indoor gardening for seniors

Indoor Gardening for Seniors

January 17, 2019 Kristina Phelan

Tending to a garden is one of the best ways to keep seniors active and engaged. Not only does gardening help with mobile dexterity, it is also shown to alleviate anxiety and improve mood, among other health benefits. Outdoor gardening is great during the warmer months, but having indoor plants can ensure enjoyment for seniors all year round. 

Read on for a step-by-step guide to create an indoor garden for your senior loved one.

Prepare the Area

Pick A Spot
It’s important to choose a spot that won’t be in the way. How about a windowsill or small table that’s near a light source? Other options include using the vertical space in a room with hanging baskets that won’t take up any floor or table space. Picking a spot that is easily accessible, but also out of the walkway is important in order to keep the home safe. 
           
Choose A Container
Indoor gardens can be grown in virtually anything that will hold soil and allow for extra water to drain. You can choose from a variety of indoor containers that include trays with extra plastic lids to create a greenhouse effect. Other options include small pots or more expensive kits that come with everything included. If you’re looking for a low-cost option, consider reusing old coffee tins and bowls that can be recycled into a unique indoor garden area. Once you pick the right container for the area, fill the containers with potting soil for extra nutrients.

Add Some Lighting
Consider adding some plant lights for the indoor garden in order to make sure the plants germinate and grow well. If your loved one lives in senior care, make sure to ask about hanging different kinds of lighting in the room before you install anything. Other options include plug-in lighting that can be easily moved around or removed if needed.

Choose the Plants

Seed or Starter?
Growing a plant from seed is a common way to start an indoor garden. Seniors can easily do the work themselves and will find joy in watching their seedlings sprout. However, some seeds are so incredibly small that planting them can be hard for seniors. In this case, consider choosing starter plants that are still small but easier to plant. Make sure to help your senior loved one label anything that is planted so they’ll remember how to care for the plant. 

Consider Size
Rule out plants that tend to grow too large as they mature. Those could become overwhelming and burdening. Choose plants that will grow about one foot tall depending on the kind of container you’re using. Plants in hanging baskets can grow longer as they will hang over the side and have more space to freely grow.

Edible Options
A number of fruits and vegetables that grow with ease outdoors are easily transferrable indoors. Some low maintenance options include peas, green beans, and strawberries. Other items, such as peppers, are small enough to garden indoors and they provide tasty nutrients.

Remember Pollination
There are some plants that will require pollination in order to mature correctly. Keep this in mind when choosing plants for your senior loved one’s indoor garden. Hand pollination is an option and will help your senior with dexterity. For an ultra-low-maintenance option, choose plants that don’t require any pollination.

Maintenance

Right Tools
An indoor gardener has to have the essentials. These items include a small trowel or shovel, a watering can or cup, some extra potting soil, and gardening gloves. Make sure seniors can easily access the indoor garden and won’t need to bend over too much to care for it correctly. 

Make It Social

Ask About the Garden
Everyone loves chatting about their garden! Make sure to engage your senior loved one when you call or visit and ask them about how the garden is doing. Listen to their concerns and consider adding more gardening options if they want to expand. Help seniors remember to water the garden by placing a chart or note next to the garden.

Garden with Friends
Once your loved one has an indoor garden the idea may grow among their friends and neighbors. You could make sure they all have access to an indoor garden by creating a larger gardening space in a common area of the building. You’ll probably see that many residents want to garden and that the indoor garden will become a busy area of daily activity.

Kristina Phelan is a freelance writer and her parenting column, Mama Bear Moxie, is printed in newspapers across the country. She lives on a farm in the Midwest with her husband, three kiddos, and too many animals.