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Hydroponics vs Soil Gardening: Which Is Best Indoors?

Hydroponics vs Soil Gardening: Which Is Best Indoors?

Before we dive into which method is optimal for indoor gardening, it's important to understand the basics of gardening with each growing technique.

Soil gardening is rather simple. Soil is placed in a pot, sack or container. The plant's roots grow and spread through the soil, absorbing water and essential nutrients that are crucial to the plant's development. The soil also serves to stabilize the plant, allowing it to thrive and grow with proper support.

On the other hand, hydroponics is a dirt-free method of growing. Nutrients are delivered to the plant via water, while a growing media (often placed in a net pot) serves to transfer nutrients from the water to your plants. This allows the roots to stay oxygenated, while also providing structural support.

Check out our post for more > What Is Hydroponics?

The Case for Soil

Soil-based systems are advantageous for a number of reasons:

  • Simplicity. Most gardeners are familiar with soil gardening, which is less intimidating for beginners.
  • Inexpensive to start. Soil gardening can require less equipment up front, making it an attractive option when on a budget.
  • Organic, fertile and nutrient-rich soils can be purchased and used immediately without significant supplements.

Against Soil

  • While properly mixed soils can be nutrient rich, additional supplements are often still required. It is also difficult to precisely know the nutrient levels present in soil. 
  • Soil gardens tend to consume more space than hydroponic systems.
  • Soil is dirty, quite literally, which adds an unwanted element indoors.
  • Soils welcome unwanted weeds and soil-borne diseases, which put your plants at risk.

The Case for Hydroponics

  • Growth Rates: Hydroponic plants grow up to 20-30% faster than those grow in soil. Nutrients are delivered directly to the plant's roots, allowing the plant to focus more on upward growth and less on developing an extensive root system.
  • Higher Density: Hydroponic plants consume less space and can be planted more densely, whether planted in horizontal rows or in vertical systems.
  • Greater Control: With hydroponics, one can have complete control over the quality and quantity of nutrients delivered to plants.
  • Efficient Water Use: Water is used more efficiently in hydroponic systems, as you are able to precisely deliver water to each plant according to its needs. Irrigation water can also be recycled.

Against Hydroponics

  • Somewhat complicated and intimidating for beginners. Purchasing supplies, pumps, a grow medium, etc.
  • A higher degree of care and maintenance maybe be required, as the water pH, temperature, and nutrient levels must be measured and dialed in.
  • With great power, comes great responsibility. Hydroponics requires the grower to deliver the proper nutrients to the plant.


Both soil and hydroponics systems can be effective inside your home or apartment. While each has its advantages, a stronger case can be made for hydroponics when gardening indoors.

Forget the Learning Curve: Pick a SMART Garden!

While the learning curve might be steeper, the increased control with hydroponics unlocks greater potential to create the largest yield with the fastest results.

Do you agree? Let us know in the comments section below!

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Spencer - August 5, 2020

I completely agree! Ditched soil a few years back, and my yields have been insane. It took a while to get here though :-)

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