How to Start an Indoor Garden

Indoor gardens are a great way to save money and have fresh produce year round. Here's our guide on how to start an indoor garden today!

How to Start an Indoor Garden

Want to add a pop of greenery and life into your space this growing season? An indoor garden lets you do just that. And indoor gardening isn't just fun—it also lets you enjoy healthy, homegrown food anytime you want. (Lettuce shortage? Not on your watch!)

Types of Indoor Gardens

Indoor gardens range from a few potted plants on a windowsill to multi-level vertical systems. How to start an indoor herb garden or vegetable garden depends on which system is best for your space, goals, and budget.

Let's jump into the three most common indoor gardening systems.

Soil-Based Container Garden

This type of indoor garden is beginner-friendly, and the one you probably learned in elementary school with a bean and a Dixie cup. You can use any type of container, and customize your setup to fit any space.

If you need to make the most of vertical space, try:

  • Creating a hanging basket garden
  • Using an old step-ladder as a shelving tower garden system for small pots
  • Growing plants in small containers mounted to a wall next to a window for some natural light

Hydroponic Garden

In a hydroponic system, plants are grown in a water-based nutrient solution instead of potting mix or soil. Hydroponic gardens are efficient and eco-friendly because:

  • They use less water and space than potting soil gardens1
  • Plants grow faster hydroponically because nutrients are absorbed more easily2
  • Time between planting and harvest is reduced, reaping more food in less time

You can make a DIY hydroponic system with simple recycled materials like plastic bottles. Or, skip the extra legwork and choose a premade hydroponic system like the AeroGarden that includes everything you need: nutrients, grow lights, and a container with room for multiple plants for the beginner indoor gardener.

Aeroponic Garden

In aeroponic systems, plants are suspended in the air, and roots are misted with a nutrient-rich solution. Aeroponic gardens require less water than other types of indoor gardens, but they require more technical knowledge and specialized equipment.3

How to Get Started With an Indoor Garden

Once you've decided what type of indoor garden is right for you, you're ready to start planting. Here are 5 tips to guide gardening success:

#1 Choose the Right Plants

Take into account how much sun your home gets, your home's typical temperature, and the size of your space if you're interested in growing vegetables indoors. Some of the plants that do best in indoor gardens include:

  • Most lettuce varieties
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Peppers
  • Leafy greens, like kale and chard
  • Fresh herbs such as chives, basil, rosemary, and mint

#2 Let There Be Light—and Lots of It

The biggest problem most indoor gardeners face? A lack of sun. Vegetables generally need 6 hours of direct sunlight per day, and it's hard to meet that need indoors if you don't live in a glass house.

Here are a few tips to shed a little more light on the subject:

  • Location – For maximum sun exposure, choose a location in your home near a south- or west-facing window.4
  • Light duration – Artificial lights aren't as intense as sunlight, so 6 hours under a grow light isn't equivalent to 6 hours of sun. Leave grow lights on for 12-14 hours a day for lettuce and herbs.5
  • Grow light positioning – Position lights 6" to 12" from foliage for best results.6 Too close can result in leaf burn, and too far can lead to leggy growth. Adding a grow light to your indoor gardening setup can help your plants grow quickly without having to be in natural sunlight all day.

#3 Consider Your Containers

The ideal container for an indoor garden is made of a material that allows air to flow through the soil and contains drainage holes or a drainage system at the bottom.

Have your plant babies try these containers on for size:

  • Plastic or resin – Plastic pots are lightweight and good for moisture-loving plants because they don't pull water from the soil. That said, avoid overwatering plants in these containers to avoid a too-wet root system.
  • Pottery – Containers made of clay or ceramic are good for absorbing excess water and can help prevent overwatering. But they are also heavy and harder to move around, so if you're planting a bounty of crops, plan accordingly.
  • DIY containers – You can easily make containers from repurposed items like aluminum cans or bottles, but it's essential to add sufficient drainage holes. You can use a nail to punch holes in the bottom of cans or bottles, adding a hole every two inches or so.

Of course, if you've got a green thumb for gardening but not a steady hand for crafting, you can skip the DIY steps and spring for a pre-made indoor gardening container pre-lit and ready to grow.

#4 Water as Needed, Not on a Schedule

Your watering schedule depends on your plants, your containers, and the climate in your home. In cooler weather, for example, soil can stay wet for days. But in warm weather, daily watering may be essential.

A few rules of thumb:

  • Water deeply and infrequently, rather than shallow and often
  • For most plants, water only when the top inch or two of soil feels dry
  • If you're using an AeroGarden, just add water when the system indicates it's needed

#5 Check on Your Garden Often

Plants grow best when they're checked on daily. (And who wouldn't want to admire beautiful herbs and vegetables cropping up before your eyes?)

Watch out for common problems like:

  • Gnats, mites, or other insects
  • Weak, leggy growth
  • Drooping leaves
  • Gray or white fuzz on soil or stems

Enjoy Fresh Produce at Your Fingertips with AeroGarden

Start with the right indoor garden tools and tricks, and you'll be well on your way to fresh, flavor-packed produce at the flick of the gardening wrist.

With an AeroGarden system, you can take all the guesswork out of indoor gardening.

Our hydroponic gardens come out of the box, ready to go, with built-in LED grow lights, seed starting pods, and perfectly proportioned nutrient solution. Get planting an indoor herb garden and growing faster with AeroGarden.


1, 3American Scientific Research Journal for Engineering, Technology,and Sciences. Hydroponics, aeroponic and aquaponic as compared with conventional farming.

2Harvard University. Hydroponics: The power of water to grow food.

4, 5,6University of Michigan Extension. Lighting for indoor plants and starting seeds.