If you have a windowsill with eastern or southern exposure, it’s a prime perch for an indoor garden. It’ll lend organic interest to your living space, while giving you a stress-reducing hobby that brings the pleasures of outdoor gardening inside when the weather gets cold. With enough natural light, houseplants, herbs and veggies alike can flourish. Of course, medium and low-light sills afford plenty of options, too.
The trick? Finding the right plants for the space, watering them regularly and fortifying them on the regular with fertilizer.
Before you start, measure your windowsill and select planters suited for the area. With the exception of succulents and cacti, which need free-draining soil, most houseplants should be planted in fresh, sterile, peat-free potting mix. Water them thoroughly, letting the water drain from the pot before setting them in place. Keep a close eye on the plants the first couple of weeks, watching for the impact of stress, cold or leaf scorch and watering them according to each plant’s individual care instructions.
Ready to get started? Consider this windowsill-friendly flora the place to start.
A super-cool selection with fascinatingly holey, Swiss cheese-type leaves, Monstera Obliqua is native to Central and South America. As such, this plant needs constant, substantial humidity to keep its delicate leaves supple. Plant it in a roomy terrarium in a sunny room and consider investing in a humidifier, while maintaining a regular room temperature of 70° F to 85° F.
Venus Fly Trap
A carnivorous plant native to subtropical wetlands on the East Coast of the United States — particularly in North Carolina and South Carolina — the Venus Fly Trap is not particularly hard to grow indoors, provided you have a buggy locale. You’re in business if you have a bright sun porch window and a door that opens and closes to the outside — that way, it’ll have a supply of bugs for food. No dice? Feed your plant a small sprinkle of fish food every 10 or so days and mist it often to ensure a humid environment. It prefers when watering is done from the bottom up, with some water left standing in its saucer. Going out of town? It’ll tolerate deeper water for a week or two.
Marked by thick, fleshy, engorged leaves that retain water, succulents thrive in dry conditions and can flourish when water is scarce. Succulents need about six hours of sun per day (rotate them frequently), along with well-drained, loamy soil. Choose a planting mix that includes sand, pumice or perlite and water them more frequently during the spring and summer months.
Amazonian Elephant Ear (Alocasia x Amazonica ‘Polly’)
This rhizomatous evergreen perennial features narrow, dark green, arrow-shaped leaves with wavy edges and contrasting ribs and margins awash in creamy white. It favors moist, well-drained, loamy soil.
Varying in size based on the species, cacti are covered with a waxy substance called a cuticle, which helps conserve water in arid conditions. Often flowering and usually prickly, the require careful handling and cacti-specific potting soil and plant food, as well as bright light. Water cacti when the top 3” of the soil is dry.
Naturally, your green thumb doesn’t have to stop here. You could also start a kitchen garden using cuttings from some of your favorite indoor and outdoor plants. To root them in water, cut a 3” or 4” stem using pruners or a sharp knife. Strip off the bottom leaves and place the cut stem in a small, colorful container of water until they take root. Then, plant them in soil that’s suited to the species.
Want some more inspiration? Get more gardening and lifestyle tips on our blog, including on how to grow an edible garden.