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“Complete Guide to Indoor Gardening + Top 3 Smart Gardens”

Indoor Tomato Garden

When the winter blahs set in and you’re dreaming of fresh greens from your summer garden, consider growing indoors.

Not only do plants cleanse your household air (read about Greens That Clean) and improve the aesthetics of any indoor space, they can provide your family with a wealth of yummy, organic foods.

City dwellers, or those without a good gardening spot in the yard, may find growing indoors especially useful.

Plants don’t need to take up much space — a windowsill is fine if that’s all you have. For others, the indoor garden may become starter plants for an outdoor garden come spring.

What to include in your indoor garden comes down to your gardening setup indoors.

Our guide will teach you everything you’ll need to grow all kinds of plants from vegetables and herbs, to flowers and fruits.

What is Indoor Gardening?

Indoor gardening can be something as simple as growing plants in a pot or two, to more elaborate setups growing different types of vegetables, fruits, herbs, and flowers.

Simply put, it’s the act of growing different produce inside your home that you would otherwise grow outside.

This could be due to many different reasons ranging from lack of outdoor space, cold temperatures outdoors that prevent growing your desired produce, to wanting to pick your own herbs indoors.

Regardless of your reasoning behind it, indoor gardening can be incredibly fun and rewarding to do.

With the right space and set up indoors, you can easily grow a wide range of plants inside the comfort of your own home. All you need to do is to make sure you pick plants that are suitable for the place you plan on growing them in.

There are two main ways you can garden indoors: the conventional way by creating your own setup or going for smart gardening kits that do most of the work for you.

Here at Planet Natural, we believe in providing you with all the information, ideas, and resources to have everything you need to do indoor gardening however you choose.

And so, we’ll discuss both styles of gardening indoors and at the end of the article, you’ll also share some great indoor gardening kits you can try.

Now you can enjoy growing indoors all year long! At Planet Natural, we’ve carefully selected only the best indoor gardening supplies — from lighting to hydroponics — to make your indoor growing experiences blossom. Got bugs? Check out our Pest Problem Solver for pictures, descriptions, and a complete list of earth-friendly remedies.

How to Get Started with Indoor Gardening

Indoor gardening may sound a little intimidating at first, but it’s incredibly easy once you get started.

There are a few things to consider when growing indoors. Let’s look at each of them in further detail:


An indoor garden can take up as much or as little space as you are willing to give it. Growing plants of all kinds, even tomato gardening can be done on a windowsill or on a table.

Larger growers or the more dedicated may want to set up a table or bench specifically for the garden.

Find an area with a tile or linoleum floor to catch the inevitable drops of water, or place a tarp under your table.

Shelves provide lots of planting room while taking up little space. If using shelves, make sure that adequate light reaches every plant. This may require a separate grow light for each shelf.


Plants need light to photosynthesize and need to photosynthesize to survive. Without adequate light, a plant will grow tall and spindly.

If there is enough energy to grow leaves, they still may not totally expand. And without enough light, don’t plan on seeing flowers or fruit.

Even plants grown near a window will probably not get enough light during the winter months to thrive.

There are a few things to think about when purchasing a grow light.

  1. Plants have photoreceptors that absorb specific wavelengths of light. Your light needs to have the same wavelengths as the sun, which is why a regular light bulb doesn’t work.
  2. The light should be as close to the plant as possible without burning the leaves.
  3. Most vegetables and other plants do best with 14-16 hours of sunlight or simulated light. There are a few ways you can tell if your plant is getting enough light or not. If it isn’t getting enough light, it usually will have small leaves, thin stems, and the color of the plant will be lighter than usual.
  4. A hormone called “florigen” controls budding and flowering. Long-day plants require about 14 to 18 hours of light to produce just the right amount of florigen to flower and reproduce. Short-day plants require about 10-13 hours of light. If short-day plants are exposed to too much light, florigen can be destroyed, preventing blooming.

Selecting a Grow Light

There are a lot of different grow lights for sale out there and it can be confusing to figure out which type is best for your indoor garden. The following run-down should bring some clarity:

Incandescent Lamps

Incandescent Lamps are inexpensive and can be bought at a hardware store or nursery. While they work OK for growing houseplants, they are not ideal for an indoor garden.

Fluorescent Lights

Fluorescent Lights work best for growing herbs and other plants that don’t require a lot of light. They are not good for plants that are budding or flowering because they don’t put off enough light. Inexpensive, they can be purchased at the local hardware or garden supply store.

The new Compact Fluorescent Systems, however, are quite bright and efficient and in some cases might even be better than the fancier high intensity discharge (HID) lights.

Compact fluorescents are smaller and more efficient than older forms of fluorescent lighting so they can be used for all plants. They also produce less heat than incandescent and HID lights and consequently can be placed much closer to the plant.

High-Intensity Discharge (HID) Bulbs

High-Intensity Discharge (HID) Bulbs are the brightest and most efficient lights available, but they can be expensive. One 1,000-watt grow light bulb can produce the same amount of light as 50 40-watt fluorescent lights.

If you’re looking for the best HIB bulbs, we recommend Hortilux HPS Bulbs.

They fine-tune your lighting system to provide optimum spectral energy levels (2100K) that promote vigorous plant growth and abundant yields.

They also provide 17% more total spectral energy and 25% more energy in the violet, blue and green spectrum than standard sodiums.

Types of HID Bulbs

There are several types of HID bulbs:

  • High Pressure Sodium
  • Metal Halide
  • Low Pressure Sodium
  • Mercury Vapor

The High Pressure Sodium and Metal Halide bulbs are the only ones indoor gardeners will need.

High Pressure Sodium (HPS) Bulbs produce a red-orange light that benefits flowering. With an average lifespan 2X that of metal halides, high pressure sodium lamps are economical.

However, this isn’t a great light if you are only going to use one, as it doesn’t produce light in the blue spectrum needed for leafy growth.

Metal Halide (MH) Bulbs produce a blue-white color that is conducive to encouraging leafy growth and keeps plants compact.

A bulb will last about 10,000 hours and produce up to 125 lumens per watt compared to 39 lumens per watt for standard fluorescent lights and 18 lumens per watt for standard incandescent bulbs.

This is a good light to start plants out with. When it comes time to flower, switch to a High-Pressure Sodium bulb.

There is more to a grow light than just the bulb. You can purchase the reflector, cord, ballast, bulb, and other parts separately, or buy a whole system that just needs to be plugged in

What Size Grow Light Do I Need?

This will vary depending on the mounting height of the reflector (how far above your plants the light is) and the size of your indoor garden.

In general, the following recommendations apply:

Size of Light
Area Coverage
Mounting Height
Above Plants
400 Watt no outside light
some sunlight
5′ x 5′ area
8′ x 8′ area
1 to 4 Feet
600 Watt no outside light
some sunlight
 7′ x 7′ area
10′ x 10′ area
1.5 to 5 Feet
1000 Watt no outside light
some sunlight
 8′ x 8′ area
12′ x 12′ area
2 to 6 Feet


If you want to read more on grow light coverage, check out our complete guide to learn everything you need to know about supplying adequate light coverage to your indoor plants.


Temperatures of 65-75°F are best for most plants. A variance of 10°F either way will probably be OK.

Plants that are too hot will be small and weak. Plants grown at too-cold temperatures may have yellow leaves that fall off.

Control cooling or heating within your growing environment with the Autopilot Cooling Thermostat (APCET).

Choose different day and night temperatures automatically maintained by the built-in photocell. Current conditions and set-points are shown via the easy-to-read LED display.


A lack of humidity in the house can be a challenge for indoor gardeners. Winter tends to be drier than summer, and if you run the heat in your house the problem is further compounded.

You know you have a low-humidity problem if:

  1. The tips of your leaves are turning brown
  2. Plants look withered or puckered
  3. Plants lose their leaves
  4. You’ve researched how much humidity your particular plant needs and it isn’t getting it.

To increase humidity:

  • Mist plants daily, or more often as needed. (Do not do this with hairy-leaved plants since the water hangs around longer and could cause disease.)
  • Place a tray of water near your garden (don’t put plants in the tray, this can lead to other problems). Fill the tray with lava rocks to increase surface area for evaporation.
  • Place plants close together to create a microenvironment with a higher relative humidity.
  • Run a humidifier (this might benefit your skin as well!).
  • Purchase an environmental controller, which can humidify or dehumidify depending on your needs.

Growing Medium

Indoor gardens benefit from a good planting medium — soil found outside is not appropriate, since it’s often too heavy and may contain weed seeds and insect pests.

Instead, look for a mix that is specific to indoor plants. A good growing media should remain loose and drain well, yet contain enough organic matter to hold nutrients and moisture.

Most commercial organic mixes will work well, or you can create your own. If you check out our guide on Potting Mix Recipes to learn how.

If you’re looking for a great option, we recommend FoxFarm® Ocean Forest Soil. It is ready to use right out of the bag and provides the ideal environment for young seedlings to become thriving plants.

Lightweight and well-aerated, it’s the perfect all-natural mix for container grown plants!


Instead of growing indoor plants in a soil mixture, you may want to try out hydroponics. Basically, this means gardening without soil.

Soil holds nutrients and anchors plants’ roots. When growing hydroponically you provide the nutrients directly.

Instead of being bound up in soil, the nutrients are readily available to the plants.

Some of the advantages of growing hydroponically include:

  • Faster plant growth (up to 50% faster) since plants can easily access water and food.
  • Roots grow throughout the media without becoming root bound, so containers can be smaller.
  • Plants start in a disease-free medium and are less likely to become infected.
  • If plants do become sick, the disease is usually in one plant, not all of them.
  • Plants droop before they wilt, so you’ll know to water them before they are damaged.

Check out the Hydroponics Glossary at www.hydrofarm.com. Hydrofarm is the nation’s oldest and largest manufacturer of hydroponics equipment and grow lights. We offer many of their products here at Planet Natural.

Choosing Plants

Almost anything can be grown indoors — as long as it eventually doesn’t get too big.

However, do consider growing plants with similar light, humidity, and watering needs together.

Some obvious choices for an indoor garden include:


Salad Greens
Tomatoes, especially cherry types
Beans, Bush
Shasta Daisy
Apples, dwarf varieties


Don’t stop there, as mentioned above, almost anything — fruits, flowers, herbs and vegetables — can be grown in a container.

Plants can be grown from seed (started inside and staying inside) or they can be transplanted from your outdoor garden at the end of the season.

Plants will need to be acclimated before bringing them in the house and again when you put them outside in the spring or fall.

How to Move Plants Outside

Plants and seedling grown inside need a period of ‘hardening off’ before they can permanently live outdoors.

The hardening off process gives them time to develop a thicker cuticle and avoid water loss while being better able to withstand the harshness of weather.

The following steps will help acclimate indoor plants to life in the great outdoors.

  1. 7-10 days before you want to transplant your plants, place them outside in a shady spot or cold frame for 3-4 hours.
  2. Each day, increase the time spent outdoors by 1-2 hours. Bring plants back in each night.
  3. After 2-3 days, place plants in morning sun, then move them into the shade in the afternoon.
  4. If the temperature stays around 50°F, plants should be able to stay out all day and night after 7 days.
  5. In about 7-10 days transplant your seedlings or plants. If possible, transplant on a cloudy day and water thoroughly.

To acclimate plants by withholding water or by using a cold frame, read How to Harden Off Plants.

How to Move Plants Inside

At the end of the growing season you may want to move plants inside to your indoor garden.

After potting these plants (if they are not already in containers) they will need a period of acclimation, just as plants going the other direction do.


Now that your garden is planted and growing, it’s time for the watering, staking, pruning and overall general care to begin. Ahhh! The fun stuff. Need help? Our expert guides will ensure that your favorite crop is a huge success.


Plants grown in containers dry out more quickly than their soil-grown counterparts and require frequent watering (see Watering Potted Plants).

Always use room-temperature water and add enough water that it runs through the drain holes of your pot or container (do not let water collect in a saucer or under the plant — this can lead to rot or disease).

Use your finger to feel the soil or use a moisture meter to be sure you are not over or under-watering plants.

Signs of Overwatering Signs of Under Watering
Wilting from stem towards leaves Wilts along the outer tips of the leaves first
Lower leaves dropping Dry soil
Discoloration Brown edges along the leaves
Plant might stop growing Wilting foliage
Wilting foliage Leaves or flowers drop prematurely


Do you have a hard time remembering to water the plants? Read How To Make a Self Watering Garden or How to Make a Self-Watering Seed Starter in Ten Minutes to learn how to start a garden that waters itself.

Fertilizer/ Nutrients

Plants grown indoors will need an extra boost of nutrients or fertilizer since most of the nutrients in the soil or growing medium are quickly taken up by the plants or leached out during watering.

Organic fertilizers and hydroponic nutrients for indoor plants abound. Follow the instructions on the package for how much to use and how often to fertilize.

If you compost at home, you can make a compost tea to water your indoor plants. Here’s how:

  1. Fill a bucket about 1/3 full with finished compost.
  2. Add water until the bucket is full.
  3. Let the bucket sit for a few hours, if not three or four days (don’t let it freeze!).
  4. Using cheesecloth or a fine screen, strain the mixture into another container. (Anything leftover can be thrown into the garden or back into the compost bin.)
  5. Add water to the liquid until it is the color of weak tea.
  6. Apply the compost tea to the soil around your plants.


Growing Indoor Plants with Success (PDF) – To be a successful indoor gardener, you need to understand how the interior environment affects plant growth and how cultivation differs from growing plants outdoors (University of Georgia Cooperative Extension).


Top 3 Smart Gardens for Indoor Gardening

Indoor gardening is incredibly rewarding, but it does require some time. If you’re usually short on time but still crave an indoor garden, you can try out these indoor gardening kits!

With their built-in self-watering systems and LED grow lights, these smart gardens require virtually no maintenance or attention. They also come in various different sizes and are designed to grow different types of produce.

Here are our top 3 picks of the best smart gardens in 2022:

Click & Grow Smart Garden 3

Click and Grow Smart Garden 3


This great smart garden unit is small but efficient. It’s the perfect size for growing essential herbs such as basil, chives, mint, or salad greens in the kitchen.

It’s incredibly simple to operate, and a great choice for someone entirely new to gardening. It comes with self-contained seed pods, LED grow lights and a water tank that you need to refill once every 3 to 4 weeks.

The Click & Grow Smart Garden 3 measures only 11.8 inches by 4.5 inches, which makes it the perfect size to fit on top of your kitchen garden.

This particular unit itself comes with 3 basil pods, but you can pick from a bunch of different salad greens, fruits, and vegetable seed pods from their website. The price starts from $9.95 onwards for 3 pods.

But in case you’re looking for a bigger size, don’t worry! Click & Grow comes in various different sizes from the Smart Garden 9 which holds 9 seed pods, to all the way to 27 seed pods with Smart Garden 27.  We cover every model they make in Click and Grow Products: A Complete Guide for Beginners.


Aerogarden Harvest

AeroGarden Harvest

AeroGarden is a great brand and one of the leaders in the market. Their smart gardens come in many different sizes from small ones that can fit on your countertop, to larger units that can grow up to 20 plants at a time.  We cover everything model in AeroGarden Products: A Complete Guide for Beginners.

It also happens to be the brand with the most widespread availability, making it a great option when you’re looking for replacement pods at your local garden centers and stores.

The Harvest is a great option to start with and you can grow 6 plants at a time. There are 4 different 6-pod options you can pick from when purchasing this unit, including an herb seed kit which comes with thyme, curly parsley, dill, Thai basil, Genovese basil, and mint.

It also comes in three different colors to choose from and has simple illustrated buttons to help care for your plant. With up to 12 inches of grow height, it’s a great unit to grow herbs, lettuces, cherry tomatoes, etc.


Rise Gardens Single Family Garden

Rise Gardens Personal Garden

If you’re looking for a stylish indoor garden to match your modern interior, Rise Gardens Single Family Garden is a great choice!

This unit comes with a self-fertilizing and self-watering system and is completely hydroponic, which means it doesn’t come with any soil pods that you’ll need to handle.

It comes with a 5-gallon water tank and LED lights which can all be controlled and monitored through their integrated app. The app tracks plant growth and will let you know when to adjust nutrients, water, and light. Plus, you can even control this unit with Alexa!

You’ll need 36” by 16” space for this unit along with power access. It’ll allow you to grow 12 plants at a time, but you can also add levels to increase the shoot capacity for a steady supply of fresh herbs or greens.

What sets this one apart from others on the list is that it’s built with a solid wood design, along with heavy-gauge steel, which makes it look a lot like a modern piece of furniture rather than a small smart garden unit.

If that’s too big for you, you can go for their Personal Garden unit which is great to grow a small herb garden, microgreens, or salad greens at home.

But, instead, if you’re looking for a really big system, their Triple Family Garden can hold more than 100 plants!

Related Articles:

AeroGarden Products: A Complete Guide for Beginners

AeroGarden Harvest Review: How to Setup and Is It Worth It?

AeroGarden Harvest Elite: Is it Better Than the Harvest?

Complete Guide to AeroGarden Bounty: Is it Worth the Price?

Click and Grow Products: A Complete Guide for Beginners

Complete Garden Tower Project Review: Should You Buy It?

10 Best Indoor Garden Systems of 2023 + Factors to Consider

How to Grow an Indoor Vegetable Garden: A Beginner’s Guide

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33 Responses to ““Complete Guide to Indoor Gardening + Top 3 Smart Gardens””

  1. Pattiemelt on October 3rd, 2013 at 3:44 pm #

    You didn’t include LED lights in your section on lighting. LED grow lights are now available in full spectrum or in red, blue or white so you can have different lighting for plants that are in different stages (seedlings, budding, blooming, fruiting, etc). They give off little to no heat so can be placed closer to the plants & use less electricity than other lights. Plus they don’t contain mercury so are safer & better for the environment than fluorescents. They may be a little more expensive than fluorescents, but they last up to 50 years so they pay for themselves in electricity savings & in longevity.

    • aquaponic grower on February 5th, 2014 at 10:03 am #

      If you want an led that actually puts off enough lumens, they will actually put off a lot of heat. Leds that are strong enough to benefit photo syn. Require heat sinks on the diodes because of the amount of heat generated. Cooler leds do not provide enough lumens to benefit the plant as much as a simple cfl and the cfl is way cheaper. Wait until leds progress a few more years. Most of the leds on the market now are a waste of money and pure hype.

      • Anonymous on September 1st, 2014 at 7:38 am #

        Totally agree. LEDs are way too expensive right now. CFLs, though not as efficient, IMO are the most cost effective way to grow indoors right now (depending of course on several other variables.)

      • Coral Brune on May 10th, 2017 at 12:35 pm #

        I’ve recently heard there was a report on LEDS that says they are damaging to the human eye. So I at least would wait to spend money on them for growing lights.

      • Nicolas Blair on August 22nd, 2018 at 10:54 pm #

        When I’ve completed your post, I first thing came into my mind was LEDs. I agree that LEDs are a bit expensive. But I disagree with your point regarding heat. I’m using LEDs for my herb garden and they’re doing pretty well i must say.

        I’m using Advanced Platinum Series P300 for my 3′ X 4′ of grow space and quality of light is just fabulous. One of my friend is using Viparspectra PAR600 and he’s experiencing good quality. If you can stretch your budget upto 150$ then you can get a life long companion and better results. That’s my experience.

  2. Cindi Mason on December 1st, 2014 at 10:35 am #

    How will the tomatoes be pollinated?

    • E. Vinje on December 1st, 2014 at 10:43 am #

      Tomatoes are self-pollinators. Each blossom contains all it needs to produce fruit — it has both male and female parts. Usually a bit of wind supplied by a fan — or a light shake — is all it needs. This article should help:


      • MOOSE on November 28th, 2016 at 12:17 pm #

        I used this for a research report.

  3. Elizia on January 21st, 2015 at 8:21 am #

    Do Vegetables Taste Better Grown Outside or Inside in a Grow Tent? I live in an apartment and I am trying to figure out whether it is better to grow my plants in a grow tent with an HID light or outside on my balcony. I want to make sure that growing inside of a grow tent with a sun lamp and potting soil mixture does not change the flavor of my vegetables. My balconies are very shady and I’m trying to get the best quality and taste from my crops.

  4. Shelli on February 18th, 2015 at 11:30 am #

    Are strawberries, blueberries and lemons self pollinators as well?

    • Brynn on August 11th, 2016 at 1:08 pm #

      Most blueberry varieties require another plant to cross-pollinate. Strawberries and lemons are self-fertile but it’s a good idea to hand-pollinate using a q-tip.

  5. Nancy on March 14th, 2015 at 10:18 am #

    Wow, I’m excited. Just found your website. i didn’t know I could grow so much indoors, when my house is so shaded. Can’t wait to get started. …and you really give the details, which is very necessary, because I don’t have a clue about what I’m doing, but veg. and fruit are the larger portion of what I eat and, due to health, I’ve needed to go organic! : )
    Thank you for sharing your knowledge and experience! : )

  6. Lori on April 6th, 2015 at 8:26 pm #

    I am currently growing my garden inside, I have planted green beans, beets, mustard greens, bell peppers, 3 types of tomatoes, zucchini, tigger melons, watermelons, squash, 13 types of herbs, a apple tree, lemon tree and a orange tree, as well as raspberries and 10 different strawberries. I am so excited each morning to go in and see the growth of all the different fruits and veggies. The trees are dwarfs so they will be beautiful and fragrant by the patio door. My grand kids all have their own pots and are also growing their own veggies. Nothing like an indoor garden year round.

    • juli on July 9th, 2015 at 3:19 am #

      Lori, that’s awesome! I am looking to do the same thing since I have the space in my home and our winters here in PA are long. Do you mind sharing what method you use? hydroponics, soil?

  7. Brii on April 26th, 2015 at 12:08 pm #

    For the record: a tomato is not a vegetable, it is a berry that is classified as a member of the fruit family of edible plants.

  8. Armando Sanchez on June 22nd, 2015 at 3:28 am #

    Great information, I will start planting this week with your advise thanks.

    Question, growing in volcano ash, is this tougher and if so how will veggies taste?

  9. Hollee on March 1st, 2016 at 8:48 pm #

    I started growing tomatoes peppers and zinnias about a week ago and with my flourecent grow light 5 zinnias already have broke through the soil! It’s so exciting to see their growth!

  10. Lois Sandbourne on March 7th, 2016 at 9:07 pm #

    Great to see so many people embracing indoor gardening! We have self watering pots to make it even easier. I know from personal experience that herbs need a bit of attention (At least, here in Australia where it’s warmer) and even a day or two of neglect can push back your growing progress.

  11. Jane on May 11th, 2016 at 5:15 am #

    I am moving to bush Alaska to teach an want to grow vegetables in my apartment. Can someone guide me to quality information on what I would need and how I would do it? Thank you!

  12. joanne franklin on June 18th, 2016 at 11:15 am #

    Indoor gardening can be a bit more complex than outside gardening but you can watch them grow to big, beautiful plants with great lighting, feeding and watering.

  13. Dennis on July 28th, 2016 at 1:13 pm #

    I want to add garden plants to my biology classroom. Any thoughts. Also, if you were to plant tomatoes, for example, would they continue to produce all year, or do they need to be replaced after a harvest?

  14. KM9788 on August 7th, 2016 at 8:36 pm #

    I am beyond excited that I found this website. I teach a combined grade 3-4 class in Alberta, Canada, and really want to grow a ‘salsa garden’ in my classroom. Grade 4 Science is Waste in Our World & Plant Growth and Changes. If we can manage it we will grow tomatoes, onion, garlic, peppers, and cilantro. I plan to turn an old fish aquarium into a green house and purchase a grow light. All of the information is a God send!

    Does anyone know how long it may take for each of these to grow? I would like for them to be ready all around the same time and assume I’ll have to stagger their planting depending on their grow time.

  15. Dan on April 13th, 2017 at 6:27 am #

    Could you please suggest some pre-made indoor gardening systems?

  16. Coral Brune on May 10th, 2017 at 12:39 pm #

    In central coastal California i am starting indoor cherry tomatoes at a 10 ft high 8 foot wide set of 3 windows facing west. Is this enough light and warmth?

  17. esther on May 25th, 2017 at 11:37 am #

    I just bought a kale seedling from home depot last week and it’s end of may already. I am new to planting and just read that it is almost harvest time for kale but my seedling is still so small, only 3 leaves. Will I still be able to plant it indoor in a pot throughout the summer and have a harvest in couple months? I was hoping to buy my first seedling and then get seeds from it for next season =(

  18. RDSWYSD4 on October 31st, 2017 at 10:44 am #

    I have been indoor gardening for quite a few years now. I use compact fluorescent to supplement a SW corner window area in the home. I just use bins full of soil as a medium. Websites often show pictures of these giant plants with Beefsteak tomatoes hanging off of them etc. Now, this is possible, but keep in mind you totally need perfect conditions, lighting etc to make this possible. I have whittled my indoor garden down to just a few tried and true “sure things” that will definitely provide some fresh produce throughout the winter on a budget (minimal lighting expense etc). Lettuce of any variety thrives indoors. Once mature I have enough with one 24″ row to provide 2 nice sized salads per week. Radishes do great inside, but don’t always expect big plump ones. Carrots do okay indoors but like with radishes, don’t expect enough to supply your juicing habit. Cilantro! Why get that “mystery cilantro” from the grocery store that you bring home only to find it half rotten and flavorless. Kale does amazing indoors and you can have baby kale in your salad all winter. These are just some of my successes. There are many failures like tomatoes, beans, peppers, etc. Yes, it is possible to grow these, but you really need the lighting and warmth, etc. So, don’t get your hopes up too high for indoor gardening. But don’t be discouraged either. I highly recommend planting some of the tried and true “sure things” mentioned above while experimenting with other crops. It is so gratifying to shun the nasty grocery store product in the winter and have your own. It’s relatively inexpensive, loads of fun and adds “life” to the home in the winter. Thanks for all of the great info!

  19. Cindy on November 30th, 2017 at 7:18 am #

    Hello. Everyone talks about indoor gardening with veggies but what about just plain old beautiful house plants?

    My house sadly is dark. Which is why all my plants die. I thought my window was enough but it isn’t. I have the usual ivy plants (the green ones that usually trail), snake plant, and several others that don’t flower but are very green.

    I’m going to build a table about 2-3 ft high and about 3ft. long. I’m going to pick out a nice spot sort of near a window in my living room. My problem is finding the right light or lamp since it’s in my living room, the LED is too blinding, the fluorescent work shop type is too tacky to be in my living area.

    Are there a floor lamps or lamps that are pretty to look at? And what is the best bulb? Do I need red and blue or can I get away with just a white grow bulb?
    Thanks in advance!

  20. Michelle on December 28th, 2017 at 10:24 pm #

    I am considering growing flowers inside. I love to garden. I live in Boston where winters are long, especially after the holidays. I have read a little about indoor gardening. Your site has great information. However, I still am confused. From my understanding you need HID Grow lights, ability to control temperature and humidity, soil, nutrients, pots, etc. I have looked at the cost of the lights and tents and they are not cheap. Can you make your own “tent?” I am knowledgeable on HVAC systems, owned a HVAC business. The picture above with the light, hood, and flex resembles a HVAC furnace, supply and return lines. Also, read about fans to blow the heat out of the tent.

    Could you suggest the best economical way for starting plants inside to be planted in my garden. I have a basement but it’s cold and water comes in if it rains a lot. The floor has ledge in some areas, no insulation and the foundation is old (rock and concrete). I have a shed that is fairly large but I would have to run electrical cords. I read the tents are waterproof with floors. I don’t get a lot of water in my basement. It just gets a little wet in some areas. Is there a DIY type of system? Any advice would be greatly appreciated. I am also concerned about fire. Is there a risk of fire? I’m looking for a beginners set-up that is small. Thank you for sharing your knowledge of indoor gardening.

  21. Lee Stovin on February 5th, 2018 at 2:50 pm #

    I have done a lot of indoor gardening this year planting under grow lights and in window sills. Pepper, chills, tomatoes, strawberries, peas, cucumbers, melons, basil, lettuce and pumpkins do well.

    I can’t wait until the growing season so I can grow outdoors too.

  22. Carol on September 2nd, 2018 at 10:26 pm #

    It is a great idea to do indoor gardening with LED grow lights.
    Nice Blog.

  23. Phil Martin on June 17th, 2019 at 12:14 am #

    This is a thoughtfully put together article, well done. I particularly liked the table grouping indoor fruit and veg by light, humidity and water needs (haven’t seen this before). Also agree with RDSWYSD4, you have to accept the occasional failure if you take this up as a hobby. We’re fervent believers growing food at home isn’t just for those with gardens.

  24. Jenny Tvorogova on June 26th, 2019 at 10:47 pm #


    I love this post! I need some help though!

    I started indoor gardening last year with herbs, and they all did well. I’m now experimenting with vegetables too, and have them (veggies and herbs) set up on plant shelves (alternating directions so they all get light). They’re by three windows in my living room, and I have LED grow lights for the veggies. I run the ceiling fan in the living room 24/7 for ventilation, and there’s a window A/C unit in the third, right window – I keep the “warmer” plants further from the unit and the “cooler” plants closer, but make sure that they’re never getting hit by the air. The temps if I’m home are 68-72, but if I’m at work (when the ac doesn’t run) they can climb up to 78-80. I have bug paper on all of the windows, and another on the shelves where the veggies are (the veggie one has been catching a lot of little flies, but I’m not sure what they actually are). And I have an electric light bug zapper unit, on the floor beneath the veggies, that I throw on as the sun begins to set, or if I notice something flying around (it’s been frying up a handful of brown moths, which I’m not sure if they’re pest related, or if they’re the casual summer time attracted to a light kinda deal). As for the watering, I’ve been checking the plants daily with moisture meters (2 meters, from different companies that read similarly), and keeping a log to learn their patterns. I water all of the plants from below, either when they’re almost dried out, or when they’re about to begin drying out, depending on whether the plant prefers dry or moist conditions. I mist a few of the plants that like high humidity, daily, when the sun is setting. Everything is grown from seed, that I got from Lowes or Home Depot. All of the veggies started out on heat mats that I kept on a table, further from the windows, and were then moved in front of, and under grow lights (brightness going up as they grew, to prevent burning.. or shocking). The lights run on a timer from 7 am to 7 pm, and are about 12-18″ away from the leaves (which is what the manual recommended). When planting the seeds, I amended the soil for each plant to make sure it was fit for that plant: after testing with a kit, I mixed in soil acidifier (for a few of the veggies), so that the soil was within the required PH range and I rechecked the PH of all of the plants as they began sprouting. At planting time, I also mixed in perlite into the soil for those plants that required either good drainage, or looser soil, or preferred to be more on the dry side. I also mixed in sand (usually with the perlite), to aid in those requirements. I mixed in cow manure, for those that required fertile soil, rich soil, or a heavier soil, or moist soil. I dressed the soil with gravel, if the plant was “cool”, or if it preferred moist soil – leaving pockets for where the seedlings would emerge. I ended up removing the gravel from all of the plants in the following weeks though – initially worried about the seedlings getting damaged accidently, and then worrying that the gravel, and the soil underneath, wet, dark, and with all of those little crevices, would make a perfect breeding ground for pests (that I also wouldn’t even be able to see). I ended up using gravel underneath the larger pots, on the saucers, to aid soil aeration and to help keep from wet feet.

    Sooooo… all in all, I’m trying to stay on top of making sure every plant has its ideal environment – ESPECIALLY with the veggies, because I’m a beginner, and because they’re more complicated to grow (especially indoors).

    Alas, I’m having trouble..

    So, today, I noticed a few aphids and/or thrips on the veggies… and so, I’m wondering if it’s okay that my indoor garden “design” remains as is, as long as I’m keeping the pests in check – or if I should separate the vegetables (they’re in different pots, but the pots are all in the same area) throughout the house? I don’t know if having the veggies in the same area, puts them in greater danger, of not producing (or worse), since they’re prone to similar pests – and I don’t know if I’m making it more likely for other plants (not usually prone to these pests) to get them too? I’m also worried, that if there’s a disease , that it’ll spread easier… not only because of the plants’ proximity to one another, but because of the air circulation in the room. Is it better to keep them as is, because this is where I can provide the best conditions, and because it creates an “ecosystem” ???

    I’ve also been reading about companion planting, and am wondering if placing particular herbs (that deter these pests) in between the veggies would help? Does companion planting only work if the plants are in the same pot, or is having the plants physically close (pot to pot) enough? Everything is in its own pot, except for a few companion pairs (peas with radishes in a window box, and carrots growing on the outer edges of a 12″ pot, awaiting a tomato plant, (which is still growing in a 4″ pot) that I’m going to transplant in the center of the carrots, when it’s 6-8″ tall.

    I’m also wondering if the soil itself might be the issue… When I began planting this spring, I was using MiracleGrow potting soil, with a ~1″ layer of MiracleGrow Seed Starting Mix on top (for seeds). I had planted most of my plants in MG, and then one night I noticed gnats jumping on the soil of one of my plants. It was a strawberry plant that I bought, transplanted into MG , and had been watching die for three weeks. It was also my first plant, of my more-than-an-herb gardening journey, and not knowing ANYTHING, I couldn’t tell if I had bought a bad plant, bad soil, if I had transplanted it incorrectly, or what. I cut it down to its two healthiest leaves… I messed with the soil level… I got moisture meters…I got grow lights… Finally, it started to regrow… and then it stopped…then it stayed as it was for a week… and then it started dying, again. And then, I threw it away.

    I was worrying that my gardening journey was going to end before it even began… I researched pests, diseases…trying to figure out how to prevent this from happening again. This is when I came across an article that said MG is the last thing on earth you should be growing with, and switched to an organic mix. I finished my planting with this mix, and now have both MG mix pots and organic mix pots. I haven’t seen any gnats since throwing away the strawberry plant (with MG mix), but could the MG mix still be cause of these new pests? Could it have started a chain reaction, unseen to the human eye…where problems that seem unrelated, are actually just that?

    And finally, my last worry is with the soil in my 10″ and 12″ pots… How do I manage these deeper pots, and the soil’s moisture? If the soil is dried out in the top two inches, but is still moist at the bottom, how do I simultaneously make sure that my young plants don’t dry out, and that the soil doesn’t become waterlogged…leading to root rot, and pests and disease?

    Any advice would be appreciated.

    Thanks so much! ?

    – Jenny

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