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Apartment Garden Basics

The Perfect Apartment GardenGrowing the perfect garden isn’t about space - you can create a beautiful garden just about anywhere. You can grow your own fruit, vegetables, and herbs right in your Charlottesville apartment! With a little basic setup, you can start the perfect apartment garden rather simply.

Determine the best places in your apartment for your plants. Take sunlight, water access, and the weight the containers you’ll be using into account. Get started with creative containers and your favorite herbs as you get into the habit of taking care of indoor plants.

Learn all you can about the plants you want to grow and what they need to thrive. Some plants need as little as 4-6 hours of direct sun, while most fruiting and flowering plants require 6-8 hours of full sun. Place your plants carefully: tomatoes do very well on balconies, rooftops, and in hanging pots. Herbs are perfectly happy in an apartment kitchen window. You can also use a sun lamp to increase the amount of sun plants receive.

A high quality potting mix that drains well in containers is essential. Light weight mix prevents your containers from becoming difficult to move. Sterile potting soil also ensures that you won’t get sick from bacteria in your garden. Good potting soil supports pockets of air that allow roots to absorb water and grow.

Water indoor plants frequently - they often dry out more quickly than plants in the ground. Some plants may require watering twice a day. Placing your garden near a water supply will keep you from having to lug heavy watering cans around. Consider purchasing a shrinking hose that can be attached to your sink to make watering easier.

Outdoor hanging and potted plants cannot get enough water from rain showers – they should be watered, sometimes twice daily. If your potting has added fertilizers, you likely won’t need to feed your plants very often if at all. If you are using unfertilized soil, use water soluble fertilizer to feed your plants.

Use a water bottle to mist your plants a few times every day to maintain ideal humidity for apartment plants. Plants on a balconies or hanging outdoors should be checked for wind damage. You might need a wind shield to keep plants from drying out too quickly or suffering heavy leaf damage.

Apartment Gardening in CharlottesvilleContainers are often very heavy when full of soil, and even heavier after they have been watered. Window sill planters and window boxes must be fully anchored to the window sill to prevent damage to the sill. When planting on a balcony or rooftop, check with the apartment management to find out how much weight the structure can support.

Seeds are a fun way to start your garden, but you can also start your garden immediately by buying small plants. Below are a few of our favorite plants that might do well in your apartment:

Herbs - Herbs do very well in containers. Try some kitchen favorites like parsley, basil, mint, thyme, chives, and lavender.

Salad Greens – Lettuces grow quickly with shallow roots, and do well in low light as long as they receive plenty of water. Try Arugula and Bibb lettuces or Spinach.

Chile Peppers – Peppers produce fruit year round, tolerate lower light conditions, and grow well in pots.

Strawberries – While strawberries do require a lot of sun, a nice sunny window sill or a hanging pot can produce a pretty (and delicious) batch berries. Use pots that are 12” deep.

Tomatoes – Tomatoes can thrive in containers, although the plants can be heavy and require a lot of sun. Plant in 30” diameter or larger pots placed in a sunny place like a balcony. Hanging pots with a sturdy hook can also produce a rewarding harvest.

Harvest regularly – apartment gardeners can be shy about harvesting, waiting for a large harvests or worrying that harvesting might harm plants. Harvesting stimulates plants to set more flowers and produce more fruit, so enjoy the bounty of your Charlottesville apartment garden often!


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