Many of us wish to grow a garden, but not all of us have enough space to do so. So, if your backyard space doesn’t allow you to have a garden, choose to grow an indoor garden. Plants not only cleanse the air inside your home and increase the aesthetics of your indoors, but they also offer your family various organic, yummy foods.
Plants don’t occupy much space, you can set up your garden on a windowsill if that’s all the space you have for a garden. For people having some outdoor space, the indoor garden can be used to grow some starter plants, for the outdoor garden when spring comes.
However, setting up a garden indoors needs you to consider several factors. Paying due consideration to these factors is important to ensure healthy growth of the plants in your indoor garden. Listed below are the key factors among them:
Whether you wish to give a little or a lot of space to your indoor garden, your garden would do well in that space. You can grow different kinds of large indoor plants in a small space, like on a table or a windowsill. If you wish to grow a larger garden, consider setting up a bench or table especially for the garden with the help of a handy carpenter tool bag.
Choose a space having a linoleum or tile floor for catching water drops, or put a tarp beneath the table.
Shelves offer a lot of planting space, while occupying a little space. If you choose to use shelves, ensure that every plant gets adequate light. For this, each shelf may need a separate grow light.
Plants need to do photosynthesis for surviving, and they need light for photosynthesis. Without sufficient light, plants would grow spindly and tall. Even if enough energy is there for the growth of leaves, the leaves may not expand completely. Without adequate light, you may not find fruits or flowers.
Even the plants growing close to the window may not get adequate light in the winter months for thriving. So, you need to buy a grow light. Here are a few factors to take into account when buying a grow light:
- Plants contain photo-receptors, which absorb certain wavelengths of light. The wavelength of the light you use, should be the same as that of the sun, and that’s why, a regular light won’t work.
- The location of the light should be as near the plants as possible, without burning of the leaves.
- Most of the vegetables and other types of plants work best by getting 14 to 16 hours of simulated light or sunlight. Whether your plant is receiving adequate light or not, can be detected in several ways. If it’s not getting sufficient light, it would usually have small leaves, a lighter color than usual and thin stems.
- Budding and flowering is controlled by a hormone known as “florigen”. Long day plants need light for about 14 to 18 hours for producing the required florigen amount, for flowering and reproducing. Short day plants need light for about 10 to 13 hours. If you expose short day plants to a large number of hours of light, florigen can get destroyed, thereby preventing blooming.
- CHOOSING A GROW LIGHT
You can find a variety of grow lights out there, and it’s often confusing to pick up the one that’s right for your plants in the indoor garden. Listed below are the chief types of grow lights, to give you some clarity:
- Incandescent lamps:
These are low cost lights and you can buy them at a nursery or a hardware store. Although they are suitable for houseplants, but are not the ideal grow lights for indoor garden.
- Fluorescent lights:
These lights are most suitable for cultivating herbs and other types of plants, which don’t need a large amount of light. These are not fit for flowering or budding plants, since they don’t emit adequate light. They are inexpensive, and you can buy them at a local garden supply or hardware store.
- High Intensity Discharge (HID) lights:
These are the most efficient and brightest lights you can find, but can be costly. The amount of light emitted by one 1000 watt HID bulb is the same as that emitted by 50 fluorescent lights of 40 watt.
HID bulbs are of various types:
- Mercury Vapor
- Metal Halide
- High Pressure Sodium
- Low Pressure Sodium
The Metal Halide and High Pressure Sodium lights are the only grow lights gardeners would need.
What size of grow light should you choose?
The size you should choose for the grow light depends on your indoor garden’s size and the reflector’s mounting height i.e., the height at which the light is, above the plants.
Size of Light
Above the Plants
400 Watt no outside light,
5′ x 5′ area
8′ x 8′ area
1 to 4 Feet 600 Watt no outside light,
7′ x 7′ area
10′ x 10′ area
1.5 to 5 Feet 1000 Watt no outside light,
8′ x 8′ area
12′ x 12′ area
2 to 6 Feet
The best temperature range for most plants is 65 – 75°F. A variation of 10°F on either way, probably won’t be a problem. Plants that grow in too hot temperatures, would be weak and small, whereas those grown under too-cold temperatures, might have yellowish leaves, which fall off.
For indoor gardeners, lack of humidity may be a challenge. Winters are usually drier than summers, and in case you run the heating system in your home, the trouble increases.
Watch for the following to know if the humidity is low:
- The tips of leaves are becoming brown
- Plants appear puckered or withered
- Plants are losing their leaves
- You have researched about the humidity required by a particular plant of yours, and it is not receiving it.
Take the following measures for increasing humidity:
- Mist your plants regularly, or more frequently as required. However, don’t do this for plants with hairy leaves, as water stays for longer on such plants, and may cause disease.
- Fill a tray with water and place it near the garden. (Don’t put any plants in this tray, as that can cause other problems). Fill the tray using lava rocks, so as to largen the area for evaporation.
- Arrange plants close to each other, for building a microenvironment having a greater relative humidity.
- Use a humidifier.
- Buy an environmental controller that can dehumidify or humidify as per your needs.
Apart from these basic factors, there are a number of other things to consider before heading out to start your indoor garden. Consider seeking the help of a gardening specialist to get some valuable tips on indoor gardening. With the right knowledge, you can set up a beautiful indoor garden and watch your plants flourishing.
Mia Jones lives in California and works as a gardening specialist. She suggests people who love gardening, to use eco grow pots for faster and healthier plant growth.