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15 Healthy Edible Plants to Grow at Home

From farmers markets and CSAs to urban farms and produce delivery services, the local food movement has become a (literal) growth industry in the U.S. in the last few years.

And for good reason: Locally grown fruits and veggies tend to be better for the environment and for local communities than their store-bought counterparts.

You can’t get much more local than growing food in your own home. Cultivating your own edible plants ensures you know exactly where your food came from and how it was grown (no need to worry about deceptive food labeling ).

And if you’re hesitant to whip out the pruning shears for lack of experience, consider this: Learning new skills is good for our brains .

Believe it or not, you don’t need to be a farmer (or even live near a farm) to reap the benefits of homegrown produce. If you have a sunny window (or two, or five) and a bit of extra time on your hands, you’re capable of growing a few of your own foods right at home.

Read on for our roundup of 16 easy, healthy plants to cultivate indoors — and how to get them growing!

Tips for growing plants indoors

Before you get started, keep these handy tips in mind, no matter which plants you choose to grow .

Leave room for drainage

All of these plants require well-draining soil, which means you’ll either need to use a pot with holes in the bottom or pile up some stones in the bottom of your pot before adding soil to let water drain through the stones.

If you choose to use a pot with holes in the bottom, just be sure to put a shallow drainage container under the pot. (Eco-chic aesthetic aside, no one wants a puddle of dirty water on their floor.)

Get some good potting mix

For each of these plants, feel free to purchase potting mix at a garden center or make your own. (You can choose whether or not you want to stick with organic soils.)

While each plant may grow best in a slightly different soil environment, an all-purpose potting soil is, well, what it sounds like: suitable for a variety of growing purposes.

Find the right lighting

Many of these plants grow best in areas that receive lots of sunlight and remain fairly warm throughout the day — so look around your place for your sunniest spot.

However, if you don’t have sunny windows (or if the area is low-temperature), you may want to invest in some grow lights.

These specialized bulbs help maintain optimal light and temperature for plants, regardless of outside weather or indoor conditions. The really good news? They’re not super expensive and start at around $15.

Best fruits to grow indoors

1. Avocados

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Why they’re healthy

Avocados are chock full of healthy fats! Two-thirds of their fat is the good-for-you monounsaturated variety.

Plus, they boast plenty of vitamins E and B6 and are high in carotenoids, which have been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease, Gammone MA, et al. (2015). Carotenoids: potential allies of cardiovascular health? DOI: 10.3402/fnr.v59.26762 breast cancer, Elissen AH, et al. (2015). Plasma carotenoids and risk for breast cancer over 20 yr of follow-up. DOI: 10.3945/ajcn.114.105080 , and eye degeneration Abdel-Aal EM, et al. (2013). Dietary sources of lutein and zeaxanthin carotenoids and their role in eye health. DOI: 10.3390/nu5041169 . No wonder these fruits are one of our favorite superfoods!

How to grow them

It’s possible to grow an avocado tree from an avocado pit, but doing so may not yield edible fruit… and you might wait a heckuva long time to attain your dreams of homegrown avo toast.

If you want to eat what you sow, it’s best to purchase a dwarf avocado plant. (Varieties that yield the larger green-skinned fruit or the more common black-skinned fruits are equally good.)

To tend to your tree, add some sand to the bottom of a large, well-draining pot before filling it with regular potting mix and planting. Water regularly but make sure the soil is never soggy — avocado roots don’t take well to being waterlogged.

Prune the shoots often, and be sure to place the tree in an area with high ceilings — even dwarf trees can grow higher than 10 feet!

How to harvest them

Green varieties are ready to harvest when the fruit’s skin turns slightly yellow, while darker avocados are ready when their skins have turned almost black.

Ripe fruits can be left hanging on the tree for a few weeks, but wait any longer than that and they’ll start to lose their flavor and texture.

2. Lemons

Why they’re healthy

Lemons are packed with vitamin C , which helps the body synthesize collagen, absorb iron, and metabolize protein. And though it’s a myth that megadoses of vitamin C can cure the common cold, it is an important nutrient for the immune system.

How to grow them

If you want the option of harvesting fruits right away, purchase a 2- to 3-year-old dwarf tree at a nursery. Bonus: These little trees are so adorable, they may become your new favorite decorative statement.

Choose a clay, ceramic, or plastic pot slightly larger than the root ball of your tree, and make sure it has several holes in the bottom. Fill the drainage dish with stones to allow air to circulate.

Use a potting soil specifically formulated for citrus trees, or choose a slightly acidic, loam based potting mix.

Place the plant in an area that will receive 8 to 12 hours of sunlight each day and will ideally maintain a temperature between 55 and 85°F (12 to 30°C).

Water regularly, but be sure not to oversaturate the soil. (It should be moist, not sopping wet.) Citrus trees like moist air, so regularly misting the leaves with a spray bottle will help keep the leaves perky.

How to harvest them

Most lemons will ripen in 6 to 9 months. Test for ripeness by looking for full color and gently squeezing the rind. A slight give indicates lemons are ready for use in zesty drinks, muffins , mains, and desserts .

3. Mandarin oranges

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Why they’re healthy

Your favorite childhood nibbles — mandarin oranges — aren’t just sweet. They’re a decent source of calcium, vitamin C, and fiber, too! Growing your own means you can enjoy them without the added syrups of the canned variety.

How to grow them

Purchase dwarf mandarin orange trees for the best chance of growing fruits successfully indoors. The trees like spacious potswith drainage at the bottom and rich soil.

They also require a sunny location (rotate the plant regularly to ensure that it receives light evenly on all sides). Water regularly, allowing the soil to dry out slightly between waterings.

The trees can grow up to 6 feet tall, and their root system grows along with them. When the roots begin to grow back on themselves or out of the drainage holes, it’s time to repot in a container that’s at least 2 inches larger in diameter.

How to harvest them

For best flavor, harvest mandarins as soon as they turn orange. When they reach their telltale color, clip or carefully twist and pull the fruit from the tree, making sure that the button at the top of the fruit remains intact.

4. Tomatoes

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Why they’re healthy

These red, fleshy veggies have a surprising amount of vitamin C and potassium, and they’re packed with the antioxidant lycopene, a carotenoid associated with vascular health. Mozos I, et al. (2018). Lycopene and vascular health. DOI: 10.3389/fphar.2018.00521

How to grow them

Start by selecting one 6-inch pot (for one plant) or a larger pot (approximately 12 inches) if you’d like to grow two plants. For a continuous supply of tomatoes, start one or two new plants from seed every 2 weeks.

Fill the container(s) with starter potting mix and plant seeds about 1/4 inch deep. Water, keeping the soil moist but not soggy.

Place the container in an area that receives substantial sunlight, turning the pot(s) occasionally so all sides have even access to the sun. Expect the seeds to germinate in 5 to 10 days.

When the seedlings are about 3 inches tall, transplant them from the starter mix to potting soil. About 2 weeks after transplanting, add an organic fertilizer to the mix.

Water the plants thoroughly; again, keep the soil moist but not soggy. As the plants grow larger, you may need to stake them to avoid broken stems.

When plants bloom, tap the main stem and larger side branches with your finger — this will help to encourage pollination.

How to harvest them

Tomatoes grown indoors won’t grow as large as outdoor tomatoes, so don’t expect any beefsteaks the size of softballs. Even so, they’ll still be full of homegrown tomatoey taste.

When the fruits are red and firm, but with a slight give to the touch, they’re ready to eat. Either clip or gently twist and pull the fruits from their stems.

Best vegetables to grow indoors

5. Garlic greens

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Why they’re healthy

We say garlic breath is totally worth it. Pungent garlic is a member of the allium family, which may help fight against breast cancer. Pourzand A, et al. (2018). Associations between dietary allium vegetables and risk of breast cancer: A hospital-based matched case-control study. DOI: 10.4048/jbc.2016.19.3.292

It’s also a superfood that’s been linked to improvements in high blood pressure Xiong XJ, et al. (2015). Garlic for hypertension: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. DOI: 10.1016/j.phymed.2014.12.013 and may combat certain strains of bacteria Mahomoodally F, et al. (2018). Onion and garlic extracts potentiate the efficacy of conventional antibiotics against standard and clinical bacterial isolates. DOI: 10.2174/1568026618666180604083313

How to grow them

Growing actual garlic bulbs indoors is a bit tricky, but you can easily grow garlic greens, which can be used just like scallions. Nice to have on hand for when you want to liven up with a sprinkle of something green!

Start by purchasing a few garlic bulbs with small cloves, and don’t be afraid to buy a shattered bulb (i.e one that’s started to burst or is fully pulled apart).

Select a 4-inch pot with drainage holes at the bottom (a quart-size yogurt container with holes poked through the bottom will also work) and a small bag of potting soil.

Fill the pot with soil to about half an inch below the top of the container. Break the bulbs into individual cloves (leaving the peel on), and push each individual clove about an inch into the soil, pointy end up.

Plant about 12 cloves close together. Water well and place the container in a sunny spot. Make sure that the soil remains moist but not soggy. Green shoots should appear in about 1 week.

How to harvest them

Once the shoots are 8 to 10 inches tall (which will take a few weeks), clip off whatever you need with scissors.

When the cloves start putting up more sprouts, compost the contents of the pot, fill it back up with fresh potting soil, and plant new cloves. (Each clove only sprouts good greens once; for a constant supply, you’ll need to keep re-planting).

6. Carrots

Why they’re healthy

Carrots are a good source of a variety of vitamins and minerals, including thiamin, niacin, folate, potassium, and vitamins B6, A, C, and K. They even have a decent amount of fiber at 3 grams per cup.

Like avocados, carrots also supply high doses of carotenoids. In fact, carotenoids are named after carrots. (Betcha figured that one out all on your own!)

How to grow them

Purchase carrot seeds and a pot or window box that’s at least a 1.5 square feet, with drainage holes at the bottom. Fill the container to within an inch of the top with a potting mix rich in humus.

(What’s humus, you ask? It’s the organic material that remains after plant and animal matter decays — not to be confused with your fave chickpea dip.)

Water the soil before planting the seeds. Plant the seeds 1 inch apart in rows 6 inches apart from each other, pressing the seeds gently into the soil and covering them with a thin layer of soil.

Place the container in an area that receives tons of light. Keep the soil moist, but not soaked. To help preserve moisture, you can soak some peat moss in water overnight and then spread it on top of the seeds.

Expect the seeds to germinate (i.e start sprouting) in about 2 weeks.

How to harvest them

Carrots are ready for harvest when they’ve grown to about 3/4 of an inch across the top (just below the green stem). If you can’t see the carrot itself, gently brush aside some soil around the stem so you can size it up.

Note: Though it may be tempting to see how big carrots can get, they’ll start to lose their sweetness and flavor once they surpass their peak size.

To pick the carrots, grab them firmly at the root and wiggle them around a bit, then pull straight up. If you find that the soil is quite hard, water it and then wait an hour or so before retrying the harvest.

Once the carrots have been pulled from the soil, remove the greens immediately, wipe off any excess dirt, and let them dry before storing them in the fridge.

7. Salad greens

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Why they’re healthy

Just like microgreens, salad greens (which include iceberg, spinach, romaine, red leaf, and arugula) are chock-full of vitamins A, C, and K, and also contain folate and iron.

How to grow them

Begin by purchasing starter plants or seeds from a local nursery (or order seeds online). Choose a planter box with drainage holes in the bottom and fill it with potting soil. Use your finger to poke holes into the soil about 4 inches apart.

If using seeds: Sprinkle a few of them into each hole, then pat the soil back over the hole to cover them up.

If using starts: Massage the roots before placing each start in a hole, filling in around them with soil.

After planting seeds or starts, water the soil. When plants start to appear (if growing from seed), pull out all but the largest, healthiest shoots. Water the soil regularly, making sure that it always remains moist to the touch.

How to harvest them

To harvest mixed greens, pull off (or clip with scissors) only the outer leaves to allow the plants to keep growing, and be sure not to disturb the roots. Now you’re ready for a quick and easy salad for lunch, dinner, or even breakfast .

8. Microgreens

Why they’re healthy

A big bowl of mixed greens can be a stellar source of vitamins A, C, K, and folate. And good things come in small packages: Microgreens (aka seedlings of herbs and vegetables) might have even more nutrients than their full-grown counterparts. Xiao Z, et al. (2012). Assessment of vitamin and carotenoid concentrations of emerging food products: edible microgreens . DOI: 10.1021/jf300459b

How to grow them

Start by purchasing a variety of seeds, such as radishes, kale , Swiss chard, beets, basil, and dill.

Fill a shallow tray, no more than 2 inches deep (often called seedling trays) or a shallow pot with a drainage hole, and fill to the top with potting mix. Moisten the soil with water, making sure it’s damp but not wet.

Sprinkle the seeds evenly over the soil (they should be close to each other but not touching). Sift a thin layer of soil over the top to cover the seeds. Using a spray bottle, lightly mist the soil.

Place the tray on a sunny windowsill in a room that’s between 60 and 70°F (16 and 21°C). Mist or lightly water the soil daily so it remains moist; don’t let the soil dry out, but also make sure that it isn’t waterlogged.

In about 3 to 5 days, the seeds will likely germinate — once they do, make sure they get 12 to 14 hours of light each day. Keep the soil moist at the roots, but avoid soaking the leaves.

How to harvest them

Once the seedlings have grown to 1 or 2 inches in height (expect this to take 3 weeks or more) and have about two sets of leaves, they’re ready to eat!

To harvest the greens, hold them at the stem and use a pair of scissors to cut off the leaves, making sure not to cut into the root. By leaving the roots intact, you ensure that your greens will yield multiple harvests.

Eat the microgreens right away or store them in a plastic bag in the fridge for up to 5 days.

9. Scallions

Why they’re healthy

Like garlic, scallions are part of the allium family of vegetables, which has been associated with cancer prevention and may help protect the body from free radicals that damage cells Capasso A. (2013). Antioxidant action and therapeutic efficacy of Allium sativum L. DOI: 10.3390/molecules18010690

How to grow them

Scallions win the prize for easiest kitchen crop. To get them growing, simply buy a bunch, wrap the bulbs together with a rubber band, and place the whole shebang (greens, bulbs, and all) in a glass with an 1 of water

Change the water daily. When new green shoots appear and the roots have doubled in length (in about 7 to 10 days), plant the scallions in a shallow pot or other small container.

Keep the plants evenly watered (i.e don’t let the soil get too dry before watering) and in full sun.

How to harvest them

Snip the green tops (leaving at least an inch or 2 of the plant in the dirt) as needed. To use the white part of the scallion, harvest the plants when they’re 6 inches tall. Gently pull the white clump from the soil.

Washed and trimmed scallions should keep for a week in the refrigerator To maximize freshness, wrap them in a moist paper towel and store them in a plastic bag.

Best herbs to grow indoors

10. Chives

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Why they’re healthy

Chives contain concentrated amounts of vitamins A and C and phytochemicals that have antioxidant-like benefits. Stajner D, et al. (2004). Allium schoenoprasum L. as a natural antioxidant. DOI: 10.1002/ptr.1472

How to grow them

Start by purchasing seeds and selecting a pot that’s 6 to 8 inches in diameter. Fill it almost to the top with potting mix.

Plant the seeds, making sure they’re covered by a light layer of soil. Place the container in an area that’s partially shaded. Water regularly, making sure the soil never dries out.

How to harvest them

Gently snip leaves from each plant, being sure not to remove all the leaves from any one plant. Then get busy topping those baked potatoes !

11. Basil

Why it’s healthy

This flavorful herb’s anti-inflammatory properties appear to stem from the oil eugenol, which can block enzymes in the body that cause swelling. Li H, et al. (2017). Evaluation of the chemical composition, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities of distillate and residue fractions of sweet basil essential oil. DOI: 10.1007/s13197-017-2620-x

How to grow it

Start by purchasing seeds or a starter plant online or at a nursery or grocery store. Choose a container that’s at least 4 inches wide and has good drainage holes.

Basil likes warm temperatures and lots of sunlight — at least 6 hours of direct sun each day.

Fertilize the soil about once a month with organic or slow-release fertilizers such as compost tea.

Water often — about once a day when temperatures are really hot, or every other day in less intense conditions. (If the soil is dry, water it!)

Pruning will also help you maximize your basil yield. When the top leaves reach about 6 inches in height, start cutting them back. Continue to prune as the plant gets bushier, being sure to pinch off any flowers that appear.

How to harvest it

Gently snip a few leaves from each plant, making sure not to remove all of the leaves from any one plant. Whip up some homemade pesto and call it a day.

12. Cilantro

Why it’s healthy

Think cilantro’s just a garnish for enchiladas? Nope! It’s actually a source of vitamin A and contains antifungal properties. Freires I, et al. (2014). Coriandrum sativum L. (Coriander) essential oil: Antifungal activity and mode of action on candida spp and molecular targets affected in human whole-genome expression. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0099086

How to grow it

Begin by purchasing coriander seeds (fun fact: coriander is the name for cilantro in seed form) or starter plants and selecting a container that’s at least 8 inches deep and has holes in the bottom for drainage.

Fill the container with soil, leaving about an inch or 2 at the top of the pot. Press the seeds into the soil, then water the soil until moist.

Cover the container with plastic wrap, securing it with rubber bands. Remove the plastic wrap once the seedlings have germinated and are pushing against the plastic (this should take a few days).

Water the seedlings each day or so and keep the container in an area that receives a substantial amount of sunlight.

How to harvest it

Gently snip a few leaves from each plant, being sure not to remove all the leaves from any one plant.

13. Ginger

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Why it’s healthy

This spicy superfood is known for calming nausea Giacosa A, et al. (2015). Can nausea and vomiting be treated with ginger extract? DOI: 10.1080/10408398.2011.553751 and reducing inflammation. Mashhadi NS, et al. (2013). Anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory effects of ginger in health and physical activity: Review of current evidence.

There’s also some evidence that raw ginger might ease sore muscles Black CD, et al. (2010). Ginger (Zingiber officinale) reduces muscle pain caused by eccentric exercise. DOI: 10.1016/j.jpain.2009.12.013 and reduce fasting blood sugar in people with diabetes. Khandouzi N, et al. (2015). The effects of ginger on fasting blood sugar, hemoglobin A1c, apolipoprotein B, apolipoprotein A-I and malondialdehyde in type 2 diabetic patients.

How to grow it

This one’s easy — like, really, really easy. Simply purchase a chunk of ginger at the grocery store and cover it with soil in a container, making sure the freshest-looking buds face up.

Place the container in an area that receives indirect sunlight and wait for new growth to sprout. Keep the soil consistently moist, so that it’s never dried out (but never waterlogged).

How to harvest it

Pull the entire plant out of the soil, cut off as much as you need, and then replant the ginger using the same process described above.

14. Mint

Why it’s healthy

Beyond adding its fresh flavor to mojitos , the extract of this bright green herb is an acknowledged alternative medicine treatment for IBS. Khanna R, et al. (2014). Peppermint oil for the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome: a systematic review and meta-analysis. DOI: 10.1097/MCG.0b013e3182a88357

How to grow it

Start by purchasing seeds or starter plants and a large, deep pot about 10 inches in diameter — mint will sprawl. Fill the container with potting soil and plant the seeds or starter.

Place the container in an area that gets plenty of sunlight and water regularly, making sure the soil doesn’t dry out.

How to harvest it

Gently snip a few leaves from each plant, making sure not to remove all the leaves from any one plant.

15. Rosemary

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Why it’s healthy

This heavenly-scented herb is rich in carnosic acid, an antioxidant that’s been shown in animal studies to help limit weight gain and improve cholesterol levels. Ibarra A, et al. (2011). Carnosic acid-rich rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis L.) leaf extract limits weight gain and improves cholesterol levels and glycaemia in mice on a high-fat diet. DOI: 10.1017/S0007114511001620

How to grow it

Start by planting seeds (or propagating cuttings) in a container with holes in the bottom for drainage.

A soil made from a mixture of two parts potting soil to one part coarse sand works well. Add one teaspoon of lime (the agricultural kind, not the fruit!) per 5 inches of pot. This will help make the soil alkaline.

Place the container in a sunny indoor area; rosemary will grow best with at least 6 hours of direct sunlight each day. Water only when the top of the soil is dry to the touch (but be sure not to let the soil dry out completely).

How to harvest it

Gently snip a few sprigs from each plant, being sure not to remove all of the leaves from any one plant.