhaps a selection of greens for healthy, bright salads in the winter.
This hydroponics system supports plants up to 30cm high, so you can even grow climbing plants and vegetables. The watering/air pump system gently bubbles air into the water tank to keep it healthy and hygienic.
2. Kacsoo Hydroponic Grow Kit Hydroponisches System for Beginners
Best Pick – Large Kit
The Kacsoo Hydroponic Grow Kit Hydroponic System for Beginners takes up the most space out of all the hydroponics kits we review. It’s quite industrial-looking as it consists of a white structure made of PVC pipes fitted together. You have to do the assembly yourself but it’s a quick-and-fit system and the instructions are included with your purchase.
This hydroponics system may overwhelm beginners, despite its advertising. Each of the four shelves/poles has nine openings to put plants in – that’s 36 plants in your hydroponics garden. But it looks great when all the plants are green and growing well. And they need at least four hours of full sunlight a day unless you have a series of grow lamps.
Water is delivered to the plants through each pipe. By attaching the (included) clear tube to the top pipe, the bottom pipe and the water pump, the water flows through the hydroponics system and structure. You need to use a reservoir water tank of your own (perhaps a plastic tub) to circulate the water. Some online reviewers have added an extra tank to this structure to ensure a good flow of water.
- Tower structure made of food-grade white PVC pipes.
- Assembly is straightforward with the click-and-fit system.
- Grow up to 36 plants in their own compartment.
- Water continuously circulates through the structure.
- Lights not provided.
- Difficult to figure out how this works.
The Kacsoo Hydroponic Grow Kit Hydroponic System for Beginners isn’t necessarily for those new to this growing method as the name suggests. It is for those who have ambitious plans for their hydroponics garden and can see themselves filling all 36 of the plant pots with seedlings.
This unit is four-tiered and takes up quite a lot of space. We strongly suggest using grow lights with this model in the darker months to ensure all the plants receive their fair share of beneficial light.
3. Atami Wilma 4 Pot Complete Dripper System
If you’re not yet sure about using hydroponics to grow plants and food at home, the Atami Wilma 4 Pot Complete Dripper System Grow Kit offers you a choice. You can use it with clay pebbles in the tubs as a hydroponics system or easily convert it to grow plants in soil.
This growing system (whichever method you choose) consists of four black plastic plant pots standing on the lid of a 30L plastic tub base. The water and nutrients that you put into the tub are circulated up into each of the four plant pots by thin tubes by the pump.
Using this Wilma 4-pot set-up for hydroponics growing results in the water in the base being circulated through the plant pots. When used as a soil growing system, the water stays in the soil and the tank serves as a drip tray for the excess water. When turned on for 15 minutes, the dripper system delivers 500ml of water and nutrients, so you can judge how much your plants need for their particular growth stage.
I think the key to great success with this model is to figure out when to circulate the water and the nutrients through the system. And with a large 30L water tub, it’s easy to forget to fill it up, so setting a schedule for this is a good idea.
- Convertible growing system from hydroponics to soil-based growing.
- Four black plastic pots sit on a base over a 30L water tank.
- Drippers run from the tank into each plant pot to deliver water and nutrients.
- Can use the drippers system when needed – up to several times a day.
- No grow lights provided.
- Dripper hoses are tricky to position correctly.
The Atami Wilma 4 Pot Complete Dripper System Grow Kit Hydroponics is a good kit to buy to venture into the world of hydroponics. If growing plants in water doesn’t work out for you, it is easy to convert this system into one that grows plants in soil.
A pump (included) circulates water and nutrients from the tank below the four plant pots via dripper hoses. You don’t have to keep the water running; just put it on several times a day (depending on the growing stage of the plants) to give enough food and water.
4. Ivolador Desktop Glass Vase for Hydroponics Plants
The Ivolador Desktop Glass Vase is the simplest hydroponics kit in our review. It’s just three glass bulb vases on a stand of vintage-looking wood. As the bulbs are clear, seeing the roots of the plants inside them gives a whole other vibe to your indoor plant displays.
To turn this into a hydroponics setup you need to buy liquid plant nutrients to feed whatever plants you place in the vases. Be sure to put the plants in plenty of sunlight for their best growth and condition.
Setting up this item is easy – there are just two stand parts along with two nuts and bolts and a metal rod to hand the vases on. The Allen key for assembly is included. This is a good set-up for propagating your cuttings as well as growing herbs indoors.
- Three bulb-shaped vases on a wooden stand.
- Wide tops to the vases lets you easily add water and nutrients.
- Dimensions: stand: 14cm (height); 24cm (width); and 10cm (depth);
- Vase: 7cm (diameter); and 10cm (height).
- Have to supply the nutrients to grow plants hydroponically.
- Doesn’t come with grow lights.
The Ivolador Desktop Glass Vase for Hydroponics Plants is a great choice if you want to use your hydroponic plants as a display in your home. The three clear glass vases are attractive and let you see the (healthy) root system of whatever you grow.
Buy just one for a statement piece or group a few together for extra impact – and a garden indoors. You need to supply the (sun)light and the nutrients to keep your plants growing well.
5. IWS Deep Water Culture DWC OxyPot Bubbler Hydroponic System Kit
The IWS Deep Water Culture DWC OxyPot Bubbler Hydroponic System Kit is a simple system that continually circulates the water and nutrients in the tank around the roots of the plants. This continually feeds them and gives them access to healthy and clean (no algae) oxygenated water. As you are unable to see the level of the water through the sides of the black tank, set up a schedule to check it and top it up if necessary.
This set-up is all in black plastic and consists of a water tank in whose lid sit the slotted plant pots in which you grow your herbs, vegetables and so on. The above Buy link is for the two pot model, but you can also get a four pot system, a six pot one and one with nine pots. Make your choice depending on how much you want to grow and how much room you have at home to put the unit.
Just put a germinated seed on the sponges provided and then pop them onto clay pebbles in the pots. The roots of the plants are submerged completely in the water, giving them access to the nutrients they need and encouraging rapid growth.
You may want to change the water in the tank occasionally. Some online reviewers state that they made a drainage tap in the bottom of the tank to easily let all the water out.
- Hydroponic system that keeps the plant’s roots submerged in the nutrient-dense water.
- Choice of the number of plant pots available.
- Black plastic system has a water tank topped with the requested number of plant pots.
- Pump keeps the water circulating in the tank for oxygenation.
- No grow lights.
- Clay pebbles not provided.
The IWS Deep Water Culture DWC OxyPot Bubbler Hydroponic System Kit isn’t the most stylish of hydroponics kits. However, it works hard to continually circulate the water in the tank, keeping it oxygenated and healthy for your plants.
You have a choice of one, two, four, six or nine plant pots in the various models, fitting in with your own hydroponics plans. This is a good hydroponics kit for giving a significant number of plants an environment for strong and rapid growth.
Buyer’s Guide for Home Hydroponics Kits
You don’t get much with a basic home hydroponic kit, but that’s the point. Buying a simple hydroponic system is an inexpensive way into this fascinating growing method. You can then add on as many other items, such as grow lights, as your budget and interest allow.
Our Buyer’s Guide covers the basics you get with your low-tech kit and some extras you might like to purchase down the road.
What you get
The absolute basics
Our very basic hydroponics recommendation is basically a set of vases on a stand. You need to ensure that the water is changed frequently, that nutrients are added and that the plants receive enough daylight for healthy growth.
Beyond this, you receive plant pots and a method of water and nutrient delivery. This is usually a circulating system of some kind run by a pump (usually provided) with water coming up from the tank on which the plant pots sit. The aim here is to keep the water circulating or bubbling to ensure that it has enough oxygen in it to ensure good growth in the plants. This entails you adding suitable nutrients (hardly ever included) to the water and remembering to fill the tank.
Clay pebbles and sponges
Your purchase may also include the clay pebbles to place in the plant pots and the growing sponges on which to germinate the seeds and then set in the pot. If these aren’t provided, they’re essential to buy. Plus of course, you need to provide your own seed or seedlings.
Additional items to make your hydroponics life easier
Growing plants hydroponically indoors requires them to receive at least four hours of direct sunlight each day. An alternative to moving these kits around your home to find the sunniest window sill is to invest in grow lights designed for the task. Grow lights (which we’ve reviewed) come in a variety of styles and price points and you need to look for lights that provide a full spectrum of sunlight. Your plants won’t know the difference!
Some watering systems in the hydroponics kits let you attach a timer so that the water isn’t circulating the whole time – it can be a bit noisy. In addition, you definitely want a timer on any grow lights you have as plants need a period of darkness too to refresh.
You *must* feed your plants as there is no soil for them to draw nutrition from. The nutrient solution or solid you use should match the nutrients that the plants need. If you have a mixed garden, then a general-purpose nutrient liquid will work.
Hydroponic grow tent
This optional piece of equipment is for those who decided to take hydroponic culture very seriously. Grow tents (see this review for our recommendations) generally consist of a lightproof and waterproof tall rectangular structure. You keep the climate inside them at the desired temperature you want with them. Mesh vents allow for air circulation and keep bugs out if you use these tents outside. The best ones have a transparent PVC window so you can peek in and see how your plants are doing without disturbing them by opening the door. Consider adding this to your hydroponics system if you need to have a well-controlled climate for your plants.
Starting your hydroponics growing adventure with any one of our recommended kits opens the doorway to a very different way of growing plants indoors and outdoors as well. Harvest salad greens from your indoor garden in the winter or use a large kit to grow many flowers hydroponically outside during the summer when there is enough sun.
Our Best Pick is the DWC Household Hydroponic System Growing Kit. This system has six compartments in which to start your hydroponics garden and the watering system keeps all the plants growing well.
Our Best Pick – Large Kit is the Kacsoo Hydroponic Grow Kit Hydroponisches System for Beginners. Ignore the “for beginners” bit and focus on all that you can grow in the 36 plant pots this kit has.
If you prefer growing plants in soil, we’ll just mention again our review of smart, hi-tech, indoor gardens. And grow lights are a whole other subject on their one – one which we’ve already covered in The Best LED Grow Lights – A Beginners Hydroponic Buyer’s Guide.
Last update on 2022-01-12 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API