Four Ways to Start a Garden While You’re Home in Your Apartment

This beginner’s guide requires few materials and little know-how.


apartment gardening

Photo via Getty Images/agrobacter

Maybe flexing your green thumbs is something you’ve been resolving to do for years but never had the time. Perhaps you’ve heard of the many benefits that houseplants offer for purifying air, improving focus, and lifting your mood. Or, you’re simply looking to bring indoors some of the spring vibes you’re missing while hunkered down at home. No matter the reason, these ideas from three local pros will get you started on your urban gardening adventure.

Plant Your Own Produce

You know what’s a whole lot more reliable than waiting for a grocery-store delivery slot to open up at 2 a.m.? Growing your own fruits, veggies, and herbs. And according to Helen Glotzer, general manager at Allandale Farm in Brookline, which is currently offering online ordering and pickup for plants and materials, you can do this whether you have the backyard real estate to install raised beds or merely a balcony or a fire escape to place planters. “We are seeing unprecedented demand for vegetable and herb seeds and seedlings,” she says, noting that in addition to providing food security, this approach “ticks both the function and fashion boxes.” Glotzer cites the “elegant twining of pea tendrils and the humble potato [with its] fantastic foliage and flowers” as two particularly attractive sights.

Start a Vertical Garden

Short on surface or floor space? Incorporating a system of stacked or mounted planters is a nifty solution. “These units do not take up much space and can provide all the fixings for your yummy dinner salad,” says Jillian Landry of Marshfield-based Beach Plum Floral Design, which has recently launched a home delivery service for bouquet kits. A vertical garden is also guaranteed to breathe a bit of life into your living area, whether inside or out on a porch. If you’re feeling ambitious, you can certainly take on a more large-scale project and install a sophisticated irrigation system, but purchasing mountable containers or a space-saving hanging planter with pockets and watering your foliage by hand is simpler and just as effective. Just be sure to pair together plants that thrive under similar conditions.

Propagate the Houseplants You Have

Plantsandponytails founder Marynn Gibbons—whose boutique in Hanover is now selling plants and supplies for shipping, pickup, and delivery–says generating new life “is a sure-fire way to calm the mind when worry tries to invade.” It’s also a clever trick for expanding your family of greenery with little to no extra materials on hand, she adds. You can reproduce many plants such as pothos, rosemary, and philodendron by cutting off part of the stem (with leaves attached) and submerging the clipping in water. Once it begins to grow roots, you can then transplant it into fresh soil.

Start Thinking Local

“Here in the Northeast, many of our native plants are woodland plants, meaning they love cool shade—a real plus for many urban gardeners,” Glotzer explains, naming foamflower, fringed bleeding hearts, and Solomon’s seal as examples. Alternatively, if you’re looking to attract pollinators in an outdoor spot that gets abundant sunshine, coneflower, butterfly weed, and mountain mints will do the trick.