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Apartment Gardening for Beginners - 36 Tips and Tricks

January 31, 2022

A new generation of urban gardeners has emerged and brought their vision to apartment living. From low-maintenance succulents to full-on vegetable harvests, apartment gardening has never been more popular or accessible. Apartment List is here to help renters and beginner gardeners alike nurture their green thumb with these 31 tips.

What's the Value in Apartment Gardening?

The value of traditional gardening is reconnecting with nature and increasing your space's beauty and curb appeal. However, apartment gardening also offers its own importance.

Enhance Your Well Being

Studies show that being around plants can increase your well-being, reduce stress, boost productivity, and increase your apartment’s air quality. Beyond the therapeutic value of plants being in your home, the act of gardening itself reduces negative emotions and improves your mood.

Purify the Air

Some indoor plants and vegetation improve air quality and reduce toxins like formaldehyde and benzene. Large, leafy plants and pots filled with English Ivy, Spider Plants, and pretty as a picture Peace Lilies are good places to get started.

Connect with Nature

While living in an apartment, connecting with nature without visiting the local park or driving to the countryside can be difficult. However, growing plants in your apartment brings nature to you. We already know gardening and plants improve our well-being, but being around nature also lowers blood pressure, stress hormone levels, and immune system function.

Reduce Food Waste

Studies show that as much as 50% of the fruits and vegetables we buy end up in the trash. While indoor gardening may not take care of all of your produce, it can dramatically reduce food waste.

Home grown flowers and herbs in the hanging pots at balcony at Ang Mo Kio area.

What to Plant in Your Apartment Garden

Whether you want to fill your apartment with nature or grow ingredients to stock your pantry, here’s what to plant in your indoor garden.

Herbs

Herbs are among the easiest items to plant in your apartment garden and can be useful for cooking. Try basil for pesto, chives for salads and entrees, mint for evening cocktails, and oregano for your favorite pasta dish.

Vegetables

Growing vegetables in your apartment for a side dish or delicious salad isn't that difficult. Carrots, scallions, radishes, tomatoes, and even potatoes can all be grown with minimal space.

Fruits

Fruit takes a little more diligence to grow inside an apartment, though it’s not impossible. Dwarf citrus trees that produce lemons or limes can grow in your apartment but take years to grow fruit. Some people buy plants that are already yielding fruit and then keep up with growth and maintenance for next year.

If you have a window with plenty of light, add a garden box to your windowsill to grow fresh strawberries for a summer salad or mixed drinks. It's also possible to grow an avocado directly from its pit but will take years to flourish and produce fruit.

Microgreens

Microgreens are small vegetable greens harvested after the cotyledon, or part of the embryo within the seed, starts sprouting. Unlike traditional vegetables and herbs, microgreens can be harvested within a few weeks.

These pint-sized greens are packed with nutrients, including potassium, magnesium, copper, and valuable antioxidants. Some ambitious renters even start small microgreen side hustles out of their apartments.

36 Tips and Tricks for Apartment Gardening

Before pulling on your gardening gloves and trying to grow plants, vegetables, and fruit in your apartment, here are a few tips to consider.

1. Map Out Your Space

Mapping out our space is essential for successful apartment gardening. Identify areas where you can place or hang structures like bookcases for your plants. You'll also need a place to drain your garden after watering them, so make sure your sink is big enough or can repurpose enough lids and plates to place underneath your pots and planters.

2. Start Small with Succulents

No matter your climate, succulents are virtually maintenance-free plants that can grow inside an apartment with enough sunlight. Aloe vera is a good option and can soothe burns in the kitchen. Or try a Zebra or Panda Plant to grow your first plants as a beginner.

3. Consider Your Schedule

Even the easiest plants can take up time to care for properly. Pick plants that can grow according to the amount of time you have to devote to your fledgling garden. Choose low-maintenance plants if you have a busy work schedule and fast-paced social life. Growing high-maintenance species can prove challenging but is highly rewarding for those homebodies and work-at-home freelancers.

Stylish and botany interior of dining room with design craft wooden table, chairs, a lof of plants, big window, poster map and elegant accessories in modern home decor.

4. Think About Your Apartment Layout

Choose your first plants based on the positioning of windows and the amount of light available in your space. Apartment garden varieties that thrive in the interior recesses require minimal light, while some demand direct sunlight for many hours a day.

5. No Windows, No Problem

Just because your apartment lacks windows doesn't mean you can't successfully garden indoors. Choose plants that are happy in low-light areas if you don’t have much natural light in your apartment. Weeping figs, peace lilies, ivy, money plants, and fittonias are a few places to start.

6. Make Use of Your Light

All of you lucky apartment owners with multiple windows and ample hours of full direct sunlight will be able to grow a wide variety of house plants such as cacti, succulents, and tropical flowers.

Organic window sill herb garden

7. Step Up Your Cooking Game

Home chefs and health-centric apartment dwellers love tending to and harvesting from indoor kitchen gardens. From artisanal lettuce to mini tomatoes, there are practically endless tasty plants to grow. Now that you have herbs within reach, don’t forget to add some flavor to your next meal. Leverage your kitchen window to grow small herbs with all of your favorite flavors to jazz up your dishes.

8. Brighten Things Up with Flowers

Flowers can add color and vibrancy to your space. Choose wildflowers and annuals such as pansies, geraniums, petunias, and begonias that will provide beautiful blooms without taking up much space.

9. Think Vertical

Going vertical is key to indoor gardening in a studio or efficiency apartment. Try attaching vertical planters to the walls that allow more space to grow. Choosing slim and tall potted plant varieties will free up room as well.

Black cat looking through venetian blinds on window sill with plants

10. Utilize Your Window Ledges

Window ledges present valuable real estate in your apartment and can be used to hold long rectangular planters and tiny pots for a window garden. It’s important to select plants that thrive in full sunlight, but make sure to turn them so they don't grow against the glass in the direction of the sunlight.

11. Freshen the Air

Plants can purify the air, so placing them in the most often-used rooms of your apartment could provide health benefits. Your bathroom, laundry area, or small nooks and crannies are good places to bring some fresh air and new life.

12. Play with Macramé

Macramé planters are functional and double as soothing apartment decor. You can even hang them in the tiniest places. Start with ivy and other vines to create an eye-catching aesthetic when cascading down the sides of the planter.

colored plant pots

13. Add Splashes of Color

The plants you produce and the pots you choose are refreshing ways to add pops of playful color. Look for vibrant-hued planters in a variety of shapes and textures, and mix and match for an energetic display you and your plants will love.

14. Get Creative With Planters

There is no end to the creative and unique planters available, allowing you to show off your quirky side. A throw-back favorite has always been the Chia Pet and all of its variations, but there are also loads of other playful planters available in-store and online. Yes, there's even a Baby Yoda Chia Pet to make sure the force is always with you.

15. Stick to a Watering Regimen

Each plant has unique needs and water requirements. No matter what kinds of plants you choose to start your indoor garden, it's imperative you follow a watering schedule based on each plant's needs. When you water your plants on the same schedule, no matter the variety you have, you may end up overwatering.

16. Use Your Resources

Even pro gardeners consult with their plants’ care instructions provided to ensure they get the watering, soil, and sunlight requirements right. Additionally, the internet supplies unlimited information to care for your plants based on their species and your climate.

Indoor gardening. Female hands replant herbs.

17. Don't Disregard the Soil

Soil type is essential for plant health and growth. Many plants prefer a higher acidic to neutral soil with a 7.0 pH level or above. Add fertilizer in potted plants, but don’t overdo it by adding in regular potting soil to keep it balanced. You can add a single layer of rocks to the bottom of the planter to avoid drainage blockage from compacted soil.

Most plants require drainage holes in the bottom of a pot or planter to stay healthy, but if you have a favorite that doesn’t have one, you can still use them for Oleander and Snake Plants.

18. Invest in Modern Tools

Today's gardening tools are too handy, efficient, and stylish to pass up for bargain-basement varieties. Choose your gardening tools based on your level of experience from beginner to expert. At a minimum, you'll need some gloves, a garden fork or hand cultivator, a trowel, pruning shears, a utility bucket, and suitable planters that suit the space in your apartment.

19. Consider the Humidity

Portable greenhouses aren't solely for balconies and rooftop terraces. They can also be used in an apartment with a low humidity environment to help plants flourish. Some plants grow better in high to medium humidity conditions, such as dracaena, begonias, and ferns.

Floating plants on wall over brown leather couch, vertical garden indoors

20. Create a Living Wall

Turn your entire wall into a green oasis! Green walls, otherwise known as living walls, are vertical gardens attached to a wall. You'll need a water source, a draining area, and plenty of sunlight to grow a living wall. Make sure your landlord is okay with the new addition, and ensure you treat your walls properly before getting started. Learn more about how to create a living wall here.

21. Incorporate Plants Into Your Decor

With the right plants, pots, and foliage, you have unique apartment decor. A few places to start are strategically hanging plants along with your windows or lining up colorful pots on your mantel or shelf. Hanging your plants from your wall and placing an antique frame around it creates a living piece of art and conversation starter for your apartment.

22. Keep It Frugal

Creating a garden in your apartment doesn't need to be expensive. Some plants, including broccoli, can grow from leftover food and discarded greens. If you're on a tight budget, collect some wildflowers from the outdoors and grab a bag of soil from The Dollar Tree. Sourcing free, wooden crates from grocery stores or nurseries quickly transform into gardening boxes for free.

23. Repurpose an Apothecary Table

Physicians and pharmacists initially used apothecary tables to store medicine. Today, these tables can be used as a sock and undergarment drawer, a place to keep makeup and bathroom items, and a spot for hats, gloves, and other small items. You can also repurpose an apothecary table as an indoor garden planter. Place small bins or planters in the drawers for added protection, then arrange succulents and any lightweight, small plants for a creative apartment garden.

Arrangement of artificial spring flowers in painted canning jars on an oak table.

24. Use Mason Jars

Mason jars are an inexpensive and stylish way to show off your green thumb. Herbs like parsley, lavender, thyme, and basil usually work best in mason jars. Keep them in the kitchen and reach for a few sprigs of parsley when you cook. Other options include cactus and Watch Chain Plant or House Holly Fern to tuck inside painted or colored mason jars for a touch of creative flair.

25. Lean a Ladder Against the Wall

A leaning ladder bookcase or plant ladder stands showcase your plants and can be placed just about anywhere in your apartment. Keep lighter pots on top and heavy items on lower shelves to help anchor your garden in place.

26. Try a Towel Bar

A towel bar isn't just for your bathroom. Attach it to a wall in your kitchen, living area, entryway, or anywhere else in your apartment to create a tidy garden area. Hook small plant potters with the help of towel hooks and make sure they're securely in place.

27. Use a Kitchen Pegboard

A kitchen pegboard is traditionally used to hang gadgets, such as oven mitts or spatulas. Try transforming your pegboard into a makeshift vertical garden with the help of a few rods or hooks. Just hang your plants near a window and watch them flourish from your favorite room in the apartment.

Interior design of living room with wooden console, beautiful composition of plants in different hipster and design pots, books and elegant personal accessories in home garden.

28. Look Up

You could be missing out on valuable space around your apartment if you never look up! Check to see if there's any room above your kitchen cabinets, medicine cabinet, or even window treatments with enough surface space for a small planter or pot. Arrange your favorite greenery or colorful flowers for an elevated, eye-catching garden.

29. Pull Up a Stool

Whether you have an extra stool sitting around or want to invest in a new, colorful stool, you could use it as a plant holder. Add a few stools to your apartment, and when guests come over, you can move the plants to a table and enjoy some extra seating.

30. Reimagine Your Balcony

Check your lease to see if outdoor plants, flower boxes, and pots are allowed on your balcony. Once you’re in the clear, reimagine what’s possible with your balcony and create an outdoor mini apartment garden within reach. Build trellis to display your greens and lay down some artificial grass to divide up your balcony making it feel like a pint-sized. backyard space.

31. Embrace Your Surroundings

If you scored a garden apartment surrounded with outdoor green space, maximize what you already have and embrace your surroundings. The same tip goes if you’re surrounded by oaks, large pines, or anything else that connects you with nature. Consider potted evergreens on your balcony, Norfolk Island Pines, or bamboo.

A curious British kitten sits on the windowsill and looks into a pot with a flower that stands next to it. Pets, Pets, care

32. Please Your Pets

If you can’t keep your furry friends from eating your plants, design your garden around them. Cats love cat grass, catnip, lemongrass, and cat thyme for tasty treats, while pups can dig into peas, carrots, rosemary, and basil. Check with your vet in advance to make sure they’re on board with your indoor garden feast designed with pets in mind.

33. Consider in Rolling Shelves

Rolling shelves with multiple tiers are perfect for moving your kitchen garden. You can harvest by the kitchen sink and repot and water on the patio and try rolling units with adjustable shelves to reposition as your plants grow.

34. Use Seed Sheets

Seed sheets offer beginner gardeners the chance to grow their garden from seed to full-grown plants. They often come in kits for specific purposes, such as salad, herbs, container gardens, and organic plants. The seed sheets, or pouches, safely dissolve in the water letting the underlying plants grow quickly. Watching the seedlings sprout and then eat the bounty can be highly rewarding and exciting.

growing new plant in modern smart lab on work place with working man

35. Check Out Smart Gardens

Smart gardens, such as the popular Click & Grow line, have made apartment gardening more accessible than ever before. Pairing nature with technology allows these plants to flourish from seed pod to adult plant with near-zero effort. You simply order the seed pods you would like, from herbs to tomatoes, add water and plugin, and the smart technology does the rest. Choose from a selection of garden sizes and shapes to fit your space.

36. Consider a Monthly Subscription

Hey, subscription box lovers... great news! There are so many plant subscriptions to look into. From super greens that turn into a salad within 5 to 10 days to succulent subscriptions, there is a plan for every plant person, no matter what size apartment they live in.

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Joanna Dorman
AUTHOR
Joanna is a freelance writer at Apartment List. She has over 16 years of experience creating interior design, furnishings, home decor, and home improvement content. Read More
Susan Finch
AUTHOR
Susan is an accomplished freelance writer whose passion for rental real estate, travel, and digital marketing has been the driving force behind her nearly 15-year career. Throughout her professional journey, Susan has become a seasoned veteran in creating compelling and informative content focused on the tenant/landlord relationship. Read More

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