Click & Grow review

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The Click and Grow Smart Garden 3 is known as one of the top automated mini gardening systems. It promises to do the lion’s share of plant growing on your behalf, leaving you free to enjoy a plentiful supply of fresh plants (without too much actual work on your part). Let’s look at Click & Grow and review what makes this indoor gardening system so popular.

The Click and Grow Smart Garden 3 is an indoor countertop garden system built to grow a small number of herbs or greens. The Click & Grow is simple to operate, has a clean minimalist design, and is well-suited to small-space modern living. It is one of the more expensive indoor growing systems (especially given the small yield) but is also one of the most beautiful.

Read on to learn all about the Click and Grow Smart Garden, including who it’s best suited to, the most important pros and cons discovered during the review process, and tips and ideas for getting the most out of this tech-enabled garden. And don’t forget to use my 15% promo code for your click and grow: HHARVEST.

Click and grow review
Unboxing my first click & grow last year. The box says “the easiest way to grow plants. Period. ”

Overall review of the Click And Grow Smart Garden 3

The big promise of Click & Grow Smart Gardens is that they make it extremely easy – foolproof even – to grow indoor plants at home. This functionality is paired with an attractive modern design to create a productive little garden system. The Click & Grow does make growing plants effortless and it looks good while doing it.

The planter base water tank holds enough water to last for several weeks, the plant lights can be raised and lowered, and the potting soil used in the plant pod inserts is high-quality and drains well while providing essential nutrients to seedling plants. Overall, the Smart Garden 3 is a reliable, easy-to-use, beautiful indoor mini garden system.

Basil leaves growing in click and grow smart garden 3
Basil herb plants in the click & grow. This photo was taken 25 days after putting the pods into the garden.

While the Click & Grow Smart Garden 3 is an effective way to grow indoor plants, it certainly is not the most cost-effective solution for doing so. At $140 USD, the Click and Grow is essentially a plastic water tank with LED grow lights attached to the top. It doesn’t exactly scream “good value for the money”. And then there are the ongoing costs of purchasing the proprietary little “plant pods” (potting mix + fertilizer + seeds).

The Smart Garden 3 also just doesn’t produce very much plant material. The tiny volume it grows makes it best-suited to herb plants where only a tiny bit is needed for each meal. The pride that beginner gardeners feel in the near-guaranteed success is sure to outweigh the actual amount of leafy greens grown.

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And that brings us to the last point: the Click & Grow is an absolute pleasure to use. My kids love checking the progress of the little sprouts every morning. I am amazed at how well plants grow in it given the close-to-zero effort required. This smart garden is as much an educational tool and beginner gardener confidence-builder as it is a fancy planter pot.

My favorite thing about smart gardens like this is that they make it obvious there is no magic “green thumb” in gardening. There are just plants that are or aren’t getting what they need to thrive. Click and Grow controls many tricky environmental factors in the already temperature-controlled indoor environment. There are no struggles with inconsistent watering, forgetting plant food, or lack of natural light.

The Click & Grow Smart Garden is expensive, but it is also simple to operate and beautiful to look at. You just add the pods, add water, plug it in, and enjoy.

Basil growing in indoor garden
Basil plant pods come with the smart garden (and are super easy to grow)
Pros of the click & grow smart garden - good things

What’s great about the Click & Grow Smart Garden 3?

Here are some positive characteristics of the Smart Garden 3 based on my Click and Grow review:

The Click & Grow Smart Garden 3:

  • is simple to set up.
  • is truly as easy to use as the manufacturer promises.
  • makes it possible to grow herbs and leafy greens indoors with minimal hassle.
  • includes everything you need to get started (no “sold separately” surprises).
  • offers 60+ types of plant pods, plus blank/empty pods to use your own seeds in.
  • can be used as a seed-starting tray to grow seedling transplants for an outdoor garden.
  • has a sleek and clean modern appearance.
  • allows for four-season growing for climates with cold winters/hot summers.
  • makes it possible to grow plants with little to no natural light.
  • is not much more expensive than some small but fancy plant lights.
  • reduces the need to haul messy, heavy, dirty potting soil bags into your home.
  • uses a very small amount of energy (about $6/year of electricity to operate).
  • each pod has multiple seeds, increasing reliability and production.
  • You can take the top parts off and put the water reservoir through the dishwasher
  • offers genuine replacement and extra parts, including extra extension arms, plastic pod cups, below-pod wicks, and clear plastic top domes.
  • each plant has its own dedicated LED grow light.
  • has a plain white LED, not the blurple (blue/red/purple) of some plant lights.
  • does not require fertilizer to be added separately (its already in the pods).
  • takes only 4-6 weeks from pod installation to plant harvest.
  • takes away worries about watering too much or too little.
  • helps to build confidence for new gardeners.
  • fosters a love of growing plants in children and adults alike.
Negative characteristics (cons) of the click and grow smart garden 3
The clear plastic domes help the seeds germinate.

Not-so-good characteristics of the Click & Grow Smart Garden 3

Here are some negative characteristics of the Smart Garden 3 that I noticed during my Click and Grow review:

The Click & Grow Smart Garden 3:

  • isn’t a “smart” garden. It is a water tank with an attached light on a built-in timer. You’ll need the 9-Pod Pro model to get app control of the light.
  • kind of takes away the fun of planting seeds/seeing the seeds at all.
  • has no way of adjusting the plant light’s duration. It can only do the factory setting of 16h on, 8h off.
  • has no way to set a specific time when the lamp turns on in the morning.
  • is very bright in comparison to regular indoor lighting.
  • has a long tab on each pod that’s a bit thin/cheap feeling.
  • encourages labelling the plants, but then gives you 3 of the same plant in a sleeve. Even the 9-pod mix packs have three of each plant. Perhaps they mean give the plant pods first names? Like Basil?
  • is much better suited to growing herbs and leafy greens than larger fruiting plants (tomatoes/peppers) and flowers.
  • requires electricity and must be plugged into an electrical outlet.
  • has no way to adjust the cord to hide extra length.
  • has cool white light color in the plant light (not interior designer-approved warm white).
  • has no method of water aeration beyond pouring in more fresh water.
  • requires manually adding water every 1-3 weeks (obviously very bothersome).
  • has a tendency to spill water when you refill the tank (pop out the float). But maybe that’s just me.
  • requires manually raising the light with extensions before plants burn.
  • is awkward to clean the wicking straws (which aren’t dishwasher safe).
  • only offers a limited selection of plant pods through 3rd party retailers (like Amazon).
  • can get mould growing in potting soil in humid indoor environments.
  • offers no choice of OMRI-certified organic plant food.
  • does not list the ingredients in the smart soil on the packaging or product pages.
  • does not list the source of fertilizer minerals on the packaging or product pages.
Click & grow unboxing - home for the harvest - smart garden 3

Review of unboxing and setup process for the Click & Grow

The Click & Grow setup process is very easy. The smart herb garden planter comes fully assembled with the light arm and planter pots already in place. All you have to do after purchase is load the system with the soil pods and water, and then plug it in.

Here are the basic instructions for setting up the Smart Garden 3:

  1. Insert the soil plant pods into the plastic pots.
  2. Label the plastic tabs with the name of each plant.
  3. Fill the tank with water until the float is level with the top.
  4. Plug the garden in first thing in the morning.
  5. Fit the power cord into the groove on the side.
  6. Add arm extensions as plants grow up to the light.

The setup process went very smoothly. I made a video of my first-time setup (see below) so you can follow along. I was able to recycle all the packaging after the initial set-up process.

One of the three pods in my kit didn’t click in quite the same way as the other two. And then there was the issue of having to wait overnight to plug it in. But overall, the initial set-up was a breeze (and honestly kind of fun).

Places to put a Click And Grow Smart Garden

Here are some ideas for places that might suit a Click & Grow an indoor garden:

  • Kitchen countertop;
  • School classroom;
  • Plant-friendly retail storefront;
  • Office break room;
  • Places with low winter sunlight;
  • Seed starting nursery for outdoor gardens.

This little garden is not going to produce enough fresh herbs or salad greens for day-to-day culinary use in a restaurant, commercial kitchen, or even a corner coffee shop. It might, however, inspire a life-long gardening habit.

Click and grow review - smart garden - photo by click & grow
Click and grow indoor gardens are perfect for those who are curious about how plants grow. This includes kids, plant parents, and anyone looking for an easy hobby to pick up. – photo by click & grow

Who is the Click and Grow Smart Garden 3 For?

The Click & Grow Smart Garden 3 is for anyone! That said, based on my review, it will be most beneficial for people who:

  • want a small culinary garden without the mess of potting soil;
  • tend to kill baby plants like herbs from the grocery store;
  • enjoy tech gadgets and automating tasks;
  • aren’t trying to feed a family of 5 from their smart garden;
  • travel often and can’t water their plants for a week or two;
  • want to grow plants without pesticides/herbicides/fungicides or other harmful substances;
  • value the aesthetic design of items in their home; and/or
  • want a plant “pet” that’s easier to look after than a tank of goldfish.

That said, these smart gardens are enjoyable even for those who do have a green thumb and could water their plants every day if they wanted to! Bless the garden that waters its own plants.

Cost of the click and grow smart garden

Cost of the Click & Grow Smart Garden 3

The Click & Grow Smart Garden 3 is not cheap. It generally retails for about $140 USD. That’s quite a hefty price tag for a plastic tub with a light bar stuck on it.

You’re definitely paying a premium for the aesthetic design of the garden. Some indoor gardeners only want planters that look great while others choose based on price or maximum yield. Click & Grow has firmly positioned its smart gardens towards those looking for a clean, simple design over other factors like price and plant yield.

The cost of Click and Grow plant seed pods have come down quite a bit in recent years (perhaps in response to users attempting to make their own DIY pods). The 3-packs are about $10 USD and the 9-packs are priced at around $24 USD. The 3-packs are packaged in a plastic tray reminiscent of lunchbox yogurts. The 9-packs are packaged in a recyclable cardboard box.

Most of the plants grown in Click & Grow last 2-3 months. After this point, the short-lived annual plants tend to look a bit spent, and any longer-lived perennials may need to be transplanted into a larger pot. Here are some basic annual cost estimates for typical plant pod buying habits (you’ll also want to factor in tax and shipping based on your location):

  • Buy a 3-Pack of seed pods every two months = $60/year
  • Buy a 9-Pack to last for six months = $48/year
  • Buy a 3-Pack every three months = $40/year
  • Buy a 9-Pack to last for the year = $24/year
Click and grow smart garden basil pizza - photo by click and grow
Basil is one of the easiest things to start with for a click and grow garden. While some of the other plant pods can take a while to germinate (i’m looking at you wild strawberry…. ), these ones just pop right up! -photo by click and grow
Click and grow soil pod
A plant capsule for the click & grow – this seed pod has basil seeds in it.

To save further on the above prices, Click & Grow offers a plant pod subscription program. The subscription program offers a discount on the sticker price for the pods in return for signing up for repeat delivery (you can customize the pods/timing). The subscription is nice because you get a discount on the 3-pod price without having to pre-plan what you want to grow beyond your current plants.

The cost of energy to run the Click & Grow Smart Garden 3 is minimal. The 8W light has a power consumption of 3.8 kWh per month (source). At 2020 average monthly electricity price of 13.60 Cents per Kilowatt-hour, running the Click & Grow 3 costs about 52 cents per month – $6.20 per year. The cost will vary based on your local electricity bill rates.

One more item to consider is replacement parts. While I haven’t needed replacements for this model, I am considering purchasing a third light arm extension (kale – I’m looking at you). I was pleasantly surprised to see that Click & Grow sells spare parts and that they aren’t overly expensive.

Indoor herb garden - click and grow smart garden 3 with basil growing

Click & Grow 3 vs. Aerogarden Harvest

The Click & Grow Smart Garden 3 is often compared to the Aerogarden Harvest by indoor gardeners. The cost is comparable. They both work as promised and grow healthy little plants indoors with minimal work. But – Aerogarden is more focused on growing the maximum amount of plant material, while Click & Grow is more considered with looking good while doing it.

Personally, I have both the Click & Grow & the Aerogarden! They both work great. And yes, gardening can be addictive. You might want both lol :)

The Click & Grow is noticeably more attractive than the Aerogarden. It takes up less counter space and has cleaner lines. The Click & Grow looks like a cool tech gadget while the Aerogarden looks a bit like a Crock-Pot so stuffed with parsley that its lid is popping off.

Here is my detailed article all about Click and Grow vs AeroGarden.

Click and grow review smart garden 3 indoor herb garden 13

The Click & Grow has no screen or lights other than the LED plant lights (which face downward). The plant light is very bright, but not as blindingly bright as the Aerogarden. And the Click & Grow has no pump (it relies on passive water-wicking), while the Aerogarden has a little pump that makes a quiet gurgling noise like a fish tank.

The Click & Grow brand is sold by Nordstrom, while the Aerogarden brand is available from Costco (at least, here in Canada). Go for the Click & Grow if you want Nordstrom-level style. Go for the Aerogarden if you want Costco-level production.

Click and grow 9 pod model - photo by click and grow
A 9-pod click and grow unit is available for those who would like to grow more plants in the same type of system – photo by click & grow

Reasons to Upgrade to a 9-pod Click & Grow System

There are a few reasons to upgrade to a 9-Pod Smart Garden. One reason is simply to grow more plants! Another is to upgrade to the app-controlled light.

Here are the two currently available 9-Pod models:

The Click & Grow Smart Garden 9 is mostly just a higher-capacity version of the Smart Garden 3. It’s great for bigger households or plant-forward families. The Pro model, introduced in 2021, has the added feature of being app-controlled – making it a true smart garden.

Choose the plain model if you just want it to work on its own. Choose the Pro model if you can work with Bluetooth, love tech, and want to be able to customize the garden’s settings. You can even combine multiple Smart Garden 9 systems into a full-on indoor mini-farm or go for an indoor green wall smart garden.

What are click and grow soil plant pods made of - ingredients

What is Click & Grow Soil Plant pods made of?

Click and Grow plant pods are cylinder-shaped inserts made of a growing medium (stuff that holds plants up) that also contains seeds and mineral nutrients. While the ingredients in the potting mix are not listed on the packaging, it appears that the soil pods are made mainly of peat moss and coconut coir:

“The plant pods are eco friendly, the main components are peat and coconut fiber. Regular trash disposal is fine, but it would make more sense if used plant pods (as it is organic material) would end up in bio trash or in a homemade compost heap. Of course, it depends on what is more feasible for the end-user. Please keep in mind that the plastic parts e.g. cups are reusable.”

Mirjam, Click & Grow Gardener, Click & Grow Gardener Forum
Click and grow plant pods

In addition to the growing medium, the plant pods also contain a mineral fertilizer within the potting mix/growing medium, as well as seeds (except in the blank “Grow Anything Indoors” capsules).

Is Click & Grow organic?

The Click & Grow Smart Garden uses proprietary “plant pods” that are not certified organic by OMRI, California OIM, or any other known certification body for gardening supplies and input materials. The main ingredients of the soil mix in the pods, peat moss + coconut coir, are typically allowed in organic gardening and are sourced from plants. The fertilizer in the soil pods, however, may not be sourced from plants or raw mined minerals.

Given the fertilizer NPK formula of 15-8-11 + trace elements (source), the mineral fertilizer is likely not entirely naturally occurring. This is not unusual in indoor growing, as processed mineral fertilizers tend to be odor-free, while many of the more affordable organic fertilizers do have some unwelcome odor to them. Generally, concerns about polluting the environment with nutrient runoff are lessened when growing indoors due to the closed-loop nature of the growing system.

The pods are 100% biodegradable, use non-GMO seeds, and include no herbicides, pesticides, or fungicides. While the seeds included in the plant pods are not shown to be certified organic, a staff entry in the gardener’s forum stated that the seeds are untreated/uncoated.

Mini strawberry growing in indoor garden

Which plants can you grow in the Click & Grow Smart Garden?

Click & Grow offers 60+ different types of plants in their pre-filled plant pods. There’s everything from culinary herbs, greens, flowers, herbal tea, tomatoes, peppers, strawberries, and even ferns. If you want to grow anything not offered in a plant pod, you can opt for the blank pods (Grow Anything Indoors Pods) and put your own seeds in the Smart Soil insert.

Here are some of the plants you can grow in the Click & Grow Smart Garden

Culinary herb Click & Grow plant pods

There are approximately 23 different herb plant pods available for the Click and Grow:

  • Basil
  • Dwarf Basil
  • Holy Basil
  • Lemon Basil
  • Cinnamon Basil
  • Red Basil
  • Mint
  • Apple Mint
  • Lemon Balm
  • Catnip
  • Thyme
  • Marjoram
  • Rosemary
  • Oregano
  • Flat-Leaf Parsley
  • Curly Parsley
  • Savory
  • Thyme
  • Cilantro
  • Chives
  • Sage
  • Dill
  • Cress

Check current availability of herb plant pods from Click & Grow.

Leafy green plant pods for the Click & Grow

There are approximately 16 different types of leafy green plant pods for the Click and Grow Smart Garden:

  • Green Lettuce
  • Red Lettuce
  • Romaine Lettuce
  • Green Chard
  • Red Chard
  • Arugula
  • Red Kale
  • Pak Choi
  • Red Pak Choi
  • Shungiku
  • Mibuna
  • Green Sorrel
  • Bloody Sorrel
  • Leaf Mustard
  • Red Frill Mustard
  • Wasabi Mustard Greens

Check the current availability of leafy green plant pods from Click & Grow.

Fruit & vegetable Click & Grow plant pods

There are approximately 11 fruit and vegetable plant pods available for the Click and Grow:

  • Mini Tomato
  • Yellow Mini Tomato
  • Dwarf Pea
  • Red Sweet Pepper
  • Yellow Sweet Pepper
  • Chili Pepper
  • Red Hot Chili Pepper
  • Peri Peri Chili Pepper
  • Purple Chili Pepper
  • Yellow Chili Pepper
  • Wild Strawberry

Check current availability of fruit & vegetable plant pods from Click & Grow.

Flowers & ornamental plant pods for Click & Grow Smart Gardens

There are approximately 16 flowers and ornamental foliage plants available to grow in the Click & Grow garden with pre-packaged plant pods:

  • Petunia Mix
  • Pink Petunia
  • Blue Petunia
  • Red Pansy
  • Black Pansy
  • Busy Lizzie
  • White Snapdragon
  • Lace Fern
  • Polka Dot Plant
  • Celosia
  • Cornflower
  • Hyssop
  • Lavender
  • Moss Rose
  • Painted Nettle
  • Sweet Alyssum

Check the current availability of flower plant pods from Click & Grow.

Altogether, there are currently about 66 different pre-seeded plant pods offered by Click & Grow for the Smart Garden (as of 2021).

Read all about the different Click & Grow Plant Pods.

Click and grow review - smart garden 3 - indoor herb garden

What else can you grow in the Click & Grow Smart Garden?

You can grow any seeds in the Click and Grow garden provided they fit in the soil pods (sorry avocado pits). Any type of small seed can be grown into small seedling plants. Plants that eventually grow larger than the height of the plant light will need to be transplanted to a new spot when they outgrow the garden.

Here are some ideas for other plants to grow in the Click & Grow Smart Garden using the blank “Grow Anything Indoors” pods:

Avoid root crops in the Click & Grow, as the sub-surface portion of the plant is limited by the size of the plastic cylinder pod. That means no classic carrots, turnips, potatoes, or other root veggies for this smart garden. You could, however, use the Click and Grow to start baby seedling root crop plants and then transplant them out into your garden as they approach the depth of the pod.

Click and grow indoor herb garden - photo by click and grow adam illingworth 2020
Fresh herbs in the click & grow! – photo by click & grow
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Mary Jane Duford
Mary Jane Duford

Mary Jane Duford is a Master Gardener and founder of the gardening website Home for the Harvest. She has been featured by Better Homes & Gardens, Real Simple, Good Housekeeping, Mother Earth News, and the National Garden Bureau. Mary Jane lives with her family in the Okanagan Valley.