High rise gardens can offer healthy benefits

By Angela Gagnon, Staff Writer

Starting a garden in a high-rise building might seem a little daunting, but it doesn’t take much to enjoy the fruits of the labor, literally or aesthetically. Plants are also a natural air purifier, adding the benefit of cleaner air inside your home. 

Even a very small space can be outfitted with vertical or stacking planters, or small pots can be placed on windowsills or out on the balcony. Plants essentially need sunlight and water, so that is a good place to start. 

“First, figure out what type of lighting you have and which direction your windows face,” said Juan Quezada, co-owner of Plant Shop Chicago. For most plants, you’ll want to choose the sunniest, best windowsill in the house, ideally with southern or eastern exposure. 

“Plants are living things that require care and commitment, so you’ll also want to consider your schedule when building your garden,” Quezada said. 

If you often travel or don’t spend much time at home, you’ll want to choose plants that can survive without daily watering. Cacti and succulents are beginner-friendly plants that don’t require much water and are a great choice for a low maintenance garden. They also take up very little space. 

According to Quezada, ferns are easy to care for because they don’t need direct sunlight but need to be watered frequently. Snake plants do well in the sunlight, but are drought tolerant and don’t require much water.

For edible plants, an herb garden can also do well indoors and provide a useful nutritional component for anyone with a penchant for cooking. Choose a long planter and add herbs such as chives, thyme, mint or lemon verbena, which do well in the sunlight. 

Seek out a local garden center or nursery to help getting started. Christy Webber Farm and Garden offers in-home consultations with designers who come to your home for a fee and help with the process. They encourage residents to bring in photos of the windowsill area so in-store consultants can help create the perfect garden.

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