This unit study introduces ideas for indoor gardening projects that are suitable for students of all ages. Your local library has plenty of books on houseplants. You will need one general houseplant encyclopedia type of book, and books on particular plant families and projects such as making a terrarium and aquarium garden.

Project Ideas

Here are some ideas for interesting projects you can try, as well as some ideas for specific kinds of plants you can grow indoors. Later in this study we'll take a look at some ideas for further study.

• A terrarium is a garden under glass. To make your own, choose a large, wide-mouthed glass jar or bottle. You'll also need some charcoal (crushed), sand and potting soil. Start with the layer of crushed charcoal, and then add sand and potting soil for your base. Pepperomia, mosses, wintergreen, maidenhair fern, trailing arbutus, white-veined fittonia and other moisture-loving plants with small leaves are easy to grow and do well in terrariums. After watering, the top of the terrarium should be covered with plastic wrap or a piece of glass that can be taken off when the soil looks too damp. Place the terrarium in a sunny place, but not in direct sun. Students will enjoy seeing the condensation form and rain on their little gardens.

• Constructing a desert garden involves using potting soil and a mix of sand to grow cactuses or succulents. Wear heavy gloves to handle plants for setting. A fun addition is African Living Stones (a type of flowering plant). Also interesting is Red Crown, a small pincushion-shaped cactus that blooms beautifully. The main caution for succulents and cactus gardens is to not overwater.

• Christmas and Easter cactus are succulents, not true cactus, and have no spines. They can be made to bloom in winter. In the late fall do not water for a month, then begin watering. Try some close-up photography of the unusually beautiful blossoms.

• A centerpiece garden is also fun to plant. Use a metallic, ceramic or plastic container that is deep enough to hold the plants. A plastic container can fit inside a basket for an extra warm touch. Start with a layer of pebbles. Add potting soil and set in plants.

• A wildflower windowsill garden is a treasure and costs nothing but the effort to find the flowers. Many pretty wildflower plants can be carried inside and potted.

• "Canned Joy" makes a great gift. In canning jars place a few glass florists' stones. Then add potting soil. Add a lid covered with cloth and ribbon, matching the stones and color of flowers to be grown. Include a seed packet and instructions for planting the seeds, watering and setting in a sunny place to watch sprout!

• Herbs can be grown and used in cooking. Mint is easy to grow but spreads easily so don't plant it in a flower bed or garden where it can spread to crowd out other plants. Parsley, sage, chives and rosemary are good choices.

• Citrus trees are fun to grow in pots from seeds. Use organic fruit to obtain the seeds if possible. Orange, grapefruit, and lemon can be grown in pots from seed. A fig tree is rugged and pretty but needs a large pot. Being deciduous it will lose its leaves in the fall. Keep inside with the soil slightly moist and watch it bud again the next spring.

• Grow kitchen vegetables as house plants. Sweet potatoes, avocado, carrot, and pineapple tops can be sprouted. Place the potatoes and avocado seeds in pint jars of water in a windowsill. The potato or pit should be suspended small end down in the water by toothpicks stuck into the sides of the vegetable. Carrot and pineapples can be started by cutting them off near the stems. Leave the leaves intact and place about one half inch of the fruit cut side down in a shallow dish of soil.