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The student’s guide to indoor gardening

Jessica-Anne Lyons

Wed Jun 18 2014

hand watering a plant with watering can

GREEN thumb or not, apartments and share houses don’t usually come with a garden. So if you’d like some low-maintenance greenery to bring the outside indoors, Jessica-Anne Lyons shares some great options that pretty much look after themselves.

When you live out of home, it’s pretty likely that you’ll be a little short on space. While a big pot plant or indoor tree might be out of the question, it’s still a great idea to include some greenery in your new living place.

Studies show that placing plants in your working and living space improve a number of things, from air quality and productivity, to reducing stress and negative feelings.

So if you’re feeling a little under the weather because of your studies or find that your room is a little stuffy, invest in one of these low maintenance plant buddies!

The best part? You’ll barely have to lift a finger to look after them.

Cacti and succulents

Cacti or succulents are basically living decor. You can get an individual cactus in a small pot or entire cactus gardens with a variety of types, depending on your preferences. But while there is a wide range of breeds to choose from, they all need to be looked after in pretty much the same way.

Do they need to be fed or watered?

Most cacti kept in pots only need to be fed three times a year. So if you’re the forgetful type, this may be the option for you! As for water, you can get away with only watering your cactus once a month if you keep it indoors.

Where should I keep them?

A sunny spot near a window. Try the window sill in your kitchen or your bedroom if you have a window. But remember, keep it out of hot, direct sunlight because small succulents can burn!


If bonsai trees conjure up images of Japanese senseis pruning their plants to perfection, you needn’t worry because these little trees aren’t as high maintenance as you might think! The main thing to remember is that while they’re small, bonsais are the same as any tree – they will still need an aired out space, regular watering and light.

Do they need to be fed or watered?

Incorrect watering is what commonly causes bonsai trees to die, so it’s important to get this step right. Most bonsai only need to be watered once every few days so the soil in the pot is kept damp. You definitely need to feed a bonsai too, because lack of nutrients can cause it to wither. You can just use a house plant fertiliser and follow the instructions on the packet for the required quantity.

Where should I keep them?

In the brightest spot in your living space. Even better if that area has good air circulation to help the bonsai retrieve nutrients.


Worried that you can’t successfully keep a plant alive? Lucky for you, caring for a terrarium is pretty much fool-proof! Whether you buy a ready made one or put together your own using a large glass container, they aren’t going to take much time or money to look after.

Do they need to be fed or watered?

Yes, but not very often. You only have to water yours every couple of weeks to ensure that the soil is lightly damp. And you won’t need to feed them either – think about it, if you add fertiliser to help it grow, it will soon outgrow its home!

Where should I keep them?

In a bright spot, but not one that gets too hot. Because of the glass casing, you don’t want the heat to cook your plants!



Image: Jessica-Anne Lyons

If all else fails, you can easily add a touch of the outdoors to your living space with flowers. Treat yourself to a bunch from the local supermarket or florist (or pick small ones that grow along the road) and arrange them in recycled glass bottles or jars.

Do they need to be fed or watered?

It depends on the kind of flowers that you choose and if you want them to last a long time. Flowers like carnations are relatively inexpensive and can last for several weeks. Just make sure you change the water every few days or when the water begins to look cloudy, and recut the stems to keep your flowers fresh.

Where should I keep them?

Wherever you like!

Do you or have you kept any plants indoors? Share with us your experiences in the comments!