The Q&A Archives: Small Indoor Container Gardening

Question: I have a north facing kitchen window that doesn't really get direct sunlight. I have put in plant-gro lightbulbs on a timer to help my plants but have yet to hit upon the right plants (that will thrive) to put in that window. The containers are small (about 6") and I would like to keep them that way because of the size of the window, so would love some suggestions of plants that would grow well in small containers in artificial light. I have heard that african violets might work but I would prefer something that doesn't flower but is just a lot of green. My latest brainstorm (that I have yet to try) is ferns. I love the way they look but don't know if they will do well in containers that size. Plus, I would love to have a variety of ferns/plants for my seven pots but don't know of a good place to find out more without experimenting and possibly killing the plants. Any advice would be most appreciated!

Answer: Ferns can be difficult to grow because they tend to need more humidity than is available in the average home under winter heating or summer air conditioning. For foliage plants in a northern window (with or without the extra light) you might try philodendron, pothos, snake plant, and English ivy. There are many collector varieties of ivy with different shapes of leaves and some have patterns on them in silver or gold. This should give you a nice variety for your pots -- and they will grow in six inch pots for at least a while before needing transplanting or trimming back.

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