What’s Inside: In this article, I share my personal experience with using the Click and Grow Smart Garden. I give you the full scoop on what I do and don’t like about it, and I also provide alternatives.
When someone from the Click and Grow company reached out to me to see if I’d review their Smart Garden 9, I agreed. In this article, I share an honest Click and Grow review. I show the unboxing, and give my first impressions. I also share what I see as the pros and cons of Click and Grow, and what I do and don’t like about it.
- Click and Grow Gardens are aesthetically pleasing
- They are easy to use and easy to clean
- The replacement pods are a bit pricey – but I share some cheaper alternatives
- Click and Grow Smart Gardens are commonly referred to as hydroponic, but unlike hydroponics, they use soil.
- They use very little electricity, so you won’t see a big impact on your electric bill, even if you have several Click and Grow gardens.
This article includes affiliate links.
Click and Grow Unboxing
Click and Grow Smart Garden stands out, right from the start, with the packaging. It’s clean, crisp, and very sturdy. Let’s face it; there’s a lot of less than exciting packing out there. Flimsy boxes with uninspiring photos are the norm. As soon as you pick up the box, you know it’s a quality product.
Another nice touch that I always appreciate is that the box includes clear and simple instructions. Although the instructions on the box are in English, it is easy to understand them without actually reading anything. As the saying goes, “A picture is worth 1,000 words” and that’s certainly true with this product.
The inside of the box has three “layers.” the top layers has the lamp, and the seed pods. Beneath all of that are the power cord, germination domes, and lamp arms.
Once you remove all of the smaller components, you’ll see the water tank. The water tank has a capacity of four liters, which is barely more than one gallon.
In the image above you can see plant cups inserted in the water tank. There are couple of things to take note of there. First, you can see the tabs that are attached to the plant cups. The tabs serve a dual purpose. The first one is that it makes it easier to grab onto the cups to pull them out. The second purpose is you can write the name of whatever you’re growing on the tabs.
Keep in mind that since the cups are reusable, and since the tabs are attached to the cups, it’s important to use a washable marker. If you want a more attractive option, you can use a label maker such as these on Amazon for the name of each plant.
There are also lids on top of the cups. The lids help to block light from shining on most of the soil. At the bottom of each cup are wicks, that go into the water tank, to wick the water into the soil.
What’s Included in the Smart Garden 9
Here’s a list of what comes with the Smart Garden 9.
- The actual garden – which includes the water basin, 9 reusable plastic plant cups, domes, lids, and wicks. It also includes the lamp arm, and one set of lamp arm extensions.
- 9 plant pods, including 3 lettuce, 3 tomato, and 3 basil
- A small “quick start guide” booklet
Click and Grow Set Up
One of the best things about this garden is that it is SO easy to set up. The set up varies a bit from one Smart Garden to another, but the process is basically the same. Since I have the Smart Garden 9, that’s what I’ll explain and show here.
Step 1: Attach the extensions to the lamp arm
You’ll notice that one side of the lamp, lamp arm, and water basin all have a groove. The groove is for the power cord. Make sure to line all of those up. You’ll put the cord into the groove, so it is nicely tucked away.
Step 2: Place the pods into the plant cups
Next, you’ll open the plant pod packages, and place the pods into the plant cups. If desired, you can also write the name of the plant on the tab. However, if you decide to do this, use a washable marker, or a label maker, such as this one found on Amazon. You don’t want to use a permanent marker because the tab is part of the plant cup, that you’ll use over and over again.
Step 3: Add the lids and domes
Next, click on the u-shaped lids and then cover the pods with the clear plastic domes.
The domes help to hold in moisture, creating a greenhouse like effect. The moisture helps the seeds germinate. Once you can see the plants growing, you’ll remove the domes.
Step 4: Fill the water tank
Now it’s time to fill the water basin! The good news is, it’s super easy to pour water in where the float is. It takes 4 liters, or approximately 1 gallon of water to fill the water basin. You really don’t need to measure the water ahead of time. Just continue pouring water in, until the float comes up to the top of the grow deck.
Note that I have seen some people who put in so much water that the float pops way up. Don’t do that! The float just needs to be near the top.
Step 5: Plug in your Click and Grow Smart Garden 9
Now all you have to do is plug in the garden!
Be aware that whatever time you plug in the garden, is the time it will come on every day. And it will stay on for 16 hours, turn off for 8 hours, and then turn back on for another 16 hours and so on.
The time that you plug it in doesn’t matter too much, but it’s important to think about when you want the light shining, especially if it’s in the room where you sleep. Generally speaking, it’s best to plug it in early in the morning. This way, the light shines all day and into the evening, and then turns off around bedtime. This gives the plants some time to “rest” in the dark.
How Click and Grow Works
The Click and Grow system is pretty simple. The pods you purchase directly from Click and Grow include all of the nutrients that the plant needs to grow. Unless you buy the “Grow Anything” plant pods, the pods also have seeds, based on the type of pod you purchased. For instance, a lettuce pod will have lettuce seeds.
Each pod has a wick that goes into the water that is in the basin. The wick pulls water into the soil, and keeps the soil moist. The light provides the necessary light for the growth of the plants.
The nutrients are used up at the end of the growth cycle for the particular plant. (The amount of time is indicated on each pod.) At that point, you can harvest the plant, discard or compost the pod, and plant a new pod.
Click and Grow Models
In terms of which garden or gardens are right for you, it really depends on what you’re looking for. Let’s take a look at each of the options, along with some tips on choosing the best Click and Grow garden for you.
The Smart Garden 3
The Smart Garden 3 is a cute little garden – with little being an important distinction. If you want a small garden on your desk at work, or if you want to grow a bit of food in your kitchen and don’t have much counter space, the Smart Garden 3 is a good option. As the name implies, you can grow 3 plants at a time in this unit.
The Smart Garden 9
In general, I recommend starting with the Smart Garden 9, which has the capacity for 9 plants. The PRO has a few advanced features, but won’t make a big difference in the overall functionality of the garden. The 9 is a very nice step up from the Smart Garden 3.
The Smart Garden 27
If you want to grow a lot of food in a small space, and have it look good, then the Smart Garden 27 is a great option.
It’s basically 3 Smart Garden 9s and a very nice-looking shelving unit made specifically for holding the 3 gardens.
I looked far and wide to find a shelf that looks as nice, that fits the 3 Smart Garden 9s as well and couldn’t find one.
Because of that, I recommend the Smart Garden 27 for growing a lot of food in a small space, without sacrificing aesthetics.
The Click and Grow 25
The Click and Grow 25 is a great option for succession planting, since it’s set up to plant five lettuces or herbs each week. If I were to buy this one, I’d use it to plant lettuce every week, so I’d have a nice side salad pretty much every day.
One huge plus of this one is that it can “grow” with you. You can start with just one garden, and stack them, if you buy more in the future.
The Wall Farm Vertical Garden
Finally, the Wall Farm Vertical Garden is for people who have more money to spend than me. 🙂 It is wonderfully beautiful, and if you’re serious about growing as much of your own food as possible in a small space, it’s a great option.
My Unbiased Click and Grow Review
So, now let’s get into my unbiased review, based on my experience so far. I first look at what I like about the Smart Garden 9, and then cover what I don’t like about it.
What I Like About Click and Grow
Here’s what I like about the Smart Garden 9, and why you may want to consider picking up one for yourself.
The first thing I like about this garden is the aesthetics. It really is a beautiful smart garden. I have several AeroGardens, and while they look a lot better than a DIY hydroponic system that’s made in a rubber tote, I wouldn’t call AeroGarden beautiful.
My husband and I live with and care for my elderly mom. She has never once mentioned the way all of my AeroGardens look. However, as soon as I set up my first Smart Garden, she just raved about the looks.
Low Energy Usage
The next thing I love about Click and Grow is the low energy usage. According to the company website, the power consumption is 13 W, and the monthly power consumption is 6.2kWh.
If that sounds like Greek to you, let me explain what that means in a practical sense. The 6.2kWh figure is the amount of electricity that the Smart Garden 9 consumes in a single month. Electricity cost varies based on your state, and in many cases even your county or city. According to ChooseEnergy.com, the average electricity cost in the U.S. is “15.96 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh).” When you multiple the 6.2kWh monthly usage by 15.96 cents, it costs, on average, just under $1 per month in electricity costs.
It’s Easy to Use
Another reason people love Click and Grow is because it’s super easy to use. I honestly think that AeroGarden is very easy to use, but Click and Grow has eliminated one of the steps required in AeroGarden, and other hydroponic systems – adding nutrients. The pods that come with the garden include all of the nutrients required for the life cycle of the plants.
The Smart Garden 9 is Easy to Clean
One of the things that I love the most about Click and Grow is that it’s super easy to clean.
As I’ll explain in a bit, the Click and Grow 9 isn’t a hydroponic system. As such, there is no nutrient build up in the water, and thus it’s easier to clean compared to hydroponic systems such as AeroGarden and iDoo.
Quality Construction and Availability of Replacement Parts
Click and Grow is very solidly bult. It is made out of plastic, but the plastic is thicker than the plastic that you’ll find in other smart gardens, such as the AeroGarden.
There are also very few parts that are likely to break. Also, in the cases where something can break or be lost, there are replacement parts available on the website. I love this because while the website states that the lamp arms last for seven years, they will eventually burn out. That’s not a huge problem, though, because replacement lamp arms are available, at a reasonable cost.
Fresh Food at Home
This garden also makes it possible even for non-gardeners to grow at least some of their own food. Especially during these turbulent times, when food security is less stable than it used to be, I’m a big advocate of growing food at home, even if you live in an apartment.
Many people feel they don’t have the ability to grow their own food. Either they don’t have time, much space, or gardening skills. This garden eliminates all of those challenges. I especially like the Smart Garden 9 for both looks, and the amount of food you can grow in a small space.
What I Don’t Like About Click and Grow
There are just a few things that I don’t like about the Smart Garden 9.
The Cost of the Pods
The first thing is the cost. To be clear, this smart garden isn’t necessarily more expensive than other smart gardens on the market, and the quality is better than most. The biggest quibble that I have when it comes to the cost are the pods. Other than herbs, if you compare the cost of growing food yourself with this garden, compared to buying it at the store, it’s generally cheaper to buy it at the store.
Of course, you can’t really put a price tag on ease of use, pesticide-free produce, and reduced concerns about the food supply.
No Visual Water Indicator
I had a hard time coming up with the right heading for this point. There is a visual water indicator on this unit. As you can see in the image above, the little float (circle) is lower than the top. When the water level is full, the float is at the top. So, there IS a way to see if you need to add water, without lifting up the grow deck.
However, unlike the AeroGarden, you can’t see a light from across the room that indicates you need to add water. In an AeroGarden, when I need to add water or nutrients, it’s hard to ignore the red light that almost shouts, “Water me!”
To be fair, in my experience, you don’t need to add water very often, so as long as you check it every week or two, you’ll be fine.
No On or Off Switch
The only way to turn on or off the smart garden is to plug or unplug the garden. In my case, the garden is plugged in behind a cabinet, so it’s a bit hard to get to. It would be nice to have a on or off switch on the garden.
Also, while the light is on a timer, it’s based on the time that you plug it in. So, if you want it to run during the day, and turn off around bedtime, you have to plug it in early in the morning. If your power goes off, and back on again, the lights will go on each day based on the time that your power started back up.
It’s Not the Smartest Garden on the Block
From that perspective, the Click and Grow isn’t as smart as other smart gardens on the market. Many other smart gardens notify you when the water level is low, and when you need to add nutrients. You may also be able to program other smart gardens based on what you’re growing, which impacts things like the light cycle. Speaking of the lights, many other smart gardens allow you to program when the lights will go on each day, even if you plug it in initially at a different time.
In many respects, the Smart Garden 9 is nothing more than a grow basin and a grow light. Now to be fair, the pods have the right amount and type of nutrients that each plant needs, which is smart indeed.
Don’t Expect Plants to Grow Long Term
Even though the nutrients that are included in the soil are slow release, and meant to last the lifetime of the plant, they eventually run out. This is to some degree planned, as the plants aren’t expected to last for several months.
This is helpful from the perspective that plants don’t require as much maintenance as some other systems. They grow for the prescribed amount of time, and then start to die off. At that point, you simply replace the pod.
Contrasted with smart gardens where you add nutrients, the plants in the Click and Grow may need to be replaced more often.
Plants Don’t Have a Lot of Room for Roots to Grow
The plant cups that come with the Click and Grow are small. Because of that, there isn’t a lot of room for the roots. Over time, the plants become root bound. The plants still survive just fine, but may not grow as much as plants grown in systems that allow ample room for the roots.
The good news is, Click and Grow does have a solution for this. Their Pro Cups have slits in them, that allow the roots to grow beyond the cups. I do have some Pro Cups on hand, but haven’t used them yet. Based on the experience of others, I expect to get better results with the Pro cups compared to the regular cups. I plan to experiment with those in the future, and if you’d like to learn more about how that goes, be sure to opt in for updates.
It’s Not a Hydroponic System (Both a Pro and a Con)
Many people incorrectly refer to Click and Grow as a hydroponic system. But Click and Grow itself states that they are not a hydroponic system. Also, unlike hydroponic systems, the plants you grow in this smart garden grow in soil, not water.
Because it’s not a hydroponic system, there is no pump. Some consider this a pro, and others a con. The good thing about the lack of a pump is that there is one less thing to break. The lack is also one reason the electricity usage is less than a hydroponic system.
However, some people, like me, prefer hydroponics over soil. This is to some degree a matter of personal preference. Both methods work, but my personal experience and therefore preference, is with hydroponics over soil.
The bottom line is that no pump means less maintenance, and in spite of no pump, plants grow fine.
Who Click and Grow is Best For
This garden is probably the best smart garden out there for those who want something super simple. I honestly don’t know of an easier way to automate growing herbs, greens, fruit plants, and flowers.
I personally recommend Click and Grow as the top choice for anyone with limited time and space to garden. If you don’t want to think too much about your garden and want it to grow on autopilot, this is the best garden for you.
It is also ideal for people who travel and want to ensure their plants won’t die while they’re away. With nutrients included in the pods, you never have to remember to add plant food. This is especially important for those who may not be around when other gardens require feeding.
Finally, it’s best for those who don’t want to sacrifice aesthetics to grow their own food. Click and Grow gardens are beautiful enough that they look nice in a living room, dining room, or office.
Where to Buy Click and Grow
Click and Grow is available multiple places online. I’ve had personal experience with both the Click and Grow website, as well as Amazon, so that’s what I recommend. Here is where to get the different models.
- Click and Grow 3: Amazon | Click and Grow Website
- Click and Grow 9: Amazon | Click and Grow Website
- Click and Grow 9 Pro: Amazon | Click and Grow Website
- Click and Grow 25: Click and Grow Website
- Click and Grow 27: Click and Grow Website
Click and Grow Supplies
In addition to the actual Click and Grow gardens, there are various supplies worth stocking up on. The main thing are the pods, because the other parts of the Click and Grow should last a long time without needing replacement. However, if you have a prepper mindset, then I recommend buying an extra grow lamp arm for each garden, since that’s the one thing may need replacement at some point in the future.
Click and Grow Pods
As I mentioned earlier, Click and Grow pods are a bit on the pricey side. There are two ways to save money on the Click and Grow pods. The first, and easiest way is to buy larger packages of pods. The more pods you buy, the cheaper they are.
Click and Grow Knock-Off Sponges
Many people criticize the cost of the Click and Grow Pods – and it is indeed a fair criticism. While the price per pod of the 54-packs listed above is reasonable, if you can’t quite swing the price of the 54-packs, and yet want to save money on growing plants in a Click and Grow, here are some alternatives that you can pick up on Amazon:
One thing to be aware of is that if you use one of the knock off sponge alternatives listed above, you’ll need to also pick up some nutrients. I recommend Osmocote slow release nutrients, also available on Amazon. I’ve found that about 4 granules per pod works well.
Click and Grow Alternatives
I definitely think that Click and Grow is a worthwhile option for those of you who want to grow food indoors. It’s especially nice from an aesthetic perspective, and because of that it is the best option for living rooms and offices. But if that isn’t biggest issue for you, you may want to consider some of the following Smart Garden alternatives.
- AeroGarden (Amazon) is my number one choice for growing food indoors. Much of this, to be fair, is based on what I’m familiar with. I’ve been using AeroGardens for years, and therefore, it’s what I’m used to. They have many different models available, at all different price points. I’ve had good success with growing food in an AeroGarden.
- Sprouting and Microgreen Kits are a great way to grow a lot of food in small spaces. I actually start a new tray of sprouts every day. I use them for our daily green smoothies. :
- iDoo (Amazon) is the most popular AeroGarden alternative. I personally haven’t used them myself but have watched several videos on them. They are typically quite a bit cheaper than AeroGardens. However, they are sometimes missing some of the essential AeroGarden features, such a notification to add nutrients. Some have also complained about overtime the water basins leaking. Others rave about them. I recommend giving them a try if you want to dip your toe into hydroponics, without spending much money.
- Self-watering planters are a great way to grow food indoors on a budget. I personally like these GardenBasix self-watering planters found on Amazon. You will need to place what you’re growing in a sunny south-facing window, or use grow lights, such as these found on Amazon.
The bottom line is that the Smart Garden is a well-made, aesthetically pleasing, easy to use smart garden. It’s great for anyone who wants to grow some food indoors, without a lot of effort, or without your home or office taking on an industrial look.
You can learn more about Click and Grow on their website.
More Indoor Gardening Goodness
If you’d like to learn more about indoor gardening, be sure to check out these articles:
- Hydroponics Vs. Soil | The Best Option for Apartment Dwellers
- Growing AeroGarden Lettuce | Plus Best Lettuce Varieties
- AeroGarden Harvest Review