Apartment Gardening: A Beginners Guide to a Lush Indoor Garden

Apartment Gardening for beginners

Apartment gardening or gardening within your home will help you create a bit more zen in your life. If you’ve not done so already, now’s a great time to start an indoor garden, it’s a calming and rewarding hobby that will help you to reduce plastic packaging if you decide to grow organic food as well. You can grow herbs and vegetables all year round and won’t need to step out in the cold during the winter months to pick your produce.

Having greenery in your apartment can calm your soul, philosophically speaking, help build a sustainable lifestyle, clean the air and lift your mood. It’s also a great project to get the kids involved in (if you have them) giving you an opportunity for valuable family time while teaching the little ones about the value of food and where it comes from.

There are many options on how to grow plants indoors or on a balcony with a range of edible and decorative plants that can turn your apartment into a green sanctuary. 

To get you started with apartment gardening, we have put a quick start guide together with a list of basic tools, books and ideas to start your indoor garden.

This page contains affiliate links.

Finding the Right Spot for your Indoor Plants

Other than mushrooms most edible plants need a good amount of light so place your pots where there is enough light such as a windowsill or larger window if you can. If your apartment is a bit dark, you can use hydroponic systems and/or artificial grow lights like these.

Some of the decorative plants below such as the Chinese Money plant or Bamboo Palm grow in darker areas so there are options if you aren’t blessed with lots of natural light in your apartment. 

Which Compost do you Need for an Apartment Gardening Project?

Most indoor plants including vegetables grow well in multipurpose compost, houseplant compost or loam-based compost. As you might not have enough storage space for any leftover compost in your apartment you can buy smaller quantities at a time. 

Generally avoiding manure for indoor apartment gardening is sensible as it’s quite smelly and can be too strong for growing vegetables for e.g. 

Low Maintenance Indoor Decorative Plants

If you are planning on growing a vegetable or herb garden in your apartment or home, there is no reason why you can’t add a few decorative plants in between. Gardens don’t have to be all businesses 100% of the time, you can add a few aesthetic plants that are good for the soul.  Here are a few low maintenance plants that are pretty hard to kill even for a beginner gardener:

Asparagus Fern

Asparagus Fern

Ferns love moist air, which means they will thrive in bathrooms and kitchens with a good amount of light. These forest floor plants are known for cleaning the air, so if you’re after air-purifying plants these will be just perfect.

$13.99
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Spider Plant

Spider Plant

Spider plants are very easy to grow and great for beginners. If you water them regularly they will soon make little sucklings that you can pinch off and plant in a new pot. Give them well-drained soil and indirect light. Don’t overwater them as they can get root rot if too wet.

$29.99
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Money Plant

Chinese Money Plant

These plants are quite easy-going. They need medium light and light watering when the soil becomes dry to the touch.

$49.75
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African Violet

African Violets

Grow these beauties in bright indirect light in a West or South facing window. They like slightly acidic well-drained soil, water just enough to keep the soil damp.

$23.99
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Peace Lily

Peace Lily

Peace lilies can grow in low to medium light quite happily. Flowering will be better in medium light rather than low. They don’t like overwatering so just keep the soil slightly damp.

$46.06
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Aloe

Aloe

Aloes are succulents and need bright but not direct light, water just enough to make the soil moist and let it dry out between waterings.

$17.19
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Orchids

Orchids

Orchids don’t need a lot of water and don’t like standing in it either. Water once a week and let the water drip through. You can place these in medium light or a South facing window.

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Dieffenbachia

Dieffenbachia

Don’t overwater these trusty house plants. They can adapt to different types of light quite easily, but prefer bright or medium filtered light rather than direct light.

$64.99
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Edible Plants that Will Grow Well Inside your Apartment

Not all edible plants will grow in an apartment garden, but there are a few that can flourish on a windowsill, a larger pot or on a decorative display stand. Some of the great edible plants you can grow indoors are:

  • Herbs including basil, mint, chervil, chives, rosemary, oregano, parsley, sage, thyme, coriander and dill
  • Microgreens such as pea shoots, wheatgrass, mustards, broccoli, kale, chard, amaranth, beets, fennel, and sugar snap peas
  • Fruits such as lemons, tomatoes especially cherry varieties, Negro Largo figs and apricots. When it comes to fruit, self-pollinating varieties are a bit easier if you’re new to growing fruit
  • Mushrooms
  • If you’re more adventurous you can grow certain vegetables such as carrot. rocket/arugula, swiss chard, kale, peas, radishes, peppers, scallions, broccoli and cauliflower

Related: How to grow microgreens indoors

Quick and Easy Indoor Hydroponic Herbs

One of the easiest ways to start in a herb garden in your apartment is with a complete hydroponic grow kit. These are great for beginners or seasoned growers alike. It is basically a no-fuss option that provides you with everything you need including seeds, grow lights and handy reminders of what to do when.

Aerogarden is one of the most popular complete systems and makes several beautifully designed, grow kits that will fit into any apartment. You should have strong growth in just a few weeks as the yields for hydroponic gardens tend to be higher than traditional soil gardens. You can grow hydroponic veggies and herbs in a DIY way, but this can be a bit tricky, unless you know exactly what you’re doing it might take a few tries to get it right. Below are a few hydroponic kit options for inspiration:

Apartment Gardeing

AeroGarden
Harvest Classic 
Price not available
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AeroGarden

AeroGarden 
Harvest Elite
$112.99
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Seed kit

AeroGarden 
6 pod seed kit
Price not available
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Indoor Herb Garden Grow Kits for Apartment Gardening

If you prefer a more traditional way of growing herbs, there are many grow kits to set you up for success. These grow kits are better than the supermarket ready-grown herbs that you can buy in a pot. Unfortunately the supermarket pot style herps are not made to last more than a few weeks and will quickly die – it’s not you, it’s the herbs in this case.

Apartment Gardeing

Back to the Roots
Indoor Herb Garden Non-GMO 
$22.68
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Organic Herb Indoor Garden Planter Starter Kit DIY Kitchen Grow Kit
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Herb Garden Kit

Maui Mike’s Window Herb Indoor Growing Kit
Grow Your own Basil, Chives, Parsley and Thyme
$18.99
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Growing Vegetables Indoors

You can grow and harvest vegetables indoors all year round, but it does have a few challenges, and your yield might be slightly smaller. Take a look at some of the easier vegetables you can grow indoors below:

  • Carrots can be grown in containers, the smaller varieties need less space. They like depth so a taller container will be ideal
  • Peppers and chilli don’t mind container growing and will be happy on a windowsill 
  • Tomatoes might not be the most good looking plant but they enjoy the warmth and a dryer climate. Growing them in a sunny spot indoors can also help reduce the chances of blight, a common problem in the UK
  • Scallions and garlic greens grow well indoors unlike garlic bulbs for example
  • Cucumbers are generous plants if treated well and can be grown where there is lots of sunlight, alternatively, you can use grow lights to keep them happy and healthy

Mix it up with a Decorative Garden Display

Plant display

Various brands depending on country
$54.99
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Plants can make an amazing decorative feature, bringing peace and tranquillity into any room. You can easily mix herbs, microgreens and vegetables with decorative plants to create a quiet space for relaxation and reflection. Or use plants to add calm to a busy living room space. 

This six-tier decorative display is made of solid fir wood, which is eco-friendly, sustainable and will bring joy for many years to come. 

Remember to place the unit it in an area with natural light to give your plants the best chance to grow and prosper. For darker areas, perhaps consider adding grow lights under each tier to help your greenery with photosynthesis.

Watering and Plant Care for Indoor Plants

When it comes to watering and plant care always check and keep the labels that come with the plant. Most plants will need repotting after a year or two and feeding with a good liquid fertiliser, but this will vary between plant types.

As a general rule flowering plants will require a potassium fertiliser and foliage plants appreciate a more balanced feed. Plants such as Orchids and Citrus trees require a more specialised feed and remember to reduce feeding over winter months.

In our experience, it’s wise to treat each plant as an individual as that leaves you the best chance for success. For e.g. most orchids only need watering once a week, they also don’t like standing in water. Other plants such as Cala lilies like a lot of water, love and attention regularly.

Try not to underwater or overwater plants as this will put the plant under stress and could be a sure-fire way to its imminent death. When in doubt check the label or do a quick search online to make sure you’re treating your green friends well. 

What About Pruning your Indoor Garden?

Most leafy, mature foliage plants don’t need pruning. Pinch back shoots of young plants to encourage branching.

You can cut old and damaged foliage back when it comes to most plants, with the exception of palms and orchids. Water well after cutting to help with recovery.

For tomato plants remember to remove side stems as this will improve crops. Learn more about pruning tomatoes here.

The Right Tools for your Apartment Gardening Jobs

To do the job well, you always need the right tools to get started. Add a beautiful watering can and plant mister to your indoor apartment gardening kit. They are both stylish and functional so no need to stash them away in a cupboard after every use. 

Don’t forget to grab a small apartment gardening tool kit for re-potting and loosening soil if you don’t have one already. A good set can last a lifetime if you look after it and can be used both in-and-outdoors. Make sure it’s a good quality stainless steel set that won’t rust or damage over time.

Watering can

Brushed copper, stainless watering can
$27.99
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Plant mister

Copper plant mister – colours vary
$37.00
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Plant display

Various brands depending on country
Price not available
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Organic Fertiliser for Indoor Food Crops

Keep your vegetables, herbs and microgreens healthy with a good organic fertiliser. Maxicrop is a great general-purpose organic fertiliser for all kinds of plants, it’s a seaweed-based product so is vegan. If you want to grow lemon trees and other citrus fruits you can technically use the seaweed fertiliser but we’d recommend a specialist citrus fertiliser for best results.

Seaweed Fertiliser

Maxicrop general-purpose organic seaweed fertiliser

$34.99
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Organic citrus fruit fertiliser – brands vary by country

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Controlling Pests and Diseases

Houseplants can suffer from things like aphids, red spider mite, mealybug and scale insect. We’ve had ongoing issues with scale insects attacking a lemon tree and bringing a hoard of ants with them. Wherever possible try to use natural organic pest control, it can be frustrating especially when issues are ongoing so be patient and know that you’ll overcome them eventually.

Fluctuating temperatures, under or over watering and draughty positions can cause leaf browning and drop in some plants. If you experience leaf drop or browning have a look at your watering regime, check the average room temperatures and look out for draughts. These are the most common issues with centrally heated homes. 

Indoor Gardening Books for Beginners

If you’d like to learn more about starting your own indoor vegetable, herb or fruit garden there are a few excellent books on apartment gardening and vegetable growing that can get you started. 

Apartment gardening

Indoor Edible Garden
Zia Allaway

$17.89
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Indoor Gardening

Indoor gardening
Tom Gordon

$16.55
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Urban gardening

Urban gardening
Kevin Espiritu

$17.19
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Apartment Gardening Book

Crops in Tight Spots
Alex Mitchell

$13.41
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Happy apartment gardening!

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