Imagine the convenience of harvesting fresh herbs and organic vegetables from your very own apartment garden. The benefits of apartment gardening extend beyond enhancing the aesthetic appeal of your living space to improving its overall health.
You may be thinking of creating an indoor or outdoor garden in your small apartment. Whatever the case, we are here to make the process much easier.
Read on for simple and practical tips to help you grow a garden in your apartment space.
Whether gardening in your small apartment or starting your garden outdoors, apartment gardening comes with multiple benefits. Here are a few reasons to start a garden in your apartment:
What's better than picking your vegetables from your balcony garden? Growing a vegetable garden can help you eat and live a healthier lifestyle.
Many commercial growers grow vegetables using pesticides and chemicals to fend off pests and enhance their yields, which can be harmful to human health.
Growing a vegetable garden in your apartment allows you to grow and eat organic vegetables free of chemicals. The best bit is you’ll know precisely what has gone into them. You can also control your meals, only pick what you need, and help reduce food waste.
The Urban Food Movement, also known as the Urban Farming Movement, is a campaign that encourages people to cultivate edible plants.
The move prioritizes a sustainable food system by bringing gardening closer to urban centers. Through the movement, we can reduce food production waste, carbon emissions, and greenhouse gases from farming and food production.
Related: Get inspired by these larger-scale urban agriculture projects.
Food is a necessity. However, buying food can get expensive as prices go up. Investing in an apartment garden can save a lot of money in the long run, and enjoy growing fresh food from your garden. You can also gift your family and friends fruits and vegetables from your garden and help them save money too.
Interacting with nature comes with several physical and mental health benefits. Growing an apartment garden can bring these positive effects to your living space.
According to a study, having plants in your home or office makes you feel more comfortable1. It can also increase productivity and reduce stress levels. Another study revealed that students in a computer lab with plants close by worked 12% faster and experienced less stress2.
Related: Read up on what other plant lovers have to say about the joy of plants in the home in our handpicked selection of plant quotes.
We all know that plants take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen. What's more, some plants can purify the air. Indoor air pollution can cause several health issues, including dizziness, eye, nose, and throat irritation, respiratory diseases, and other severe health conditions.
According to a study by NASA, some low-maintenance plants like spider plants and peace lilies can remove toxins from indoor air3.
To improve the air quality in your apartment, you can grow different plants in your space.
Planting a garden in your apartment is one way to reduce carbon dioxide and reduce your carbon footprint at home. As we mentioned earlier, plants take in CO2. Plants like the bamboo palm have strong carbon-absorbing abilities. By planting a garden in your home, you can sequester carbon from the atmosphere and improve your environment and the planet.
Also, you can compost organic waste in your home and use it as a potent fertilizer for your garden. Ultimately, this helps you dispose of waste responsibly and reduce your carbon footprint at home. Check out our guide to urban composting for specific how-tos for urban living.
So now you know all the benefits of growing a garden in your apartment. How do you get started?
You may have a small space and feel like you need more space for a garden. However, you can grow a successful apartment garden in even the smallest places with a bit of creativity. Here are some tips to help you start your apartment garden:
The first thing to consider for apartment gardening is the right space. If you are setting up an indoor garden in your apartment, you can consider a windowsill garden and put in a few plants. You can also hang baskets and wall planters on your ceiling or shelf.
The best part of indoor gardening is experimenting with different small spaces. So if a windowsill garden doesn't look good, you can experiment with various spaces around your home.
Consider using your balcony or backyard for outdoor apartment gardening. You can hang window boxes on your balcony. If you're using your balcony, consider its weight limit and ensure the window box and containers are secure.
After picking out the perfect space to grow your plants, you want to find planters and containers.
The key is to get containers and planters that only take up a little space in your apartment. Fiberglass planters for your garden are great options as they are lightweight, strong, and can last for years. You can also repurpose them for another garden project. You can try planters of different shapes, styles, and colors for indoor plants.
Related: Terrarium Ideas for indoor plants in jars blending growing and home decor.
Are you planning to grow salad greens, fresh herbs, vegetables, or flowering plants? Well, plants need a good measure of sunlight to grow healthy.
Most flowering plants require around six to eight hours of full sun. This may not be easy, especially in tall buildings that may only get the afternoon or morning sun. So if you plan on growing fruit plants, you want to take them to your rooftop or balcony, where they can get full sun for six to eight hours. If you are growing a container garden or using the limited space of a windowsill, you must choose plants like spider plants that don't require much sunlight.
You can invest in plant growth lights to keep your garden thriving during winter or when you can't access natural light.
Grow lights are electric bulbs made to help your plants grow. These lights come in various colors and depend on your plant's needs. Grow lights typically appear in varying colors of blue and red. The blue light helps to promote the growth of roots, while the red light helps to stimulate stem production (this includes flowering and fruiting).
Investing in the right soil is important for plant growth. Growing plants in your apartment typically involve container gardening. This means the ordinary garden soil won't be appropriate as it can limit the air and water needed for optimal growing. It is best to go for a potting mix.
A potting mix is fluffy and light and helps keep the soil moist. It also helps to circulate air which keeps your plant roots healthy.
Whether you're growing a garden indoors or in your outdoor area, one thing that is common for the growth of most plants is water and air.
If you're growing plants in containers, they will need water regularly. However, over-watering can pose a problem for container plants, too. It's best in the first instance to water a little once a week and see how they do. Once you have a schedule, a simple diary reminder on your phone is an excellent way to ensure you don’t forget and they don’t dry out.
Instead of watering cans which can be tiresome to carry around, you can invest in a hose that you can attach to a water source. Look for handy attachments on Amazon that you can use to attach a hose to regular taps.
Your plants should also be kept in an apartment garden location with good airflow. Ensure it's not too windy or cold.
Humidity plays a major role in plant growth. The temperature indoors or outdoors has to be just right. If you are growing plants indoors on your windowsill, you must provide more humidity. However, don’t worry; it’s easy. Simply spray a light mist on your plants or place them in a water tray.
Depending on your plant's exposure to direct sunlight space and other factors, the types of plants you can grow in your garden are endless.
You can start by listing fruits and vegetables you enjoy and narrow it down to the one plant you want to begin with. Next, you want to shop for seeds and start planting.
Also, you can purchase small nursery plants instead of buying and planting seeds. Most of them even grow faster. Here's our list of easy-to-grow plants you can use for your apartment garden:
One of the best plants for indoor apartment gardens is herbs. You can grow food and tasty green additions that you can use for cooking. Keep in mind that your indoor garden of herbs won't be as big or bushy as one in an outdoor space.
You may want to plant fresh parsley, lavender, mint, basil, and thyme. You can also grow leafy greens for salads, like lettuce and spinach. Remember that if you harvest your herbs and vegetables frequently, you must replace them with more seeds. Typically herbs require around four to six hours of direct sun daily.
Tomatoes are also an excellent idea for your indoor and outdoor space. However, tomato plants could become quite large and heavy. You want to go for larger containers and hanging baskets for your tomatoes. Tomatoes are also great for vertical gardening as the climbing varieties can cover a large vertical space like an outside wall. You'll also find a tomato cage a great accessory for growing in small spaces; simply train the plant around the cage as it grows.
Tomatoes grow in warm weather conditions and require around 6 to 8 hours of sun daily. However, they can be tricky without the right temperatures, so ask your garden center for advice if you are unsure.
Selecting the right flowers for container gardening can create a vibrant, organic space that attracts beneficial insects. Blooms such as marigolds, nasturtiums, and chives offer a delightful visual feast and serve as natural insect attractors. These plants send out inviting signals to critical insects, such as ladybugs, bees, and butterflies.
Ladybugs, known for being voracious aphid predators, can safeguard your greens effortlessly, while bees and butterflies act as indispensable pollinators, assisting in the propagation of your plants.
If you love some heat, you can grow potted plants with peppers in your apartment. Peppers pollinate themselves and can work as both indoor and outdoor plants.
Peppers require as much as 6 to 8 hours of direct sun daily. If you're planting peppers indoors, ensure the room is warm.
Carrots are vegetables with multiple benefits and are surprisingly easy to grow. These root vegetables grow downwards, so you will need a deep container to plant them. They also require around 6 to 8 hours of sunlight daily to grow healthy.
Dwarf citrus trees can grow very well in containers. One of the easiest fruit trees you can grow indoors is Meyer lemons. You get the luxury of having fresh lemons in your home. These lemons will require around 6 to 8 hours of sunlight each day.
Also, to avoid the sticky sap from lemon trees and protect your furniture, you want to put something under your plant pot.
You can grow low-maintenance air-purifying plants like peace lilies, areca palms, spider plants, snake plants, bamboo, etc.
Related: Plants bought from the nursery or garden center often come in plastic tubs. Wondering what to do with them once done? Click on to our helpful guide: Can You Recycle Plant Pots? And Ideas for Reuse.
To ensure your garden grows and bears fruit, pay attention to it. Let's look at a few tips to help you reap the rewards of indoor or outdoor apartment gardening.
Setting the right conditions is important for your plants to grow healthy indoors. Here are some indoor gardening care tips:
While this seems like an obvious tip, it can easily get neglected, especially if you have a busy schedule. As we mentioned, start by creating a watering schedule and stick to it.
As your plant grows, it may also require more water. Further, in the hotter summer months, you may also have to water more regularly, and even if your plants are exposed to rainfall, it is vital to water them if they dry out.
By looking at the soil, you can check if your plant needs water. You should water if you poke your finger two inches into the soil and it feels dry. Ensure you water thoroughly to ensure the plant roots soak in all the water.
You can also look at purchasing self-watering containers if you are likely to be away for a few days at a time or may forget. These clever and cost-effective containers store water in a small container, and the soil soaks it up a little at a time so that the plant gets all it needs.
The amount of light you give your plants will depend on the type of plant. Exposing shade-loving plants to hours of direct sunlight can cause wilting leaves. On the other hand, depriving plants that require total sun exposure of sunlight can lead to plants with pale yellow leaves. Researching to know how much lighting your plant will need is important. Most plants you buy for your apartment also come with labels covering the details.
As your plants grow, they use the nutrients in the soil, which you can replace for healthy growth. You will need to feed your potting soil to keep it nutrient-rich, using a water-soluble fertilizer that you can easily mix with water as you water your plants. However, you may not need to fertilize your potting soil initially if your potting mix already contains fertilizer.
You can compost food scraps and add nutrients to your plants.
Your indoor plants could fall prey to insects and pests like mites and spiders. If you find out that your plants have fallen prey to pests and diseases (this could be discoloration or holes in the leaves), move them away from other plants.
You can use herbs and natural bee repellent to keep insects and pests away. You can also spray worm tea on your leaves to repel pests and diseases.
Read our guide on how to start a worm farm to find out more about providing worms a home. Furthermore, worms eat just about anything organic, and your worm farm can provide nutrients for your garden at the same time.
Growing a garden outdoors is much easier than growing one in small indoor spaces. Plants can get easy, natural access to sunlight and air. However, it also has challenges, as you have to handle external factors like pests and weather conditions.
In addition to the indoor gardening care tips mentioned above, here are a few outdoor gardening care tips:
You want to ensure your plants have enough space for root growth and growth on all sides. While some plants can grow well when crammed together, most will compete with each other for space, light, and nutrients.
If your apartment space is small and growing on the ground is impossible, you could create a bed. This could be containers, pavement, an old bathtub, etc. You can also invest in a self-watering bed if you're the type to be away often.
Gardening is a rewarding activity both for you and the environment. The best part is you don't need a large space to try out your green thumb. You can grow a garden both inside and outside your apartment.
Instead of using plastic pots, you can use different upcycled materials as planters for your garden. Also, ensure you expose your plants to water, air, and nutrients to keep them healthy.
You can go through our article above for effective tips to help you grow a garden in your apartment.
Lee MS, Lee J, Park BJ, Miyazaki Y. Interaction with indoor plants may reduce psychological and physiological stress by suppressing autonomic nervous system activity in young adults: a randomized crossover study. J Physiol Anthropol. 2015 Apr 28;34(1):21. doi: 10.1186/s40101-015-0060-8. PMID: 25928639; PMCID: PMC4419447.
Virginia I. Lohr, Caroline H. Pearson-Mims, Georgia K. Goodwin; Interior Plants May Improve Worker Productivity and Reduce Stress in a Windowless Environment. Journal of Environmental Horticulture 1 June 1996; 14 (2): 97–100.
Wolverton, B. C., Johnson, A., & Bounds, K. (2013, August 16). Interior Landscape Plants for Indoor Air Pollution Abatement NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS).
Jen’s a passionate environmentalist and sustainability expert. With a science degree from Babcock University Jen loves applying her research skills to craft editorial that connects with our global changemaker and readership audiences centered around topics including zero waste, sustainability, climate change, and biodiversity.
Elsewhere Jen’s interests include the role that future technology and data have in helping us solve some of the planet’s biggest challenges.