Vertical hydroponic towers are gardening powerhouses. Often referred to as hydroponic gardens, vertical grow systems, hydroponic towers, hydro-gardens, and other associated names, these systems are compact, produce fast growth, abundant crops, and are easy to use. This is hydroponic gardening in its most efficient state. Let’s look at the history of vertical hydroponics, weigh the benefits of using a vertical grow system, and then summarize some of the vertical hydroponic grow towers currently available. First, here’s a quick DIY video in case you’d rather build your own.
Most gardeners today still use conventional horizontal farming. However, the possibilities surrounding vertical farming is creating a buzz. Not only within the garden community, but also with global hunger advocacy groups and other groups concerned with the availability of fresh food. The efficiencies found in vertical farming – and specifically, vertical hydroponics – are what is creating this excitement. Thanks to technological advances in grow lights, grow systems, and highly-specialized nutrient solutions, vertical farming is now widely regarded as a superior method of gardening. While some communities, policy makers, and large business begin to look at how they may take advantage of vertical hydroponics, individual gardeners, small businesses and restaurants have also become interested in how vertical hydroponics may benefit them, and how they may participate in it. Many have found hydroponic vertical grow tower systems to be a perfect introduction into the world of gardening vertically.
What are Hydroponic Vertical Grow Towers?
By using a hydroponic vertical growing system – often referred to as a hydroponic “tower,” hydroponic “grow system,” or a hydroponic “vertical garden” – plant growing is at its most efficient state. Less space is used, faster growth is achieved, and soil-related problems are non-existent. In addition, much less water and nutrient solution are wasted due to their recycling capabilities, and indoor growing allows for year-round crops.
Vertical grow towers are hydroponic systems, often utilizing motorized pumps, water, and nutrient solution to grow herbs, fruits and any other type of plant. Each system has numerous “residential units,” which are essentially the holes on the sides of the system which house each plant. The towers stand upright, are compact, portable, easy to use, and are extremely efficient. For their square footage, it is quite amazing how much produce each tower can yield. As plants start to grow within the vertical garden, plant foliage can make these towers look quite attractive with their cascading vegetation (somewhat reminiscent of the towers supporting the Hanging Gardens of Babylon).
While indoor home, office, and business use is most common, these hydroponic towers are increasingly being utilized outdoors – in traditional gardening plots, terrace gardens, urban farms and other agricultural upstarts. While other outdoor plants are typically grown at ground-level, hydroponic grow towers stand tall and upright, which makes harvesting crops a simple task (ie, limited bending and kneeling)
Before you begin
Once the tower is up and running, it becomes very easy to maintain. However, there are a few considerations before you start growing your vertical garden.
Light – As with all gardening, plants need a lot of sunlight to thrive. Generally, plants do well with 10-12 hours of sunlight per day. While an unobstructed window with southern exposure may suffice, supplemental light is often needed. See our page on grow lights to compare options.
Temperature – Stable temperatures for growing hydroponics are required. 60-80 degree ranges work for most plants grown hydroponically, with 70-75 degrees is ideal.
Nutrients – A good nutrient solution is essential to successful hydroponics. While some vertical towers already include nutrients with purchase of the vertical hydroponic tower, others do not. (for example, General Hydroponics – Flora Bloom Fertilizer )
pH adjusters – Different plants may require different pH levels, so adjusters are often necessary for controlling acid levels within the grow tower (for example, General Hydroponics – 1415 Control Kit)
Grow mediums – While the nutrient solution provides the nourishment in hydroponic grow towers, grow mediums act as a support for the plant and its root system, while also providing aeration and drainage. Some vertical grow system include grow mediums with purchase of the kit, while others do not. See our hydroponic grow mediums page.
Air-flow – Indoor grow towers may benefit from oscillating fans, or ceiling fans, as they are helpful in maintaining good air-flow surrounding your plants and their root system. Advanced vertical towers often have oxygenating features within their hydration systems, which help provide oxygen in the root system.
Choosing a Hydroponic Vertical Grow Tower
Ready to choose a hydroponic grow system? Let’s first review a few of the advanced hydroponic grow towers available, and then look at a mid-range and basic model for comparison.