With the rise of home gardening over the past few years, it can be hard to not be jealous of those with huge backyards when you live in a small apartment. Just because you have a small or no outdoor space doesn't mean you have to give up your gardening dreams. Apartment gardening is a great way to easily grow plants indoors or on your balcony. Here's what we'll go over in case you need to jump ahead:
Ready to get started? First, let's look at some things you should take into consideration when you start apartment gardening.
Top 6 considerations for apartment gardening
All it takes to start an apartment garden is some containers and some soil. Of course, there are a few things you should consider when getting started with apartment gardening. Let's discuss those so you can get your apartment garden started off right. And while you’re at it, you might be interested in our guide on indoor composting so you can create fertilizer for your plants.
1. Location is key
One of the most important factors when it comes to setting up your apartment garden is choosing the right location. Do you have an outdoor patio or balcony that you can use to grow plants? What about a windowsill? It can be hard to grow large plants in a small space. Thankfully you can find "patio" or smaller varieties that are meant for a container garden. These can be much more manageable for your garden.
PRO TIP: Choose a location based on the needs of your plant. Is it somewhere where it will get light? It is in a spot where you'll remember to water it? These are important questions when choosing a location for your plants.
2. Provide the right nutrients
Choosing the proper plant food can help plants to thrive indoors. You can buy compost for your plants or you can easily make some at home either in your backyard or even inside. Having a kitchen scrap container is an easy way to get started.
Depending on your plant's needs, you will have to feed it monthly, or possibly even less often. Knowing what each nutrient deficiency looks like can help you solve the problem without potentially giving your plant too many of the wrong nutrients.
Plants like a balanced diet of Nitrogen (N), Phosphorous (P), and Potassium (K). Often overlooked, Calcium (C) and Magnesium (Mg) are also important nutrients for the healthy development of your apartment plants.
PRO TIP: An electric composter like Lomi makes composting a breeze. You can have nutrient-rich fertilizer for your plants in just a matter of hours. Lomi allows you to control the nutrients that go into your apartment garden and is the perfect fit for a small space like an apartment.
3. Find the right light
The right light levels are important for your plant's growth. Plants need light in order to photosynthesize. Do you have a window that can provide the right amount of sunlight or do you need to invest in grow lights to supplement? Most vegetable plants need around six to eight hours of direct sunlight to produce.
You also need to think about the quality of light. Light coming from the East in the morning is not as hot and intense as western afternoon sunlight. Delicate plants will do better in less harsh light, while hot peppers love that intense sun.
PRO TIP: Don't forget to rotate your plants. Plants want to grow towards the light, so rotating them often ensures distributed growth.
4. Water regularly
You want to make sure your plants are getting the right amount of water. Overwatering can cause root rot and underwatering can result in stunted growth. That's why it is important to check your plants at least once a week to make sure they have enough water.
It's super easy to check if your plant needs water. Just poke your finger into the top inch of the soil. If it's damp, you can skip watering that day. You can also lift up larger containers to see how much water is left.
PRO TIP: Use well-draining containers to avoid drowning your roots. Put a tray underneath the container to catch any runoff.
5. Keep it humid
It can get quite dry during the winter months. And depending on where you are growing your plants, they might need a little boost of humidity. This can be especially true if they are in a window box or near an indoor heater.
PRO TIP: Put your plants on a tray of water or give them a mist of water using a spray bottle to help keep them from drying out.
6. The weight of your containers
When containers are full of soil, they can be quite heavy. Add in a good watering and they can triple in weight. Make sure the location you choose can hold the weight of your containers when watered. Window boxes need to be securely attached to the windowsill.
PRO TIP: Make sure you check with your landlord about weight restrictions or before securing any window boxes in place. You don't want to lose out on your security deposit because of unnecessary damages.
What types of plants are best for apartment gardening?
Not all plants grow well in apartment gardens. You aren't going to be able to grow a full-size apple tree on your balcony, but dwarf trees grow in containers. It's more important to choose the types of foods you enjoy eating and experiment with what you can grow. Our list includes edible plants, but if you are looking for houseplants, we have a guide on easy-to-grow plants like monster
1. Herb plants
You can start an indoor herb garden right on your kitchen windowsill. They might not grow as large as they would outdoors, but nothing beats having fresh herbs right in the kitchen. Parsley, thyme, mint, basil, and lavender are all great choices for apartment gardening.
2. Leafy greens
Salad greens like arugula, lettuce, and spinach are fast-growing and are tolerant of low light and cold temps. A bonus is that many of these leafy greens can be harvested multiple times. You'll want to choose your salad greens carefully since some varieties like kale, can grow to be a bit large.
You don't need a large outdoor space to grow vegetables. Vegetables can easily be grown indoors under the right conditions. It is all about knowing which plants do well in container gardening and which ones to avoid. Some great options for the beginner gardener are hot peppers, carrots, and tomatoes.
Carrots simply need a deep container in order to grow well. Tomatoes are pretty hard to kill and you can find patio varieties that grow in hanging baskets, saving you even more space. If you like a bit of spice, hot peppers can grow well in containers, but you'll find the sweeter peppers don't typically do as well.
You might be surprised to know that you can grow fruit plants in an apartment garden. Plants like Meyer lemons and other dwarf citrus trees grow super well in containers. They do great inside if they get six to eight hours of sunlight each day and a good amount of humidity. Just put something under your well-draining pot because these trees have a tendency to give off a sticky sap.
Strawberries also do extremely well in a container. A window box full of strawberries is both beautiful and yummy. They're flowering plants that need at least 6 hours of sun each day and like moist, but not soggy soil.
4 essential products & tools every apartment gardener needs
To make apartment gardening super easy, there are a few tools that you should get. These tools are not necessary to start your garden, but they will definitely make it an easier and more enjoyable experience.
Lomi is a small kitchen appliance that breaks down your food waste and other Lomi Approved materials into nutrient-rich fertilizer for your plants. All you have to do is toss in your kitchen scraps, turn on Grow Mode, and in just a few hours you have a soil amendment that you can use for your plants. Just be sure to mix it with garden soil in a 1:10 ratio.
Why you need it: Lomi makes composting easy and keeps your waste out of landfills. It's perfect for small spaces that don't have room for a traditional compost system.
If you are just starting with gardening, you are going to need proper gardening tools. You should look for gloves, hand trowels, pruning shears, spray bottles, and maybe some garden ties.
Why you need it: Having the right tool for the job is super important. Sure you can use your hands to dig in the soil, but it'll require more cleanup and you risk damaging your vegetables.
For seeds to germinate, they need the right amount of moisture, oxygen, and heat. Using a seedling heat mat is a great way to make sure seeds are getting the proper amount of heat to grow.
Why you need it: It can be tough growing plants from seed. These mats provide uniform heat to all your seeds so they can be extremely helpful if you're growing your plants in a cold location or early in the season.
If you want to simplify your apartment gardening game, try using a smart garden like this one from Click and Grow. It has enough room for three plants and automates the watering, lighting, and feeding of your plants.
Why you need it: This product is great for newbies and pros. It makes the growing process super simple and it doesn't take up a lot of space.
5 resources for apartment gardeners
It can be overwhelming to start growing plants in an apartment, but it doesn't have to be. There are tons of resources available to help new gardeners. Even if you don't have a green thumb, these resources are sure to help you grow plants in your small apartment.
- Complete guide to indoor gardening for beginners: This indoor gardening 101 examines various techniques and strategies to help get you started with indoor gardening.
- Growing vegetables indoors: This guide provides you with all the information you need to start growing vegetables indoors.
- 10 best vegetables for your container garden: If you're looking to start growing vegetables in your apartment or on your balcony, this guide has information on the best plants to grow in your zone.
- 4. Apartment Gardening: A Beginners Guide For A Plant Paradise: This guide has it all from the why of apartment gardening to the how. It also discusses what plants are good to grow indoors and which ones are more suited for a balcony garden.
- 5 Container Gardening Options for Apartment Gardeners: This video by Epic Gardening shows you how, with a little bit of creativity, you can squeeze an impressive amount of plants into your small space.
If you want to make apartment gardening even easier, try using Lomi to compost your food scraps to feed your plants. Check out what others are saying about how Lomi fits into a zero-waste lifestyle. Plus, it doesn't take up a lot of precious space.
Growing food isn't just for those with a large space. You can have your very own garden while living in an apartment. Whether you have a balcony garden or a few plants on your windowsill, it can be super easy to grow your own plants in a small apartment. With a few simple tools and our tips, you'll have a thriving garden in your apartment in no time!
Written by: Sarah Kendal