Indoor gardening for beginners? We’ve got you covered with this simple guide! Growing an indoor garden can be as easy as popping a small cactus on a windowsill and watering it twice a month. Or it can be as complicated as raising a full blown vegetable garden throughout your entire kitchen. No matter how big or small your garden will be, there are a few important things to know. And there are several questions to ask yourself before starting out.
Where Will You Grow Your Indoor Garden?
When considering indoor gardening for beginners, we looked at each step, in order. And the first step is to decide where exactly this garden is going to go. Knowing how much space you have to work with will affect your potting and lighting options. But it will also play a big part in what types of plants you’re able to grow. If you have a large sunroom with massive windows and plenty of space, you can grow pretty much anything. In that case, you may not need much supplemental lighting at all. On the other hand, you may only have a small windowsill for your garden. Then you might need to stick to smaller herbs or little succulents.
Indoor Gardening for Beginners: What Will You Grow?
The next step for beginners to plan an indoor garden is to decide what exactly you would like to grow. Do you want a small herb garden in your kitchen to add fresh flavors to your cooking? Are you raising some little seedlings that will later be moved outdoors or into new pots? Maybe you just want a vast array of flowering plants so you can admire them as they bloom. Figure out what you’ll be growing first. Then you can understand how to fulfill the needs of those specific plants.
Some plants are much easier to grow than others and need very little attention or light. If you feel like you have a black thumb and want to start out with something easy, we have a solution. Try something like cacti, succulents, aloe vera plants, philodendrons, or peace lilies. If you’re going to go with something trickier, be prepared for any special lighting or nutrient needs they might have. Also, know that growing plants from seeds has different care and lighting requirements than starting with a fully grown plant.
What Will You Grow Your Garden In?
Aside from using a hydroponics system, you’ll need to decide what type of container to grow your garden in. You can use regular gardening pots, or you can upcycle different objects from around your house. This is a great way to create a unique, creative display. Whatever you use, pick a container with some kind of drainage system. Even if it’s just a single hole in its base, this lets excess water escape if needed.
Some other interesting options could involve constructing an indoor trellis. This is great for ivy, jasmine, or even grapes to climb and grow inside your home. If you don’t have much space available, consider growing your plants vertically in a living wall. Need a little extra help in the green thumb department? Try using an indoor garden kit that will help you out with some of the work. Other options include hanging baskets, terrariums, or even hydroponically equipped mason jars, filled with water.
How Will Your Indoor Garden Get Light?
What you’re growing and where you’re growing it will affect how much you need to worry about supplementing your lighting. Many house plants thrive in low light and won’t need more than some indirect light from a nearby window. Fruiting or flowering plants are a little greedier for sunshine. Ideally, they’ll need to go near a south-facing window that receives up to 8 hours of sunlight per day. These plants need to be as close to the window as possible. Even being a few feet away can severely dilute the power of the light they’re receiving.
If ample natural light isn’t available, you will need supplemental light. Fluorescent, LED, or HID grow lights to give your indoor garden the light it needs. For large gardens you can buy multiple lights and connect them together to cover a larger area. For smaller gardens or just a few plants, inexpensive clip lights are available. These easy to hook onto most desks and shelves.
Full spectrum lights provide your plants with the ideal range of light, allowing them to grow to their full potential. Blue light is essential for plant growth, and red light stimulates your plants to produce fruits and flowers. Most plants benefit from the full spectrum. But different stages of growth for specific plants could benefit from more of one or the other at certain times. Consider investing in a grow light that allows you to control the red and blue lights independently. This could be very beneficial to your garden.
How Will Your Garden Get Nutrients?
Your plants can absorb nutrients from the soil, or from nutrient-rich water within a hydroponics system. Should you go with the soil option, it’s important to use potting soil rather than outdoor topsoil, because the potting soil is light and fluffy enough to allow for drainage within an enclosed space. Something else to consider, especially for beginners at indoor gardening, is that outside soil can bring contaminants and pests to your indoor plants. A medium weight soil is good for plants in direct sunlight as it will hold water more effectively while a lighter soil is good for shaded plants that will dry out less quickly.
Your plants will require repotting and new soil every so often, to give them more room to grow and a fresh supply of nutrients from the soil. You can also use fertilizer to add nutrients in your soil. Although, boosting nutrients is usually not required for low-light plants. If you do feel that your plants require fertilizer while they’re growing or flowering, follow the directions on the container.
When using a hydroponics growing system, your plants will receive liquid fertilizers, injected right into their water supply. Plants grow more efficiently in a hydroponics system, because their nutrients are readily available to them in the water. Also, they don’t need to expend the additional energy navigating the soil. The essential elements your plants require are N-P-K (Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium). But other elements may be present in your liquid fertilizer that will be beneficial to your plants too.
Learn more about indoor gardening for beginners and Hydroponic Nutrients and Why You Need Them
How and When do You Water Your Garden?
Watering your plants sounds simple enough. Even so, there are a few things to know before you start pouring. Some plants require plenty of water and want it soaked all the way down to the bottom of their roots, while others require very little and will die from overwatering. Understand the needs of your specific plants and create a watering schedule around them.
Overwatering your plants can prevent them from accessing the nutrients they need from the soil and could kill them. Using pots with a drainage hole can help to prevent this by allowing excess water to drain off. For most plants, you can give them a little water every few days and then a good, deep watering every few weeks.
For some plants, it’s best to water from their base, as they aren’t partial to getting their leaves wet. Bottom watering is a technique where water is fed into the pot via the drainage hole either by filling the drip tray or placing the planter in a container of water and filling it about halfway up the pot. Allowing the water to soak up into the lowest roots will keep them uniformly moist but it won’t wash away the salt and mineral deposits that form in the soil over time. Giving the plant a deep water from the top of the soil about once a month will rinse the soil and remove these minerals.
As an Indoor Gardening Beginner, Now, Sit Back and Watch Your Garden Grow
Yes, watching your garden grow is the last step in growing a healthy garden, and it’s an important one. Your plants will let you know when they’re unhappy or unhealthy with their appearance. If the leaves are brown and crunchy, your plants may need more water. Yellow and wilting leaves? You might be over-watering your plants. And if your plants aren’t growing bigger or aren’t flowering, they may not be getting enough light or nutrients. Pay attention to what your plants are telling you so you can adjust your techniques as needed.
The Bottom Line on Indoor Gardening for Beginners
Growing a vibrant, flourishing indoor garden doesn’t have to be confusing or complicated. You just need to understand the needs of your specific plants and set up your indoor garden accordingly. With a bit of knowledge and care, your indoor garden can be a veritable jungle of foliage, flowers, and fruit.