Having a garden is one of the joys of spring. But if you live somewhere without space for an outside garden, you may have wondered if you can grow edible plants indoors. The answer is YES! There are a number of plants that do well inside and produce edible parts. And for most of the plants on the list, a Tower Garden makes it very easy to be successful. It’s compact, easy, and not as messy as having 20 individual pots with soil around.
With these edible indoor plants, you get a dual purpose: they look great, just like other indoor plants, but they’re also useful. They’re fun to grow and harvest, and they can save you some money on groceries!
Here are 6 options to grow edible plants indoors:
Whether on a burger or in guacamole, avocados are a delicious fruit with a ton of nutrients and healthy fats. And growing avocados inside is easy. As a plant, avocado trees are hearty and fairly easy to care for. But to produce fruit, you’ll need to keep a few things in mind.
First, growing avocados for food is a long-term project. While growing your plant from a seedling purchased at a nursery will yield fruit a lot sooner than the “toothpicks-in-the-pit” method, you’re still going to have to care for your tree for three or four years before being able to harvest avocados.
That aside, it’s not difficult to care for an avocado tree. They are a great indoor plant, as they prefer a temperature between 60- and 85-degrees Fahrenheit. Avocado plants like a lot of light, and you may want to consider adding grow lights during the winter. The easiest way to kill an avocado tree is to overwater it. Avocados prefer a deep soak once a week, or when the leaves begin to droop a bit. If the leaves start turning yellow, you are likely overwatering your plant, so let it dry out.
Lastly, consider using rainwater or distilled water for avocado plants. Minerals building up in the soil is a problem often found with avocados watered with city tap water.
For its beautiful leaves, it’s wonderful scent, and of course its usefulness in all kinds of cooking, mint is an excellent choice for your indoor garden. Whether you choose spearmint or peppermint, caring for mint plants indoors is pretty easy. Be sure to keep mint plants in bright light and above 60-degrees Fahrenheit, and water them to keep the soil moist. Most importantly, plant your mint plants in wide, rather than deep, containers. Their roots like to run, not dig, so a window box planter or other wide container works great.
Once you harvest some mint leaves, here are some great ideas to use them:
- Add to plain yogurt with fruit
- Add mint to salads for a fresh burst of flavor
- Put clean mint leaves and cucumber slices in a pitcher of water
- Add a few leaves to your morning smoothie or juiced blend
- Use it to make tea or add it to your favorite tea
- Use mint in pesto and other delicious recipes
- Make a mojito!
As a healthy sweet snack, it’s hard to beat juicy, fresh mandarin oranges. These beautiful orange globes will also add color and a nice scent to your home. And to grow a successful mandarin orange tree indoors is something anyone can do. As you might guess, these tropical plants love a lot of light, so consider some grow lights if you aren’t able to place your plant in a sunny spot year-round.
Mandarin orange plants like to be in roomy pots that allow for plenty of drainage, and an equal mix of sand, peat moss, and vermiculite is the perfect mix for your mandarin orange tree. Also consider adding a citrus-specific fertilizer to support your tree’s growth.
Like avocado trees, mandarin orange trees are a long-term proposition until you’ll see fruit. Expect flowering and fruit production within five years. Also, like avocados, mandarins don’t do well with overwatering. It’s best to water your tree, let it drain, and then let it dry out a bit before its next watering.
If you aren’t one of the approximately 14% of people who think cilantro tastes like soap, you probably love it in your salsa and other fresh dishes. Cilantro is a popular herb that can be fairly versatile. And, while it’s more difficult to get cilantro to thrive indoors, it’s not that tricky.
Cilantro plants don’t transplant well, so it’s best to start with seeds when growing cilantro inside. Plant your cilantro in pots, using high quality potting soil and sand, to allow for drainage. While plants are actively growing, add additional nutrients to the soil. A liquid fish emulsion or 20-20-20 chemical blend can work well for these plants.
Water your cilantro plants when the soil is dry, and be careful not to overwater or let them dry out too much. Plenty of water with plenty of time between waterings is best. With proper care, cilantro plants grow well indoors and will supply you with aromatic, tasty leaves all year long.
Who doesn’t love a great salad? And the main ingredient in most salads is, of course, lettuce. So why not grow lettuce indoors? It’s not difficult to do, and it will save some money on store-bought lettuce.
First and foremost, indoor lettuce plants need plenty of light. It’s best to find a place in your home where your lettuce will get 12 hours of sun per day. If that’s not possible, you’ll need to add grow lights to get the most from your lettuce plants. Growing lettuce with the Tower Garden, mentioned above, is super easy. Otherwise, you can use just about any container. Potting soil will be too course for your lettuce plants, so using soil for seeds, like Seed Starting Mix, is best.
Lettuce needs plenty of water, in addition to sunlight, so keep the soil moist (but not soggy), and consider covering your freshly planted seed pots with plastic wrap until they sprout. From there, use a liquid fertilizer to aid your indoor lettuce plants.
After four weeks or so, your lettuce should be ready to harvest, at around four inches tall. For your lettuce to last, just harvest leaves as you need them, starting with the outside leaves, cut about an inch from the soil, and enjoy!
Whether cooked in a soup or stew or as a healthy raw snack, carrots are a versatile vegetable that can do very well indoors. There is quite a variety of carrot types as well. And choosing which variety to grow matters, because it will determine the type of container you’ll need. For most varieties, you’ll want a planting container that’s at least 8 to 12 inches deep. Varieties like the Chantenay Red Cored carrot grows to 5-6 inches long, while the Little Finger variety will only reach 3-4 inches, and Danvers are often 7 inches or longer.
When planting carrots indoors, a well-draining, loose potting mix is ideal, along with a low-nitrogen fertilizer. Carrot plants also like plenty of sunlight, so find a spot that gets at least 6 hours of light a day, or incorporate some plant lights when possible.
Once your carrot seeds begin to sprout, remove those that are the smallest and weakest to give the best plants a better chance to thrive. Water your carrot plants to keep the soil moist, which might be every two days if your home is dry. Also feed your carrot plants with a low-nitrogen fertilizer once the stems are around three inches tall.
Grow Edible Plants Indoors and Enjoy!
Whatever food-producing plants you choose to grow, you’re sure to add color and fun to your home, as well as some delicious ingredients to your favorite dishes. Do you grow edible plants indoors? What is your favorite edible plant to grow indoors? Share with the community on our social media pages!