Plants for reducing nitrates is a common misconception. Plants eat ammonia first. This reduces nitrites and nitrates as well. It also removes the ammonia that the bacteria need for the cycle.
The more heavily a tank is planted, the less bacteria is in residence. A NPT has very little or no nitrifying bacteria. Plants remove ammonia faster than bacteria does.
If you have the skill and knowledge to maintain a heavily-planted tank or NPT, that's really the way to go. You can also run smaller tanks with less risk by planting a lot of fast-growers and floaters.
Tanks as small as 1g have been cycled. But they require more than the usual 1x50% change/week to remove dissolved solids and to replace minerals.