Indoor Gardening 101
This brief guide to indoor gardening will help apartment dwellers determine the best plants to grow in containers inside the home.
Best Plants for Growing Indoors
Cacti, succulents, herbs, flowers, fruits, tropical plants and vegetables can all be grown indoors. Some varieties are better-suited than others for container gardening.
In general, crops that are grown for their leaves or roots are some of the easiest to grow indoors. Crops grown for their fruits can be trickier, but it's not impossible for the persistent gardener to see success with them.
The following varieties are just a few examples of plants that can be successfully grown indoors:
- Strawberries -- Their shallow roots make them ideal for container cultivation.
- Blueberries -- Blueberries have special needs that make them ideally suited for cultivation in containers. They require particularly acidic soil; this can be hard for many gardeners to achieve without the easily-controlled environment of a container. Blueberries also have shallow roots, which makes it easy to achieve the correct soil depth when planting them in containers.
- Pineapples -- Unless you live in the tropics, indoor growing is the only viable option for pineapples. This is because they need to be kept warm at all times. Freezing temperatures will kill them.
- Goji Berries -- Goji berry bushes are well-suited for container cultivation.
- Lettuce -- Lettuce plants can survive with only 3-4 hours of sunlight each day.
- Carrots -- The indoor gardener should plan on harvesting baby carrots, assuming luck, proper care and at least 4-5 hours of sunlight each day.
- Beets -- Beets can be grown indoors in containers, but they require a longer than usual time frame to reach full maturity. They'll need to receive at least 4-5 hours of sunlight each day for their roots to mature properly. The greens are edible and can be substituted for spinach in most recipes.
- Kale -- Kale can survive with only 3-4 hours of sunlight each day.
- Chard -- Chard grown indoors will be small, so plan on using "baby chard" leaves in your recipes instead of the larger leaves that are typical of chard grown in outdoor gardens.
- Spinach -- Plan on harvesting "baby spinach". The plants can survive with only 3-4 hours of sunlight each day.
- Arugula -- It can survive with only 3-4 hours of sunlight each day, and it does well in a temperature-controlled environment.
- Asian Greens Like Dwarf Pak Choi -- These can survive with only 2 hours of sun each day, although more is ideal.
- Radishes -- Container-grown radishes should be given at least 4-5 hours of sunlight each day for best results.
- Onions -- Onions can survive with only 4-5 hours of sunlight each day.
- Green Beans -- Bush bean varieties can survive with only 5 hours of sunlight each day, but it will take a long time for the beans to reach full maturity. Green beans are only recommended for the patient indoor gardener.
- Asparagus -- Asparagus can successfully be grown in containers. However, container-grown asparagus plants will typically have a reduced lifespan of only several years, whereas asparagus plants grown in regular outdoor gardens can live upwards of thirty years.
- Tomatoes -- Tomatoes can be grown in containers, but it isn't an ideal situation. It can be challenging to get tomato plants to set fruit indoors, and hand pollination will probably be necessary. The resulting tomatoes tend to taste bland as compared against their flavorful outdoor-grown counterparts.
- Potatoes -- Potatoes are best planted in special vertical potato planters. These can also be constructed by the home gardener using plans available online or in gardening, homesteading and self-sufficiency books. The potatoes are planted, and as they mature, additional soil should be continuously added on top to maximize the number of tubers available at harvest time. This is a good project for apartment dwellers who have balcony or patio space, as adding soil can get messy.
The following herbs all survive well in containers indoors:
Deciding Where to Plant Your Indoor Garden
Ideally, the indoor gardener will want to find a sunny, well-lit spot for the plants to grow. A sunroom with windows and skylights makes a great spot for placing indoor plants. Sunny windowsills are also workable.
Many apartment dwellers have sliding glass doors that also make good backdrops for indoor gardens.
Supplement natural sunlight with appropriate grow lights. Energy-efficient LED grow lights are available for this purpose.
Choosing Containers for Indoor Gardening
Containers for growing root crops such as carrots, beets and radishes should be at least ten inches deep, and twelve-inch containers are preferable.
Strawberries can be planted in strawberry pots that have multiple pockets. Herbs can also be planted in this type of planter. Strawberries have shallow roots, so they also grow well in hanging planters that can be hung near windows or on balconies.
The ideal pots will have drainage holes in the bottom to allow water to freely flow out. This can help to prevent problems such as root rot that can result from the over-watering of plants.
Vertical Structures for Indoor Gardening
Specially crafted, space-saving vertical structures are available for maximizing space in the indoor urban garden. Cost-conscious individuals could also build their own instead of buying them new.
Apartment dwellers who follow these suggestions for choosing the right plants and creating an indoor garden increase their chances of enjoying a successful outcome and harvesting an abundance of fruits, herbs, flowers and vegetables with these indoor gardening techniques.