If you're old enough to fancy yourself a grown-up but still young enough to harbor delusions of hipness, odds are you haven't given much thought to gardening. After all, you've probably spent most of your life (that is, your life not living with your parents) living in dormitories and apartments with no yard and, therefore, no gardening opportunities. If anything grew inside your apartment, it was probably that unintentional, unidentifiable and seemingly sentient green slime evolving in your sink whenever the dishes were left sitting for too long.

Maybe you weren't born with a green thumb, but you can still grow a window garden that will make your friends and neighbors green with envy. Because while it's not easy being green (or coming up with this many bad puns and clichés utilizing "green," it is relatively easy to grow a window garden, as long as you follow our simple steps.


Window gardens are still something of a rarity in America, except for in brownstone houses in hoity-toity neighborhoods. In Europe and Asia, however, they are as all-pervasive as boybands are in the U.S. For instance, in Japan-where most terrain is steep and uninhabitable, causing populations to crowd in small areas-window gardens offer aesthetic and spiritual relief.

You may not expect your window garden to provide profound spiritual relief. In fact, you may just be trying to cover up a patch of graffiti. So your first major decision should be to figure out the purpose for your garden; from there, you can choose the right plants for your garden.


Most people's window gardens exist purely to spruce up their home and neighborhood. You may be satisfied to have just one burst of color in the spring and then allow trailing plants such as to dominate the window garden for the remainder of the growing season. Some spring followers include:

  • pansies
  • tulips
  • daffodils
  • crocuses
  • primroses
  • lilies
  • violas
However, if you wish to continue seeing flowers through the summer, plant:

  • geraniums
  • lavender
  • impatiens
  • salvia
  • petunias
  • daisies
  • begonias
  • zinnias
  • fuschias
  • nasturtiums
(Nasturtiums have an added bonus for urban gardeners: their leaves and flowers are edible and add a peppery, cress-like taste to salads and sandwiches).

For permanent window boxes and year-round greenery, a "winter interest" window garden can include evergreen such as:

  • dwarf Alberta spruce
  • bristlecone pine
  • mugho pine
  • small cacti
The dwarf evergreens grow at a rate of an inch per year, so they are ideally suited to long-term window gardening. Finally, trailing plants (the kind that grow down your window) are great for year-round greens. Some examples are:

  • ivy
  • myrtle
  • creeping Jenny
  • sweet potato vine
  • vinca


Does your apartment stink? We're not talking about "a lousy apartment;" we're talking about that funky dirty-sock smell. If so, then some fragrant plants could be the cover-up your olfactory sense craves. Examples include:

Lemon smell:Mint julep smell:Other scented plants:
  • sweet basil
  • mint
  • lemon balm
  • lemon verbana
  • lemon thyme
  • dill

  • peppermint
  • spearmint
  • pineapple mint
  • sweet alyssum
  • nicotania
  • lavender
  • jasmine
  • moonflowers
  • Food

    Hey, a kid's gotta eat! Many vegetables can be grown in window gardens:

    • lettuce
    • cabbage
    • tomatoes
    • beans
    • peas
    • scallions
    • kale
    • peppers
    You can grow herbs too, such as:

    • sage
    • thyme
    • rosemary
    • basil
    • parsley
    • marjoram
    • mint
    • dill
    • hops
    • sorrel
    • lemon balm
    • bay
    After all those college years of only growing something that gave you the munchies, isn't it nice to finally grow something that cures them?