Gardening is one of the healthiest hobbies a person can take up. Not only is it the perfect stress reliever and mood booster, but gardening has also been proven to reduce a person’s risk of dementia and stroke, improve the immune system, decrease osteoporosis and boost overall mental health1. However, one in eight British households don’t have a garden2, meaning not everyone can reap the benefits gardening provides. Or can they? The indoor gardening trend has been taking the internet by storm over lockdown, with many people finding the hobby incredibly beneficial to their mental and physical health. In fact, the number of under-35s trying their hand at indoor gardening has increased by 75%, and sales of house plants were up 200% in 20203. Although lockdown may be a thing of the past (hopefully!), gardening indoors is looking like a hobby that’s going to stay. And here’s how you can get involved!
Why Start An Indoor Garden?
We touched briefly on the benefits of gardening earlier, but there’s so many more reasons to inspire you to start flexing your green fingers!
- It’s Fun – Gardening, whether it’s indoors or out, is fun! It gets you up and about, it gives you the satisfaction of watching something you’ve nurtured grow and incites excitement every time you see a new sprout peeking through the soil.
- It’s Great for Kids – Gardening is the perfect activity for kids since it keeps them active and encourages them to learn about photosynthesis, the cycle of life and where their food comes from.
- You Can Experiment With New Foods – Often, recipes call for ingredients that you can’t find in a supermarket. With an indoor garden, you can grow these yourself and try a variety of new flavours.
- You Can Have Your Favourites All Year Round – Whether you’re itching for herbs, veggies or flowers, growing your own means you can indulge in your favourite tastes and colours all year round since you can simulate any season using light.
- You Can Skip Weed Control – Weed seeds are spread by several factors, such as wind and water, that eventually lead them into outdoor flower beds. But, if you’re garden’s indoors, they’ll never reach your soil.
- You Know What You’re Eating – Many shop-bought fruit and vegetables have been grown using chemical fertilisers and treatments, meaning they’re not as good for you as you might think. Growing your own gives you control over every stage of growth and means you know precisely what you’re eating after harvest.
How To Start An Indoor Garden
Now you know the benefits of gardening indoors and can see all those untouched crops right before your eyes, here’s how you can get your very own indoor garden started right now!
Make Your Plan
Before you go splashing the cash on exotic seeds and planters, it’s best to sit down and think through what you’d like your indoor garden to look like. The first thing you need to do is decide what you would like to grow. Almost any plant that can be grown outdoors will flourish indoors, but, of course, they will require different care. Think about what kind of seeds you would like to grow in your indoor garden, and how much time you will have to do so.
- Herbs – An indoor herb garden is the perfect introduction to gardening indoors. Herbs are low maintenance and compact, and the difference in taste between homegrown and shop bought herbs is enough to make sure you never go back!
- Vegetables – Although vegetables require a little more care and attention than herbs, they are such a popular choice for indoor gardening because of their health benefits. Eating a diet of fresh vegetables is amazing for our mental and physical health, and you don’t get more fresh than from your own indoor garden.
- Flowers – Flowers aren’t often seen in indoor gardens since they are the hardest seeds to maintain inside, but, if you’re willing to provide the extra time and dedication, your indoor garden will be bursting with colour.
Also, organisation is key to an indoor garden. Although gardening indoors is fun, it takes a bit of persistence and commitment since plants grown inside won’t naturally get all the nutrients and assistance that outdoor plants get. You’ll have to ensure that you set aside enough time to maintain your indoor garden to be able to reap all the benefits of the process.
Choose Where To Put Your Indoor Garden
Luckily, you can set up an indoor garden anywhere. A table, windowsill, corner of a room, part of a hallway – wherever you have space, you can slide in an indoor garden. Although, if space is a little tight, you could try a plant stand, which allows you to safely stack all your plants vertically. Depending on the type and amount of things you’d like to grow, you may need to make use of several different surfaces or areas of your home – this is why planning ahead is essential!
On top of space, plants need plenty of sunlight. Plants grow by converting light into energy, and indoor plants require this just as much as outdoor ones. This is why, if possible, you should set up your indoor garden by a window, preferably East or West facing. Don’t worry if sunlight isn’t readily available, though. Grow lights can provide your plants with enough light to photosynthesise and grow strong.
Of course, seeds and young plants are particularly fragile, so try to find somewhere that boisterous pets and curious kids can’t disturb them.
Gather Your Supplies
You don’t need much to start an indoor garden, and many of the supplies can be gathered easily and cheaply.
- Plant Containers – Your plants need somewhere to live! Classic flower pots may be the aesthetic option, but, for this choice, you’re not limited. Terracotta, porcelain, plastic or ceramic planters all work brilliantly for indoor gardening. Alternatively, you could make a more domestic indoor garden with old pots and pans, baking tins or margarine tubs.
- Drainage Saucer – Plants need some kind of drainage system to stay alive, so ensure that a drainage saucer or dish is placed underneath your containers to catch all the drips.
- Potting Soil – Normal potting soil should be fine for indoor gardening. However, if you plan on starting an indoor vegetable garden, try to use soil formulated for the vegetables you plan on growing.
- Light – If sunlight isn’t in abundance in your home, artificial lighting should do the trick just fine. If possible, try to get a broad-spectrum light that recreates the colour range of the sun.
- Watering Can – A compact watering can will be fine for a beginner’s indoor garden, though the amount of water necessary will depend on your seeds and the season.
- Fertilizer – Fertilizer is necessary to replenish the nutrients that harvests remove from crops, and indoor gardening requires more rigorous fertilising than outdoors. Premade fertiliser is available cheaply in small amounts, and should be enough to get you started.
- A Trowel – A trowel is handy for moving seedlings from starter trays, covering freshly planted seeds with soil and many other jobs that come with gardening indoors.
- Seeds – Of course, the most vital supply in any garden!
What To Plant In An Indoor Garden
WIth artificial lights, space and plenty of time, you can grow virtually anything in an indoor garden. However, here are some of the best plants and herbs to help get you started.
Best Seeds For An Indoor Herb Garden
Best Seeds For An Indoor Vegetable Garden
- Baby spinach
Best Seed For An Indoor Flower Garden
- African Violets
- Christmas Cactus
Planting Your Seeds
Now, with your garden set up and all your supplies gathered, you can finally get started on some indoor gardening! Of course, growing times and nutrient requirements will depend on what type of seeds you are growing but, as a general guide, this is how you can plant the majority of plants indoors.
- Fill your planting container with one-two inches of potting soil. Use your trowel to smoothen the surface and even it out.
- Scatter your seeds over the flattened surface. If you’re planting microgreens, scattering a large amount of seeds close together is okay, but otherwise be mindful of where your seeds are landing and ensure that they will have enough space to grow.
- Next, cover your seeds with a thin layer of soil. Try to keep the soil as fine as possible and be gentle.
- Give them a light watering – you want the soil to be moist, but not damp.
- Place your seeds in the sunlight or growth light, and they’ll be sprouting before you know it! You should water your indoor garden at least once every two days, though if the soil begins to dry out, don’t hesitate to do so more often.
Maintaining Your Indoor Garden
Once your seeds are comfortably planted, it’s a bit of a waiting game. Though you might be tempted to poke around, try not to! Simply ensure that the soil remains moist, they are moved closer to or further away from the light as needed, and fertilise as plants begin fresh growth. Good luck!
What’s your favourite plant to grow indoors? Let us know in the comments below!
Angela Waxler is an ex florist, a professional gardener and has been working in the industry for well over 25 years. Angela has worked with brands all over the world during her career.