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Homes | Indoor gardening

Bring the garden indoors

Got the winter blues? Or perhaps you're looking to brighten the a room. Indoor gardens are an inexpensive way to lift your spirits, change your decor and bring a little sunshine to short winter days. And February is National Indoor Gardening Month, offering you the perfect opportunity to learn the basics to growing plants indoors. Here are some helpful tips to get you started. StatePoint

Things to consider

Before buying up the garden section of your local home improvement store, it's important to decide what you want to grow. House plants can grow under the relatively low light levels, but fresh herbs like basil and cilantro require a more direct sun or artificial light to thrive. And flowering plants like tomatoes and petunias require even more light — either a sunny window or grow lights.

Once you've decided what you want to grow, it's time to decide on a space for your garden. Consider things like potential drafts, floor and shelf space, access to water and room for grow lights, if needed.

You should also consider how much time you have to nurture new life forms in your home. If you travel a lot or work two jobs, you may want to grow plants that need infrequent watering. If you're retired or a homebody, you can stock your home with more plants of greater diversity.

Elements and exceptions

Just like their exposure to light, different plants need different amounts of water and types of nutrients. Slow-growing plants need less nutrients and often less water. Fast-growing plants like to be consistently damp. Trial and error and a bit of research will help in determining what's right for the plants you want to grow.

Or you can use innovation to your advantage. For example, a product called the AeroGarden is a soil-free, indoor growing system that lets you grow anything from tarragon to tomatoes using liquid nutrients, energy-efficient grow lights and hydroponic technology that eliminates over- and under-watering. These technologies allow plants and vegetables to grow nearly twice as fast.

"Homegrown vegetables and herbs are great ways for families to save money," says J. Michael Wolfe, president of AeroGrow, the makers of the AeroGarden. "So it's even better that families can now grow their vegetables year-round."

Plants that grow best

Indoor planting requires some thought in terms of what to grow and when. For example, you can "force" a variety of spring bulbs to grow by chilling them for a few months before winter sets in. But for most people, it's easier to grow plants suited for indoor climates.

For flowering plants, some common favorites include African violets, geraniums and impatiens. Or you can grow more hardy plants like cacti, aloe vera and spider plants. For information on growing plants and vegetables indoors in a dirt-free environment, visit www.aerogarden.com.

But regardless of what you grow, indoor gardens can bring new life and a feeling of eternal spring.

Bring the garden indoors 01/25/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, January 25, 2011 3:30am]

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