Got a Small Space? Here are 12 (More Affordable) Alternatives to a Tower Garden
Shelling out $600 for a tower garden is OUTRAGEOUS – the tower tonic even costs $60!
But luckily, these 12 tower garden alternatives are way cheaper and work just as well, if not better. One option can even grow up to 80 plants in one vertical setup.
Let’s turn your tower gardening dreams into a reality! Here are garden tower options that won’t break the bank and let you plant year-round.
- Quad-pot Vertical Hydro-Gardens
- Wall Gardens
- Non-Automated Vertical Gardens
Quad-pot Vertical Hydro-Gardens
These vertical gardens are the most similar alternatives to the Tower Garden by Juice Plus. Check out the similarities and differences of each vertical tower.
Let’s kick things off with a well-established tower garden system. Being in the market for over 20 years, Ez Gro is an expert on everything related to vertical gardening. Their Patio Garden is one of their most popular systems.
You’ll be able to grow between 20 to 80 plants in one tower indoor garden. A kit contains five layers of 4 pots. So you don’t have to worry about limiting your plant options.
These alternatives to the tower garden take up around 2.5 sq. ft. That’s giving allowance for plant growth and walking space. You can have it in the small corner of your condo balcony or have rows of them in your yard to supply a small veggie stall.
Either way, using this tower indoor garden is easy. Your starter kit has everything you need, from the watering system to the plant medium. Of course, you need to grow some seedlings first.
Once you have your seedlings ready, you don’t have to worry about anything else because everything is automated and runs on a timer. Every 10-14 days, you will need to refill the water and nutrient supply, and that’s it. You’d have to be really careless to make this system fail.
Here’s a garden tower system like the ever-popular Tower Garden by Juice Plus. The Grow Up Hydrogarden can also grow 20 plants but costs about half the price.
It looks like the Ez Gro system, right? But with a way bigger reservoir and no timer. Water constantly flows like a fountain.
“But doesn’t that overwater the plants?”
No, it doesn’t. The medium used here is Grow Stones, which drains better (1). It actually extends the water and nutrient supply since it constantly recirculates. But the downside of Grow Stones is that you can’t sow seeds. You have to germinate them separately and then transfer them into the system.
Since it’s bigger, it needs more space – 4 sq ft to be exact. But that’s still a small amount of space, considering you can grow over a dozen different plants, herbs, and crops at the same time.
Plus, this system grows food faster because of the efficient watering system. You can harvest tasty tomatoes in as early as six weeks. Cool, right?
Stacked quad pots are popular to maximize space. So what sets each one apart? It’s the growing medium, tank size, and nutritional mix.
“This medium boasts antifungal properties, which keeps the roots happy. It can repel some pests, meaning your growth is easier to maintain.”
You don’t need to worry about plant diseases or needing pesticides to keep your plants growing healthy. Plus, coco noir is very sustainable.
Saving you time and effort germinating and transferring your plants is its soil growing medium. Plus, the entire vertical system is intuitive and beginner-friendly for aspiring indoor gardeners that are new to the world of the hydroponic system.
As for maintenance, Mr. Stacky can basically take care of itself and your plants. It has an automatic timer for watering. And the 16-gallon tank means you only need to refill every 2-3 weeks. You can go on a long vacation and come home to green plants that are still alive. If you time it right, they may be ready to eat too.
This is probably the most different concept among the other alternatives to the tower garden. The ZipGrow Tower is a single column with a special medium that holds several plants. It also uses a hydroponic system to water and gives nutrition to the plants.
It’s pretty hard to imagine, right? Let’s break it down. Think of the whole thing like a veggie sub.
The wrapper: Think of a long, rectangular strip folded to make a rectangular tube. But the two ends don’t meet, forming a long gap. One end seals the bottom, and the top is open. That’s what holds the “sandwich” together.
The sandwich: The media is another odd thing. It’s a long strip of special fiber that acts like bread in a sandwich. You add the water wick layer to the medium and then the seedlings on top. Make sure it sticks out when you fold the other half of the medium over.
Now that you have the “sandwich,” you stuff it into the casing. The open strip is where the plants stick out after sliding it through the top of the casing. You hang the entire tower column right over the drip water system, and you’re done. Just wait for the veggies or herbs to grow. You can have a whole greenhouse of these columns to make a farm.
Walls are a great use of space for gardening. Plants are both functional and decorative, so why not display them like living wall art? Here are your plant wall options.
Congratulations, this pandemic turned you into a certified plant momma. Embrace your new role by flaunting all your plant babies. And what better way to do this than with an Insta-worthy plant wall.
The wall kit by Florafelt has a minimalist design. It’s just a vertical column of felt pockets that you can put your plants in. You get eight pockets per planter that are 5 feet tall.
This garden tower is also easy to use. It has a timed watering system that you just need to refill every week.
I know, you might be thinking. “Won’t my normal potted plants get weirded out by the change in soil, or lack thereof?”
Well, the best thing about this tower garden alternative is the felt. The material is literally a security blanket for the plant transition. Felt is moist and spongy, something the roots can get comfy in quickly. So even if the plants sprouted out of the felt, they wouldn’t get shocked like, “Yo, where’d my soil go?”
Florafelt is a versatile vertical system because you can grow ornamental plants, veggies, and even “fruit veggies.” You know, the ones you thought were veggies but are actually fruits.
FYI, if what you’re harvesting has seeds inside or around it, then it’s technically a fruit. Tomato? Fruit. Cucumbers? Fruit. Squash? Yup, it’s a fruit.
Now when that sinks in, you can go back to exploring the other wonders of vertical gardening.
Let’s say you live in a studio apartment in the middle of a concrete jungle. And you just want to bring in a bit of life into your space aside from that cactus sitting on your desk. Where do you put the plants?
Wall gardens are what you need, and Urbio makes it easy. Using a magnetic plate installation system, you just mount the planters on the plates, and voila, your green wall is set.
You can plant any small plant from succulents to leafy vegetables and herbs. Some have even grown strawberries successfully! Lettuce, cilantro, and microgreens are great options. Unfortunately, bigger veggies like broccoli won’t hold up because they’re too heavy when they’re fully grown.
You’ll still need to water these plants. But it’s easy as taking them off, watering them, and sticking them back on. They also don’t make a mess because there aren’t any draining holes for these planters.
They’re actually versatile vessels. You can keep one empty to hold your shears or small gardening tools. Urbio recently transitioned into Perch, which specializes in magnetic organizers. But they still work well as planters.
Here’s another felt wall tower garden, but this baby runs mainly horizontally: the Wally Pro Drip Kit. You can choose from 3 or 5 pocket systems with extra drip kits for automatic watering.
Installation is easy. Just mount the felt pockets on a wall using some screws to hang them. Make sure you choose a wall near a water source. That way, you don’t need extension tubing that doesn’t look that great and will cost you more. Each pocket is about 12 inches high and 22 inches wide (3). You can put two small plants in each pocket to maximize space.
Mount the automatic timer and pump and set the timer according to the season. Run the pipes through the slots on the felts, and you’re set. You can plant ornamental or edible plants inside or outside your house.
The felt is water-resistant, so you don’t have to worry about drips. Plus, it helps promote root growth because of the fibrous materials. Each kit already comes with potting mix and fertilizer. It’s not a hydroponic growing system, just a regular wall system with an automatic waterer.
Some people have plants because they look cool and sophisticated inside the home. And, what better way to display your plants and save floor space than having a living wall system. SageGreenLife specializes in creating these wall gardens.
These are pretty much like real live paintings. The whole system goes on the wall. Yes, on, not in. So you don’t have to worry about cutting into the wall to install the system. The built-in watering and nutrition systems are hidden. You don’t see any pipes or even pots.
It’s low maintenance with automatic watering. Eventually, you will need to trim some plants. You want a plant wall, not a jungle.
This system can thrive both outdoors and indoors. And it provides a lot of benefits from being a statement piece to improving your air quality (4).
“Research has shown that the air in plant-filled rooms contains 50-60 percent fewer airborne molds and bacteria compared with the equivalent rooms without plants.”
The system reduces carbon footprint by sucking up all the impurities from the air. Plus, it makes a good sound buffer and brings the temperature down on hot days. Talk about a COOL feature.
Cover up that awful window view with something more pleasing and practical like plants. Windowfarm is exactly that. A farm on your window.
You set up a series of hanging pots and tubes for watering throughout your window. The plants take advantage of the sun, and you get fresh produce. Benefits all around!
This tower garden is a hydroponic growing system. The tubes connect to a tub filled with water and nutrients. A timer automates everything, which means little maintenance for you.
You can plant anything except root veggies in these 6”x4” planters. You can grow up to 30 plants in one system if you have a big window. Veggies and herbs grow best for this setup. Even strawberries will work.
Plant capacity: 12 plants per kit
- Dimensions: 18.9 x 7.1 x 6.7 inches
- Care needed: little maintenance, automatic timed watering.
Here’s the last of the non-hydroponic wall planters. The vertical wall planters by Worth is a self-watering system.
You get four sets of 3 planters in each kit which comes with the watering system. You just have to stack up the horizontal planters, and they line up to receive water that flows from the main pipe above. It’s an automated watering line aided by gravity. Best of both worlds, really.
Keep in mind that these are not your ordinary hanging planters. You need to drill through a sturdy wall that can support the weight of the plants. They lean forward to make watering more efficient, so a typical wire fence isn’t going to cut it.
You need wood planks every three layers for added support. So you will be drilling into the wall quite a bit if you’re using more than one kit. It’ll be worth it when you start reaping all the veggies or seeing all the flowers bloom.
You can use this as an indoor tower garden setup, but most people prefer these systems outdoors because of the water dripping. Either way, it doesn’t take up any floor space.
Non-Automated Vertical Gardens
You don’t need fancy equipment and electricity to make a vertical garden. You just need good design and make use of what you have. Here are some basic systems for you to choose from.
Traditional garden growers will love the Triolife Plant Pyramid. This 3-tier or 5-tier tower garden alternative doesn’t have a watering system or any hydroponic parts.
You don’t even need any tools because all the cedar parts fit together well. Just be sure to assemble it where you want it because it’s hard to move when filled with soil and plants.
Since it doesn’t have a self-contained watering system, this baby should go outside. Otherwise, you’ll need to assemble it over a drain pan.
The setup is perfect for those that want to plant the good ol’ fashion way while still saving space. The 3 tier pyramid is 3 feet at its widest point and stands 2 feet tall. Not the slimmest choice on the list, but it makes a wonderful leafy garden for at least 18 plants. You can have bigger veggies like lettuce on the bottom tier and smaller herbs like mint at the top.
This system is not self-sufficient. You need to water it daily. Take out weeds that grow and maintain it like you would the plants on a regular garden.
We love everything with a dual purpose. We love it even more if it saves us on utility bills. [Enter Rainwater Terrace]
The Rainwater Terrace Water Butt doubles as a 200-liter rainwater storage bin. Plus, it uses gravity to move the water around. No electricity required.
“So how does this off-grid tower garden alternative work?”
It connects to your rainwater downspout. Instead of the water pouring down the drain, it diverts into the water bins through the tubings provided. The main structure is actually a giant water tank.
“Where do the plants fit in?”
The planters go on the sides and top of the last tier. They’re detachable with a special capillary mat that you put in the bottom of each box. The mat has a wick that dips into the main water bin. It soaks up water for your plants to use.
There aren’t any fancy nutritional mixes here. You’ll need regular potting mix and compost to provide nutrients to your plants. But, since it doesn’t require electricity to power its automatic watering system, you can use those savings for your plants.
And oh, this tower garden alternative stores and circulates rainwater so that you can reduce water usage too.
Hybrid hydroponic systems are a mix of different medium and irrigation methods. Nutritional mixtures are not always needed.
The rainwater terrace is a good example of this hybrid system. It’s still low maintenance. But it has many benefits even if it grows fewer plants for the size of the setup.
The plants that grow best in a tower garden are light leafy vegetables and herbs. But, this depends on your growing medium and planter boxes.
Plastic planter boxes with soil can grow plants from seeds and root vegetables like carrots or beets. Fully hydroponic systems can’t do this because of the medium they use.
Felt pouches can also only grow plants that are leafy because of weight restrictions. You can always start the fruiting plants off in a felt pouch and then transfer them to a regular pot when they start to bear fruit.
How often you should water your tower gardens depends on the kit that you have, the medium you use, and the actual plants you’re growing.
Some garden towers have automatic watering systems that water on cue from a timer. You usually water more often with a less dense medium like Grow Stones. More porous media needs less watering.
And finally, some plants need less watering than others. Veggies need daily watering, while ornamental plants can go for days without needing water.
Regardless, you should check the requirements of the plants you want to grow first before deciding on the tower and irrigation system.
A vertical garden doesn’t always need electricity to work. The beauty of vertical gardens is the advantage of gravity. Drip irrigation systems don’t usually need electricity because the pipes connect directly to the main water source.
Exceptions would be the hydroponic systems with a water reservoir. You need a submersible water pump to get the nutrient solution circulating. These pumps roughly use less than 80watts of electricity. But don’t worry, they don’t pump 24/7. So you’re looking somewhere between 200-300 watts per day.
How often you add nutrients to a vertical hydroponic garden depends on your reservoir’s size and how many times your timer waters the plants in a day. For a standard 20 gallon tank of a quad pot tower, replace the nutrient solution every 10-20 days.
Yes, vertical hydroponic gardens need sunlight to grow efficiently with less cost on your part. But they will still grow indoors under the right kind of artificial light.
Plants growing in a hydroponic system need a combination of warm and bright light to process food and grow properly. Some plants grow better under specific lights than others. For example, seedlings and leafy green plants grow best under either incandescent or fluorescent light. While flowering plants thrive under LED (6).
Sunlight is still the best light for plants. But supplemental lighting gives your plants the best chance to grow optimally under less than ideal conditions.
- Grow Media: Clay Pebbles Vs Grow Stones. Retrieved from: https://hydrobuilder.com/learn/grow-medias-clay-pebbles-vs-growstones/
- The Pros And Cons Of Growing In Coco Coir. Retrieved from: https://www.advancednutrients.com/articles/coco-coir-grow-medium/
- Wally Gro Garden Packs. Retrieved from: https://wallygro.com/collections/school-garden-kits/products/wally-pocket-black-garden-kit
- Our Toxic Lives: How Plants Clean Indoor Air. Retrieved from: https://transitionconsciousness.wordpress.com/2011/07/07/our-toxic-lives-how-plants-clean-indoor-air/
- Grow Up Hydrogarden Review. Retrieved from: https://growgreenfood.com/grow-up-hydrogarden-review-2
- Do Hydroponics Need Sunlight? Retrieved from: https://thehydroponicsplanet.com/do-hydroponics-need-sunlight/