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Gardening in Your Apartment 101

Are You Ready to Get Your Green Thumb On?

a cartoon image of a lady doing different activities within her greenhouse.
Gardening at home can be therapeutic.

Living in an apartment shouldn’t stop you from gardening, it just means rethinking how to garden in a small space. It is about choosing the right types of plants depending on light levels, container growing, and overall plant maintenance. There are many types of plants that are quite easy to grow whether in pots or planters or if you have a balcony or paved patio. Even if you don’t have a lot of sunlight streaming in, there are many types of shade-loving plants that you can incorporate to bring some lush greenery into your home.

Any space can be transformed into a green wonderland, it all depends on the purpose of your garden, how much time you have to dedicate to it, and working with the space that you have to achieve it.

an animated image of a woman doing at home gardening in front of the large window in her apartment.
An at home garden can be just the release that you need.

So, whether you live in the upstairs or downstairs apartment, if you want to plant a garden, our tips can show you how to make it happen.

To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow
-Audrey Hepburn

Why Start a Garden in Your Apartment?

There is something about a garden that is soothing for the soul. It creates a relaxing space and connects you to nature. Plants are also simple ways of beautifying and decorating an interior or exterior and because of the variety to choose from, you’re sure to find the right type of herb, succulent, or ornamental to enhance your home.

Gardening is also a rewarding hobby, and you’ll find that once you get your hands into the soil and start planting, you forget about the stress and pressures of daily life.

Even a small space can create a sustainable garden allowing you to plant your own herbs and vegetables. It is a great family activity so get the kids involved and you’ll see how delighted they are to watch a seedling they’ve planted grow into a strong and beautiful plant.

Let’s get gardening!

Infographic about gardening at an apartment
Apartment gardening tips - infographic

Pots, Planters, and Patios

Let’s start by looking at apartments that don’t have an area to grow plants directly in the soil. If you have a balcony or a small paved outdoor area, pots and planters will become the foundation for your plants.

The beauty of pots and planter boxes is that you can find virtually any size to place on a patio or fit onto a balcony. Planter boxes made from wood are great for those who want a natural look. The horizontal design of these boxes also creates continuity, and you can plant multiple seedlings, herbs, or shrubs in a 40-inch box.

a cartoon photo of a man and a woman in a room, the lady is watering the plants and the gentlemen is taking photos of her.
At home gardens are something you can be proud of.

If you decide to go with pots instead, choose pots of different heights but similar colors. The colors create uniformity, and the variable heights can actually make a tiny area look bigger by placing the smaller pots in front of the tall and wide pots.

The size, shape, and positioning of your new accessories will depend on how much space you have. Ensure that you have enough room to move so you can reach every pot to care for your plants.

*Planting Tip ~ If you want to start a mini vegetable garden, planter boxes or wide-rimmed pots are best. You’ll need to consider the depth of these accessories depending on the type of edible you want to plant. Herbs are happy in any sized pot but if you are thinking about carrots, potatoes, or tomatoes, you’ll need something with both width and depth to accommodate the roots and the veggies.

How to Prepare Pots for Planting

For a seedling or plant to thrive it will need the best start and this means that preparation is key!

First place your pots in the desired position. Once it's filled with soil it will be hard to move so be certain about where you want it located. Place drainage chips or stones at the bottom of the pot to prevent soil and nutrients from rapidly escaping with each watering. The stones prevent the soil from clogging the drainage hole of the pot. If the pot is clogged, it will become waterlogged and cause the roots of the plant to rot.

The next stage is to fill your pot or box with a good potting medium. Vegetables prefer moist and nutrient-rich soil with good drainage.

Always be mindful of the type and size of plant you choose for containers. Some plants will outgrow the pot, so you want to find species that are suited to container growing.

All types of herbs such as lavender and spearmint are perfect for pots and planters, and they have the added bonus of a pleasant fragrance you can use in your home. Larger plants including the Bamboo Palm and Ficus tree are indoor plants that adapt to pots quite well.

A cartoon photo of green plants, ferns and other house plants in different potting options.
There are many different styles of plants and pots.

What About Hanging Pots and Baskets?

If you have a balcony with a wire fence, you can use plastic hanging pots and baskets. Plastic doesn’t add much weight even after putting soil into the container and you can really create a beautiful display with creepers that hang over the basket.

A cartoon photo of several different houseplants that could be in your houseplant collection.
Your houseplant collection can be a variety of your favorite plants and flowers.

Use the Windowsill

The windowsills are a great place to display your plants. Many homesteaders use their windowsills to plant micro herbs. Not only can your herbs benefit from the sunlight, but you’ll also have fresh produce you can use in a salad simply by growing it in your window!

A hand drawn pink and orange flower, and it looks as though it has been pollinated and is blowing in the wind.
Did you know flowers and plants can boost your mood?

Upcycle and Create a Unique Apartment Garden

Starting a vegetable patch or growing a stunning rose in a pot doesn’t have to be expensive. If you have old containers or even baskets and cracked terracotta pots, you can use these as containers for a wide variety of plants. Succulents love to grow out of broken pots, and you can turn a regular picnic basket into a plant container by adding plastic lining, piercing a few drainage holes in the lining (at the bottom of the basket), and then adding soil and plants as desired.

A lady in a room of her housing organizing and decorating the room with different pots of plants.
Design your apartment garden to fit your needs.

The Importance of Sunlight for Gardening

Most plant species need at least 6 hours of sunlight to perform at their best. If you have a sunny outdoor spot, it’s ideal to use this for sun-loving plants.

Some of the best plants for a sunny apartment include:

· All varieties of lavender

· Herbs including Rosemary, Mint, Coriander, and Celery

· Sunflowers (can be grown from seed in a medium to large pot)

· Vegetables such as tomatoes, potatoes, spinach, and Pak Choi

· Flowers such as daisies, petunias, and verbenas do well in containers

· Strawberries are perfect for hanging baskets

a photo of the process of growing a strawberry plant and then putting it into a strawberry milkshake.
Growing a strawberry plant will not only look good, but taste good too.

How to Plant a Shady Garden

What if you don’t have a lot of sunlight but you still want to be surrounded by greenery? There are many shade-loving plants you can also plant in pots. Some of these can be placed indoors or in a shady outdoor spot.

Plants that prefer low sunlight or shade include:

· Palms

· Ferns

· Ficus tree (needs a bright room and is best kept in a pot)

· Fuchsia

· Lilies

A photo of a bouquet of pink flowers.
Not enough sun - use flowers that require minimal sunlight.

What if You Want a Low Maintenance Plant?

If you don’t want to constantly water and feed your apartment garden, then succulents will be the best way to achieve a green look without maintenance. Some plants that are drought tolerant including gazanias are also low maintenance and produce beautiful flowers in a variety of colors. All succulent-type plants will need at least 5 to 6 hours of sunlight per day.

a photo of a orange/yellow/brown gazania.
As a beginner, a low-maintenance plant may be the best option for you.

Can You Grow a Fruit Tree in a Pot?

You want your own apples or oranges, but you live in an apartment, so can you grow fruit trees in pots?

Some fruit trees work well in pots such as a blueberry or raspberry bush but larger trees including an apple tree will need a very big pot that is not ideal for a balcony. If you live in a downstairs apartment and you have a bit of a garden, you could try to plant citrus trees such as a lemon or orange tree in a container.

a photo of the different stages of a lemon tree growing.
You can plant a lemon tree in your at home garden.

Remember, that fruit trees in pots or containers need a lot of fertilizer, sunlight, and water to grow and bear fruit.

Pruning Your Plants

Plants that are grown in containers still need to be trimmed or pruned. The purpose is to maintain its shape and to get rid of any weak or dying stems that are taking nutrients away from the main plant. Careful pruning will encourage new growth and strengthen plants but don’t get carried away with the garden shears! Cutting too much off the plant can do more harm than good.

How to Keep Your Balcony and Patio Clean

Gardening is fun and rewarding but it can also be messy! One of the biggest concerns when renting is ensuring that the area used for your pots and containers is spotless by the end of your lease. It is always a good idea to use a drainage base for your pot. The base will catch the dark water that drains from the pot and will go a long way to prevent stains.

If you do find that the patio or balcony floor is stained by the bottom of the pot, you’ll need to scrub with a soapy solution. Avoid abrasives that can damage the surface! The last thing you want is to be moving out and face the loss of your security deposit because your garden pot damaged the floor.

Planting a Garden at an Apartment

If you live on the ground floor and you have an area to start a little garden, first check with your landlord as to what you can do and plant. Landlords might not like the idea of planting a tree in the courtyard only to struggle to remove it a year after it’s established. To avoid any problems with your lease, speak to the landlord about creating a small garden that you will maintain or whether using pots and planters is a better idea.

a lady standing in the window, surrounded by her different plants and pots.
Creating tranquility in your home can start with an at-home garden.

Gardening is All About Enjoying Your Home

Don't you love the idea of getting fresh herbs and vegetables out of your very own garden? What about stepping out onto your balcony to admire the flowers and rich herbal fragrances of your plants after a long day at work?

Gardens and plants are many different things to different people but when you choose the right plants and you watch them grow, it provides a sense of fulfillment and happiness.

A garden doesn't have to be hard or expensive to manage so get creative with your space and bring some greenery into your life.

Two cartoon friends working together in a garden, one is watering the garden and the other one is shoveling.
Use your garden as means for happiness and creativity.

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