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Indoor Gardening

Top Tips for Gardening in an Apartment Without a Balcony

Gardening isn’t just for those with huge backyards. You can create your very own green space while living in an apartment. Whether you opt for vertical gardens, or smart gardens or keep it simple by growing microgreens or herbs in pots, there are plenty of ways to turn your passion for growing green into a reality. Wondering how to start gardening in an apartment without a balcony? 

This guide provides all the information you need to embark on your journey toward producing your edibles within the confines of your cozy space. 

Ready to get started? First, let’s shed some light (pun intended!) on the basic requirements for gardening in an apartment

Click and grow garden in an apartment. Vertical gardens are great for gardening in an apartment without a balcony

3 Things Needed For Gardening in an Apartment Without a Balcony

1. Maximizing Natural Light

The amount of light your apartment gets will be a big dictator of your indoor garden’s success. On a balcony, you can take advantage of natural sunlight, but indoors, you might have to provide supplemental lighting. 

If you’re lucky enough to have large, south-facing windows, simply putting the plants beside them will do the trick. You can also strategically place the plants in different positions throughout the day, depending on which spot gets the most light. 

On the other hand, if your apartment receives limited sunlight, such as during winter, go for artificial lighting. There are multiple options when exploring artificial lighting, ranging from LED to fluorescents. Research which lights best fit your unique space. 

Pro Tip: Plants tend to lean towards the bright light when growing next to a window. So, rotate containers frequently to ensure uniform light distribution and even growth. 

2. Choosing the Right Containers

You’ll come across many choices when choosing a container for your indoor plants. Size and drainage are the two most important considerations, followed by the container material.

For starters, look for lightweight, durable containers that are easy to carry or fit well in your space. If you’re considering a windowsill garden for example, this Buzzy Windowsill Grow Kit is an attractive and practical option.

Another tip is to choose containers slightly larger in size than the plant you want to grow. This will allow the roots to spread out, resulting in healthier plants than if compressed within the pot. 

Proper drainage is another factor for healthy plant growth. Ensure the container has ample drainage – or you can drill holes in it. Poor drainage can lead to water logging and root rot, causing the plants to die. On the contrary, the soil may dry out too quickly if the container has too much drainage. 

potted herbs and microgreens growing on a windowsill in an apartment

3. Soil Selection and Composition for Potted Plants

Soil is an integral part of plant care. Using ordinary garden soil doesn’t work for apartment gardening as it may not balance container plants’ nutrients and drainage requirements. 

Your indoor plants need to be potted, meaning you’ll need to put them in a well-draining potting soil instead of regular soil. 

Potting soil doesn’t compact in the pot. It’s light and fluffy and promotes air circulation around the roots for optimal growth. 

Two Options for Creating a Garden in an Apartment Without a Balcony

When it comes to gardening in an apartment without a balcony, you may be presented with a few options depending on the design of your apartment building. Where are the windows? Do they have ledges? Is there any roof access? Based on the answers, pick the best site for your green space. 

growing microgreens on a windowsill is a great option for gardening in an apartment without a balcony

Windowsill Garden

Windowsill gardens are a great option for those with minimal outdoor gardening space and are well-suited for smaller residences like apartments. Depending on its design, you can cultivate your windowsill garden either inside or outside the window. 

Outdoor windowsill gardens are the go-to option for apartments with window ledges or fixtures for attaching the window box. And even if there’s nothing to accommodate the window box, you can create stunning hanging gardens by using metal curtain rods to fix and hang your pots. 

Another option is to attach plant trays and window shelves to the inside of your window. Not only are these highly practical, but they also make beautiful room decorations. 

Indoor Apartment Garden

You don’t always have to rely on windows or balconies to enjoy indoor gardening. Smart Gardens and Vertical Gardens are promising choices when space is at a premium. 

man tending to his click and grow garden. Smart gardens are a great option for gardening in an apartment without a balcony

Smart Gardens: Click & Grow and Aerogarden

A smart garden is a fully automated gardening system that cares for itself once it’s set up.

Think of it as a capsule coffee machine but for plants! Instead of coffee pods, you pop little biodegradable plant pods into the garden system. The unit then waters itself and moderates the light according to the plants’ requirements – pretty cool right?

You simply have to add the pods and water, plug in the garden and let it grow. No mess, no guesswork, no dead plants!

Small and portable, these innovative units are perfect for apartments and condos. There are different sizes and models; the smaller ones can even fit comfortably on a countertop.

The leaders in the smart garden market are Click and Grow and Aerogarden. Many have found it helpful weighing up the pros and cons of both by reading my Click & Grow vs Aerogarden comparison article.

Vertical Garden: Garden Tower and Vardens

Vertical garden systems such as Vardens are another smart apartment growing solution that has made growing veggies in a small space possible and convenient for everyone. 

Affix these wall planters beside your window, or add them to your interior walls for additional growing space. 

More advanced systems, like Garden Tower, can even create their own compost! Perfect in an apartment situation where composting can be a challenge, the Garden Tower allows you to recycle your kitchen scraps into something new and nourishing.

garden towers grow many veggies and herbs. Perfect gifts for gardeners who have everything

Selecting the Right Plants: What Plants Grow Well in an Apartment

Once you’ve made all the big decisions about the location and container for your indoor garden, it’s time to move on to the next stage: what to plant in your indoor apartment garden. 

Remember to choose plants based on the space you have available, light conditions, and personal preferences (i.e. there’s no point planting vegetables you won’t eat!). 

Additionally, proper care in terms of watering, fertilizing, and pruning is crucial for a successful indoor edible garden.

These are the best plants, with their respective sunlight requirements, that you can rely on to cultivate a thriving space in your home. 

smart garden on a desk. Showing the space saving capability of a smart garden

KEY:

D = Direct Sunlight

D/PS = Direct Sunlight to Partial Shade

IND = Indirect Sun

IND/PS = Indirect Sun to Partial Shade

EDIBLE PLANTSPLANT VARIETIES & SUNLIGHT REQUIREMENTS
HERBSBasil – D
Mint – D
Parsley – D
Chives – D
Cilantro – D
Rosemary – D
Thyme – D
Oregano – D
Sage – D
Dill – D
MICROGREENS AND SPROUTSBroccoli sprouts – IND
Alfalfa sprouts –IND
Radish microgreens – D
Sunflower shoots – D
Pea shoots – D/PS
LEAFY GREENSSpinach – D
Lettuce – D
Kale – D/PS
Swiss chard – D/PS
Arugula – D
COMPACT VEGETABLESCherry  tomatoes – D
Mini bell peppers – D
Bush beans – D
Baby carrots – D
Dwarf zucchini or cucumber varieties – D
ROOT VEGETABLES IN CONTAINERSRadishes – D/PS
Beets – D
Carrots (short varieties) – D 
Potatoes (in a deep container) – D
INDOOR-FRIENDLY BERRIESStrawberries – D
Blueberries (dwarf varieties) – D/PS
Raspberry or blackberry bushes (compact types) – D/PS
EDIBLE FLOWERSNasturtiums – D/PS
Calendula – D/PS
Violas/Pansies – D/PS
Lavender (culinary varieties) – D
ALLIUMSGreen onions – D
Garlic (can be grown in pots) – D
DWARF FRUIT TREESCalamondin Orange Tree – D
Dwarf citrus trees (lemon, lime, or orange) – D
Dwarf apple tree – D
Dwarf fig tree – D
Patio peach tree – D

4 Tips For Gardening in an Apartment Without a Balcony

Gardening in an apartment without a balcony is different from outdoor gardening. To maximize the benefits and ensure a plentiful output, here are a few key tips to remember:

1. Remember to Water 

Indoor plant containers tend to dry out faster and must be watered every other day. These containers may lose water due to windy conditions, warm temperatures, or when housing a thirsty plant. 

To test, poke your finger an inch or two into the soil to check if it’s dry or moist, and then water accordingly.

a windowsill is a great place for gardening in an apartment without a balcony

2. Regular Fertilizing

Once the plants start growing, it’s a great idea to invest in a suitable organic fertilizer (like organic seaweed mix), compost and essential oils to provide them with the required nutrients and promote healthy growth. 

3. Look Out Below! 

Equally important as watering your plants frequently is to remain friends with your neighbors… Be sure to water your plants, especially the rail ones, at a time when there’s no one standing below your apartment window!

4. Don’t Forget to Drain

For your container plants, adequate drainage can make or break their health. Remember to use a container with enough drainage holes, and remember to remove the excess water periodically.

Final Words on Gardening in an Apartment Without a Balcony

With technology these days, there really is no reason why everyone can’t grow their own food – even for apartment dwellers! Gardening in an apartment without a balcony is a perfectly doable task that can freshen up your plate and your indoor space! Start small, be mindful of the location and lighting conditions, water regularly, and watch these plants bring life into your apartment. 

profile picture of Gabrielle

About the Author

Elle Reed is a passionate gardener and advocate for teaching beginner gardeners how to grow their own food. Elle’s mission is to inspire and empower people to get back to basics, grow their own produce, and embrace a sustainable lifestyle. “Whether it’s a few herb pots in an apartment, a potager or a full garden plot, we can all ‘start somewhere’ to grow our own food, and in doing so, provide healthier food for ourselves and those we love”.