By Jim Blake

Indoor activities such as doing puzzles, trying new recipes, and do-it-yourself hair styling are enjoying a widespread resurgence. But will these at-home pastimes persist after the COVID-19 pandemic passes? One hobby that could keep you engaged until it’s time to get ready for the holidays is indoor gardening. Research shows having live plants in the house also benefits your well-being.

Windowsill Herbs and Tea Leaves

If you have some space near windows to work with, especially south-facing windows that get hours of sunshine, you can start some seedlings. You can eventually move these plants outdoors, or keep a small herb garden indoors to use for cooking and in teas. You can buy seeds online for delivery, or seedlings in-person at your local garden center or grocery store.

Window Sill Garden

Plant herbs in small pots to be used on the windowsill. Photo by cottonbro

Any of these 10 common varieties would be great to grow as edible houseplants:

  • Mint
  • Basil
  • Chives
  • Parsley
  • Sage
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme
  • Oregano
  • Lavender
  • Chamomile

Vertical Gardening

Vertical Gardening

Vertical gardens come in all sizes. This simple one uses hanging pots. Photo by rihaij–2145

A vertical garden is a stylish way to keep your indoor plants from taking up too much room. Stacking rows of plants up against a wall makes more efficient use of your indoor space and serves as a lovely living piece of decor. It also prevents you from having to continually bend to water your plants.

A leaning bookshelf or decorative ladder can serve as shelving for small pots.

Keep in mind that you’ll have to protect your wall and floor from moisture when watering these plants. Make sure your pots have drainage holes and install trays to catch the excess water.

Patio Pots and Colorful Balcony Bowls

If you’ve got a porch, patio, or balcony just outside, it’s nice to have some colorful flowers to add some cheer. There are plenty of low-maintenance varieties that do well with minimal effort, including:

  • Geraniums
  • Petunias
  • Pansies
  • Chrysanthemums
  • Begonias

Pinch off the wilted blooms and do a little pruning back now and then to keep them bushy and full, rather than stretching out and becoming leggy. Poke your finger in the soil to determine if the moisture goes down about an inch in depth. If not, it’s time to water. You may need to water often during the heat of summer.

Want a low maintenance garden that produces beautiful blooms? Choose only plants and flowers that are native to Pennsylvania. These will be naturally accustomed to the weather conditions, need less water, and be able to fight off invasive insects.

You can also grow colorful, edible plants in pots including:

  • Strawberries
  • Lettuces
  • Cabbages
  • Chard

Container Veggies

If you’ve got the space for some larger containers and enough hours of sunshine in an area of your home, you can grow a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. You may need stakes or trellises to support and allow the vines to climb when you plant these edible delights.  Be sure to use soil and fertilizer made specifically for the plant you’re growing.

  • Tomatoes
  • Peas
  • Beans
  • Raspberries/blackberries
  • Cucumbers
  • Zucchini

If you’re one of the many people who have a tough time getting plants to grow, you can still enjoy the benefits of indoor greenery. The easiest plants to maintain are pre-potted, store-bought:

  • Bamboo
  • Orchids
  • Miniature roses
  • Spider plants

When you spend a lot of time in your home, having plants to care for and enjoy brings interest and beauty to your life. Gardening is also a practical way to keep busy during this time of social distancing. If you can harvest some fresh food to eat and share, you’ll save yourself some trips to the grocery store. You’ll also find yourself eating healthier and feeling a greater appreciation for the food you eat because you grew it yourself.

Jim Blake is a lifestyle and environmental writer who enjoys making the most of small spaces. His window sills and balcony is covered with a garden he built with upcycled materials.

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