Give your container gardens a little more purpose.

By Lauren Phillips
Updated March 13, 2019

There’s no denying that indoor plants and container gardens are having a years-long moment. Container gardening ideas are all around, plant-focused startups for indoor and outdoor growers are popping up everywhere, and more and more people are becoming plant parents. The current focus for indoor plant ideas is leafy, long-lasting green plants that can be décor for years to come, but there’s another option for container gardening—and it doesn’t just look good.

Indoor herb garden aficionados have long known the benefits of keeping a basil or rosemary plant on the kitchen windowsill, but moving from inedible indoor plants or container gardens to edible ones can feel high-stakes. After all, if your Ponytail Palm dies, you’ve lost a plant; but if a container tomato plant dies before those tomatoes are ready, you’ve lost a whole bunch of fresh produce, too.

Why should you bother trying to grow anything edible then, if the stakes are higher? First, your cooking and entertaining skills will blossom, just from having fresh ingredients on hand. Guests will marvel at your green thumb. (They don’t need to know how easy it is to maintain a mini indoor herb garden.) Every time you want a cocktail with fresh ingredients, some mint or a sprig of rosemary is readily available. When it comes to cooking, you won’t have to spend a fortune on fresh herbs for every recipe, and then end up using less than half of it and wasting the rest.

Beyond herbs, fresh produce—think salad greens, beets, carrots, peppers, tomatoes, and more—grown at home (and in a space as small as a balcony) will bring any dish to life. Even if it’s just used as a garnish, the home-grown produce will make you instantly more proud of any dish you cook. And if you care about eating organic produce or reducing your carbon footprint, growing produce at home cuts down on chemicals, the shipping process, packaging waste, and more.

Fortunately for first-time produce gardeners and small-space dwellers who may not have huge outdoor growing spaces, forward-thinking plant and gardening companies are making growing fresh produce and herbs in small spaces or even indoors easy.

Trusty, long-standing plant and seed companies—such as Burpee—sell vegetable and herb plants developed to thrive in containers on decks, patios, porches, and rooftop spaces, so living in an apartment or townhome doesn’t mean you have to give up on your home-grown dreams. Certain plants, particularly herbs, can even flourish indoors; just consult with the experts at your local garden center or plant store to find one right for your indoor environment.

New companies are also filling the small-space (and low-maintenance) produce and herb gardening gap. Gardenuity sells complete gardening kits for growing everything from salad greens to cocktail garnishes and even offers personalized, seasonal recommendations for plants based on your area’s climate. Each Gardenuity kit is shipped to your door with a grow bag container, seedlings or seeds, and everything you need to help the plants grow. Gardenuity produce garden kits are best grown outdoors, on a terrace, patio, or balcony, but herb gardens can grow indoors or out.

Purchasing a produce or herb plant isn’t quite the same as purchasing a Ficus Audrey or something similar, especially considering these plants typically last only a season, but these plants serve an extra purpose, one any foodie or cocktail aficionado can appreciate. If you have already have a flourishing container garden system but want something new and different, a few produce plants may be just the addition you’re looking for—and now is the time to start thinking about what you want to grow this spring and summer.