Indoor and Small-Space Gardening Tips

July 08, 2020 | By Baltimore County Public Library

Thinking about starting an indoor garden? There are so many benefits to growing plants indoors, from purifying the air, to producing your own food, to cultivating an aesthetic. Growing both ornamental and edible plants on your windowsill can improve your health and wellbeing by absorbing pollutants in the air, increasing the humidity levels in your home by releasing water and producing oxygen.

Getting Started

If you’re new to indoor gardening, you may be wondering where to start. There are so many varieties of plants to choose from and the options can be a little overwhelming. What are you waiting for? Put your green thumb to the test and get growing! Here are a few tips to get you started. 

The plants you choose to grow will be based largely on the conditions of your home. Consider the size of your home, and the temperature and humidity levels. The amount of natural light in particular is the most important factor.


Most people find that their homes get somewhat less than an ideal amount of natural light. If you’re starting without a grow light or in a house with low or indirect natural light, you’ll want to choose plants that thrive in indirect light and cooler temperatures.


Some popular low-light houseplants include:

  • Aloe
  • Ferns 
  • Golden pothos
  • Ivy
  • Lucky bamboo
  • Peace lily
  • Snake plants
  • Spider plants

Indirect Light 

Additionally, the following herbs and edible plants are fantastic options that require only indirect light:

  • Chives
  • Lemon balm
  • Lettuce
  • Microgreens
  • Mint—Thrives in shady spaces and is such a prolific producer that it’s best potted by itself to avoid it taking over the rest of your window box. 
  • Parsley
  • Spinach
  • Strawberries
  • Thyme

Direct Light

The following plants require higher amounts of direct sunlight and love the hot sun:

  • Basil
  • Cacti
  • Lavendar
  • Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Succulents


Consider the amount of space you have. Wide windowsills and large balconies may be ideal, but if your situation is less so, consider the following:

  • Grow hanging plants such as ivy or spider plants. Even strawberries can be grown in a hanging basket by the window. 
  • Try planting seeds in jars on your kitchen countertop.
  • Grow a few moisture-loving plants in your bathroom.
  • Grow plants on your fire escape or small balcony.

Get creative with your space when considering where and how you can grow. The type and amount of space your plants will need is also dictated by their size and growth patterns. Some plants will need to be transplanted as they grow. Keep this in mind as you select your plants.  

Other Needs

Know your plants' needs. Each plant has different requirements for:

  • Water
  • Sunlight
  • Temperature
  • Drainage
  • Soil type
  • Air flow

For example, some plants like begonia can burn or dry out under too much sun. Certain tropical plants like orchids need constant moisture, but also constant air flow.

While you may long to bring home every plant available for purchase at your local nursery, it’s not always an attainable goal. You’ll avoid problems down the road if you thoughtfully select the right plants for your home. If there’s a plant you know you want to grow, consider doing some research to determine exactly what your plant will need and whether you’ll be able to meet those requirements.

Free Resources 

Although there are some challenges to growing plants indoors, there are so many available resources to guide you on your journey to indoor gardening.

Baltimore County Public Library has plenty of free digital resources on Overdrive and CloudLibrary to help you transform your home into a plant-filled paradise. Browse our selection of gardening books and you’ll have all the knowledge you need to successfully grow edible and ornamental plants alike. I’ve highlighted a few of my favorites below:


Category: Collection and Materials