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Topic: Apartment gardening?  (Read 3964 times)
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djungelorms friend
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« on: April 20, 2005 09:32:11 AM »

Please forgive and redirect me if I'm duplicating another thread?  I couldn't find any.

I want to grow pretty flowers in my apartment--I have no hope of even a windowbox, thanx to building codes...  I do have lots of windowsills though.

advice on kinds for a brown thumb like me?  do annuals work?  can there be wildflowers in a pot?  what can i grow from seed?

thank you so much in advance.


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« Reply #1 on: April 20, 2005 09:36:36 AM »

i, too, would be interested in knowing what options i have.

i have a small patio, but there are so many tall trees around me that i don't get a lot of sunlight.  and the patches of sun i do get only last for an hour or so.

have you tried anything before?


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« Reply #2 on: April 20, 2005 10:37:23 AM »


djungelorm's friend: This book is great! Making Things Grow: A Practical Guide for the Indoor Gardener...  Some things to think about are, how much light your window gets and what time of the day it has the most light at, how much time your really willing to devote (BE HONEST! I always think I'm going to devote a lot of time, but then vacation comes around  Grin ), and also...if your putting your plants in the window you may run into problems such as too much  heat (wilting), sunburn (yes, even plants can burn), and in the winter freezing if your windows aren't very wind proof. Happy Gardening!

hercuteness: There are a TON of plants that like shady areas. For example, the philodendron will grow pretty much in the dark. What you can grow/plant really depends on where you are. I recommend going to your local green house and talking to them.

and on a side note... this year I've decided to try indoor vegetable gardening.... Fresh Tomatos all year round!


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« Reply #3 on: April 20, 2005 10:44:32 AM »

A couple things that will grow very well on windowsills (I'm jealous, I wish I had window sills!) are african violets and herbs.

out of town until July 10th...I will respond to any messages then.
« Reply #4 on: April 21, 2005 11:58:34 AM »

here's a thread from apartmenttherapy.com on the subject:

You can mount a wall hook (the elbow or L-shape kind, at any hardware/home store) on your window trim or near the window and put up a hanging basket with a trailing plant (like the hardy Wandering Jew, a favorite of mine! can't kill 'em!)--it will get what little light you have from the window, not take up any precious floor/table space, and in some cases, help disguise a not-so-nice view. Another option---why not mount a flower box INSIDE the window? You could mount a wall-bracket type flower box just under the window sill--it could be really cute, a playful inside-out thing. Damn, that's a good idea--I'm gonna do it! Smiley

"Spider plants" though not always super-attractive, are also resistant to abuse. I've also had good luck with Jade plants.  I have a dark little hole of an apartment too--so far, it's only flowering plants that don't survive.  When I need color, I have to pop for cut flowers and hope they last at least a week.  Good luck and post what you do!
« Reply #5 on: April 21, 2005 12:04:50 PM »

"Spider plants" though not always super-attractive, are also resistant to abuse. I've also had good luck with Jade plants.  I have a dark little hole of an apartment too--so far, it's only flowering plants that don't survive.  When I need color, I have to pop for cut flowers and hope they last at least a week.  Good luck and post what you do!

Funny, my jade plant I got from my grandmother-in-law didn't survive a week!  I do well with cacti & spider plants, like you mentioned, in my apartment.  I don't have windowsills, but I have lots of windows & a bay window in my living room.  I've done well with ivy's, too.
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« Reply #6 on: April 21, 2005 06:59:20 PM »

I used to be the seedlings grower and container designer for a nursery, it was lots of fun, but there are some big differences between growing outside and inside so here goes:

lighting:  go for things that like shade, even if you think your windows are sunny, they probably aren't compared to outside. most herbs need at least 6 hours of sunlight...  You can tell if your plants aren't getting enough sun if they become 'leggy' or shoot out a bunch of light green growth in their first few weeks. If you live in the northern hemisphere, your southern window are your best bet.

nutrients: plants in pots need something to grow on. i use bat guano from a local organic growing store, it lasts a long time and you just need a little on top of the soil (or mixed in).  there are also liquid options for organic fertilizers you can add as you water your plants.  they will need more in the summer and less in the winter...  a really great option would be to get (or make) an under the sink worm bin and use your compost from food waste on your plants.  Alfalfa pellets (like you would feed to a rabbit, but make sure there are no weed seeds involved) are a good source of nitrogen (for lots of green growth) and you can mix only a few into the bottom of your pot.

soil: container plants need looser soil then you would find in the ground so don't just put anything in there!  you can buy soil mixes for pots and mix compost in too.  if you buy deeper pots you can put gravel in the bottom to help with drainage. 

other indoor concerns:  you should wash your plants every now and then (few weeks/few months) by spritzing them or wiping them off with a wet paper towel if they have big enough leaves. You can also put them all in the bathtub and spray them with the shower.  Outside the rain would do this, but inside the plant's pores can get blocked by dust and pollutants so if you notice leaves looking dusty you should take care of them! 
also, you may have insect infestation problems when you attempt to grow plants that have been outside in a pot.  the most common is aphids and they can be washed off with soapy water in the sink or picked off.  The best way to prevent this problem is to give new plants a quarentine period before mixing them in with your other plants.  Also seperate plants at the first sign of bugs.  Commercial nurseries counter this by spraying fungicides and pesticides everytime they water which is really gross and not somethng you want to do at home!  Anyway, don't worry too much because a healthy plant is less susceptible to bug damage and if you buy carefully you shouldn't have significant problems.

i second the spider plants and african violets for easy and nice looking although african violets don't like hot sun (only cool sun) and are very adverse to cold water on their leaves so water directly to the soil.  Pansies are a good choice for inside and will bloom for a long time if you keep picking off the wilted flowers and cutting them back if they get too leggy.  Begonias are really pretty too and likewise bloom for a long time.  Annuals that keep blooming such as petunias and calendula can be nice if you have enough sun.  Sweet potato vine comes in various shades including lime green and purpleish and can be an easy accent.  Most perennials wouldn't do much for you because they would only bloom once. I would suggest going to your local nursery and trying out a small variety of things before spending alot.  Talk to a few different people and make sure they have grown inside before and don't be afraid to mix 'house plants' and annual flowers/herbs/etc...

now, whether in punishment or reward, through all eternity, she must love and believe in what she did not understand.  -dennison
« Reply #7 on: April 24, 2005 10:37:50 PM »

The best luck I've had with dill and basil inside has been with hydroponics.  I drilled a hole in the side of a dishbasin, near the bottom, and a matching hole in a 4L juice jug (approx 1 gallon).  I placed some plastic tubing (1 cm diameter) between the two, and used silicone to seal the tube onto the containers (the tubing protrudes about 1 cm into the containers).  On the dishbasin end, I placed a bit of window screening over the tube and held it in place with an elastic band.  Then I filled the container with vermiculite, this spongy rock-type stuff that is water absorbant and non-reactive (cheap at garden stores) to hold the root systems in place.  I filled the jug with water and added some hydroponics nutrients to it (check bottle label for ratio), and then flooded the vermiculite with the nutrient-filled water.  I sprinkled my seeds on top, and let the whole system rest in flooded mode until the seeds sprouted.  To keep the water from draining back into the bottle, all you need to do is put the cap on the bottle, and the air pressure will do the rest.  Once they were about 3-4 cm tall, un-flood and then start cycling the system.  Twice a day or so, remove the cap from the big bottle and raise it higher than the container.  The water will flood the container; stop when the water level reaches the top of the vermiculite.  Lower the bottle below the height of the container, until almost all of the water has drained out of the container; put the lid on the bottle to keep the water from re-flooding the system when you rest the bottle at the same height as the container.

I hope this all makes some sense; it worked really well for growing herbs and green onions in my dorm room.
« Reply #8 on: April 26, 2005 10:49:52 AM »

The one plant I have that has survived my tragically brown thumb is my English ivy. It's a very pretty plant and I'm actually thinking of taking part of it out of its pot and making another pot or maybe two or three (there's a lot!) pots of ivy.
What I really want to do is grow some tomatoes, edamame, lavendar, and strawberries; alas, methinks they need more sunlight than they would get on my north facing and mostly shady balcony:( I guess they could go in the tiny "sunroom" back entryway that faces south...hmmmm.
« Reply #9 on: April 26, 2005 01:11:11 PM »

Another plant that could be cute on a windowsill is grass...Somewhere I remember seeing a link to someone who used tunafish and fruit cocktail cans (without the labels they are pleasingly shiny!) to plant in...it made for cute little planters of grass on the windowsill. If sunlight is scarce, maybe you could look into a shady-grass variety. good luck!
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