Mark Roemer image of a person planting some herbs in a potting container

Apartment Gardening for Beginners (Part 1)

When it comes to gardening, one of the last things you should consider is the amount of space you have. There are many workarounds when it comes to this. So, even if you have a tiny apartment, you could most certainly start a garden. I, Mark Roemer, am going to provide you with all the knowledge you will need to start your garden today.

Getting started is the hardest part of gardening. You shouldn’t feel intimidated, though. Just start small and grow your garden size over time. Starting little will give you a chance to master any problems that you run into along the way. Before long, you will be tending to dozens of containers. Be smart about it. Also, when starting, you are going to want to consider the amount of sunlight your plants will get, how you will get enough water to the plants, and the weight of your containers. You will want to consider the area you are working with, as well. However, as I said from the start, this is something you should consider last. Below you will see some tips on starting your urban garden successfully.

Where to Grow Plants in an Apartment

Growing a lush and healthy garden requires you giving the plants what they need. This is not too complicated, and there are some areas that you should not hold back on.

Sunlight – Fruit and flower plants will require a full day of sunlight to grow properly. This means that they will need 6 – 8 hours of direct sun. In other words, they will not be able to be shaded in any way. This can prove difficult in the city, and more specifically, in an apartment. Tall buildings and trees all around will take away from your ability to do this. Your best bet will be to have your garden on the balcony or the roof (if you have access and have asked your landlord ahead of time). If you are restricted to gardening indoors on windowsills, you may want to opt for choosing plants that do not need as much sunlight to flourish. My suggestions are salad greens or herbs. Alternately, you can opt to spend some money on a grow light, so you never have to worry about getting your plants the proper amount of light.

Soil – Plants are dependent upon soil for air, water, and nutrients to survive. Since your apartment garden will likely require you planting in containers, you will be unable to use regular garden soil. The mixture is not loose enough and will compact in your containers. This will prevent water and air from adequately reaching the roots, thereby killing them. It is suggested that you use a quality potting mix. The advantages of the potting mix are it is lighter in weight (which is something that you need to consider as you may be moving the containers around), it is sterilized (preventing diseases from infecting your plants), and it remains fluffy (this allows for air and water to penetrate to the roots).

Water – Plants in containers need a lot of water. The reason is that they will not be able to grow to a place where water is available. This means you may find yourself watering your plants several times a day. If you have to lug a watering can up several flights of stairs multiple times a day, you may grow tired of the adventure in a short amount of time. I suggest that you invest in a hose that you can attach directly to your kitchen faucet. They sell a type that is a big coil. It uncoils when you need it and then retracts when you don’t.

Humidity – If you haven’t noticed, there is a humidity level around your area. This is moisture in the air. Outdoor plants can access this moisture to supplement water in times of less rain. However, most indoor gardens are not privy to this added moisture. It is recommended that you provide them with this humidity. I am not suggesting having a humidifier in your house just for your plants. In cases of lack of moisture, I advise you to spritz them with a water bottle a couple of times a day. This is in addition to the water that you are supplying them in the containers. It emulates dew and humidity that they get when they are growing outside.

Wind – Whether you are gardening several stories above ground or surrounded by heavy traffic, you need to consider the wind your plants are subject to. Wind can be hazardous to plants. It tends to rip leaves and overturn your top-heavy pots. My suggestion is to provide a wind block around your containers. Remember, when you are doing this to refrain from blocking the sunlight, they will need to grow.

Weight – The last thing to keep in mind is the weight of your containers. When you first get the containers, they may not appear that the weight will be an issue. However, you need to consider the weight once they are ready to go. This means you have to account for the soil, water, and plant that you will be depositing into the container. Soil is heavy to begin with. Once it has absorbed the water you provide to the plant, it can triple in weight. Make sure the spot you have chosen can support a large amount of weight. If you are gardening on a balcony or rooftop, make sure to check with your landlord or building board about any restrictions in weight.


That’s it for part one. I, Mark Roemer, hope that I have given you a few things to think about before you start your urban garden. I will return next week with the conclusion of this epic tale of gardening. Before reading part two, make sure that you have satisfactorily checked on all of the items I have outlined in this article. That way, in the next blog, you will be able to start planning what plants you want to grow.