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How to create an indoor garden when you're short on space

Including planters and greenery perfect for any home.
Indoor gardening tips
You don't have to have a Martha Stewart-worthy setup to have an indoor garden.deniskomarov / Getty Images/iStockphoto
/ Source: TODAY

Many of us took up gardening during quarantine, but the winter weather makes honing your green thumb outdoors a bit difficult. Luckily, you don't have to put the kibosh on your gardening hobby just because the temperature has dropped significantly.

Indoor gardening is a great way to bring the beauty and energy of nature into your home, but when you're short on space it's hard to know where to start. So Shop TODAY sought the help of two top gardening experts to discover the benefits of indoor gardening and get some tips for maximizing the space you do have. We're also sharing a few recommendations for some great plant options to add to your indoor garden!

What qualifies as an indoor garden?

You don't have to have a Martha Stewart-worthy setup to tell your friends that you have an indoor garden. On the contrary, almost any plant can qualify.

"I always tell my clients to think of a really beautiful relaxation garden, a rock garden in the desert or even one of those little fairy gardens that live in a bowl on your desk... they're all gardens! An indoor garden can be even just a single plant," Jasmine Roth, star of the HGTV show "Help! I Wrecked My House," told Shop TODAY.

You can start an indoor garden in your home, at the office or any other enclosed area and can try your hand at container gardening, hydroponic gardening, controlled environment agriculture and vertical farms.

Why you should consider starting an indoor garden

Gardening can feel a bit intimidating at first, but it's a hobby that has many benefits if you're willing to put in the work. For instance, if you live in a cooler climate, an indoor garden lets you circumvent the weather and grow your own plants, herbs or veggies all year long.

Not to mention, gardening can give you a nice mental health and confidence boost as you hone your skills, and can also give your home some design appeal.

"Adding an indoor garden can make a space you've been working on really come together. It might be just the thing to make your home feel finished and give you a much needed sense of accomplishment," Roth said.

Of course, the most obvious benefit of an indoor garden goes all the way back to elementary school science: More plants = better air.

What to know before starting an indoor garden

So you want to start an indoor garden, huh? There are a few things you should know before rolling up your sleeves and doing anything. For starters, take some time to think about what type of plants you're most interested in growing.

"I personally think that lettuce, kale, and herbs grown in the kitchen are so cool and I would be inclined to care for them since I love to cook. My mom, however, isn't as interested in cooking and would prefer a beautiful flowering plant in her living room, where she spends a lot of time," Roth said.

Luckily, there are endless indoor plant options depending on your interests, and there are several ways to grow them, too.

"For example, you should determine whether you want a soil-based or hydroponic (without soil) system and if you want to use sunlight or artificial lighting," FX Rouxel, the CEO of Gardyn, said. "If you’re using indoor grow lights, you can place your indoor garden anywhere — even a closet! And typically, there is no minimum sunlight required if you are using grow lights."

Every plant requires different amounts of direct/indirect sunlight and water and a certain temperature, so it's usually best to choose one based on the setup of your home.

"If you have giant picture windows that get a ton of sun, tropical plants might do great. But if you only have a small window and nowhere nearby to put a plant, a shade plant might be for you. Plants really like bathrooms because they're wet and kitchens because they usually have great light," Roth said.

How to create an indoor garden in a small space

Whether you're got plenty of room to spare or are living in a smaller space, you can still create an indoor garden. You just have to get a bit creative!

Rouxel recommends picking up a grow light, which lets you grow all year long and don’t typically take up a lot of space. He also suggests trying a vertical hydroponic system, which lets you grow a lot of plants in a small space.

If you're looking to make the most of your space, Roth swears by the following plant options:

  • Living walls: "There are all different ways to accomplish this; you just need a blank wall. You can use mason jars and connect them to an old board for a herb garden. Or you can buy some wall planters and add succulents. A living wall doesn't have to be large, and [it] can have a big impact."
  • Hanging plants: "For hanging plants, the best advice I have is to make sure the pots don't leak. That way you can water them from a stool and not have to take them down. For indoor gardens, the easier the maintenance, the more likely you will be to keep them alive."
  • Air plants: "These plants are alive but require zero soil! They literally live on air. You can buy them online and then place them on open shelves, in a bowl on your coffee table, or even just add one to your nightstand. They need to be misted or submerged in water once a week, but that's an easy trade-off for having your own indoor garden, right?"

Indoor gardens to try

1. Bloomscape Mini Money Tree

No, it won't actually grow money, but this mini tree will provide some much-needed greenery to your home. The small, no-fuss plant does well in low to bright indirect light and can help purify the air, too. Even better, it's non-toxic and pet-friendly.

Editor's note: While you'll have to join a waitlist for this money tree, this one from UrbanStems is currently available for $60.

2. Bloomscape Aromatic Herbs Collection

Love to cook? Growing your own herbs can be pretty rewarding and convenient. This set of three pre-potted herb plants includes rosemary, sage and thyme and is pretty easy to care for. Just put the pots in your windowsill or a sunny spot in your house or pop it under a grow light, and you'll be good to go.

3. Juniper Bonsai

Whether you leave it on the kitchen counter or in your home office, this charming bonsai plant will add a nice dose of life to any room in your home. The easy-to-care-for plant comes in two sizes — small and medium — and looks nice and vibrant all year long.

4. Succulents by Lula's Garden

Succulents are a great beginner's plant and add some great pizzaz to an indoor garden. With this customizable set, you can choose between a single succulent, three 2.5" plants or a set of three 4" plants. Each plant is housed in a sleek box planter and comes with a plastic dropper you can use to water them whenever the soil is dry.

5. Orange Anthurium

Prefer a bit of color? Anthurium blooms can last up to eight weeks, so you can enjoy them for quite a while. The pretty plant does well in bright indirect light and can even help purify the air in your home. P.S. Full Bloom Nursery's anthuriums are also available in colors like dark purple and red.

6. English Ivy Hanging Plant

Hanging plants are perfect when you're short on space and can serve as a nice decor piece in the kitchen or living room. English ivy is fairly low maintenance and only needs to be watered once a week. This beautiful white ceramic planter is certainly a statement piece, too.

7. Planters' Choice 9 Herb Window Garden

Keeping an herb garden in your window is an easy way to bring the outdoors inside when the weather outside is frightful. This bestselling 34-piece kit comes with nine reusable pots and nine packets of herb seeds like dill, basil, thyme and parsley. It really couldn't be any easier!

8. Pothos Plant

Need a boost of energy when you wake up in the morning? A bright green hanging plant in your bedroom can help you start the day off on the right foot. Over time, pothos plants can grow to be six to 10 feet long and they survive best in bright indirect light.

9. Mkono Boho Hanging Planter

Stylish planters are a nice way to add some attitude to your indoor garden, and this set of two hanging planters is effortlessly chic. The set comes in two sleek color options — gold and white — and at only $34, it's an affordable piece of elegance.

10. Ecosides Set of 3 Wall Hanging Succulent Terrariums

Whether you choose to fill this terrarium with sand, shells or stones, it's an easy way to lend some attitude to your succulent collection. This set of three hanging succulent terrariums comes in six colors and is an unconventional way to add some dimension to your walls.

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