How to Make an Indoor Garden

Introduction: How to Make an Indoor Garden

I have always loved making things with dirt. Mud pies have always been at the top of my list, but more recently I've been making my own little garden inside.
It's very easy and you can do it even if you live in the city. All you need is:

An Old Can (or other recycled container)
A Plant (or seeds)
And Saucer

We will talk about all these things as we go on. It's quite easy and very rewarding!

Step 1: Finding Your Plant

The first step of course is to find the thing you would like to grow.

There are two ways to do this. The first is to get a clipping from a plant (which isn't hard, I swear) and the second is to plant seeds.

When you get clippings from plants you want to make sure you get the base of the clipping. You also will need to start them in water. I'll walk you through this.

When you plant seeds, you first want to know what you're planting. And you want to know how long it will take from them to sprout. So you know when to throw them out and when start again.


Mustard seeds sprout in three to five days. Their greens are a great way to make a salad have a bit of spice.

If you are planting seeds you can skip ahead a few steps. 


There are many plants you can take clippings from. Here I am planting some from a Spider Plant. On a Spider plant the little plants are hanging on the stalks of the plant. It doesn't hurt the plant at all to have these removed, in the wild they would break off and become their own plants anyway.

You can also take clippings from aloe plants, and many other hanging plants. Most of these kinds will take root using the same method shown here. (Some kinds of aloe should be put right onto the dirt)

The next two steps will be about clipping and rooting from the Spider plant. SKIP THESE STEPS IF YOU ARE PLANTING SEEDS.

Step 2: Clipping Your Plant

When you take clippings you want to be sure to have more then just leaves (with a few kinds of aloe being the exception). You want to have enough so the plant can send out it's roots.

Take more then one shoot, I took three here, but you could take up to seven.

Step 3: Taking Root

To have your plant clippings take root, the easiest way is to put them in water for up to two weeks.

(HINT: when the leaves of the plant start to become lighter green, it's a sure sign they need the nutrients in soil) 

Step 4: Making a Pot

When it comes time to plant, you first need something to plant in. You can always buy a small plant pot at a local store, but the more earth friendly option is to make your own.

I used an old bean can. Other ideas are:

Half a Gatorade bottle
Old plastic cups
Old Jars

Almost anything will work.

Here are the steps to making your container plant friendly.

1. Open it up. Take off the cover, cut off the top. Whatever your container, make sure it's open. No plant wants to fight for the sun.

2. Make drainage possible. Punch holes in the bottom, and put gravel down under your dirt. This makes sure your plant's roots down drown.

You also need a small platter (in my case an old plate), to catch the water coming out of those holes you punched.

Now, fill that baby up with some good, rich dirt. and get ready to plant.

Step 5: Planting

Well done, you've gotten through the hard bit, now you just need to plant that baby (unless your using seeds, in which case, you've skipped the hard bit).

1. If you have made your own pot, then right now you should have a jar/can/bottle filled half way with gravel, and the rest of the way with good dirt.

2. Push around with your fingers in the dirt until you've made a hole about the size of the roots of your plant.

3. Put your plant in, and push some excess dirt in and around the roots, covering them completely.

4. Water. You want to soil to be moist, NOT muddy.

5. Kiss for luck, and put in strong sunlight.

Step 6: The End

Now you know how to start, you can start exploring. I know there's tons of plant instructables, so go out and start planting!!

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    10 years ago on Introduction

    You can start spider plants by just putting the "babies" in dirt. I have had good luck doing this. Thanks for the ible!


    11 years ago on Introduction

    Nice! I have mint growing in my son's baby food can! Will be growing more herbs soon! One thing though. The lining of the can corrodes very easily. Any ideas how to prevent that?


    11 years ago on Step 4

    Just curious as to whether or not you ran into any rusting happening around the openings? I have access to plenty of these cans, due to working at a restaurant, and would like to try it out!


    11 years ago on Introduction

    hey man, u can skip the water part when trying to root clips. the roots that grow in the water a hydro roots- which means that when u transfer them to soil afterwards they just shrivel up and die anyway and make way to soil roots. what u should do is just make the soil very moist when you put the clippings inside.


    12 years ago on Introduction

    Great job on this! Thanks so much for sharing. The only things I would add are:

    1) With any glass or ceramic vessel--or any other, for that matter--be sure to drill holes in the bottom for drainage (as you made sure to note working with the cans, etc.). With glass or ceramic, this can be done with any simple round diamond-bit--for a rotary tool like a Dremel....they are very cheap on If the bit starts to get too hot, simply splash a couple drops of water on the area and go back to business.

    I also use metal containers as well. Galvanized steel or tin work best (you can use aluminum, but it tends to accumulate a lot of the salts in your water on its sides, which is obviously NOT good for your plants), but I've used all sorts of types. They also need proper drainage, but additionally, I highly recommend priming and painting the inside of them—as well as the drainage holes and outside bottom of them—with an anti-rust paint like Rustoleum (this is from personal experience. I’ve not only ruined a few great plants because they don’t care for the rust, obviously, but also some wood surfaces that the rust leaked onto).

    2) To ensure proper drainage, it’s important to do more than just drill holes in the bottom. You need to provide a way for the excess water to drain without worrying about any clogged drainage holes (which often occurs with no buffer between the soil and the holes). There are a few great ways to accomplish this. You can use things like river rocks, pebbles, gravel or broken-up cement pieces (great for lime-loving plants, but not so much for acid-loving ones), or those non-decomposable noodles or styrofoam. Simply place a layer at the bottom of your vessel; I like to aim for about 1/8 the total depth of the vessel. This will do wonders to eliminate root rot, soil-gnats and other pests, as well as ensure your drainage holes don’t get clogged. It also greatly reduces soil loss through the drainage holes.

    3) Lastly--and just as important--is to make sure you cover the sides of any clear vessels (and, thus, render them opaque) to eliminate the exposure of the soil to light. This is important because light feeds spores in the soil—especially algae-like ones--and not only do those use up nutrients your plants need, but many (as byproducts of their own photosynthesis) secrete toxins that can actually greatly reduce plant viability, encourage pests like soil-gnats, etc.

    You can do this a few ways. I sometimes take a dark black outdoor trash bag and line the container with it, making sure to add the drainage holes and small pebbles to the bottoms INSIDE the plastic. I then sometimes will stuff a nice decorative moss—like sphagnum, orchid-moss, or sheet-moss—in the space between the glass and the bag. This makes it look more decorative.

    You could also use any other medium if you wanted—like, say, bird-seed, beans or rice (if you have them in a kitchen). For the latter types, it’s much easier to make this layer by taking a piece of waxed paper, and mixing the medium in some regular household glue (go heavy on the medium—like make an opaque layer with few to no holes showing-- and lighter with the glue). Then, spread the mixture out evenly on the waxed paper, and allow it to dry in a non-humid environment until the glue is clear (a day or so usually works). You can then cut or tear the pieces to size and contour it to fit your jar.

    I also like to prime and spray paint my jars sometimes, or use a decorative scrapbooking paper, applied on the outside with decoupage glue, to match or compliment the room's décor. By using all glass or all plastic, and the same types of jars or bottles, it makes it look really nice. I love to use mason jars.

    Here is also a link to a project I LOVE for making shelves in a sunny window to display and maintain your indoor garden. It's simple, effective, and really nice-looking:

    Again, thanks for taking the time to share a great, inspirational idea, Crafthooligan! :)


    12 years ago on Introduction

     Very good job.  Easy, practical, inexpensive.

    I hope you decide to do some more Instructables on other ways to propogate plants, such as stem cuttings, leaf cuttings, using slips, etc.  You would be the best one to do that.