Growing plants indoors offers numerous advantages to the gardener. By growing the plants in a controlled environment, you can substantially reduce the risk of pests, disease, and climate-induced issues. When determining the best plants to grow indoors, it’s important to consider the varying growth habits, lighting requirements, and irrigation needs to better discern which plants can thrive in an indoor setting.
Shrubs and Ornamentals
Potted house plants, such as shrubs and ornamentals, provide homeowners with a pleasant décor, alluring aromas, and a fun hobby throughout the year. There are a variety of plants that grow vibrantly within the confines of a home, particularly rainforest-dwelling plants which only need low, indirect lighting to grow.
Agave: Agave is a desert plant that requires minimal watering and thrives in warm conditions. These factors make it an ideal houseplant because it can flourish with minimal intervention. Agave requires an average temperature of 75 degrees or greater, and it prefers ample lighting, making it ideal for windowsills or enclosed porches. Agave can be successfully grown year-round. In the warm summer months, consider setting it outside to provide it with maximum sunlight and warmth. In the wintertime, plant growth becomes inactive, rendering it more susceptible to rotting and mold because it doesn’t use as much water. As such, keep the soil damp but not wet, and allow it to fully dry out before adding more water. During winter, the plants only require an average temperature of 55 degrees, so relocating them to a cooler location is preferable.
Chinese evergreen: The Chinese evergreen is the ideal houseplant for novices, or people seeking a low-maintenance houseplant. It is known for tolerating and adapting to varying light, temperature, and irrigation conditions. However, to truly prosper, it desires low to medium indirect lighting and temperatures of around 70 degrees. Watering requirements are moderate, with once every three days, or as the plant begins to noticeably droop.
Dracaena: The dracaena plant incorporates a variety of species, some of which can span up to 6 feet in height. Be sure to pick a place in your home with lots of space, so the dracaena can grow to its full potential. It requires light watering and low, indirect light. Due to its light watering needs, be sure to plant it in a pot with sufficient drainage. Allow the top 2 inches of soil to fully dry before adding more water.
English Ivy: English ivy is a beautiful plant that has grown to become one of the most popular indoor houseplants. They thrive in moist, humid conditions, so be sure to water it regularly, and mist it in the summer. They prefer opulent lighting from an indirect source, and too much direct sunlight can actually harm the plant. English ivy requires ample nutrients, so consider adding a nutrient-rich fertilizer, such as fish emulsion, every few months. Because they are a trailing plant, they benefit from being trimmed occasionally.
Philodendron: Philodendron is one of the most popular houseplants, due to being both attractive and incredibly low maintenance. In fact, it’s one of the easiest plants you can grow, making it ideal for novices and seasoned botanists alike. Stemming from rainforests, they prefer medium to low lighting, and direct sunlight will actually burn the leaves. They thrive between temperatures of 70 and 80 degrees, though they can survive as low as 60 degrees. Due to its low watering requirements, you should allow the soil to fully dry out before watering it. You can tell the plant is being overwatered if the leaves begin to turn yellow. If the leaves dry out, it’s not receiving enough water. According to Sunset Garden Magazine, well-draining soil is essential to the health of philodendron and can minimize the risk of drowning the plant. To meet this requirement, use loamy soil with high-drainage and lots of organic matter.
Vegetables and Herbs
For those seeking to reduce their grocery bills but lack yard space to plant a garden, growing vegetables and herbs indoors provides an easy and sustainable method of nourishing your palate throughout the year. Though many vegetables can be difficult to grow indoors, due to their large size and fickle growing conditions, the majority of herbs thrive in an indoor environment. In fact, according to Cornell horticulturists Dr. J. Robert Nuss and Dr. P.A. Ferretti, herbs can grow just as successfully in an indoor environment as outdoors, provided their preferred conditions are properly mimicked.
Basil: Basil is one of the best plants to grow indoors because it flourishes in warm, controlled conditions. It requires plentiful sunlight and warmth to grow, so consider setting it in a windowsill where it will receive lots of natural lighting. Basil will need to be watered regularly, so be sure to create sufficient drainage to prevent rotting and mold.
Cherry Peppers: While many peppers can thrive in an indoor environment, cherry peppers are one of the easiest to grow as they require little maintenance comparatively. They prefer consistent soil temperatures of between 50 and 60 degrees, so place them in a sunny window sill. Water enough to keep the soil moist, but be careful not to overwater.
Cilantro: When growing cilantro indoors, it’s best to grow from seed because cilantro is known for taking poorly to transplants. Place the potted plants in the window sill. Consider planting in a terracotta pot as these enable more air and moisture to pass through the soil. Cilantro is prone to root rot, so ample drainage is critical. The soil mixture should be a combination of sand and potting soil to enable maximum filtration.
Green Onions: Green onions can be easily grown indoors and with minimal space. They only need about six inches to fully spread their roots. They will require about six to seven hours of excellent lighting per day to be healthy, so find a sunny spot in your home to keep them. The soil should remain consistently moist but not wet.
Radishes: Radishes do well in indoor container gardens because they don’t need much space to spread their roots. With about six inches of soil and some generous lighting, the radishes will grow healthy and strong. Radishes need a liberal nutrient supply, so consider using a soilless compost in place of standard potting soil. Cover the base of the containers with pebbles to help slow drainage. Keep the soil continually damp throughout their growth cycle.