How to make an indoor garden

·6-min read
Pretty woman grows tropical plants in her garden. Gardener in working outfit looking after different exotic flower and herb.
Even if you don't have outside space, you can still be a plant parent. (Getty Images)

Gardening is a great way to de-stress, and being surrounded by plants and nature is proven to lower anxiety levels, help with depression, and improve overall mood.

The Office of National Statistics recently recorded that one in eight Brits is currently living without a garden or access to a personal outdoor space.

But if you're the proud owner of a crumbling window-ledge and not much else, fear not. There are still plenty of simple ways to create your own flourishing indoor garden.

To help you get started, Nick Woodward, founder of apartment rental brand Essential Living, offers a guide to creating an indoor garden and the easiest plants to start off with.

Use the space you have

Shelves are as good as a balcony. (Getty Images)
Shelves are as good as a balcony. (Getty Images)

Indoor gardening is great for anyone living in the city who lacks garden space. While those living in apartments may not know where to start, here are the five simple things you need to consider:

Space, light, temperature, soil (potting mix) and plant type.

Plants don’t need to take up much space and a sunny windowsill, shelf, tabletop, or balcony if you're lucky, is all it takes. While planting on a windowsill will help provide your plants with the most natural sunlight, you may struggle for space.

For beginners who want to start off growing one or two plants, shelves are great for smaller spaces as they provide lots of planting room and only take up mostly vertical space.

Type of lighting

Herbs growing in post on a windowsill
Get the light right for your green things. (Getty Images)

Light is also very important as you need to ensure your plants have a sufficient amount for healthy growth. A lack of light will cause your plant to grow too tall, and topple over.

If you struggle to grow plants in natural sunlight, you can use artificial grow lights including incandescent bulbs, high-intensity discharge bulbs, fluorescent bulbs or LED.

Always remember, the light should be positioned as close to the plant as possible, without being so close that it could burn the leaves. Ideally, position it a few inches above seedlings for best results.

Read more: How to start an indoor vegetable garden

Ideal temperature

A woman taking care and watering houseplants by spray bottle at home
Spray misty for me. (Getty Images)

In terms of temperature, 18-24°C (65-75°F) is ideal for most plants - and temperatures a little outside of this range won’t do any harm.

One of the biggest issues with growing indoor plants is a lack of humidity, which is why misting your plants daily with a spritzer will help lock in that moisture.

Watch: Gardening secrets every beginner should live by

Research conducted by Essential Living found the snake plant (aka sansevieria) is the most popular lockdown houseplant across the UK, with a popularity increase of 116.3% - that’s twice as many searches as before we went into lockdown.

While the snake plant is tough and can tolerate colder temperatures, it's also the easiest to handle temperature-wise indoors, with very little maintenance.

Sansevieria trifasciata in pot on old wall background
Disclaimer: Not a real snake. (Getty Images)

Choose a suitable potting mix

Ideally, when choosing your potting mix you want one suitable for indoor gardening. Try to avoid using regular garden soil as it can cause contamination of bacteria and bugs which can hinder your new seedlings from growing properly.

A good seed starting mix has a fine texture, almost loose, light and fluffy and should contain enough organic matter to provide nutrients and to hold the moisture, but also drain well.

Start off with mint

Mint is an easy option to begin with. While it will give you a refreshing scent, it's also tasty and versatile- whether used for making homemade sauce for lamb or a fresh, ice-cold Mojito.

You can grow it either in a pot of soil or even in a bottle of water - and you need to make sure you have a container with sufficient drainage for healthy plant growth.

Young woman smelling mint leaves by digital tablet. Female is preparing food from recipe on tablet. She is in trendy casuals.
Start your garden with an easy mint plant. (Getty Images)

For soil growth, pot up your mint plant with a good potting mix – a normal one containing peat is fine – and water the mint plant well. Place it in an area with indirect light, preferably an east-facing window during spring and summer. Try maintaining an indoor temperature of around 18-21°C for the best results.

If you want to grow mint plants in water, simply take tip cuttings of about 5 to 6 inches in length from an established mint plant. Remove the bottom leaves and place the cuttings in a water-filled glass or bottle. Set this in a sunny window with at least four to six hours of light each day.

Read more: This Indoor Garden Basically Cares For Itself—And Grows 90 Plants At Once

Try growing strawberries in time for summer

The best fruit to grow indoors is strawberries. Pots or containers which hang from the ceiling are great options and can save you space.

Alternatively, a windowsill can also be used, but be sure not to overcrowd the plants as they can become vulnerable to disease or mould.

The key ingredient to growing strawberry houseplants is sun exposure.

Garden on the balcony. First harvest of berries. Strawberries in flowerpots at home. Gardening on the balcony.
Make sure they get lots of sun. (Getty Images)

Whether indoors or out, strawberries need at least six hours of sun per day. This can either be provided by sun or by using indoor plant lighting.

Consider the variety of strawberry as there are two major types: June-bearing strawberries (funnily enough produced in June), and ever-bearing strawberries (which will fruit twice a year).

Before planting strawberry houseplants, trim any old or dead leaves and the roots to around 4-5 inches and soak the roots for an hour.

Plant the strawberry so the crown is even with the soil surface and the root system fans out. Strawberries can be planted in almost anything given the correct soil, water and light.

Joyful young Asian mother and little daughter making healthy homemade strawberry smoothie together at home. Little daughter is making a face, covering her eyes with strawberries. Healthy eating and healthy lifestyle concept
By early summer, you could have a lovely strawberry harvest. (Getty Images)

Using a control release fertiliser is recommended until the plant flowers, and once you start to see this, fertilise every ten days until harvesting is finished.

When growing strawberry plants indoors, remove the blossoms for the first six weeks after planting as this allows the plant time to establish before expanding its energy on producing fruit.

The good news is, with some care and perseverance, you'll be able to eat your homegrown strawberries just in time for summer!

Watch: Houseplants 101 with The Plant Doctor

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