Beginner’s gardening guides are very popular online, however few focus on specifically indoor gardening.
If you don't have access to a decent outdoor space but still want to grow a number of veggies, herbs, or other plants like I do, you might want to create an indoor garden instead. What you should include in your indoor garden will depend mainly on the purpose of growing the plants, your level of experience as a gardener, and the available conditions of your specific indoor setup.
Learn more about what you need to master indoor gardening in this beginners guide.
What is Indoor Gardening?
More than just one or two plants in pots next to a window, indoor gardening doesn't need to be anything overly elaborate or complicated. It is generally regarded as growing a selection of plants indoors that you would typically grow outside—whether that be fruit, vegetables, herbs, or flowers.
If you have the right space and set up indoors, it can be less time-consuming and more successful to cultivate a garden indoors, since you have a far better control over the environment and pests. Indoors, it is way easier to regulate the temperature and manage conditions to ensure your plants can thrive. You just need to make sure you select plants suited to the place you plan to grow them.
If you get the conditions right, it also means that you can have access to things like veggies or herbs year-round, unlike in many outdoor gardens where the growing season depends strictly on the weather of that region.
Common Types of Indoor Gardening
Many plant enthusiasts practice indoor gardening as an opportunity to get creative and nurture a wide variety of different plants. However, some of the common types of indoor gardens include:
- Living walls. If you have limited floor or shelf space or just want to liven up a bare wall in your home, creating a vertical living plant wall could be the way to go. Just make sure you select plants with similar care requirements as you will water them all together.
- Air plant collections. Decorative tillandsia are epiphytic plants that don't grow in soil and get their nutrients from the air and moisture in their surroundings. They are well-suited to being cultivated in an indoor garden, and there are over 500 different species to choose from.
- Hydroponic designs. Perfect if the outdoor soil is not workable, you don't have time to manage weeds and pests, or you want to conserve water. Hydroponic setups allow you to produce high-quality herbs or veggies year-round.
- Terrariums. If you want to grow a selection of humidity-loving plants without taking up a lot of space, try a glass terrarium. You can select plants that are low-maintenance while still visually appealing.
- Herb gardens. If you have a sunny spot somewhere in your house, it will be the perfect place to nurture a collection of fresh herbs, even during the winter.
Indoor Garden Plant Care
The conditions your plants will require vary depending on the type of indoor garden you want to cultivate and the individual species you are going to select.
Below a few tips to remember when it comes to caring for your indoor garden:
Where you position your indoor garden will depend on the light requirements the plants have. Plants grown indoors will never have access to the same direct bright light from the sun they could get outdoors; even direct sunlight from a window is less intense than it is outdoors. You may need some grow lights to help create the right conditions for major sun-loving plants indoors or if you have low levels of natural light in the room. On the contrary, if you have true shade-loving plants, keeping them away from windows will be important.
If you aren't opting for a hydroponic setup or collecting air plants, your indoor garden will generally be best grown in a loose, well-drained potting mix. The mix can be tailored depending on what you grow, but it is normally composed by peat moss, vermiculite, and perlite. This combination absorbs moisture quickly and doesn't become compacted too easily, which will save your plants from the dreaded root rot. However, this kind of soil mix will dry out quickly, so it won't work for moisture-loving plants, like ferns.
Of course, every plant grown indoors will have differing requirements in terms of watering. However, one of the biggest common problems for indoor gardens is overwatering. The vast majority of indoor plants die as a result of root rot caused by too much water.
Always research what the plant species you are growing needs. It's also a good idea to water your plants with distilled room temperature water. Cold tap water can sometimes shock your plants and even stop their growth completely.
Ensuring your indoor garden plants receive enough nutrients is extremely important for long term success. Although some potting soils come with nutrient enhancements, most plants will use them up after only a couple of months. Slow-release fertilizers are a popular option, as they can last several months before another application is required and can be purchased relatively cheap.
Temperature and Humidity
Being able to control the temperature and humidity in an indoor environment is one of the key benefits of indoor gardening. The ideal humidity levels for most indoor plants ranges from around 40 to 60 percent in humidity.
If you have moisture-loving plants that need high humidity or your living space is particularly dry when the heating is on, you could invest in a humidifier or set up the garden in your bathroom. You can also use indoor greenhouses or terrariums.
Repotting your indoor garden plants annually is another important precaution to avoid any problem in the long term, especially when they are becoming root bound. Make sure the pot is big enough for future growth.
Plants for Indoor Gardening
Certain plants are renown for being well-suited to being grown indoors. These include:
- Veggies. Some veggies grow particularly well indoors. These include carrots, hot peppers, lettuce, and tomatoes.
- Herbs. Basil, chives, mint, parsley, and thyme are just a few herbs that do well in a sunny position indoors.
- Low-Light plants. If you are looking to create a low-maintenance tropical jungle in a shady area in your home, opt for low-light species like spider plants, snake plants, and certain ferns.
- Humidity-loving plants. If you want plants for a terrarium or to grow in a bathroom, consider things like begonias, ferns, and peace lilies.
A conclusive note
Growing plants indoor is certainly not an easy task, but with the right amount of knowledge and some basic tricks, it can become an amazing way to enjoy the endless gifts of nature right inside your home.
Whenever you start growing a new garden, the best thing you can do is research your specific plant types and take care of them specifically as they prefer. Different plants will have very different needs!
With a better understanding of plants in general and what’s important, your thumb is likely to become a bright green one.