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Gardening Inside Apartment — Brief 101 for Newbie Gardeners

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Ever walked down a lush garden path filled with rows of bright flowers and green shrubs and wished you could view it every day? Visited a backyard kitchen garden with fresh, delicious vegetables and thought of creating your own food? 

Nature and greenery is the best therapy there is — for all our ailments, physical or mental. 

But, for various reasons, we cannot always drop our endless commitments and leave the concrete jungles we live in to visit nature. 

So, here’s a guide to gardening inside apartment that has every bit of info you need to start, flourish, and take care of an apartment garden. 

After all, even if we cannot always go to the great outdoors, we can always bring some of it inside. Yes, even in our tiny apartments!

Why Grow An Indoor Garden

There are numerous benefits of growing an indoor garden.

Having plants inside your apartment will not only improve the air quality, but also the aesthetics of your space. 

Indoor gardens are also beneficial for your mental health. 

We all know that spending time in nature has a variety of benefits for us. But a recent study shows that 90% of a person’s life is spent indoors. Staying indoors in small spaces, surrounded by technology, is known to add to symptoms of anxiety and depression in humans.

Having plants indoors counteracts this atmosphere. 

Gardening has been found to improve mood, boost self-esteem and improve attention span.

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A study showed that people who had indoor plants are a lot less prone to stress, even in uncertain times like the Covid-19 Pandemic. And that having house plants gives the impression of being away even while you’re inside. 

Also, gardening inside your home and creating your own food — in whatever small way you can — is a great step toward sustainability. 

In these times of rising prices and food malpractices, becoming even slightly self-reliant with food can be beneficial for us. 

All in all, there are almost no cons to gardening indoors, and plenty of pros. Yes, it does need some effort from your side. But you needn’t worry — we have you covered. 

How to Start A Garden In Your Apartment

Let’s start with the basics. These are the main elements you’ll have to consider when starting an apartment garden: 

Sunlight 

gardening inside apartment

Sunlight plays a major role in growing an indoor garden. Based on how much sunlight your unit receives, you can decide on the type of plants and garden you’d like to grow. 

For eg: If your unit is north facing, it receives the least sunlight and heat throughout the day. It’s best to grow plants that require low sunlight, like herbs and salad greens. You’d also do well with an indoor style garden rather than a balcony garden. 

On the other hand, if your unit faces south, it receives plants of light and heat for 10+ hours. You can grow plants that require plenty of light, like cacti, flowering plants, and fruit plants. You can use your windowsill or the balcony. Even the kitchen window’s good.

Soil 

Good soil which provides oxygen, water, and nutrients is essential to growing healthy plants. When you’re gardening inside apartment, you cannot use the soil used in outdoor gardens because it’ll compact in the containers you’d use. For container gardening, it’s best to use the potting mix which is readily available in nurseries these days. 

It’s made of soil, cocopeat (coconut husk), and compost (organic fertilizer). It allows access to oxygen and for water to flow through, making it ideal for gardening with containers. 

You could also create a mini no-soil garden with plants that require zero soil to grow. Like, Lucky Bamboo, Philodendron, Air Plants, etc. We’ll go into more detail later.

Water 

balcony garden

Watering the plants at the right time and right quantity is important. While apartment gardening you’ll mostly be using containers and will need to water your plants more than once a day. 

Tap water works fine for watering plants. But make sure to avoid soft water, as the salts present in it build up over time and cause problems with the soil. 

Depending on the size of your indoor garden and the number of containers you have, you’ll have to stick to a watering can (for small gardens) or a hose for more convenience (for bigger balcony gardens, since you cannot keep carrying cans).

Space

best indoor plants

A.k.a., the major constraint to apartment gardening. Or, as we think, a motivator for creativity!

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In apartments, space is precious. It’s important to take into consideration how much of it you’re willing to spare. After all, gardening is about your convenience and pleasure, rather than an activity you’re compelled to do. You’d be surprised how many ideas there are to create beautiful mini gardens in small spaces which can improve your well-being and help you spend time productively. 

Gardening with containers works best in apartment. And your garden can take up as much space as you want it to, — think big balcony garden or shelf garden — or as little as you want it to — We even have ideas for a bathroom garden below

Maintenance 

best houseplants

Consider the time you have, the effort you’re willing to put in, and the money you’re willing to spend. 

In our list of apartment garden ideas below, you’ll find ideas from high maintenance to low maintenance to suit your preferences. 

You can always start small and grow more later, when you’re more comfortable and experienced.

What to Plant In Your Apartment Garden

These are the best indoor plants you can grow in an apartment.

Flowering plants

indoor herb garden

One of the best houseplants to grow inside an apartment. There are probably very few apartment gardens that don’t have at least one flowering plant. Flowers add a touch of color and fragrance, and can generally improve the aesthetics of any space. 

If you want to grow flowers inside your apartment –

  • You can choose from ones like Peace Lily, Marigold, African Violet, Begonias, Hibiscus, Anthurium, and many others. These are wonderful flowers that don’t require high sunlight and can thrive even with little care.

If you want to go a step ahead, maybe have a balcony –

  • You can grow flowers that need more light and effort. Like: Roses, Hyacinth, Jasmine, Hydrangea, Fuchsia, English Lavender, Chrysanthemums, etc. All these flowers will give a dreamy look to your balcony, and make it a perfect spot to relax in. 

Succulents & Cacti

gardening with containers

Low effort plants that thrive in all conditions, and add a beautiful look to any indoor garden — Succulents and Cacti are one of the best indoor plants to have. 

Btw, Did you know that not all Succulents are Cacti, but all Cacti are Succulents? 

Having a lot of varieties, Succulents are one of the least-effort plants to grow. Most variants only need around 3 hours of sunlight, and once established, can go for a whole week without being watered. 

With patience, in the long run, Cacti can reward you with vibrant flowers. They survive in hot and dry weather — ideal for apartments — and adapt to indoor life pretty well. Cacti and Succulents can be grown as a beautiful mini collection, or even make great standalone pieces.

Some of them you can grow at home are: 

  • Hens-and-Chicks, Jade Plant, Aloe vera, Snake Plant, Angel Wings Cactus, Saguaro Cactus, etc. These make for stunning plants, which can add an edge to your indoor garden. 

Herbs

gardening inside apartment

Another one of the best indoor plants to grow. If you’re not sure where to start your apartment gardening venture, start with herbs. They have a little bit of everything — they look beautiful, don’t require high effort to care for, smell nice, and are delicious to taste. You cannot go wrong with growing herbs indoors.

They require little space, and can easily fit into your kitchen windowsill or your balcony. Not to mention, it’s great to have herbs close by for cooking. 

Some essential and easy-to-grow herbs for a home garden are: 

  • Parsley, Mint, Oregano, Basil, Rosemary, Chives, and Thyme. Whether you drink a glass of homemade lemonade with freshly muddled mint leaves or top your pasta with basil from your window, you’ll highly appreciate having an indoor herb garden.

Food

indoor garden

One of the most exciting types of plants to grow at home — veggies. Who wouldn’t like to eat fresh vegetables they grew themselves in their apartment? 

While growing vegetables might require a tad bit more effort compared to other houseplants, it’s something you can consider if you’re especially interested and once you get the hang of indoor gardening. 

It’s definitely more suitable for someone who has a balcony. 

  • Tomatoes, peppers, salad greens like lettuce and spinach, chilies, lemons, cucumbers, spring onions, etc. are some of the foods to grow in an apartment. Growing vegetables at home isn’t only a satisfying activity to pass time, but will also save you money and provide you with safe, healthy food.

Some things to pay attention to are:

  • Containers – large enough to fit the roots of the plants. They’ll need drainage holes too. You can DIY whatever containers you have at hand. You could also have a gardening patch if you have a bigger balcony. 
  • Light and water – Vegetables require 4-6 hours of sunlight and moist soil (not damp or dry).
  • Harvesting – While the sprouts might grow quickly, it’ll take weeks or even months to be able to harvest the edible parts of the plant.

Mood-boosting Plants

balcony garden

Plants are known to improve the vibe of any space they’re kept in. But some variants are specifically meant for that. Having a mood-boosting plant collection might just be the perfect thing to come back home to after a tiring day or when you just want to chill with your plant babies.

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Some of the best indoor plants that boost mood are:

  • Snake plant – it’s super low maintenance, plus it purifies the air and gives off oxygen at night. More oxygen = more serotonin = more happiness for you. One of the best houseplants to have indeed. 
  • Aloe vera – another low maintenance plant. It requires little water so it’ll survive even if you forget to water it. It’s known to clear the air of benzenes and formaldehyde and can be used to soothe burns and cuts.
  • Gerbera Jamesonii – this plant can instantly boost your mood with the vivid flowers it produces in shades of red, purple, orange, and pink. The flowers last around for six weeks and the plant also purifies the air.

Medicinal Plants

best indoor plants

Medicinal plants are always useful to have around. Their mild scents will lift your spirits and often help you with a quick home remedy whether it’s a sore throat or a minor cut. 

Medicinal plants are also the best indoor plants to have if you’d like to reduce your reliance on commercial products. 

Some medicinal plants you can grow at home are: 

  • Lemon Balm – A sweet-smelling herb, known as a natural breath freshener. It’s used to treat bile and liver issues and aids sleep and digestion.
  • Spearmint – Another member of the mint family, spearmint has many uses around the home. You can use it in homemade toothpastes/powers, and also a source of Vitamin C.
  • Tea Tree –  A pretty looking shrub that has many health benefits. Its antiseptic and healing properties help minor burns and reduce headaches. 

Aesthetic Plants

best houseplants

Well, if you ask us, all plants look aesthetic and can make any room look beautiful. But if you’re specifically looking to improve the aestheticz of your space with plants then you can specifically choose pretty looking ones. These plants can enhance the vibe of your space and make it look Insta-worthy.

Some of the best houseplants that look pretty are:

  • Boston Fern – this cute lush plant can make any space look beautiful. It requires bright, indirect light and regular watering.
  • Majesty Palm – looking to add a cool tropical vibe to your living area? This is your go-to plant. 
  • Lemon tree – if patience is one of your strengths, then the lemon plant is for you. It’s a beauty once fully grown, plus you get to harvest your own lemons. A win-win.

Apartment Garden Ideas

Now that we’ve looked at the basics of apartment gardening and the best indoor plants to grow, let’s look at apartment garden ideas that’ll inspire you to create your own plant paradise to come home to every day. 

It can be as big or small as you want it to be. Let these awesome ideas guide you!

Mini succulent garden

indoor herb garden
Photo by evening_tao

If succulents attracted you the most from the list above (they’re one of our favorites as well!), and if you’re someone who’d like to have a cute garden without expending much time and energy, then a mini succulent garden is for you. 

You can consider a small arrangement on a furniture piece or something on your balcony. 

Kitchen herb garden

gardening with containers

If you’re into cooking and love herbs, consider a kitchen herb garden. Having an indoor herb garden will not only give you a mini collection for practical use but also enliven your kitchen, giving it a rustic cozy vibe. 

A kitchen herb garden is classic and you can’t go wrong with it!

Hanging garden

gardening inside apartment

If you want to add a unique visual appeal to your apartment and experiment with a different approach to apartment gardening, then consider a hanging garden. 

You can create one in a boring corner in your home to spruce it up, or even hang mini pots on your balcony.

Eclectic garden

indoor garden

If you’re like us and have a bit of an artsy flair, then let your creativity guide you as you grow an eclectic apartment garden. 

Mix and match with containers and plants — old canisters, vintage thrifted containers, handmade pots, and a collection of plants from all varieties, everything works!

Bathroom garden

balcony garden

No space in your apartment to grow a garden? Think again — you can even have a mini garden in the bathroom! 

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Plants that require a humid environment do very well in bathrooms plus you can have a relaxing bath with the purified air — thanks to the plants. You can hang some from the ceiling, have a little shelf or a little cabinet arrangement, the choice is yours. 

Balcony garden

indoor herb garden

If you have a balcony and are willing to exert a little effort, you’re in for a treat! 

You can have a variety of plants on your balcony — ranging from flowers and succulents to herbs and vegetables. 

If your balcony faces south, then it can fit a wide variety of plants that require high sunlight. A balcony garden is a perfect spot to relax in, a safe sanctuary in the concrete jungle surrounding you.  

Indoor shelf garden 

gardening with containers

It can add a pretty element to any space. You can grow succulents or small flowering plants, in a uniform or eclectic style — whatever suits you best. 

Mini veggie garden

best houseplants

If the thought of growing your own veggies gets you excited then a small veggie garden might be to your liking. 

If you have a balcony, that’d be great — you could have a garden patch to grow veggies. If you don’t, you can still have a mini garden in your kitchen with containers. You could grow cilantro, chilies, and tomatoes in them.

Hydroponic garden

best indoor plants
Photo by Thursd.com

You could say this is one of the least effort gardens. Right beside a succulent garden. Because it requires no soil and no watering, can grow in little sun and needs occasional tending. You can hang hydroponic plants (plants that grow in water) in your living room or arrange them on a cabinet. 

Some best houseplants that are hydroponic are: Philodendron, Chinese Money Plant, Arrowhead Vine, English Ivy, Geranium, etc.

Apartment Garden Care

Soil

Make sure your soil is specifically meant for gardening with containers — it should be airy and shouldn’t compact. You can create your own compost if you’re gardening edibles and use it to make your soil more nutritious. 

Water

Some plants require damp soil, while some require dry soil, so make sure you water accordingly. You can use a spray nozzle to keep misting the plants that need a humid environment. Plants love potassium, so consider watering them with water soaked with banana peels. 

Sunlight

Pay attention to the types of plants you’d like to grow and how much sunlight your apartment receives. 

South facing homes get the best sunlight and north facing ones get the least. East and west facing houses get sunlight in the morning and evenings, respectively. 

You can also use Grow lights if you’re so inclined and find it convenient. 

Harvesting 

Harvest herbs often, as it promotes growth. 

While harvesting veggies, never harvest more than 1/3rd of it in one go, and make sure to use sharp shears, to make a quick cut that heals fast. 

If you’re growing carrots or radishes, harvest them when their tops start peeking out from the potting mix.

Preventing pests

Make sure to keep your plants healthy with light, nutrition, and water and it’ll help keep bugs away. 

Keep checking on your plant babies on the regular for any pests or holes and treat them accordingly. An organic option that keeps pests away is using catnip.

Containers and boxes 

Since you’ll be growing plants in a small space, you’ll be gardening with containers. 

Bigger containers are better as they don’t dry out quickly and you’ll not need to keep watering the plant. Also, ensure that there are drainage holes at the bottom so that the soil doesn’t compact. 

You can get creative with containers and use what you have at hand, or thrift them. It’s all about convenience unless you’re aiming more for a visually pleasing look. 

And with that, we’re at the end of this guide. From the basics to keep in mind to caring for your apartment garden, we hope it gives you inspiration and information for every aspect of gardening inside apartment.

When you’re starting, it’s always better to start small, then work your way to bigger and higher maintenance plants. 

Gardening is about letting your creativity lead you into a space and state of mind where you connect with nature and yourself. It doesn’t have to be perfect and you don’t have to get it right always. You can make mistakes, learn from them, and give your unique twist to it. Whatever makes you happy and is convenient is best.

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