How to Grow Vegetables Inside in the Winter
Updated: Jan 7
You may anticipate a sad end to the gardening season as the winter weather rolls in. But our relationship to plants and gardening doesn’t have to come to a close with the colder weather. You can easily grow your own indoor garden this winter with just a bit of planning and creativity. Whether you’re looking to brighten up a small space with foliage, enjoy freshly grown herbs, or create an educational opportunity for kids, indoor gardening can provide plenty of joy all winter long. Gardening offers many health benefits and can be a great way to reconnect to nature during the colder months of the year.
Bring your winter garden to life with these steps
Before you get started, it’s good to have a sense of your own goals for your garden. Are you hoping for a harvest you can enjoy eating, or just a pretty garden to tend to? If you have children, what plants offer opportunities for learning? If you love to cook, which herbs are a mainstay in your favourite recipes? Spend a few minutes writing down your vision for your garden, so you know what your goals are. Then it’s time to bring your vision to life.
1. Choose your plants wisely
When gardening indoors, you’ll need to make intentional choices with the crops you plant. Not all plants can handle an indoor environment, and some may require modifications to lighting and climate in order to thrive. Remember that leafy plants generally do well in indoor or shaded areas. Some herbs are also hearty indoor growers that you’ll be able to grow with ease. Typically vegetables need 4-6 hours of sunlight, while other crops (like fruit and certain flowers) won’t thrive unless they have 8-10 hours of light. Get to know the plants you choose, and you’ll improve your chances of success.
These plants typically grow well indoors:
Leafy greens like spinach, kale, and lettuce
Herbs like basil, peppermint, parsley, fennel, mint, and oregano
Vegetables like radishes, beet greens, green onions, scallions, and arugula
Explore other hardy indoor crops online.
2. Read the room
Stand in the room where you’ll be planting your indoor garden and notice the light, humidity, and other factors. You’ll want to choose a place where a plant looks good, but it’s even more important that your indoor garden is planted in the best location to thrive. Beware of easily missed factors like heating vents where hot, dry air blows directly on a plant, unsealed windows where a cold draft comes in, or high-traffic areas where an excited pet or a new guest could bump into your plants. Which way does your window face? The sunlight coming through will affect your garden’s growth potential, and so will the lights in your home. Understanding the light in your space can help you plan ahead, so you’ll know if you should be choosing shade plants or those that love the sun.
3. Choose the perfect container
It’s great to grow plants from seedlings, so look for ready-to-plant herbs when you’re starting your garden to make life easy. For some plants, you’ll likely need to grow plants from seeds. You can use almost anything for tiny sprouting seedlings: paper cups, egg cartons, or tiny containers. When choosing the right container for the rest of your indoor garden, you’ll want to consider how big your plants will be when fully grown. Although you may be planting seedlings, your plants could get big and replanting indoors is a messy hassle. Choosing the right container also gives your plants room to stretch their roots out and start a lovely journey to maturation. If you’re growing leafy greens, you can make do with small pots or small planters. If you’re attempting a more ambitious crop like indoor tomatoes, you’ll need to consider a bigger box with support for stalks as they grow. Don’t forget about the drainage! If your pot or container doesn’t have a hole in the bottom, consider lining the bottom with pebbles to avoid root rot.
4. Beware the indoor plant pest
Gnats, mites, tiny flies, and other bugs can feed on composted soil or wood particles in your plant pots. There are easy, natural solutions to most indoor pests; try filling up a spray bottle with a tiny spoonful of dish soap and lots of water, and spray liberally on the top layer of soil. This will keep gnats and other bugs from laying eggs and thriving on your plants. You can always repot or gently clean off a plant if you’re noticing bugs or flies congregating on the base of the plant. Regularly clean up any fallen leaves or plant debris, and make sure you keep cut flowers away from your indoor garden, so gnats and other insects don’t have a chance to migrate to your indoor garden.
5. Get the right tools
You likely already have many of the tools you’ll need to grow an indoor garden, but it’s wise to be prepared. Consider your light sources, potting soil, available containers, and watering methods. If you’re noticing a lack of light in your house or you’re looking to grow more edible plants that require brighter rooms, you may want to invest in some grow lights, like high-output LED lights, fluorescent lights, or indoor sun lamps. Soil is incredibly important, so choose a rich indoor potting mix that feeds your plants and helps them grow. You may want to purchase a spray bottle to refresh tired leaves and feed without overwatering. If you’re looking to get creative, Pinterest is a great resource to explore projects like building your own planters, reusing household objects to plant, and creating a beautiful indoor aesthetic with your new indoor garden.
Benefits of indoor gardening
Growing your own indoor garden this winter has a myriad of benefits. From mental health to physical wellness, tending to an indoor garden brings fresh energy to your home in multiple ways.
The presence of plants in your home can improve air quality, boost your mood, and even inspire healthier eating.
Gardening can reduce your risk of heart disease and depression.
Growing crops indoors can help prevent gardening issues that typically come with an outdoor garden, like soil-borne diseases or poor soil quality.
The smell of earth and the thrill of seeing a plant grow are great ways to combat the winter blues.
The wisdom we learn in the garden can be life-affirming. Indoor gardening can remind us to accept what comes and to embrace imperfection, in gardening and life.
Get creative with Boomerang’s online classes
Our online community at Boomerang is a great place to source inspiration for your next great adventure from the comfort of your home. Our community members love to share ideas, tips and valuable insights. Whether you’re looking to try something new or develop skills you already have, our community learns by doing.
Join our weekly discussion group such as the November Garden Club coming up, or learn about indoor gardening skills, ask questions, try new ideas, and make new friends. Sign up for Boomerang and check out our indoor gardening workshops coming up:
Ready to take your indoor garden to the next level? You’ll love the way our classes reconnect us all to nature. Join one of our upcoming workshops to explore nature, understand your plants, or go on a virtual rainforest tour.
This article offers general information only and is not intended as legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. While the information presented is believed to be factual and current, its accuracy is not guaranteed and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the author(s) as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by Royal Bank of Canada or its affiliates.