Many people dread the winter months. The days are shorter and the nights are colder, but that doesn’t mean you can’t add a little color and flavor! Even when the natural climate is unkind to backyard gardens, there are plenty of options for growing herbs, flowers, and even vegetables inside the home. As an added bonus, potting plants offers a unique opportunity for artistic expression that leaves your guests feeling inspired and whimsical.
- Quality soil
- Air and light
- Happy, healthy plants!
Seems simple enough, right? And low-cost, too!
Most plants need four to five inches of soil to grow comfortably, so look around for vessels that can accommodate this. Other things to consider:
- Material – avoid toxic residues in your container. Clean it thoroughly and use appropriate liners.
- Drainage – you may need to poke or drill holes in the bottom.
- Variety – mix color, shape, and textures that complement each other.
- Accents – sculptures, mirrors, and trinkets add extra character.
- Cleanliness – keep the container attractive.
- Upcycling – why throw out a perfectly good tire when it can be home to a low-cost, beautiful, edible garden?
Look around the house. The possibilities are absolutely endless! Repurposed household items filled with colorful, sweet-smelling plants can make a room look overflowing with life and imagination. Here are a few ideas for consideration and inspiration:
- Clean and Classic
- Porcelain – fine china, soup bowls, and oversized coffee mugs
- Baskets – beautiful and reminiscent of Sunday afternoons in the park
- Colanders – provides drainage and come in a wide variety
- Sink or bathtub – gives a comfy overgrown look to any room
- Tastefully Vintage
- Tin cans – try lining several up on a windowsill
- Mason jars – mount them onto the wall to save space
- Bread pans – great for seedlings
- Lunch boxes – for fans of pop culture nostalgia
- Kettles – perfect for growing herbs
- Sacks – small flour or sugar sacks or large burlap sacks give an old country charm and look great in the kitchen
- Baby stroller – cute and offbeat
- Tires – stack and paint these or leave them natural
- Watering cans – appropriate and literal, with a twist
- Wheelbarrows – left sitting on the porch, this garden looks as if by happy accident
- Mailbox – with letters becoming rarer, grow your own use out of it
- Beer barrels – especially good if you drank the contents
- Dresser drawers – intricate woodwork and a vintage handle look gorgeous in any room
- Tool boxes – for a more masculine edge
- Simple and Useful
- Plastic food tubs – peanut butter, yogurt, ice cream, etc.
- Milk jugs – cut and decorate
- Soda bottles – come in all sizes
- Plastic food trays – after you finish your salad, grow a new one
- Chinese takeout food cartons – cute and simple
- Toilet rolls – perfect for seedlings and always around
- Kiddie pool – after the kids grow out of it, help them grow plants in it
- Conversation Starters
- Handbags – I can never find my keys in this thing!
- Wagon – unique and playful
- Rowboat – merrily merrily merrily merrily, gardening is but a dream
- Aquarium – get a rare look at the underground workings of a garden
- Helmets – bicycle, motorcycle
- Shopping cart – where did you get that, anyway?
- Shoes – never judge a man until you’ve planted a garden in his shoes
- Car – deserving of a double take, for sure
- Create your own – glue four picture frames into a cube, and your flowers will always be surrounded by family!
- And so much more!
2. Quality Soil
Whether indoor or outdoor, the greatest advantage of raised bed gardening is having control over the soil. Potting soil is nutritious and provides great drainage for an indoor garden. Avoid garden soil because of its weight – it will compact harshly inside containers. Add some compost into your potting soil for extra nutrients and use fertilizer granules as needed-every 2-6 weeks, depending on composition.
3. Air and light
Especially during the winter months, avoid drafty areas-temperatures moving between 45-79°F are ideal. Place your garden near a window facing south to get the most out of the short winter days. Use mirrors to reflect sunlight if necessary. Indoor light installation is also an option. You can even set these to a timer!
Depending on the dryness of the air, find a schedule for watering your garden. The soil should go slightly dry between each watering-don’t over water your plants.
5. Happy, healthy plants
Cut away dead leaves and flowers. Keep herbs trimmed back and used them often. Let their smells and flavors inspire your cooking!
Many plants can grow wonderfully indoors. Be patient with them, as they may take a little longer than you are used to. Try planting these cool-weather favorites:
- Herbs: sage, rosemary, chives, parsley, thyme, bay, mint, dill
- Vegetables: hot peppers, spinach, garlic, lettuce, radishes, collards, kale, tomatoes
- Other: flower seeds, figs, strawberries, cacti, aloe vera
What are your favorite winter colors and flavors?
Chris Long has been an Illinois Home Depot associate for over 12 years. He enjoys contributing to The Home Depot blogs and giving tips on landscaping topics spanning from raised bed gardens to lawncare.