Mastering Indoor Gardening: A Comprehensive Guide for Beginners


Indoor gardens are the only option when you face space restrictions outdoors. Indoor gardening has become a hobby for many people living in apartments and houses built on small pieces of land. It is a relaxing and fruitful hobby to have. Gharpedia has provided some simple steps for indoor gardening for beginners. A DIY indoor garden can be set up by selecting the type of garden. There are two types of indoor gardening: container gardening and hydroponic gardening. Before thinking about how to go about building an indoor garden for yourself, let’s see what indoor gardening is.

What Exactly Is Indoor Gardening?

An Indoor Garden
An Indoor Garden

Indoor gardening refers to growing certain herbs, flowering plants, fruits, or vegetables inside a home or any other closed set-up. These are outdoor plants but can also be successfully grown indoors as houseplants. Now, let’s look at how to go about building your indoor garden.

Following are the stages and their steps to build an indoor garden:

Stage 1 Preparing Your Garden

         Step 1: Decide The Type Of Garden

         Step 2: Find The Right Location For an Indoor Garden

         Step 3: Control The Environment For Perfect Gardening In House

         Step 4: Decide What Plants You Want For Your Indoor Garden Set Up

Stage 2 Setting Up Your Indoor Garden- Container Garden and Hydroponic Gardens

          For Type 1: Container Gardens

                  Step 1: Choose The Planters For Indoor Container Gardening

                  Step 2: Prepare The Potting Soil For Container Gardening System

                  Step 3: Set Up Your Gardening System

                 Step 4: Maintenance Of Indoor Container Gardening

          For Type 2: Hydroponic Gardens

                 Step 1: Select A System For Indoor Hydroponic Gardening

                 Step 2: Prepare The Planters For Indoor Garden Set Up

                 Step 3: Set Up The Hydroponic System

                 Step 4: Maintenance Of Indoor Hydroponic Gardening

Stage #1: Preparing Your Garden

Before you set up your garden, you need to make specific preparations. In the preparation stage, you need to decide what type of indoor garden you want, where in your house it will be located, what plants you want, and how to control the environment.

Step #1: Decide The Type Of Garden – Container Gardens  Or Hydroponic Gardens

Type Of Garden
Hydroponic Gardens Container Gardens

There are generally two types of indoor gardens: container or planter gardens and hydroponic gardens. Indoor container gardening refers to traditional methods used to grow plants in a series of planters filled with standard gardening soil. Indoor hydroponic gardening refers to the type of indoor gardening where plants are grown in a series of special planters and use fertilized water and a non-soil starter.

Step #2: Find The Right Location For Indoor Garden

Right Location For Indoor Garden
Right Location For Indoor Garden

The success of your indoor garden is heavily dependent on its location. Ideally, you should build your garden in a place that will help the plants grow. Here are some pointers to help you pick the right location:

  • The area should have a lot of windows and plenty of sunlight. East-and-west-facing windows are the best for indoor plants. You should also be able to place your house plants near the window so they can absorb more sunlight and heat.
  • Avoid growing your indoor plants in rooms that have cold temperatures. Plants like heat as it helps them grow. Cold temperatures can hamper the growth of your indoor plants.
  • Don’t build your garden near air vents or fans, as they can dry out your houseplants and damage them.

Step #3: Control The Environment For Perfect Gardening In House

Control Environment For Perfect Gardening In House
Control Environment For Perfect Gardening In House

Indoor gardening allows you a great deal of control over the environment surrounding the plants. Although growing plants indoors involves a lot of work, the plants have a greater chance of success. In indoor gardening, you control the water frequency, air temperature, and soil condition. However, the degree of control you have will vary depending on the type of indoor gardening system you choose.

Here are some tools for your DIY indoor garden that you can use to control the environment:

  • Heating Mats- Use electric soil heating mats that will heat the planters from below. Most plants thrive when the soil temperature ranges between 75 to 85 °F or 24 to 29 °C. The heating mats will help regulate the temperature of the soil during the winter.
  • Drip Irrigation System- It can be difficult to water your plants regularly. Some even forget to water their plants for days. However, most plants need daily watering. Get a drip irrigation system to help you water your houseplants. A drip irrigation system is a series of tubes supplied to each plant. A timer turns the water supply on and off at fixed times of the day.
  • Lighting System- Sunlight is not always reliable if you live in places that receive a lot of rain or in colder regions. Even if you live in a sunny area, it is preferable to use an artificial lighting system. You can use speciality heat lamps or fluorescent light tubes to grow your indoor plants. However, the latter is considered a better choice as it is cheaper and also gives better results.

Step #4: Decide What Plants You Want For Your Indoor Gardening Set Up

Indoor plants
Indoor plants

Any plant, from flower plants or herbs to vegetables, decorative plants, and berries, can be grown with the container gardening method. However, you must choose the plants based on what type of garden you will be setting up in your house. Additionally, you must consider that some plants do well inside, and others don’t.

Here are some plants suited for an indoor garden:

  • Herbs like chives, parsley, oregano, sage, rosemary, thyme, basil, and bay.
  • Marigolds, cacti, succulents, peace lilies, and African violets.
  • Vegetables like mushrooms, beans, lettuce, and peas.
  • Fruits like strawberries.

Stage #2: Setting Up Your Indoor Garden

Once your preparations are complete, you can begin building your chosen type of garden and preparing your indoor garden set-up. The two types of gardens are container gardens and hydroponic gardens.

Type #1: Container Gardens

Container Gardening
Container Gardening

Planter or container gardens are an excellent choice for someone who might wish to rearrange their plants or eventually transfer them outside. This type of gardening can produce any type or size of the plant.

Step #1: Choose The Planters For Indoor Container Gardening

Planters For Indoor Container Gardening
Planters For Indoor Container Gardening

You can choose to go with traditional planters or unique DIY planters by repurposing plastic bottles or old vases. When starting with seeds, a small container will do, and when transplanting a plant, a container twice the size of the root ball is required. If not, use a container with drainage holes at the bottom, or just drill holes into any container. Line the bottom of your indoor plant pots or planter with rocks for extra drainage.

Here are some things to consider when preparing a container for gardening in the house:

  • Terra cotta pots are considered the most appealing option, but plastic containers retain moisture the best.
  • Repurpose old coffee cans or 1-litre plastic bottles as planters.
  • If you use wooden indoor plant pots, go for ones made of cedar or redwood instead of pine because these materials are more resistant to rot.
  • Avoid using chemically treated containers, as they can damage your plants.

Step #2: Prepare The Potting Soil For Container Gardening System

Prepare The Potting Soil
Prepare The Potting Soil

You can’t use regular soil from outside your house for an indoor garden for two reasons:

  • It is home to insects and diseases that can destroy your plants in the long run.
  • It often doesn’t have the right mix of sand and clay to achieve the ideal porosity.

Indoor gardening requires potting. You can buy it at the store or make it at home. The advantages of making the potting mix yourself are that you save money and are aware of its quality.

How Do You Make Potting Soil At Home?
  • Take one part vermiculite, one part coir peat, and two parts compost (available in garden supply stores).
  • Soak the coir peat brick in water to rehydrate it. Read the instructions that usually come with the coir peat and follow them when soaking the brick.
  • Mix the vermiculite well with the coir peat. Add this mixture to the compost.
  • Add half or one cup of worm castings to the mix, preferably before you fill the planters.

Step #3: Set Up Your Gardening System

Set Up Your Gardening System
Set Up Your Gardening System

Once the selected area is fitted with the environment control system and your planters are ready with the plants, place the heating mats underneath where the planters will sit. Then, arrange your planters over the heating mats.

You will need to group different types of plants based on their needs. For example, some plants will need more light, so you can group them together and separate them from the shade-loving plants. Adjust the output of your lights accordingly. If you want to grow a large garden indoors, build a shelf and connect it to your climate control and drip systems.

Purchase timers for your heating mats, lights, and drip systems so they are not on throughout the day.

Step #4: Maintenance Of Indoor Container Gardening

Maintenance Of Indoor Container Gardening
Maintenance Of Indoor Container Gardening

Maintenance is crucial for your plants if you want them to last for a long time. Here are some indoor garden makeover tips on what you should do:

  • Ensure that your plants get the right amount of heat, light, and water.
  • Don’t allow the soil temperature to fall below 70 °F (21 °C).
  • Move plants that are outgrowing their containers into bigger planters. You could also split them into more plants.
  • Separate plants that are wilting, dying, or have brown spots from the rest, in case they have a disease or pest. It will prevent pests or diseases from spreading to other plants.
  • Add fertilizer or compost to the planters once every few months to maintain the plant’s supply of nutrients. You can also add liquid fertilizer to your drip system once every few weeks.
  • Place your pots on trays of rocks to allow the drained water to provide humidity for the plants.

Type #2: Hydroponic Gardens

Hydroponic Garden
Hydroponic Garden

Hydroponic gardens are the best choice for those who want to grow many plants in a small area. Vegetable gardening at home is done using this method where no soil is involved, and instead, plants are grown in water with the required nutrients.

Step #1: Select A System For Indoor Hydroponic Gardening

Indoor Hydroponic Gardening System
Indoor Hydroponic Gardening System

Hydroponic gardens can be set up in a variety of ways, including a wick system, water culture, drip etc. However, they all generally follow the same practice of placing a water tank below the shelves of plants. The general design ideas for the hydroponic system is to feed fertilized water to the plants. Here, fertilized water fills a tank, which is then fed to the plants with the help of a pump system. The fertilized water filters down through the plants, and the excess flows into the original tank.

Step #2: Prepare The Planters For Indoor Gardening Set Up

Planters For Indoor Hydroponic Gardening
Planters For Indoor Hydroponic GardeningPlanters For Indoor Hydroponic Gardening

You can use any container as a planter for a hydroponic garden. Ensure they are not chemically treated and that they allow water to drain through the bottom. Drill holes into the bottom of the container if there isn’t sufficient drainage.

When deciding the number of holes to drill into the container, consider the speed of your pump. The container must be allowed to empty between pump cycles and fill with water while the pump works. Additionally, install overflow drains at the top of your containers to prevent them from flooding.

Unlike the container method, your containers don’t need a potting mix. Instead, fill the planters with the hydroponic substrate. The hydroponic substrate comprises expanded clay, coco coir, peat moss, and lava rocks.

Once that is done, plant the seeds as usual. If you are transplanting seedlings, water them heavily to prevent transplant shock.

Step #3: Set Up The Hydroponic System

Set Up The Hydroponic System
Set Up The Hydroponic System

If you are using a commercial hydroponics system purchased at a store, set it up according to the instructions on the package.

Follow these general directions if you are building one of your own:

  • Place the water tank on the bottom shelf, at least a few inches above the floor.
  • Place the planters on the shelves above the tank. Ensure that the planter closest to the tank is almost completely covering it. There shouldn’t be a large gap between the bottom of the container and the top of the tank.
  • Set up the water pump system to feed fertilized water to the plants.
  • Ensure that the lights are hung immediately above your plants. You can buy timers to control the lights and pump.

If you are having any difficulty setting up your hydroponic system or you find that the system isn’t working as intended, call a hydroponics expert for help.

Step #4: Maintenance Of Indoor Hydroponic Gardening

Maintenance Of Indoor Hydroponic Gardening
Maintenance Of Indoor Hydroponic Gardening

Just like you would with indoor container gardening, you must maintain the hydroponic system in order to keep your garden plants healthy. Test the level of nutrients in the water weekly. Add nutrients when necessary.

Drain out all the water from the system occasionally and replace it with fresh and fertilized water. It will prevent stale and possibly infected water from circulating through the plants.

By following the steps mentioned, indoor gardening for beginners will be fun.

For those who want a tiny patch of green in their house, you can try any of these other types of indoor gardening:

  • Herb garden
  • Air plant collections
  • Living walls
  • Terrariums

Indoor gardens can be a fulfilling hobby if you have a green thumb. We hope this article has given you an idea of how to go about building your garden indoors.

Now that you are fully prepared to set up your indoor garden look at some of the best indoor trees and plants you can grow indoors.

16 Best Indoor Trees And Plants To Grow In Your Living Room With Pro Tips

Image Courtesy: Image 3, Image 5(a), Image 5(b), Image 15

Author Bio

Andrea Noronha – Andrea Noronha is a content writer and editor with over 4 years of experience. Although she comes from a finance background, Andrea is passionate about blogging about interior design. Her other interests include travelling, baking, and digital marketing.

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