With the right lights, growing medium and watering system you can grow almost anything indoors, including vegetables and fruit trees. If that's too ambitious for you, you can still make even the most low-maintenance houseplants appear more lush and abundant with a little extra attention to habitat and care.
The biggest concern when growing plants inside is the amount of light they will receive. Most homes do not have enough light to support a plant that requires anything more than medium to low light. Houseplants that grow well include Boston ferns, Philodendrons, and moth orchids. Watering needs vary by plant, so follow the watering advice from your garden store and fertilize about every two to three weeks, if the plant is growing quickly. Burned leaves are a sign you are over-fertilizing.
Artificial lights, such as cool white fluorescents, will increase the variety of plants you can grow indoors. Some plants need more time under artificial lights than others. As a general rule, long-day plants, which form buds when exposed to 14 or more hours of sunlight a day, and short-day plants, which form buds when exposed to between 10 and 12 hours, will need a grow light. You can increase the intensity of the amount of light your plants receive by increasing the number of fluorescent bulbs you use. Grow lights work best when hooked up to a timer. Plants that respond well to artificial lights include African violets, Boston ferns and begonias.
Hydroponics, a system of growing plants without soil, can increase the range of plants you can grow indoors, everything from herbs to tomatoes.The same light concerns apply to plants grown with hydroponics as with traditional growing media. Hydroponics also requires plants to be fertilized with nutrient solutions dissolved in water that is usually aerated. An aquarium pump works well for home hydroponics gardens.
Plants that need more humidity will perform better in an indoor greenhouse. Most homes have an average relative humidity between 10 percent and 20 percent, which is considered low for any plant, according to an article from the University of Georgia cooperative extension. Introducing a plant to a low humidity environment can result in rapid transpiration and water loss, the article says. A greenhouse will keep your plants at about 50 percent relative humidity. You can build an indoor greenhouse from inexpensive kits. More ambitious gardeners can outfit them with watering systems and grow lights. They are a good option year-round for tropical plants such as orchids, birds of paradise, or even citrus trees. Many gardeners also use temporary indoor greenhouses to start vegetable seedlings in the spring and extend their growing season.