Though the image associated with a garden has landscaped lawns under a clear blue sky, a garden doesn’t necessarily have to be outdoors. With large bungalows making way for modest apartments, indoor gardens are becoming increasingly popular. Gardening has not only aesthetic benefits but is also a form of light exercise, and has been proved to be a good stress buster. Along with adding colour and beauty to home interiors, indoor gardens help purify the air and thus make your house a healthier place to live in.
Indoor gardens are of many types and can be small or big, depending on how much space you have available. Container gardening is the easiest and most common form of indoor gardens. Simply put, a container garden is an assortment of containers with plants growing in them or a large container with an assortment of plants growing in it. Windowsills also make for interesting indoor garden sites. Staircase landings are also well suited for growing such gardens. Plants can also be grown as part of furniture on table tops or on room dividers. And vertical gardening is another form of indoor gardening that is increasingly becoming popular in homes, cafes and offices.
The biggest advantage of vertical gardens is that they take up no floor space at all and yet give you all the benefits of a conventional garden. Large vertical gardens are also known as green walls. The frame for a vertical garden can be built with store bought plastic pocketed frames, recycled wooden pallets, PVC pipes, fabric shoe dividers or even plastic bottles.
You could also grow a vertical garden by planting creepers along a trellis frame. In addition to the creepers, you could also hang small pots with ‘S’ hooks from this frame to grow plants in. Vertical gardens are ideal for succulents, herbs and small flowering plants. Though you can water the entire vertical garden, the top level is the first to dry out while the bottom stays moist for longer. Hence, when planting a vertical garden, place plants which are drought resistant towards the top and thirsty plants towards the bottom. Take a hint from this gorgeous green wall by Woolly Pocket, garden and landscape suppliers from United Kingdom.
Along with placing plants above and beside furniture, plants can also be grown as part of your furniture! Cut out a section of your coffee table or dining table and fit it with a metal or glass tray. Line the tray with plastic or ceramic to protect the metal from rust and use it to grow small succulents or herbs. Your food can’t get fresher than this.
Furniture designers today have even begun to create tables with designs that encourage you to grow plants in them. Large terrariums can also double up as tables themselves. If a large room needs to be divided into two sections, consider growing creepers along a trellis or rope frame to serve as a unique and interesting room divider.
All plants need light to grow well. One of the first steps to planning an indoor garden is to select an area that receives a good amount of natural light. In some cases, artificial lights are needed to supplement natural light. CFLs, tube lights, incandescent bulbs, LEDs and halogens are all effective ways of artificially lighting indoor gardens. Horticultural grow-lights are also available in the market, which contain the full spectrum of wavelengths needed to encourage blooming.
When using incandescent lights, be careful to maintain a distance between the plants and the light source to protect the plants from getting burnt or overheated. For plants that receive no natural light, artificial lighting is needed for 16 to 18 hours a day but this duration may be lowered for plants that receive some sunlight. Whenever possible, time the lights with sunrise and sunset to mimic the natural environment.
When choosing house plants, pick plants that are found locally instead of exotic imports. This ensures that the plant is suited to the soil composition, temperature and water conditions of the area. Also pick plants that are easy to maintain. Geraniums, silver jade, aloe, pothos and snake plants are ideal to begin an indoor garden with.
Peace lilies, anthuriums, jasmine and ixora are flowering plants that thrive well in low light and add colour to indoor gardens. Indoor herb gardens serve a dual purpose of supplying fresh herbs for your kitchen and scenting the air around them. While most plants are safe for indoor gardens, a few plants are more toxic than others. Avoid all variants of Dieffenbachia and English ivy in indoor gardens especially if you share your home with children or pets.
When floor space is limited, an indoor garden can be created by suspending planters from the wall or the ceiling. When choosing planters for a suspended garden, avoid ceramic or terracotta containers and choose lightweight planters made of plastic or fibre. Tin cans and pet bottles can also be easily transformed into DIY planters.
Plan suspended gardens near walls to keep the centre of the room free. Layering planters at varying heights is a good way of creating a green curtain for windows as well as creating a focal point for the room. Wandering Jew, impatiens and petunias are ideally suited for suspended gardens.
Along with brightening home interiors, indoor gardens also give you an opportunity to show off your recycling skills and make your home sustainable. Using empty wine bottles and jam jars as planters is a good way to begin. The corks from these bottles or ice cream sticks can be used to make low budget eco friendly plant markers.
Old t-shirts can be cut up and knotted to make macramé styled hanging planters. If the usual terracotta planters don’t match your home décor, consider dressing them up with a mosaic of broken tiles and crockery. Accessorise your garden with curios and mirrors to complete the look and enjoy your indoor garden.
For more ideas and inspirations, feel free to go through this ideabook – A healthy life with indoor plants in your home.