Indoor Gardening for Beginners

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Indoor plants can grow year-round with light, fertilizer and water.

For the beginner, indoor gardening can yield year-round plants if the gardener is equipped with the right tools and information. Depending upon your climate, most of the outdoor gardening season lasts through the spring and summer. By gardening indoors, plants can grow all year without worry of temperature changes or harsh conditions. Indoor gardening requires less of a financial and time commitment, and allows beginner gardeners to ease into the hobby.


Indoor Gardening Supplies

Indoor gardens require a light source, fertilizer and distilled water. The light source can be artificial or a sunny location within your house. Use a quality, nutrient-rich potting soil in your container. Plants will need a container that allows room for growth, or they'll need to be moved to something larger if roots begin to overlap. Overlapping roots hinder a plant's growth.

Lighting for Indoor Plants

An optimum place for most indoor plants is one with indirect sunlight. Though some plants thrive in full sun, many will burn with too much light. If you lack a natural light source, you'll need to use artificial light. Rooms with white walls help reflect light to plants. Fluorescent lighting can be used, but many indoor gardeners rely on high-intensity discharge, or HID, lights hanging above plants.


Water and Temperature

One of the main problems for indoor plants is overwatering, which can lead to root rot. Only water plants when the soil is no longer moist, which may be every few days. Water only until the soil becomes moist. Use distilled water, at room temperature, for plants. Cold tap water can shock plants.

Keep plants at temperatures of 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit, with the temperature decreasing by 10 to 15 degrees at night. If the air becomes too dry in the winter, a humidifier maintains humidity.


Fertilizer and Natural Pesticides

Most potting soil contains enough nutrients to feed a plant for 10 to 12 weeks, according to After about three months, use natural fertilizers. Check thoroughly for insects such as aphids and spider mites. These insects cause problems if they spread to other indoor plants. Use natural pesticides such as dish soap, alcohol and hot peppers.

Flowers, Foliage and Herbs

Orchids do well indoors with proper care.

There are many varieties of indoor plants--flowering plants, foliage, palms andferns. African violets and orchids are two popular houseplants. Indoor herb gardens are easy to maintain and provide flavorful additions to cooking.


Possible Problems with Indoor Plants

If the edges of the plant's leaves are brown and dried, the plant may be getting too much heat and not enough humidity. If spots appear on the leaves, this may be a symptom of overwatering, watering with cold water or too much direct sunlight. If your plant doesn't produce flowers, it may be getting too much fertilizer not enough water and light.



Brittany Rouse

Brittany Rouse has been writing since 2004, specializing in pet care, college life and gardening. Her work is published in the George Mason University student newspaper, "Broadside," as well as the GMU online publication Connect to Mason. Rouse is working toward a Bachelor of Arts in communication.