Gardening: Creating an Indoor Garden

Cary, NC – Part of the fun of gardening is getting outside and breathing in fresh air and feeling real sunlight. But sometimes you may need to carefully control your environment or live in an apartment complex. In those circumstances, here are some tips and guides to creating an indoor garden.

What Grows Well Indoors?

So you want to grow plants indoors. Now you have to pick plants that do well inside. That means they take up little space, can take artificial light and ideally grow quickly.

Leafy plants will fit best for this. That means lettuce, spinach, herbs and even carrots. If you are more interested in growing flowers than vegetables, lipstick and zebra plants will fit well, as well as African violets. You can grow orchids indoors as well but those require much more care and we’ll focus on low maintenance plants in this article.


African violet

Equipment and Tools

Since you won’t be growing these plants in the earth, you should pick out pots and containers with four to six inches of soil so your plants can grow healthy roots. It’s up to you whether you put your plants near the windows for sunlight or install artificial grow lights. If you’re using grow lights, put your plants somewhere cold in the house so the heat of the lights are balanced out. The lights need to be close to the plants, as in two or three inches away and they need to run for anywhere from 12 to 16 hours, same as the amount of sunlight your plants would naturally get outside.

Your plants won’t be getting rain or taking in the soil’s natural moisture so it is up to you to water your plants. For indoor plants, a good rule of thumb is to water twice a week, just enough to make the topsoil moist. Feel the soil from time to time to see if it is too dry or not, as this can tell you it’s time to water.

Some of these plants will need special care. For your lettuce, cut the outer leaves to have fresh lettuce and still allow the main plant to grow and produce more leaves. Your big-leafed flowers will typically only last a year or so and are more sensitive to water conditions so be careful not to let them get too dry or too wet. However, for the easiest time, African violets need very little attention aside from the basics and bloom year-round.


Story by staff reports. Photos by Alan Levine and Rusty Clark.The Gardening column is sponsored by Garden Supply Company on Old Apex Road in Cary.