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 to free to enjoy a plentiful supply of fresh plants (without too much actual work on your part).
The Click and Grow Smart Garden 3 is an indoor countertop garden system built to grow a small amount 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 its 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.
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.
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 $100 USD, the Click and Grow is essentially a plastic water tank with an LED attached to the top. It doesn’t exactly scream “good value for the money”. And then there is 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.
And that brings us to the last point: the Click & Grow is a 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 are that they make it obvious there is no magic “green thumb” in gardening. There’s just plants that are or aren’t getting what they need to thrive. The 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.
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.
- 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 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.
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. With good marketing.
- 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 (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 refilling 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 inside the water tank and the wicking straws.
- 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.
Review Of Unboxing and Setup Process For The Click & Grow
The Click & Grow setup process is very easy. The planter comes fully assembled with the light arm and planter pots already in place. All you have to do 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:
- Insert the soil plant pods into the plastic pots.
- Label the plastic tabs with the name of each plant.
- Fill the tank with water until the float is level with the top.
- Plug the garden in first thing in the morning.
- Fit the power cord into the groove on the side.
- Add arm extensions as plants grow up to the light.
The set-up 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, 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 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 plant material 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.
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:
- tend to kill baby plants like herbs from the grocery store;
- want a small culinary garden without the mess of potting soil;
- 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;
- 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 & Grow Smart Garden 3
The Click & Grow Smart Garden 3 is not cheap. It generally retails for about $100 USD. That’s quite a hefty price tag for a plastic tub with a light bar stuck on.
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.
- See Cost of Click & Grow Smart Garden 3 on Manufacturer’s Website
- See Cost of Click & Grow Smart Garden 3 on Amazon
The cost of Click and Grow plant pods has 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 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 the 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 to 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 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
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 prices of 13.60 Cents per Kilowatthour, running the Click & Grow 3 costs about 52 cents per month – $6.20 per year.
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.
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 – the Aerogarden is more focused on growing the maximum amount of plant material, while the 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.
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.
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:
- Click & Grow Smart Garden 9 (Like The 3-Pod, But Bigger)
- Click & Grow Smart Garden 9 Pro (App-Controlled)
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.
What Are 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
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 experimental capsules).
Is Click & Grow Organic?
The Click & Grow Smart Garden is 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 and 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.
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 (Experimental 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:
- Dwarf Basil
- Holy Basil
- Lemon Basil
- Cinnamon Basil
- Red Basil
- Apple Mint
- Lemon Balm
- Flat-Leaf Parsley
- Curly Parsley
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
- Red Kale
- Pak Choi
- Red Pak Choi
- Green Sorrel
- Bloody Sorrel
- Leaf Mustard
- Red Frill Mustard
- Wasabi Mustard Greens
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
- Piri Piri Chili Pepper
- Purple Chili Pepper
- Yellow Chili Pepper
- Wild Strawberry
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
- Moss Rose
- Painted Nettle
- Sweet Alyssum
All together, there are currently about 66 different pre-seeded plant pods offered by Click & Grow for the Smart Garden (as of February 2021).
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 a 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 “Experimental” pods:
- Sunflower – Sunny Smile Hybrid Dwarf Sunflower
- Lettuce – Tom Thumb Dwarf Heirloom Lettuce
- Kale – Dazzling Blue Lacinato Kale
- Pink Phlox – Twinkle Dwarf Mix Phlox
- Chervil – French Heirloom Chervil
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.