Indoor patio gardening provides an easy way to enjoy plants, herbs and flowers throughout the year. It's also ideal for those not able to physically able to spend hours outside in the garden. Kids benefit from indoor patio gardening, as it provides ample learning opportunities about botanical life. Those without large indoor spaces can still participate--windowsills or other small spaces can be transformed to indoor patio gardens.
Two types of flower pots are plastic and clay. Clay can help plants by drawing excess moisture away from their roots, and plants that thrive in drier soil often do well in clay. Plants that require frequent watering often do better in plastic, which retains water longer. No matter the material, all flower pots should have a drainage hole in the bottom before planting.
The amount of sunlight your indoor space receives helps determine what type of plants will thrive. Monitoring your sunlight before purchasing plants and flowers saves time and money in the long run. Grow lights can be beneficial to your patio garden, providing artificial sunlight to plants and herbs. Even if you lack a grow light, garden centers contain a wide variety of selection of plants that will thrive in an indoor garden.
Garden centers and grocery stores with floral sections are good places to search for house plants. Choose plants that have strong foliage color and sturdy roots. Avoid plants with droopy stems or falling leaves. If the plant is wrapped in a decorative foil, as they often are in grocery stores, ask the florist for permission to remove the foil and examine the roots. Roots shouldn't be leaking from the bottom of a plastic pot. Plants should be securely rooted in the soil and not have a "wobbly" feeling or appearance.
Potting soil for indoor patio gardens has two jobs. It needs to retain nutrients and water long enough to allow the plant to absorb both, and it needs to allow for enough drainage so plants don't suffer from rot root. Store-bought potting soil may contain enough ingredients to successfully handle these two tasks. If needed, peat moss, vermiculite and perlite may be added. These ingredients are available at garden centers and are designed to improve soil properties.
Houseplants grow well when the daytime indoor temperature is between 70 and 80 degrees. According to the Texas Master Gardener Handbook, ideal nighttime temperatures should be 10 to 15 degrees lower. Lower evening temperatures help with color intensity and recovery from moisture loss that occurs during the day. Portable fans or heaters are often used to help heat or cool indoor patio gardens.
In general, houseplants should be watered when the soil is dry 2 inches deep into the pot. Several types of watering methods are available. The old-fashioned way is the traditional watering can, which comes in a variety of shapes, sizes, colors and materials. You don't have to purchase a new one; a kitchen pitcher will work just as well. An indoor watering hose is another method. Smaller than an outside hose, it attaches to your kitchen sink. Numerous decorative watering accessories are available at garden centers and specialty garden stores.