• Terra Observer

Indoor planting: A guide to sprouting, herb gardening, and choosing plants

Want to grow plants but don’t have a backyard? Don't lose hope—you can still have a lively home garden in your apartment or dorm with the help of this easy step-by-step sprouting guide.

Callista Ryan, Contributor

Sprouts: the nutritious and tasty snacks you can grow at home. (Milada Vigerova / Unsplash)

Contrary to popular belief, gardening is not exclusive to the outdoors. Having plants in your home can boost your mood, brighten up your living space and produce fresh ingredients for cooking—farm-to-table dining, right in your own home. Forget a garden; many of these plants can be grown indoors. Read on to learn the basics of indoor planting, herb gardening and sprouting.

Indoor plants

Having plants in your home is a great way to decorate a space, keep the air fresh and add a splash of colour and life. When it comes to plants, there are many flowers, vines and succulents that can thrive indoors. A great plant to start with is English Ivey, which you can keep in a hanging basket, a shared pot or just on its own. Fiddle-leaf fig is another classic indoor plant that makes for a beautiful addition to any home garden. To keep it looking its best, place this plant in direct sunlight and give it plenty of attention. The largest leaves on these plants tend to grow into violin-like shapes, hence the name.

Another plant that is perfect for apartments is Lady Palm. This small fan palm doesn't need direct sunlight, so it's perfectly suited for shadowy areas within a small indoor space.

The most low-maintenance starting plants are succulents. With succulents, you can’t go wrong—they may not be as leafy or as conspicuous as some of the other plants listed here, but they're hard to kill and make great desk plants. These are just a few ideas, but there are tons of other plants you can green your bedroom, bathroom or living area with.

If you want to move on from indoor plants into food production, consider growing your own vegetables and herbs.

Indoor herb gardening

Growing your own herbs is a great way to start indoor gardening. For the most part, herb seeds are affordable and are easy to find at grocery stores. By choosing to start an herb garden, you can avoid the excessive packaging that comes with store-bought herbs while producing delicious ingredients for your home-cooked meals. It doesn't get much more local than this.

Homegrown herb plants are easy to maintain. They thrive in sunlit indoor areas and replenish quickly, ensuring a fresh supply of herbs for your next meal. Growing your own herbs can save you a lot of time and money if you tend to cook with them often.

An herb planter is a useful tool that allows several herbs to grow in one planter at a windowsill. You can also grow individual plants in their own pots—they will be happy as long as they receive natural sunlight (although a grow light can work just as well).

Another benefit of indoor herb gardening is that some of the staple herbs are actually the easiest to grow. Start with basil, chives, mint, rosemary, oregano and thyme to get your herb garden started. When the herbs are ready for use, clip a few sprigs or leaves from the plant and prepare them in the kitchen. If you’re looking to give your home a refreshing, natural scent, lavender is an excellent fragrant herb to grow indoors.

Growing tips

  • Make sure your pots have drainage

  • Harvest herbs little by little (no more than 25 per cent in one harvest)

  • Water herbs to keep the soil moist, but be sure to not waterlog them

Sprouting at home

If you consider yourself to be someone with a green thumb, try sprouting. Sprouting refers to the germination of seeds, or in other words, planting legumes and seeds that you can eat raw. Indoor sprouting is a great way to grow a healthy snack for yourself—no dirt required.

I began growing my own sprouts after an internship at a community greenhouse. I knew that when I went back to university in the fall, I would not have the opportunity to garden for a while. That's why I decided to use the skills I learned at the greenhouse to grow broccoli sprouts in my dorm. Now, there's always a fresh snack in my room and I constantly feel connected to nature. To spread the sprouting love, I have organized sprouting workshops for my fellow staff and students in the past.


  • A Mason jar

  • Mesh

  • Rubber bands

  • Sprouting seeds—broccoli and alfalfa are great seeds to start with

How to sprout

  1. Put three tablespoons of seeds into a clean glass jar.

  2. Place a square piece of mesh to cover the opening of the jar and leave room for the rubber band to hold it into place. You can also use a plastic wrap sheet with holes poked into it. Note that this method will take longer to drain.

  3. Rinse the seeds with water and drain them through the mesh. Try your best to push all the floating seeds downward into the water with your fingers.

  4. Refill the glass jar with a water-to-seed ratio of 3:1. Leave the sprouts to soak in a ventilated area for at least six hours but no more than 12 hours. Once you've let them soak, drain the water and leave the seeds in the jar at a 45-degree angle for ten minutes to drain any excess water.

  5. Rinse the seeds every eight hours, or two to three times per day, and drain the seeds for ten minutes after every rinse.

  6. By the third day, you should start to see the sprouts. You can move them into indirect sunlight if you want the sprouts to photosynthesize and become greener (this works well for broccoli).

  7. Sprouts usually take five to six days to form. When you see open leaves forming, your sprouts are ready! Most sprouts will have hulls, or seed coats, so before you do a final rinse, put them in a bowl of water. As you separate the mass of sprouts, most hulls should float to the top. Do this for a few minutes and make sure to remove the ones that are left (they’re edible, but don’t taste as good as the sprouts).

  8. Your sprouts are ready, and you can store them in the fridge for a few days. They can be savoured on their own or used to upgrade your salad or sandwich.

Happy sprouting!