The apartment-dwelling green thumb faces a challenge: How does one garden without a yard of their own?
Or perhaps you have a yard of your own, but for various reasons (wild animals, municipal regulations, a less-than-ideal climate, etc.) you’re hesitant to break ground. Maybe you already have an outdoor garden but are looking to bring the flora indoors.
Window gardens are an easy and attractive way to achieve your horticulture dreams, even if you don’t have a ton of space. They also offer many advantages, from giving your home a soothing “back to nature” ambiance to giving you year-round access to fresh herbs.
Building a Space for Your Garden
The fun of building a window garden is that you can structure it as simply or as complex as you’d like.
For a very basic window garden, you’ll need a surface by your window to hold your planters. Unless you have a wide enough windowsill and small enough pots, you’re probably going to have to make some additions to your existing window space.
A simple option would be to rearrange your furniture and put something with a larger surface area, like an end table or a short bookshelf, right in front of the window to display your plants.
If you want multiple levels for your garden, you’ll need to hang some shelves. Simple planks of wood painted to your liking will work just fine. If you want something a little classier, you could try clear glass shelves. Cut the shelves to the correct size and mount them vertically within the window frame using L-shaped brackets.
No matter what direction your garden structure ends up taking, make sure you choose a window that gets a lot of sunlight.
A House for Your Houseplant
Your plant will need a container to grow in. This can be almost anything, from a regular flower pot to a coffee mug to upcycled plastic bottles.
Decide whether or not you want drainage holes. If you buy a pot with drainage holes or poke your own in the bottom of your DIY planter, you’ll want to place a saucer underneath, to prevent water and soil from leaking out and making a mess of your windowsill. You could also put the plant in a practical, draining pot and fit that into a more decorative pot without draining holes, called a cachepot.
If you choose to forgo drainage holes, make sure you’re aware of exactly how much water your plant needs, so you don’t overwater it.
Pretty or Practical?
Are you looking to spruce up your living space with some colorful flowers, or do you want to expand your kitchen’s resources to include some homegrown herbs and vegetables? Deciding what you’re going to grow is an important step in creating the window garden of your dreams.
Certain flowers will be better suited than others to being indoors, depending on the environment you’re able to provide them. For example, geraniums can be grown in your home, but they need a lot of light and a proper draining system.
African violets are an ideal choice for a window garden, as they’re good indoor plants and can be kept in small pots. Plus, they bloom year-round if you provide adequate light.
If you’re looking for something more fragrant, jasmine is a beautiful addition to any window garden, as it grows well indoors. Just make sure it gets direct sunlight during the spring and summer months.
Succulents are a trendy and low-maintenance way to add a cool botanical vibe to your interior.
If you’d like to put your garden to good use, consider planting some edibles. Herbs like basil and oregano are great to have on hand if you cook frequently, and most salad greens (think lettuce, kale and spinach) are easy for even the most novice gardener to grow.
Window Garden Inspiration
A window garden isn’t like your average garden. Because you’re not confined to the dirt, you can create a multi-level garden experience, complete with decorations and additions that fit your personality. Here’s some inspiration for the offbeat or artistic window gardener.
Hydroponic gardening is a method of growing plants that uses water to deliver nutrients to a plant, meaning you don’t use any soil. A hydroponic garden can be great for small herbs and vegetables. They’re also a little neater than a traditional garden with messy soil, making them ideal for indoor planting.
There are a lot of different directions your hydroponic window garden can take, depending on how much money you’re willing to spend. The Window Farms project has a detailed guide on how to create your own hydroponic window garden using old water bottles and a water pump.
If you don’t want to take the DIY route, you can purchase a hydroponic system to make the process a little easier. There are even companies that sell hydroponic gardens that double as fish bowls.
Hang Your Garden
For something with a little more character than your standard stack of shelves, try hanging your garden. There are endless ways this type of garden can take shape, from placing a curtain rod in the window and hanging buckets from them to fashioning a sort of hanging swing using rope and a wood plank.
For something fairly simple, buy or make your own macramé plant hanger. It’s like a hammock for your flower pots.
Gardening is all about starting with very little and growing that into something beautiful. Why not honor that spirit by building your garden from scratch using materials you already have lying around? It’s not just a clever way to be crafty, but it’s also eco-friendly.
Again, virtually anything can be fashioned into a planter. Don’t throw away old coffee tins or soup cans – repurpose them.
Use your imagination to come up with something unique, such as a tiny lightbulb terrarium.
Paint your coffee tin planters a terra cotta color to evoke a classic flower pot look. Decorate a mason jar with glitter and ribbon. Use chalkboard labels on your soup cans so you can easily identify the plants inside. Or leave your containers as they are for a more eclectic look.
Whatever container you end up using, if it’s been previously used, make sure you thoroughly clean it so there’s no lingering smell or bacteria.
Taking Care of Your Garden
Beware of overwatering your indoor plants if you don’t have any drainage holes in your pot. If you think you’ve overwatered, tip the pot and let the excess run out. You can help prevent this by creating a drainage layer at the bottom of your pot, before adding soil. You can use gravel or rocks; although, activated charcoal works best.
Remember that a little bit of water goes a long way, especially if you’re using pots with no drainage. Overwatering can cause the roots to rot and kill your plant.
Do research on the plants you choose. If you buy a plant or seeds at a nursery, ask for information on basic care, as well as if the plant can be successfully grown indoors. Every plant is different, and some plants require special care. Do your homework to learn how and when to water, as well as whether you need fertilizer or a strict sunlight schedule for your plants.
With a little bit of creativity, soil and water, you’ll be on your way to having your own indoor nature haven.
Have any tips for creating a flourishing window garden? Share them in the comments!
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