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Abby Grow Box review: a green thumb for everyone

The Abby Grow Box in a modern home.
Abby Grow Box
MSRP $999.00
“It has its quirks, but the Abby Grow Box is a great indoor garden for beginners.”
Pros
  • Sleek design
  • Low maintenance
  • Incredibly fast grow rate
  • Can grow anything that works with deep water culture
Cons
  • Unnecessarily confusing setup
  • Heavily dependent on your smartphone

The Abby Grow Box is a sleek, indoor gardening system that lets you grow any plant compatible with hydroponic setups. Everything about the gardening process is automated with Abby — just check in weekly to replenish its nutrients and change its water, and you’ll have a blooming plant before you know it.

There are a few quirks to using Abby, but it truly delivers on the promise of an automated gardening system. If you’re willing to look past its eye-watering price tag and don’t mind working through a convoluted setup phase, the Abby Grow Box is a great way to become a green thumb without getting your hands dirty.

Simple (but confusing) setup

Two boxes of tools and fertilizer that come with Abby Grow Box.
Digital Trends/Jon Bitner

One of the best things about the Abby Grow Box is that it comes preassembled. The exterior of the box is incredibly modern, boasting an all-white finish with some wooden accents. Its simple exterior belies its complex interior, which offers state-of-the-art equipment to speed up the growth of your indoor garden. At the top of the unit you’ll find an array of Samsung LM301H Full Spectrum Plant Lights, along the sides you’ll see a few sensors, and the very bottom is home to a three-gallon water tank, bubbler, low noise fans, and everything else needed to keep your plant alive and thriving.

The fact that you don’t need to assemble anything is a godsend. With so many moving pieces (and the narrow design of Abby), piecing together the grow box on your own would be a massive undertaking.

Where the Abby Grow Box takes its first misstep is when guiding you through the startup and planting process. This requires the use of an accompanying smartphone app — which is currently only available on iOS. The Android version is expected to drop in September, but since Abby is so dependent on this app, anyone with an Android won’t be able to do much with the indoor garden until then.

The app itself looks the part (it has colorful graphics and is sleek enough to look as if it were designed by Apple), but using it for the startup process is unnecessarily confusing. Once you know what you’re doing the process is easy — simply place your plant in the provided plant basket, fill up the reservoir with water, and add the two nutrient packets. But the first time using the app you’ll be left with a lot of questions. Do I wrap this Rockwool around the plant roots? Do I press this button before or after I finish the step? And now that the setup is complete, what do I do next?

Considering Abby costs $1,000, it seems odd that so much functionality has been pushed to your smartphone.

Some of these issues seem to have been addressed in subsequent software patches, so make sure to update your gear prior to starting your planting process. Much of the confusion could have been avoided if there was a comprehensive instruction manual included in the box, but instead, you’re left to muddle through the app.

Also note that the Abby Grow Box comes with tons of additional pieces, such as magnetic hooks, a trellis net, and a training tie — but it gives you little guidance on how (or why) to use them.  Experienced gardeners probably don’t need the help, but seeing as Abby is geared as a way to automate the gardening process and will likely find its way into the home of beginners, a brief tutorial for each piece would have been a nice touch.

Powered by your smartphone

The display knob on the Abby Grow Box.
Digital Trends/Jon Bitner

It’s not uncommon for smart home gadgets to be powered by an accompanying smartphone app, but the Abby Grow Box takes this concept to the next level. Just about everything you do with the indoor garden is tied to the app. Whether you want to drain the water, replace nutrients, or do anything else, you’ll want to use your smartphone.

Abby does offer some voice controls, but these aren’t explained very well. No comprehensive list of commands is provided with your purchase, and you’ll randomly learn about a few of them during the startup process.

Since the growing process is automated, you don’t need to check in on your plant every day. Abby will push an alert to your smartphone letting you know when it’s time to change the water and nutrients. This means you’ll want to make sure you have the proper permissions set for the app on your phone — otherwise, you could miss these alerts. Oddly enough, the Abby Grow Box itself won’t give you an alert. The unit has a display that shows the current temperature and other stats, but for some reason, it won’t flash notifications on the screen. Instead, you’re entirely reliant on your smartphone.

Considering Abby costs $1,000, it seems odd that so much functionality is removed from the grow box itself and pushed to your smartphone. It’s a minor inconvenience, but it feels like an oversight on an otherwise premium product. And with a display already built into the unit, it would be great to give it more functionality than just displaying current parameters.

Impeccable design and high-powered growing

The inside of the Abby Grow Box.
Digital Trends/Jon Bitner

Once you’ve come to grips with the startup phase and the reliance on your smartphone, Abby truly begins to shine. The array of Samsung lights at the top of the garden combined with the proprietary nutrients provided by Abby allows plants to absolutely thrive. I’m a beginner when it comes to gardening, but I noticed a significant difference in the growth rate of my strawberries planted with Abby compared to those planted traditionally. The planting process was also much cleaner, with no dirt or additional gear needed.

The garden itself looks great, but it looks even better once you have a plant growing.

It’s hard to understate just how good the Abby Grow Box looks compared to most of its rivals. There’s no exterior tubing, no external pumps, and everything is entirely contained inside the unit. And despite all the tech packed into Abby, it only takes up a few feet of space in your home. This slim design means that Abby is only intended to grow one plant at a time — so it’s best to plant something high yield like tomatoes. Otherwise, you’ll be using a lot of water and energy to grow a single flower.

The garden itself looks great, but it looks even better once you have a plant growing. A large, removable window cover on the front of the unit allows you to see inside, and the explosion of green from your plant looks stunning contrasted with the exterior. Regardless of your home décor, the Abby Grow Box is bound to complement your style.

Abby is designed for use with the included growing nutrients. These are added with your water changes every week, and if you run out of your initial allotment you can purchase more directly through Abby. It’s not recommended, but there’s nothing stopping you from using your own mix of nutrients. But if you’re a gardening newbie, be sure to stick with the propriety blend offered by Abby for maximum growth.

Is it worth $1,000?

A strawberry flower in the Abby Grow Box.
Digital Trends/Jon Bitner

Abby isn’t a perfect indoor garden. Its heavy reliance on your smartphone is frustrating, the uninformative startup process leaves you in the dark, and it clocks in at a staggering $1,000. However, if you’re serious about jumping into the world of gardening and want an easy way to get started, Abby has a lot to offer. Your plants will grow remarkably fast, there’s little to no maintenance required, and it supports a wide variety of plants — including strawberries, tomatoes, peppers, and dozens of colorful flowers.

If you’re looking for something that lets you grow multiple plants (or is a bit more affordable), there are tons of indoor, hydroponic gardens that might be a better fit. Our list of the best indoor herb gardens is a great place to start. But if you want something stylish, powerful, and low maintenance, the Abby Grow Box is worth the price of admission.

Jon Bitner
Jon Bitner is a writer covering consumer electronics, technology, and gaming. His work has been published on various websites…
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