Saturday, 20 February 2016 22:17

Apartment Dweller Guide to Indoor Gardening

For apartment dwellers and those without yards, the journey from winter into spring may feel incomplete without the typical garden of nature's delights blooming around you. It can be easy to forget that warmer days are in fact coming when you can't see little shoots poking up through freshly tilled soil or smell flowers awakening after their dormancy. But just because you don't have a front or back yard doesn't mean you can't bring the glory of nature indoors with you--in fact, indoor gardening is much easier than you think.

Not only is it simple to bring flora and fauna inside your home, but the benefits of gardening cannot be overlooked. Plants purify the air, they add soothing touches of color, the process of caring for them can be positively meditative, and you can even grow your own food. Check out our ten tips for indoor gardening and get your digs ready for spring.

1. Think your home is too dark for plants? Think again. Lush forest-friends such as ZZ plants, Boson ferns peace lilies, bamboo, and African violets prefer cooler temperatures and lower light. With very little maintenance, you can turn even the shadiest corner of your home into a tropical escape. Make sure to check watering instructions and use well-drained soil to care for such species.

2. Think you're too lazy to care for plants? Succulents are insanely low-maintenance and basically require effort to actually kill. Most species of cacti grow April through September, and should essentially be left to rest the other months of the year with little to no water. Southern and western exposure provide effective light, just be sure to check them to make sure the plants aren't burning. Succulents are gorgeous and fascinating to watch grow, particularly the flowering varieties whose blooms can often outsize the plant itself.

3. Think you don't have room for plants? While you might not have a ton of space in your living area, the bathroom is a frequently overlooked spot where tropical plants will thrive. Ferns are a perfect addition to a bathroom, due to their love of mist and humidity.

4. Indoor plants thrive with a gentle misting. While overwatering is a sure death sentence for your leafy roommates, misting keeps them moist and happy. The key to watering is to poke your finger into the soil--if it comes out without any soil sticking to it, its dry enough to be watered. Most indoor plants should only be watered once a week at most, but you can feel free to mist daily. Early morning or late evening is ideal for sun facing plants, as water clinging to their leaves can make them more susceptible to burning.

5. Make a window box herb garden. This is so much easier than you might imagine, and will even save you money by avoiding expensive herbs in the grocery store. Besides, growing your own cooking ingredients is super cool, and they always taste better. Aloe, herbs, strawberries, lettuce leaves and radishes are all perfect candidates for a window box veggie garden and don't require much more than seeds, fertilizer, high quality potting soil, a box, and a south-facing window (any window with exposure will do, but south is ideal.) Make sure to keep your garden watered and well pruned, especially any herbs.

6. When in doubt, go for the tillandsia. Commonly known as air plants, tillandsia produce their own nutrients and don't require soil. This makes them a hearty, gorgeous addition to terrariums, bookshelves, or any small spaces. They should be soaked about once per week and misted at least once a month with plant food. Avoid exposing them to harsh sunlight and you're good to go.

7. Use your compost! By making a small planter box with a bed of gravel, stones, and soil, you can turn your food scraps into your next meal. You can push carrot tops, avocado pits, and even onions into the bed, water thoroughly, and place in a sunny location--before you know it, you'll have your own little vegetable garden thriving from leftovers.

8. Wasted wall space? Why not make a gorgeous vertical succulent garden! This does require a little more building, but it still won't be too difficult. Refinery29 has an excellent tutorial that'll help you take your walls from snoring to growing in no time.

9. Have some room to hang? Plants like fuchsia and ivy are low maintenance and high impact, with glossy tendrils that add texture and color to any room. Make sure to avoid heat sources, such as stoves, ovens, or heaters when placing your swinging sweeties, but otherwise grab some sturdy ceiling hooks and go nuts. These plants are best watered by placing them in a shallow dish and allowing them to absorb moisture from the bottom up, as top down watering can flood them and rot the soil.

10. Ask experts. Your local home and garden center will have plenty of information to help you pick the right plants for your home.