Everything You Need to Know About Indoor Gardening
It can be a pain trying to search through all the material on the internet to get the simple answers you need about indoor gardening and hydroponics. There are just so many resources.
And if you don’t know precisely what you’re looking for, you can end up missing the information you actually need all together.
That’s why we put together this guide that organizes advice about all the gardening topics we cover on The Tye-Dyed Iguana blog.
Take a look at the table of contents to easily find the information you need.
(By the way, if you’re looking for info about growing plants in a fish tank, check out our guide to freshwater fish and aquascaping, coming soon.)
Table of Contents
The nine articles in this section provide some general gardening advice…
The tips here apply mostly to outdoor gardening, including container gardens. Gardening doesn’t necessarily start in the spring when you’re ready to plant. If you plan ahead, you can make the planting process a whole lot easier (and get better results) by prepping your grow bed to be a no-till garden bed. There are just four steps:
Select and clear your planting space.
Cover the area with wet cardboard.
Cover the cardboard with compost.
Cover the whole thing with mulch.
Do you like to plan ahead? You can take your garden with you and plant wherever you shelter in emergency situations with a few survival gardening tips:
Plant as soon as possible after disaster, even if you have stocked food.
Use the efficient, keyhole garden design.
Why are these methods best for survival gardening? Find out more in the full article.
Keeping in theme with the article above, survival gardening may require that you take your gardening supplies off grid. A bug-out bag is a supply bag that is light to carry while providing you with the most useful items.
For survival gardening, that means:
Seeds that can be both eaten and planted
Seeds that are easy to grow.
Seeds for both food and medicinal purposes.
Think you could just gather food in the wild? It’s harder than you may think. Find out more in the full article.
Well, put simply, urine contains nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium—all things plants crave. You can add pee to your plants in one of three ways:
Dilute the pee and add it to soil.
Pee directly onto compost.
Add pee to the hydroponic tank.
Watch hydroponics growers talk about the advantages of “pee-ponics” in the videos linked in the full article.
Got a sugar craving? So do your plants. Carb loading with gardening additives or plain old molasses can improve the taste of fruits and vegetables.
Of course, you’ll need to watch for timing and amounts to get the best results from this method. The “sweet spot” for most plants is during the transition from vegetative to blooming stage and continues until a couple weeks before the flower stage ends.
Plants that doom people to a lifetime of insatiable hunger? Plants that give you good luck, but at the cost of evil spirits tracking you down? Plants that...grow fully grown sheep? If you like plants and a good story, you might be interested in some of these myths.
Gardening was the number one hobby in 2019, in part because it appeals to so many different types of people. Crafting and gardening, in particular, can fit well together as hobbies. Here are some ideas for getting double-duty out of your hobby time:
Use plants as home décor.
Make your own planters.
Make planted terrariums.
Make living jewelry.
You’ll see lots of crafty ideas (photos included) in the full article.
As mentioned above, gardening is popular with all kinds of people. Some people who benefit from a gardening hobby include:
Comic book nerds.
Survivalists and preppers.
See the list of 8 kinds of people who might love gardening and why in the full article.
You can combine your love of exotic pets with your love of gardening by growing plants in a terrarium. Things to keep in mind include:
Which plants will your pet eat (and do you want them to eat the plants)?
What purposes do the plants serve in the tank (food, hiding spot, decoration)?
How much effort do you want to put into plant upkeep?
Learn more about combining pet keeping and gardening in our Guide to Bioactive Terrariums, coming soon.
The articles above have some general guidance on growing plants, but they don’t cover specific details.
To fill you in on more of the specifics, here are some of the common questions about hydroponics and gardening:
Absolutely! We get all kinds of people in our store looking for interesting and exotic plant species. If anything, the popularity of social media has made gardening, and indoor gardening especially, flourish. You’ll find a lot of people posting their plants on Instagram and Pinterest.
Ants are a huge nuisance, and they can be especially problematic if you are growing fruits or vegetables indoors. That being said, they can infest any potted plants, and because they tunnel through the soil, they are difficult to remove.
Ants can actually destroy the roots and harm the health of your plant. One of the best methods of protection is to set ant baits anywhere you see the insects’ trails along floors, walls, or counters.
Benefits of urban farming practices, including hydroponic gardens, include:
Access for more people to enter the food production industry on a local scale.
Improved sustainability for food production.
Access to fresher foods for urban dwellers.
Reduced environmental pollution because the food doesn’t need to be transported as far.
You can learn more about how urban farming works in this article (it also includes information about aquaculture for raising fish).
Yes. The nutrient reservoir of a hydroponic setup requires an air pump to circulate oxygen through the irrigation system. Without oxygen, plants can actually drown, and they won’t be able to take in enough nutrients.
In fact, you should also use air stones to help distribute oxygen throughout the system.
The amount of nutrient solution you need depends on three factors:
The size of the reservoir tank.
The current stage of plant growth.
The type of plant you are growing.
Nutrient burn is a condition plants develop when they receive an overdose of nutrient supplements. If you provide too many nutrients to your plants, you may see the following symptoms of nutrient burn:
Drooping leaves and stems.
Yellow coloring on leaves.
Brown spots on leaves.
Burnt-looking, dry, brown edges on leaves.
Actually, yes. Odors accumulate in indoor gardens for a variety of reasons, and the more space you dedicate to plant growth, the more likely this is to become an issue in your home. To mitigate the aromas of a smelly grow room, keep this tips in mind:
Create airflow in the space.
Pick up or sweep any fallen leaves or dead plant material in the room.
Keep humidity levels regulated (too much humidity increases smells).
Try carbon filters on your fan or vents.
Use a high-quality ozone generator for larger indoor gardens.
As noted in our articles on teacup gardens, micro greenhouses, and growing in small spaces, you can have as small a garden as you please. That being said, if you want a grow room full of plants, then it does matter how you utilize the space.
Ideally, you want plants to be close enough that you can fit as many as you want and maximize lighting resources, but you don’t want them so close that they shade each other’s buds or hold onto moisture that encourages mold and mildew growth.
Grow lights—if you’re growing a large quantity of plants in one room, you probably need them. If you don’t have large windows situated for long periods of sunlight hitting all your plants, you probably need them. If you’re growing edible plants, you probably need them.
But there are so many different kinds; how do you know exactly what you need?
LED lights come with a lot of benefits that make them appealing to indoor growers. Those benefits include:
Better energy efficiency.
Cooler running temperatures.
That being said, they do tend to be more expensive and cannot be repaired like HID lights can.
There is a really easy solution to the problem of expensive grow lights and high electric bills. As long as you have some grow lights available, you can maximize their effectiveness by positioning reflective surfaces in your grow room. You’ll want to choose reflective films or light reflectors that diffuse the light so it’s not all reflected in one spot.
Bonus, using reflective surfaces instead of only direct light reduces the chance of damaging plants by burning the leaves.
Pruning flowering plants can help increase the size of blooms and the amount of yields for plants with harvests. It’s an easy way to get better results, but too much pruning can stress out the plant. There are two primary areas you want to prune:
“Bully” shoots that are outgrowing the rest of the plant and using up all the nutrients.
Dead or unhealthy segments.
To minimize stress to the plant, use sharp-bladed shears and never rip or saw off branches.
Adding plant support stakes isn’t always necessary, but sometimes even indoor plants need help holding up their stems. In fact, indoor plants can develop weaker stems simply because they are not exposed to things like wind and heavy rain that outdoor plants adapt to over time.
If your plant is large, tall, or holding a big yield, it may need stakes to prevent a broken stem that could kill the plant.
You actually have a really simple natural option for preventing some of the most common plant ailments, and that is to put a ventilation fan in your grow room. The increased airflow balances out humidity in the room, preventing mold and fungus. And the breeze can make it more difficult for pests to keep hold on the plants.
Bonus: A breeze in the room also strengthens stems, exposing them to conditions more like those of outdoor plants.
As mentioned in the answer above, ventilation fans help with dispersing humidity and keeping levels in check. That being said, you also want to make sure your plants aren’t getting too little moisture in the air, which has its own set of problems.
Fungus and pests are the worst offenders in the plant world. Three types of fungus are particularly common:
Fungus can typically be prevented by monitoring watering and humidity. Pests, like aphids and mites, on the other hand, are a little more difficult to deal with because they are so small and can cause damage before you know they are present.
Yes, you do need to occasionally clean the reservoir tank on your hydroponic setup. This keeps bad bacteria and other buildup out of the system and away from your plants. It may sound like a less-than-fun aspect of keeping an indoor garden, but you can make it easier with a few tips:
Set a cleaning schedule so sludge doesn’t build up over time.
Add a filtration system to reduce buildup.
Add enzymes to the water to help break down decaying plant matter that feeds bacteria.
Everyone has their own theory on what media to grow hydroponic plants in. But if you’re an absolute beginner to all of this, we suggest mixing coco coir with either grow rocks or rockwool, or using a perlite and vermiculite combo.
These combinations provide the right balance of nutrient retention, oxygen availability to the roots, and hydration.
If you want to use rockwool in your garden, we also suggest checking out this article on the proper way to prepare and handle it.
That depends. Whether you use a grow tent or not is up to you and what type of plants you are growing. If you want to display decorative plants, a grow tent probably isn’t going to meet your needs. But if you are growing plants to harvest their yields—like vegetables, herbs, or fruits—then a grow tent is a great way to control the growing environment.
Gardening is an excellent family activity, but only if the individuals involved all enjoy it. Fortunately, you can start your kids on the gardening path early by making it interesting for them.
Here are 3 suggestions to make gardening meaningful for kids:
Let them make their own compost to feed their plants, so they stay involved during the boring part of watching plants grow.
Turn gardening into a set of science experiments, like testing soil pH.
Let them eat what they grow.
Now, let’s move on to information from popular indoor growing categories…
Not all indoor growers use hydroponic methods; however, most of the tips here apply to hydroponics. The information on fertilizers and nutrients may apply to more diverse indoor growing styles.
Hydroponics is quite simply using water as the primary nutrient vector for plants instead of soil.
Find out more about hydroponic methods at these links:
Whether you grow with soil or a hydroponic setup, your plants are going to need nutrient supplementation.
Find out more about fertilizers and nutrient supplements at these links:
Some growers have found natural sources of additional nutrients by adding animals to the growing cycle. Aquaponics, for instance, uses fish waste as a fertilizer, and vermiponics does the same with worm waste.
Find out more about aquaponics and vermiponics at these links:
In this section, you’ll find out about basic supplies and how to get the most out of them, as well as other gardening efficiency tips.
Growing media is whatever you use to support the growth of plant roots, like soil or coco coir. The growing media helps hold onto and disperse water and nutrients.
Find out more about growing media at these links:
Composting is the practice of turning plant and food wastes into fertilizer for your garden. Sometimes, you can even add other waste items, like cardboard or waste products from an herbivore (such as rabbits or worms).
Find out more about compost at these links:
Many gardeners don’t have all day to spend in their garden (even if they want to). If you’re short on time, or if you just want the best results with the least amount of effort, then you’ll be happy to know there are plenty of time management tips available.
Find out more about time management at these links:
Bringing home new types of plants can be exciting. Check out the information in this section for learning about different types of plants and gardens.
Succulents and carnivorous plants are among some of the most popular we sell at The Tye-Dyed Iguana. Succulents tend to be easy to care for, and carnivorous plants, like the Venus flytrap will intrigue your houseguests, as well as eat a few pests.
Find out more about succulents and carnivorous plants at these links:
A popular hobby of gardeners is eating what we grow. And why not? It’s highly satisfying and delicious. Fortunately, we’ve got tips on getting the best yields and for putting those ingredients into recipes.
Find out more about growing and eating fruits, vegetables, and herbs at these links:
Trees, like other indoor plants, clean your air and add greenery. But they’re also a bit different from standard houseplants. They add something exotic to the indoors. Of course, you can’t have a hundred-foot tall oak in your living room. So what kinds of trees are suitable to life inside?
Find out more about growing trees and other plants indoors at these links:
You can also learn more about combining indoor gardening with animal keeping in our Guide to Bioactive Terrariums.