Guest Author: Anthony Morreti
There is nothing better than a beautiful garden to enliven and refresh any person. As winter continues to plod along, it might be easy to forget how it feels to walk through a space full of thriving, growing plants. Luckily, you don’t have to go outside in order to experience that particular delight.
Setting up a garden inside your home is a great way to beat the winter blues- and can provide natural air purifying qualities for your home. So not only is setting up an indoor garden a great idea for the looks, but also for your health.
As we all know, plants need two core ingredients to thrive: light and water. So as you figure out where in your home to set up your indoor garden, you will want to consider both of those factors. Do you have a window that faces the sun during peak daylight hours? If so, that could be a great spot for your garden. If not, there are options.
If you are working with generally low light conditions, you can look for plants that respond better to minimal daylight. Tropical plants are often a good choice for this since they are used to growing in the shade of much taller trees in the jungle. So your dimly light ground floor apartment? A perfect complement to those natural adaptations.
Another option is to install artificial lighting to help your plants grow. We will go over that option in more detail in the next section.
The other factor to consider in terms of your indoor garden atmosphere is the humidity. Most plants love moisture, so if the air in your home is very dry, you will most likely want to get a humidifier.
Your indoor home garden can be as simple as a few pots near a windowsill and a watering can. Or it can be as elaborate as an entire room kitted out with custom lighting and moisture conditions. Let’s take a look at some supplies you will need as you set up your home garden, and why.
You can find plant pots and containers of various sizes at any local hardware store or nursery. Many house plants come in pots, but you may want to get a variety of sizes. Once your plants get too big they will outgrow their pots and you will want to transfer them to a bigger size so that they can expand and continue to grow.
Plant pots come in a variety of materials as well: plastic pots are the cheapest option, while terra cotta is a more sturdy and durable choice. But depending on which plant varieties you are cultivating, anything can serve as a container for your plants, including cleaned-out soup cans, mason jars, or large pitchers. Robust plant clippings can even grow in a tall glass of water! So, again, you can go as high or low tech as you’d like with your plant containers.
Make sure that whichever type of plant container you have, they are placed on top of watering trays. Most plant pots come with a dish that fits their size, but you can use any type of plate or ridged tray.
This will not only provide an ongoing water source for your plants so that they can draw up water whenever they run out of the water in the soil, but it will also protect your floors and tables from water damage.
While you can always use a glass from the cupboard to water your plants, a good watering can comes in handy for a number of reasons. First of all, most watering cans will come with a kind of showerhead nozzle that releases water in a more evenly distributed spray. This simulates rain and makes it easier for your plants to absorb the water you are giving them, instead of flooding their soil all at once with a big douse of water.
Also, watering cans have a larger capacity, so you only need to fill it up once or twice as you go about your regular watering routine. You may also want to get a spray bottle, so you can give your plants a light mist whenever they look just a bit dry.
Note, however, that different plants require different amounts of water, and frequency of watering. Consider making a note on or near each container so you know when and how much to water each plant variety.
If you want to grow plants from seed for your indoor garden, then grow lights are a good way to go. You can find a variety of LED grow lights that clip onto your shelves or freestanding versions.
One approach that is adaptable to any space is to install strip lights that are connected to a timer. You can program the timer to automatically illuminate and extinguish the lights at a certain time each day, ensuring that your plants are getting the optimal amount of light on a regular basis.
When your plants are not doing as well as you would like, it can seem intimidating and mysterious to try to figure out what the issue is. You are watering them regularly, giving them plenty of light, and have filled their pot with high-quality soil. So what do they need?
Here is where plant monitors come in handy.
Plant monitors will analyze the growing conditions for each plant and automatically detect when there is not enough water or light, or too much of either. They can determine the composition of the soil and alert you to a lack of specific nutrients and minerals. Smart plant monitors will sync directly to your smartphone, pinging you with reminders and updates about how to care for your plants
There is a bevy of smart plant monitors you can choose from. These smart monitors not only can reveal how the conditions of growth are going for your indoor garden, but can also serve as helpful reminders so you don’t have to keep track of when (and if) you have watered the plants yet this week.
Now that you have all of your gardening supplies ready to go, you are only missing the most essential ingredient of any home garden: the plants themselves. There are tons of different options available as you try to decide which type of plants to fill your home with. Here we will outline a few popular varieties that tend to thrive in indoor gardens.
Succulents are hardy desert plants that require minimal care. They need very infrequent watering and grow happily in most environments.
Like succulents, Snake plants grow well with minimal maintenance. They need watering about every two weeks and can grow to incredible heights: as tall as 10 feet, and even beyond. They do well in both bright light and low light situations. And snake plants can help to naturally filter harmful chemicals out of the air inside your home, including formaldehyde.
Aloe Vera has an incredible capacity to grow nearly anywhere and can get big with very little water and soil. Aloe Vera also has soothing antibacterial properties- you may have seen Aloe Vera gel sold as an ointment for rashes and burns. With a living Aloe Vera plant, you can simply break off a small piece and use the gel to soothe your skin.
Strong, resilient, and very beautiful, Pothos is a great choice for beginning gardeners who are intimidated to test out their green thumb abilities. They can withstand most conditions and come in a range of colors.
With your indoor garden space well situated, your supplies at the ready, and your plants chosen, you are ready to begin gardening. As you begin, remember: patience, persistence, and consistency are key.
The more time you spend with your indoor garden, the better you will get to know your plants. Invest in a few gadgets, like LED grow lights, a humidifier, and a plant monitor, and let nature take care of the rest.
About the Author: Anthony Moretti developed his great love of the outdoors while growing up in the Pacific Northwest. Now he applies that love to helping others figure out how to live more sustainably. His passions include real estate, new tech, and hiking with his Labrador, Max.