One of the most frequent comments I always get on my gardening posts is how much people would love to grow things but they don’t have a garden. Which got me thinking. Yes, I’m VERY lucky to have a large outdoor space, but there are actually lots of easy and delicious edible plants you can grow indoors too. Regular readers of my gardening updates will know I’m always talking about the well-being benefits of GYO fruit and vegetables, and the pleasures of cutting my own flowers for the house. So, the plants I’ve chosen to share with you are a mix of my favourite edible flowers, fruit and vegetables. But there are plenty of other indoor edible plants you could try too, I’d hate to be prescriptive, these are just my suggestions for you to have a go 🙂
11 delicious edible plants you can grow indoors – before you start
Indoor gardening isn’t so very different to container gardening. However, there are a few things you need to think about before you start loading up your window sills and/or window boxes.
- Pots or seed trays:* I know plastic is considered a Bad Thing but in this instance I’m going to advocate it. We always reuse our plastic pots and trays, so I don’t feel guilty about endorsing them here.
- Potting mix:* indoor edible plants need something that offers slow release nutrients but not too concentrated. Anything that’s labelled “potting mix” should contain a balanced level of vitamins and minerals. Or, if you’re growing from seed, try some peat-free coir *, which is huge fun to watch expand in the water.
- Drainage: whatever type of pots you use, do make sure that there are some drainage holes. The one thing that nearly every plant hates is to have its roots drowning in water.
- Light: some plants like a little light (a few hours in the morning would be ideal) whereas others will pine if they can’t get all the sunlight all day long. Find out what each plant likes and place it in your house accordingly.
- Temperature: see above, if a plant gets too hot, it will shrivel up. Similarly, some plants need a warm and humid atmosphere to thrive.
- Air: wherever you choose to grow your edible plants, make sure that there’s a free flow of air around them. Like you, they need to be able to breathe. But check for unwanted draughts, as few plants will enjoy those.
- Water: check to see how much water your edible plants need. Mediterranean plants such as Lavender and Rosemary require very little water. Whereas juicy Tomatoes and Strawberries will need much more to produce their best crops.
It’s up to you whether you want to try growing from seed (which I think is the cheapest and most fun way). Or you can buy in and pot on some little plant plugs (baby plants that someone has started off for you). And, of course, you can also buy a few ready-grown plants. Or even try a mixture of all three? 😉 Below are some seed and plant suppliers* (with affiliate links) that, at the time of writing, are still posting out to buyers. Alternatively, for my UK readers, you can find a local-to-you plant stockist via the Horticultural Trade Association too.
5 easy and delicious edible flowers to grow indoors
When you’re growing edible flowers indoors, you want to start with something easy. This is possibly one of my favourite flowers (see cover pic). It looks beautiful, smells wonderful, and you can eat the flowers too. If you’re into baking, a few flowers sprinkled onto shortbread or cakes are delicious. And you can also use a pinch to make a very calming and soothing tea. Word of warning: a little goes a loooooong way in the flavour stakes though.
Also known as Pelargoniums. Not just a pretty flower to look at, you can also use the petals in salads, jams, jellies, sugar syrups and on cakes for decoration. They come in lots of different fragrances including rose, citronella, pineapple, mint, and many more. As an added bonus, the leaves make a wonderful tea. We have a rose geranium, Pelargonium graveolens, and her leaves taste delicious.
These bright, zingy orange flowers pack a really peppery, zesty punch to salads. We grew some for the first time a couple of years ago via one of Flora’s Mud and Bloom boxes. They’re easy to grow, prolific, and great value: you can eat the buds, flowers and young leaves. We found less is more though in your cuisine, unless you’re a fan of mustard.
Related to Nasturtiums, you can also try growing edible Violas and Pansies. Not only are they super pretty to look at, you can cook them in syrups and jams, and they make a great addition to cakes and salads as well. We’ve frozen them in ice cubes in the past, they look very sweet floating on top of my G&T or Flora’s sparkling water.
The delicate purple leaves and pink flowers have a mild citrus flavour and chefs often use them to decorate their fish dishes. Oxalis is also a common garden weed, and almost impossible to eradicate (as I know to my cost). Which is why indoor growing is a great way to enjoy it in a more restrained fashion!
5 easy and delicious edible fruits and vegetables to grow indoors
Indoor edible plants also need to be easy to grow. Although, to be honest, I’ve never tried to grow tomatoes indoors because I have a greenhouse <grin>. But a quick foray down a Google wormhole told me that plenty of people manage this very successfully in hanging baskets. Which makes perfect sense to me – there’s no law that says tomatoes have to grow vertically upwards. In fact I might even try this method alongside our normal canes this year too.
See above, and the same rules apply. Gravity dictates that water flows downstream so there’s no reason why you couldn’t easily grow some deliciously juicy strawberries for summer harvesting. And just think how pretty a few hanging baskets of fruit would look at strategic points around your house. Not to mention handy for grazing and snacking as you pass by…
Baby leaf salads (rocket, arugula, spinach and lettuces) are some of the easiest vegetables to grow. You can even buy punnets of them in the supermarkets, if you don’t want to start your own from seed. All you do is snip off a few leaves at a time and leave the roots intact. This way, new leaves can grow again, giving you lots of delicious greens over a few weeks, rather than discovering a soggy bag of green gloop in your fridge.
Think pea shoots, baby kale, radish leaves. Micro greens are a great source of vitamins and folate as well as looking very pretty in your salads or as garnishes. Like cut and come again salads, if you only cut the stems and leaves, your roots will keep growing and you can keep harvesting.
I have to give cress an honourable mention – I mean come on, who didn’t grow cress as a child? It was the very first thing I can remember growing. (Well, alongside a broad bean in a jar and some wet blotting paper, who’s with me?) Flora grew some cress a while back in a few empty egg shells, what could be easier? Similarly, one of my fellow bloggers, Jenni at I on Image, is sprouting dried peas as part of a school project. Apparently they are yummy on a sandwich and she plans to try sprouting lentils later as well!
Easy and delicious herbs to grow indoors
Quite apart from all their health benefits, how nice would it be to reach for a few fresh snippings when you’re cooking? I’m not saying dried herbs don’t have their place, but once you’ve tasted your own home grown herbs, I don’t think you’ll revert (sorry, Schwartz et al). And I think you can grow most herbs very easily indoors. The only thing you need to check first is which varieties can be planted up together.
- Woody herbs to grow together include: thyme, oregano, verbena, rosemary.
- Softer herbs to grow together include: chives, basil, coriander, parsley, fennel, chamomile.
- Herbs that are best as singles include: mint, sage, lemon balm. These three in particular are thugs and will quickly take over anything else in the container. So it’s best to plant them in their own pots with regular snipping to keep them under control.
Most herbs you can buy as potted plants from any supermarket but if you can’t find what you want then online retailers are a great place to source them too. And many herbs come in all kinds of flavours – chocolate mint, orange thyme, pineapple sage… the list is endless!
Where to buy your delicious edible plants for indoor growing
In the past, I’ve had great success with plants and seeds bought from Amazon* and eBay as well as traditional plant suppliers such as Thompson Morgan*. And keep an eye out for gardening magazines, because a lot have free seeds with each issue that might be suitable for indoor growing.
A few words of warning before you buy anything though. Please check for any allergies (eg, mustard and strawberries can trigger reactions in some people). And please make sure you only buy edible varieties rather than ornamental ones, which may well be hazardous if ingested.
So there you go, my 11 favourite easy and delicious edible plants to grow indoors. I hope I’ve given you some ideas and inspiration to go and have some fun growing a few flowers, fruits and vegetables yourself, whether you have a garden or not. Which ones do you like the look of most? Have you tried growing any indoors before? How did you get on and have you got any tips or favourites to share?
* This post contains affiliate links (please see my Disclaimer).