Naturally, a bit of research on which plants fare well in the house is critical for the indoor gardener. But a few simple rules of thumb always apply. Start by choosing a pot that is at least twice the size of the plant. Picking the right soil at the start will not only permit the plant to thrive in the proper potted environment but also sort out any drainage problems. Sculptural succulents will fare better in drought-tolerant cactus mix than that sprig of mint, which is much better off in soil with the moisture of a wrung-out sponge.
Also keep in mind that even the most shade-tolerant vegetables need at least five hours of sunlight to thrive, with most veggies and herbs needing a minimum of eight.
If an edible indoor garden is your aim, start with herbs and salad greens like arugula, oak leaf lettuce, and mesclun lettuce mixes. They do well sown by seed into containers: Generously sprinkle some seeds on the top of your potting soil, then cover them with a thin layer of compost. Keep the soil consistently moist and in full sun, and you should start eating fresh baby greens in about a month.
Sara Carnochan is a cofounder of Heart Beet Gardening in Los Angeles where she plants, prunes, and writes. Her background is in literature—studying Creative Writing and Spanish at Bard College—and education—working as an assistant teacher at New Roads Elementary School. She is an ardent sheet mulching enthusiast, and if she were a vegetable she would be an eggplant.