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Fox Around the House

Bring the outdoors inside: Horticulture in the home

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Take the dirt out of the dirty work with 'just add water' seeding kids. (Seedsheets)

Gardening isn’t a chore, it’s a privilege. Unfortunately, not everyone is blessed with big backyards.

That’s when interiorscaping comes in handy. This form of landscaping indoors is perfect for people with green thumbs who don't have a lot of outdoor space. Fresh flowers in the foyer, organic herbs in the kitchen and even fruit trees are not outside the realm of possibility when it comes to harvesting indoors. 

But before you start planting, here are a few things to keep in mind.

Where to plant. 

“Thoughtful planning is what distinguishes the art of interiorscaping from simply collecting or tending to a few houseplants,” says Missy Henriksen, VP of Public Affairs at the National Association of Landscape Professionals. Important considerations include size of the plants and space, average room temperature, access to lighting and proximity to pets. You’ll also want to place plants that act as natural air purifiers and release a lot of oxygen in rooms you spend the most time in. Plants in guest rooms or seldomly frequented spaces are easier to forget about and often get neglected.

While windowsills seem like convenient spots for herbs and small plants, keep in mind they can get pretty cold at night. For aesthetic appeal, work with a professional designer to select containers and arrange them appropriately to optimize the feng shui factor. Henriksen suggests staggering container heights for a striking effect and grouping minimalist plants for a modern, structured look. 

Caring for indoor plants.

The biggest mistake indoor gardeners make is over watering. It’s hard not to want to water a living thing you walk by several times a day. Still, unless the soil is dry to the touch, you should leave it alone. 

When it comes to soil, don’t use soil from your backyard as that is a good way to bring bugs into your home. Buy well-drained potting mix to ensure pools don’t form and cause root rot—a problem that is more prevalent in indoor plants where drainage is poorer. Occasional cleaning is also important as dust which settles on plants can block out essential light. 

“Some people believe in cleaning dirty plants by putting them in the shower. This method does work, but you have to get the water temperature just right, room temperature, and it can get messy,” says Melissa Bessey, a mom of three who works from home and tries to maintain the best air quality possible since she spends so much time there. Bessey recommends relying on a fresh damp sponge for spot cleaning.  

Kits make it easy.

It’s practically impossible to plant anything without getting dirty. To avoid making a major mess indoors, use ready-made kits such as Seedsheets. These “just add water kits” are comprised of weed-blocking fabric that rolls out and contains dissolvable pods filled with organic seeds.

Health nuts will appreciate the GMO-free wheatgrass and microgreens available in Urban Produce Superfood Kits. If your ceilings are high enough, it’s even possible to plant orchard-worthy trees and pick fresh fruit without even putting your shoes on. Skip the seed starter approach as that can take decades to produce fruit. For a grafted tree that comes to your door in a container and has a harvest upon arrival, try a company like PlantOGram. The online vendor offers an exotic variety of more than 200 types of indoor trees including avocado, banana, cashew, olive and passionfruit. Perhaps the most innovative kit on the market is Back to the Roots and Daylight Designs' Water Gardens. These at-home aquaponics are basically self-sustaining fish tanks with mini gardens on top. The kit comes with everything you need, even a coupon for Beta fish.

Track plants with an app. 

Want to compare best planting practices with other indoor gardeners?

There are free apps for that! GrowIt!’s community of 100,000 plus home gardeners share photos of their plants and have the ability to contact one another and swap tips. When using the app’s search tool, users can select the “indoor” filter to determine which plants will thrive in which rooms.

In late April Scott’s Miracle-Gro is launching a new app called Gro which will also feature an indoor filter and will use your location to tell you which plants will work best in your climate. The app, part of the company’s new Connected Yard platform, will also remind users when to water their plants as well as provide creative how-tos like how to set up a container cocktail garden featuring herbs you can use in your favorite mixed drinks. We'll cheers to that.

Katie Jackson is a travel writer. When she’s not working, she’s chasing after a Leonberger named Zeus.