Know, that there is a suitable plant for everyone. It might take some trial and error to find the perfect houseplant for your space. As the old gardening mantra goes: “Right plant, right place”. With patience and willingness to learn from mistakes, I think that anyone can succeed in growing a dignified houseplant even if you don’t believe that you have a green thumb.
A FEW THINGS TO CONSIDER:
1.) If you have pets, check that the indoor plants that you have in mind are pet-friendly. Not all plants are safe for cats and dogs.
2.) Estimate how much time and maintenance are you prepared to invest in your houseplants? Some plants need more attention and care than others.
3.) Determine where indoors you want to place the pot plant. Take into consideration the plants’ light requirements and also its size.
4.) Choose a suitably sized container for your plant. For indoor gardening, your plants will need quality potting soil and good drainage.
GROW AN INDOOR HERB GARDEN:
If you are a town dweller who wants to grow your food indoors, herbs are an excellent choice. Many herbs do great inside if you can provide the right light conditions for them. With a windowsill and a few well-draining pots, you can grow fresh herbs year round. There are even some fruit trees that will grow properly in a city apartment.
The advantage of growing your culinary herbs is that you will always have fresh herbs on hand that you can use to flavour food. Also, for those who are trying to eat less salt, adding herbs to a dish is a brilliant way to cut back on salt intake and still have deliciously spicy and flavourful meals.
1.) ENGLISH LAVENDER (LAVENDULA ANGUSTIFOLIA):
CHOOSE THE RIGHT CONTAINER: Lavender has a lovely aroma and will grow well in pots. They prefer slightly sandy soil that is well-drained. The container must be 20-25 cm deep, ideally terra-cotta.
ATTENDING TO YOUR PLANT: Lavender requires full sun for at least 6 hours per day. Thoroughly drench the plants when you water it and let drain thoroughly. Let the topsoil dry between waterings.
2.) THYME (THYMUS VULGARIS):
IN THE KITCHEN: You can use Thyme to flavour vegetables, tomato sauces, roasts, poultry, sausages, wild game, seafood dishes, salads, and teas. Thyme holds its flavour when added early in dishes that cook for a long while.
CHOOSE THE RIGHT CONTAINER: This hardy perennial herb does well indoors. A terra-cotta pot that is 20-25 cm deep is best. It needs to have drain holes at the bottom. Use a well-drained soil mixture that has equal parts soil, sand, and peat moss.
ATTEND TO YOUR PLANT: Place your plant in a warm and well-lit area. Thyme likes good light for at least 6 hours per day. Water thoroughly and let the topsoil dry between waterings.
3.) GREEK OREGANO (ORIGANUM VULGARE HIRTUM):
IN THE KITCHEN: You can use Oregano to flavour vegetables, spaghetti, meat dishes, tomato dishes, cheese dishes, poultry, shellfish, soups, and salads. Oregano has a strong flavour, but it doesn’t hold up during prolonged cooking. You can use fresh leaves as a topping on homemade pizza.
CHOOSE THE RIGHT CONTAINER: This hardy perennial do well in pots and can grow to about 20-30 cm high. Like all culinary Oregano, it has white flowers. It likes well-drained soil that has equal parts soil, sand, and peat moss.
ATTEND TO YOUR PLANT: Oregano needs full sun for at least 6 hours per day. Thoroughly drench the Oregano and let it drain. Water again when the topsoil has dried out.
4.) SWEET BASIL (OCIMUM BASILICUM):
IN THE KITCHEN: Basil has a sweet and spicy flavour. You can use the aromatic leaves of Sweet Basil to flavour tomato dishes, pesto, spaghetti, poultry, fish, soups, stews and salads.
CHOOSE THE RIGHT CONTAINER: Basil has bright green leaves that grow about 3-5 cm long. Terra-cotta containers are best, and it must ideally be 20-25 cm deep.
ATTEND TO YOUR PLANT: Basil is easy to grow and will thrive indoors given plenty of sunlight and warmth. But the leaves will fade and droop if the plant gets exposed to cold air. Remember to move your Sweet Basil away from cold windows during the winter. The earth has to be well-drained, fertile and moist. Water thoroughly and let the topsoil dry between waterings.
5.) SAGE (SALVIA OFFICINALIS):
IN THE KITCHEN: Use Sage to season lamb, veal, poultry, stews, vegetables and soups. It also compliments other culinary herbs like rosemary, thyme and oregano.
CHOOSE THE RIGHT CONTAINER: Sage has oblong, grey-green, woolly leaves. The soft flowers can be blue, purple or white. This flowering herb grows to a height of about 30 cm. When selecting a container, terracotta pots, 20-25 cm deep, are best. The ground needs to be well-drained and somewhat sandy.
ATTEND TO YOUR PLANT: Sage needs a minimum of 6 hours sunlight per day and plenty of warmth. Avoid placing your Sage near open windows or somewhere that it has a draft on it, and move it away from cold windows during the winter. Water thoroughly and let it drain well. Let the top soil dry before watering your Sage again.
6.) MEYER LEMON TREE (CITRUS MEYERI):
IN THE KITCHEN: The fruit is tender and juicy, and it has a subtler, sweeter flavour than citrus, with a slight orange flavour.
CHOOSE THE RIGHT CONTAINER: Meyer Lemon Trees have glossy green leaves and when the trees flower, the blooms are beautifully fragrant. They grow to a height of about 2-3 meters. The container must be at least 50 cm in diameter so that the roots have enough space to grow. This tree likes sandy, well-drained, and dry soil. Replant the tree every 3-4 years.
ATTEND TO YOUR TREE: These trees are hardy and low maintenance. They can grow indoors or outdoors, but need to be moved inside for the winter. Meyer Lemon trees need lots of direct sunlight, for at least 6 hours or more per day. Don’t put your tree too close to the window, or the leaves might burn. Water them once or twice a week, and make sure that the tree does not dry out. Let the topsoil dry between waterings. Mist the tree every other day with lukewarm water and don’t place the tree in a hot or cold draft.
So, if you feel like having a try at growing an indoor kitchen garden, then go for it. You might find that you love having fresh herbs on hand year round. And, if your plants aren’t looking too happy, try moving the pot about, until you find the perfect place for it. As the old gardening mantra goes:
“Right plant, right place”.
By ‘Simply A Small Potager’
1.) Jane Perrone, Jamie’s Jungle/ At Home with Houseplants in London, Gardenista, 2018.
2.) Rebecca Straus, The Very Best Indoor House Plants You can Buy, Apartment Therapy, 2018.
3.) 8 Best Indoor Plants & How To Take Care of Them, Architectural Digest, 2017.
4.) Leanne Walstow, A guide to virtually indestructible house plants, House & Garden