Desert gardening can be a challenge! Our climate and hot sun can sabotage early plans for a lush showing of flowers or a hearty and giving vegetable garden. Many of us don’t have the space, however, a good solution for the home gardener who wants a little green in their life is to start a window garden. This is simply a collection of plants that you grow on a windowsill and can quickly add life and color back to a tiny apartment or every room in your home. Plants can hang from baskets in front or close to windows or be directly set up on the sill.
What Do You Need for a Window Garden?
Window gardens are like any other garden. They require sunlight, watering, containers which provide enough drainage, dishes to catch water, and regular care and maintenance such as pruning and repotting. It can be tricky because the glass of a window can intensify the effects of the sun. This can burn the tender leaves of vegetables and herbs, not suited to a desert environment. Therefore in addition to the basics of plant care, picking the right plants for your windows is essential. Focus on the location of the windows in your home. Which windows get the most sunlight and when. The morning sun tends to be a little less hard on tender plants, while the afternoon sun is a little more intense.
Building the Best Environment for your Window Garden
The good news with window gardens is that you can control the environment inside your home, meaning it increases the amount of plants you can grow. For instance, many herbs love moisture. You can install humidifiers around your moisture-hungry plants which can allow them to flourish. Shade-loving plants like ferns or philodendrons need light but need it indirectly. Make sure these plants are close to the window but not directly in the direct glare of the sun, where they can get burned.
Succulents are a group of plants that store water in their leaves to retain water in arid climates or soil conditions. They are a great solution for your window garden because they are low-maintenance and prefer consistent, warm temperatures. The key to success is to pick a window with plenty of sunlight and set up a consistent watering schedule – but be sure not to overwater them!
Another good and low maintenance choice for your indoor garden is to choose plants which love the desert sun and are native to the area such as small saguaro cactus, barrel cactus, organ-pipe cactus, prickly pear, cholla, ocotillo, and yucca. These will need to be watered sporadically but can enjoy direct sunlight through your window with minimal care.
If you can find a window that doesn’t get direct sunlight all day, you might find success with leafy greens. This includes chards, kale, and collard greens, and other superfoods packed with essential minerals, vitamins, and nutrients to boost your immune system and health all year long. Since leafy greens don’t have significant root systems, feel free to plant them in a shallow container. These leafy greens can get by with two to three hours of sunlight per day and in a cool home can make you feel like an expert gardener as you enjoy cooked collards, and raw kale salads all year long.
Flowers add color and whimsy to your home and depending on the variety grow in all sorts of conditions. Find flowers that enjoy the same amount of sun and humidity. You may be amazed and treat it as an event when your cactus flowers bloom. However, you can enjoy more consistent blooms from African violets which bloom under grow lights all year long. Other inspiring blooms include hyacinths, daffodils, geraniums, cyclamens, and pansies. Choose perennials such as clivia or lavender or annuals for seasonal charm.
Invest in Sunscreen for Your Shade Loving Plants
Make sure you group plants with similar needs together so they can share the same environmental support systems. Maybe you want some herbs to enhance your meals this year? Herbs tend to like humidity and bright sun – but not so much that they get burned. A good solution for your desert window garden is to install sunscreens over your windows. Sunscreens can diffuse the extreme UV light of the desert sun from burning your garden and reduce your A/C bill as well. To find out more if sunscreens are right for your home, schedule a free consultation today!