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- I tested multiple indoor gardens for our guide to the best and the Rise Family Garden was far and away my favorite.
- I’ve used it for more than a year to grow lettuce, bok choy, spinach, kale, and taller plants like tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers.
- By carefully planning your planting schedule, you can continuously harvest from this garden all year.
Back in early 2020, I purchased the Rise Family Garden. Maybe it was that I needed something to keep me occupied. But also, deep down, I worried about the future. I love and cherish my front yard garden (I’ve been a gardener for over a decade), but as the summers become unrelentingly hot and drought becomes more common, outdoor gardening can be unpredictable.
Enter indoor hydroponic gardening.
The Rise Family Garden comes with everything you need to start your water-based gardening adventure. The beginner-friendly hydroponic unit has become a staple kitchen accessory. Anytime anyone comes over, they always peek at what’s growing — and since I often grow more than me and my husband can eat, most guests don’t go home empty-handed.
Design and specs
The triple-level Rise Family Garden measures 36 x 16 x 66 ¼ inches. You can also start your foray into indoor gardening with a single (available in a tall or short option) or two-level garden. All units are about the width of a standard bookcase.
Each tier holds a total of 12 plants, but you can grow more by swapping out the included 4-hole trays for ones that can hold 8 or 12 pods (sold separately).
The growing shelf features a combination of wood, plastic, and metal materials, making it a sturdy, durable addition to the home. I expect it’ll probably outlive my cheap living room IKEA bookcase.
I managed to set up the Family Garden in about an hour — and I’m the kind of person who might murder someone in the midst of assembling IKEA furniture. It was pretty simple with the provided Allen key. The instructions were reasonably easy to follow, though I did run into a few confusingly written steps.
After screwing everything together, the result is a sleek-looking shelving unit. At the bottom of the garden, there are cabinet doors that open to reveal a plastic water reservoir. There’s also enough room there to store the various bits and bobs you need to maintain the garden.
Once you’ve filled the reservoir and plugged in the garden, you’ll need to set up the Wi-Fi connection. The app is an indispensable part of the smart hydroponic gardening experience. I had no trouble connecting to Wi-Fi, but I’ve heard of people having issues with this seemingly simple step.
Customers who order directly from Rise should get starter seed packs and nutrients with their purchase. Unfortunately, because I ordered from a third-party seller, my 3-tier garden only came with a handful of pods. Still, I managed to DIY my own with hydroponic pods from Amazon and seeds from my existing collection.
When setting up the garden, it’s tempting to start all the seeds at once. I recommend starting a few and planting the rest a few weeks later. This planting strategy is called succession planting and ensures you have a steady supply of produce instead of having to harvest everything at once.
Review of the Rise Family Garden
Last summer, I still grew produce outdoors, but I was more than ready to throw in the towel toward the end of the season. Eventually, I realized that with the Rise, I barely needed to bother growing anything outside. More often than not, I was saddled with too much produce than I knew what to do with. Bonus: the stuff I was growing inside was picture perfect.
The product is fairly new to the market, so naturally, there have been a few technical hiccups along the way. For example, my lights started flashing and shutting off randomly about a year down the line. But Rise Gardens happily sent me a new control panel for my unit that completely fixed the problem.
Overall, the Rise Family Garden has been a dream to use. In the suburbs, local supermarkets rarely carry some of my favorite greens. And the hottest pepper I can usually find is a jalapeno. As someone who loves to cook, I appreciate that the Rise Garden allows me to grow my favorite ingredients year-round. The growing season in my neck of the woods is super short. That means that even when I have the energy to constantly battle kale-devouring cabbage worms, I only have a tiny window to grow cool-season favorites like lettuce and spinach. In my Rise Garden, there’s no time limit. It’s gardening season 365 days of the year.
To make things ultra-easy for hydroponic newbies, the app automatically calculates nutrient requirements based on your water quality, plant types, and plant ages.
Ultimately, the Rise Family Gardens will produce a variety of produce to satisfy most households. I’ve tried many indoor gardening products, and so far, the Rise Garden is the winner.
Upkeep and maintenance
Gardening of any kind, even with a smart unit like the Rise Family Garden, isn’t totally hands-off. You’ll need to keep close tabs on your garden. The app helps some with this. It’ll remind you to water and add nutrients and will automatically turn the lights on and off.
But growing, even in a soilless garden, can be messy. You’ll need to prune, trim, and harvest plants to keep the garden tidy. You’ll also need to start seeds in the included nursery before transferring them to the garden.
Rise also recommends doing a full clean of the garden every six months, a task that takes about an hour the first time around, but once you get the hang of it shouldn’t take you more than 30 minutes. I also recommend regularly cleaning around plants and wiping down trays between bigger cleanups. Getting rid of plant debris lowers the chances that pests will decide to move in.
Cons to consider
Rise attempts to hold the hands of users through the growing process. However, there’s bound to be some trial and error when growing anything. Small variables like room temperature or the quality of your water can impact plant health. Be prepared for failures and to make mistakes. It happens even when you don’t have to battle the elements.
I also encountered a few technical glitches when using the Rise Family Garden. In the year and a half that I’ve been using the garden, I experienced issues with the control panel and pump. Thankfully, each time I contacted customer service, they were responsive and helpful.
Another downside is the subscription model. You’re not locked into a subscription for the nutrients and plant pods, but those new to hydroponics might feel uncomfortable going the DIY route. If you’re a gardener with some plant knowledge and know the basics of fertilizing, you should be fine doing it yourself.
Are there alternatives?
There are a few alternatives out there. You can read about other indoor gardens in my guide to the best indoor gardens.
Ultimately, I think the Rise Garden is the frontrunner of the indoor gardening world. Its innovative features and ease of use are hard to beat.
If a triple-level garden seems like too much of an undertaking, Rise also sells single and two-tier models. And, if you catch the gardening bug, you can eventually add-on to these to create a two or three-shelf unit. There’s also a Personal Rise Garden model that’s designed for countertop use. We reviewed it here.
The bottom line
The Rise Family Garden is a wonderful addition to any home with enough space to house a bookshelf. It’s perfect for people who are new to gardening, want to grow more than their garden allows, don’t have room for an outdoor garden, or dream of eating fresh produce year-round.
Nothing tastes better than fresh herbs, greens, tomatoes, and peppers harvested when there’s a blanket of snow on the ground. The Rise Family Garden makes it easy to grow no matter the weather.
Pros: room for lots of plants, convenient smart features like automatic lighting, helpful app that provides reminders to water and add nutrients, attractive design blends in well with decor
Cons: some technical glitches, regular maintenance required