NASA-Inspired Garden Grows Plants In A Ferris Wheel

It may seem a little silly at first glance, but there’s a lot of good sense in the design.

Growing plants isn’t hard. It’s mostly a challenge of providing the right amount of light and water, and the rest takes care of itself. But growing plants in space is a whole other challenge. You can’t exactly stick a potted plant in a window. Water droplets float. And if your herbs don’t grow, there’s no grocery store to drive to.


In the 1980s, NASA came up with a solution. It was a hydroponic wheel that was never developed into a functioning device. Thinking that was a shame, DesignLibero picked up the idea where NASA left off. The resulting concept is called The Green Wheel, what studio head Libero Rutilo describes as “an iconic garden object for residential use, like a TV.” (For those of you wondering at this point what growing plants in space has to do with growing plants on earth, well, clearly you’ve never lived in a dark, cramped garden apartment.)

The Green Wheel is essentially a mini ferris wheel, grasping plants by the roots and spinning them around the circle once per hour. At the bottom of the ride, a water reservoir feeds water to the roots, while all the rest of the way around, each plant has an equal opportunity to soak in light.

The plan isn’t just a fun gimmick, the circular design actually fits more plant real estate into a smaller footprint. “If you calculate the circumference of the wheel, you have larger growing area that helps to cultivate more plants with a lower energy cost,” explains Rutilo. It’s hard to believe, but that wheel is actually holding over 8 feet of plants, a space savings that allows one light source to do where, traditionally, two or more would be required.

Even still, how many of us are willing to buy appliances just for our plants? I’ll make you a deal, DesignLibero: Combine your Green Wheel with a Dyson Air Multiplier, and I’m sold.

[Hat tip: Tuvie]

About the author

Mark Wilson is a senior writer at Fast Company. He started, a simple way to give back every day.