Indoor Growing Methods

Indoor gardening has several benefits. Fruits and vegetables grown indoors have shown to be more nutrient-rich and taste better than when grown in outdoor gardens, and indoor gardening also allows you to grow flowers, produce or plants year-round without having to worry about climate or weather. It cuts water usage and more plants can be condensed in one space as well. There are three main methods of growing indoors: grow lights, using natural sunlight and hydroponics.

Hydroponics

Hydroponics are popular for hard-to-grow or delicate herbs and plants, such as orchids. "Hydro" translates from Greek to water, and "ponos" translates to working, meaning that the plants are grown without any soil, just water. Almost any plant can be grown hydroponically when correctly prepared. When setting up hydroponics as your indoor growing method, map out the design at the beginning. Setting up a hydroponic system requires researching the proper equipment you need for your specific crop, flower or plant. Typically, you grow with a watering tray that has a circulation system and planter trays where what you are growing sits. Nutrient solutions are common with hydroponics, and you can use either grow lights or natural lighting.

Natural Sun

Indoor growing can be done with natural sunlight from outdoors. Indoors, sunlight exposure is affected by the presence of items that can cast shade outdoors, such as roof overhangs, curtains or trees. Keep this in mind when purchasing specific plants, as the label usually provides information on the light requirements. Eastern exposure windows provide the best light and temperature usually for indoor plants, because of the direct morning light to midday light available and the cooler temperatures from the house absorbing less heat on this side. Southern and western exposure windows provide the best winter sunlight. Northern exposure winters have the least amount of sunlight to offer, so they are ideal for delicate plants such as African Violets that need low light. Out of the four directions, the northern exposure receives the least light and heat all year.

Grow Lights

The Indoor grow light method works for hydroponics or just on their own. The four types of grow lights are: incandescent, fluorescent, HPS and high-intensity discharge. Incandescent lights are the least expensive but provide a limited light spectrum. Fluorescent lights are popular because they are inexpensive, are easily available, compact and easy to stabilize. They are ideal for low growing crops like lettuce, potatoes or spinach. HID lights produce up to 10 times more light then the incandescent, but also produce more heat. HID lights also take several hours to stabilize, sometimes up to 100 hours. High pressure sodium bulbs have the best efficiency and life span of the lighting options. However, the bulbs only emulate fall sun exposure.

Keywords: growing indoors, indoor gardening, plant grow lights

About this Author

Lauren Wise has more than eight years' experience as a writer, editor, copywriter and columnist. She specializes in food, wine, music and pop culture. Her writing has appeared in various magazines, including "Runway," "A2Z," "Scottsdale Luxury Living" and "True West." Wise holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Arizona State University.