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Enter my home at any time throughout the year, and it will look not unlike a war zone – dirt on the floor, cobwebs hanging from the corners…just general anarchy.
I’m not great at decorating, and while I do my best to keep things neat and tidy, our decorating scheme around here definitely veers more toward the functional than the feng-shui, if you know what I mean.
But there’s one exception.
Particularly in the spring, plants are a great decorating choice. But I’ll be honest – it’s hard to justify taking up precious floor or counter space with a plant that’s not going to provide at least some kind of a return on investment.
That’s why I put together this list of the very best (and most functional!) plants you can grow in your home to maximize your homesteading success.
Here we go.
Aloe makes me feel (at least just a little bit) that I’m not stuck in a frozen, barren wasteland and am instead somewhere a little bit warmer…like the desert, perhaps?
This gorgeous succulent produces long, pointed leaves that pack a serious medicinal punch. You can use aloe for a variety of conditions, from mild burns to cuts. It also helps regulate air quality, removing many pollutants found in chemical-based cleaning products.
Aloe is easy to grow. While the most common variety of aloe grows up to three feet high, you don’t have to sacrifice that much space to make an impact. There are mini-versions, like traditional aloe vera, that are ideal for small, sunny spaces.
The best part about growing aloe? It requires minimal watering, so if you’re a forgetful gardener (like me) you don’t need to worry.
2. Bamboo palm
Another winner when it comes to improving indoor air quality is the bamboo palm. This plant is one of the best at purifying indoor air, removing dangerous chemicals like benzene and trichloroethylene from the air.
The attractive bamboo palm is easy to care for, and can tolerate shade and areas of indirect sunlight. That means you don’t have to sacrifice valuable windowsill space, people! However, you do need to keep it well-watered.
This plant is attractive and makes the air a little easier to breathe. I’ll call that a win.
3. French lavender
I would recommend any kind of lavender to indoor growers, but French lavender has a particularly special effect. This plant has a pleasant, calming scent (which is why you often find it used in bath oils, personal products, diffusers, air fresheners, and other items) and can help relieve stress. Plus, its purple flowers make it a gorgeous addition to any room in your home.
Lavender requires plenty of sunlight, and you may need to jumpstart it a bit in the beginning by providing some supplemental light during the seeding phase. However, once you get it going, lavender will produce for months on end without needing to be replanted.
Peppermint can benefit both your mental and physical wellbeing. It helps curb cravings for certain foods and makes you stay more focused while you’re at work. Consider planting peppermint in your office to help you stay on track, and you can not only inhale the pleasant aroma as you type but also clip the leaves to use in your tea and other recipes whenever you feel like it.
Peppermint can also help aid in your digestion, making it easier for your body to filter out toxins. It’s easy to grow, too – all you need to do is start it from seeds or from starter plants, and then place them in a larger, deeper pot.
Mint has a tendency to sprawl and can actually be somewhat invasive when planted outside. Make sure you place your peppermint in a spot where it can get plenty of sunlight, and water it regularly.
5. Lemon balm
Another pleasantly scented houseplant, lemon balm is another easy-to-care-for plant with a scent that is believed to boost norepinephrine, the “feel good” chemical in your brain. Lemon balm can tolerate shade or indirect sunlight, so again, you don’t have to worry about this refreshing plant taking up any valuable real estate.
A trendy houseplant of late, microgreens are a good choice if you are looking to add more nutrients to your daily diet. Microgreens are essentially just seedlings of herbs and vegetables – nothing too complicated here.
These plants are easy to grow and can produce incredible yields in shockingly small places – making it easier for you to reap the maximum benefit from the minimum amount of space. A bowl of microgreens is packed full of vitamins A, C, K, and folate, and there’s some evidence to suggest that microgreens, which are essentially young versions of fully grown vegetables, offer more nutrients than the adult versions.
To get started, all you need to do is grab a handful of seed packets. There’s no one particular vegetable or herb you need to focus on, and you can feel free to mix and match – try kale, radishes, basil, dill, or beets to get started. Plant the seeds in a shallow tray (no more than two inches deep) with plenty of drainages.
Sprinkle your seeds over the top of the soil, then sift a thin layer over the seeds so that they are just barely covered. You will want to place this tray in a sunny, warm area, and make sure the seeds don’t dry out. I recommend using an automatic watering system so you don’t have to worry about under- or over-watering your plants.
When your seedlings have grown an inch or two in height (usually after three or four weeks), they are ready to be harvested. You can get multiple harvests out of one tray, making it a good option for indoor growers in more crowded locations.
Rosemary is one of my favorite plants to have growing in the house because it smells so fantastic and has so many culinary applications.
Some scientific studies have suggested that rosemary might help curb weight gain and improve your cholesterol levels, and it’s also an antioxidant that can help fight illness and inflammation in your body.
Plus, it tastes great, so there’s that.
To grow rosemary, start by planting seeds in a container that has good drainage. Rosemary prefers alkaline soil so you may need to add a bit of lime to adjust your soil. Rosemary prefers sunny locations, especially those that receive at least six hours of sunlight every day. Water regularly, but don’t ever let the soil dry out completely.
If you want to continue growing rosemary once the weather has warmed, you can transplant it outside, growing it either in a container or a raised bed.
Ah, yes. The moment you’ve all been waiting for.
You can grow avocadoes indoors.
I’ve never been able to hop on the avocado-obsession bandwagon myself, but I really wish I could just suck it up and force myself to become an addict of this green-fleshed fruit. After all, I’d have plenty of good company!
Avocados are really good for you, packed to the brim with healthy fats as well as a ton of vitamins – including vitamin E, B6, A, and various carotenoids. They are believed to reduce your risk of cancer, heart disease, and other degenerative problems, and yes, you CAN grow them on your own.
It’s easiest to start by purchasing a dwarf avocado plant. These need to be watered regularly, but you want to avoid soggy soil, as this can rot the roots of your tree. You will need to regularly prune your shoots, and keep in mind that even with regular trimming, your tree can grow up to ten feet in height!
General Growing Tips
Ready to get started? Don’t take the leap just yet. Make sure you have the ideal conditions for your houseplants before you rush off to the nursery.
For starters, make sure you research the lighting, watering, and soil requirements of each plant you intend to grow – they aren’t all the same. Most plants will require well-draining soil, so you will need to use a container that has natural drainage set up already, or poke holes in the bottom of a different container.
Use potting mix from a garden center – don’t pull dirt out of your garden to reuse! This can often transmit diseases and pests to your indoor plants. Use potting soil and if you want to add nutrients, later on, use an organic fertilizer like compost tea.
Remember that although most plants grow well in sunny areas, that’s certainly not true of all indoor plants. You can grow a thriving indoor garden even if you don’t have a ton of south-facing windows.
What indoor houseplants are your favorites to grow? Let me know in the comments, and make sure you take the time to follow us on Instagram (@jrpiercefamilyfarm) and Pinterest (J&R Pierce Family Farm).