The perfect garden isn’t about space – you can grow beautiful plants just about anywhere. You can even grow your own vegetables, fruits, and herbs right in your Charlottesville apartment! With a little preparation, you can create the perfect apartment garden rather easily.
Map out your apartment and plan the best places for your plants. Think about sunlight, water access, and how heavy the containers you’ll use might be. Start simply with some creative containers and plant your favorite herbs to begin your indoor garden.
Find out what the plants you want to grow need to thrive. Plants need as little as 4-6 hours of full sunshine, or, like most fruiting and flowering, they may crave 6-8 hours of direct sunlight. Arrange your plants with care: tomatoes are best on balconies, rooftops, and in hanging pots. Herbs can get everything they need in an apartment kitchen window. If necessary, use a sun lamp to increase the amount of sun plants receive and widen your planting options.
High quality potting mix is your best choice and should drain well in containers. A light weight mix will prevent your containers from becoming too heavy to move. It’s also sterile, an important detail in an apartment garden – you don’t want to get sick from bacteria in your garden. Good potting soil maintains pockets of air to allow roots to absorb water and grow, which is vital in smaller containers.
Water indoor plants often – they tend to dry out faster than plants in the ground. Some varieties may require watering twice daily. Place your garden near a water supply to prevent the need to lug heavy watering cans around. You might want to purchase a shrinking hose that can be attached to your sink to make watering easier.
Hanging and potted plants that are outdoors do not get enough water from rain showers – they must be watered, sometimes more than once a day. If your potting contains fertlizer, you probably won’t need to feed your plants very often if ever. If your soil is not fertilized, you will want to use water soluble fertilizer to feed your plants.
Use a sprayer bottle to spritz your plants a few times every day to maintain ideal humidity for apartment plants. Plants that are on a balcony or hanging outdoors should be monitored for wind damage. You may need a wind shield to prevent plants from drying out too quickly or sustaining heavy leaf damage.
Containers can be very heavy when they are full of soil and water. Window sill planters and window boxes should be fully secured to the window sill so that they cannot damage the sill. If you plant on a balcony or rooftop, check with the apartment management about how much weight the structure can handle.
Seeds are a fun and easy way to start your garden, but if you want to start your garden immediately, try buying small plants. Here are a few suggestions about plants that might do well in your apartment:
Herbs – Herbs are perfectly happy in containers. Some kitchen favorites include parsley, chives, mint, thyme, basil, and lavender.
Salad Greens – Lettuces grow quickly and put out shallow roots, and do well in low light as long as they are well watered. Try Spinach, Bibb lettuce or Arugula.
Chile Peppers – Peppers produce fruit year round, grow famously well in pots, and tolerate lower light conditions.
Strawberries – Although strawberries require a lot of sun, a nice sunny window sill can produce a pretty (and delicious) batch of plants. Be sure to use pots that are 12” deep.
Tomatoes – Tomatoes grow well in containers, although the plants can be heavy and require a lot of light. They do best in 30” diameter pots or larger and on balconies, although hanging pots with a sturdy hook can produce very nice results.
Harvest frequently – apartment gardeners are sometimes shy about harvesting, hoping for a larger harvests or fearing that harvesting will harm plants. Harvesting actually stimulates the plant to set more flowers and create more fruit, so enjoy the bounty of your Charlottesville apartment garden regularly!