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Spring and summer bring with them beautiful and bountiful flowers and crops of all kinds. But the fun is not just reserved for the “good” times of the year. Plants can be grown indoors all year round! So just what vegetables can be grown indoors in the winter? We have researched to give you a list of plants that can provide you with bright and fresh produce all winter long!
Leafy greens that grow well indoors in winter are lettuce, spinach, kale, arugula. Small tomatoes like cherry tomatoes are also well suited to indoor life, as are small peppers like jalapeños. Root vegetables like carrots and beets do well indoors as do brassica plants like broccoli and cauliflower. Microgreens and sprouts are also great year-round vegetables to grow indoors.
Let’s take a closer look at these plants and some others that are well suited to growing indoors during the winter.
Leafy greens are great for growing indoors because most varieties can be continually harvested. Growing leafy greens indoors also keeps them in a temperature-controlled environment and prevents them from bolting quickly.
Lettuce, or Lactuca sativa, grows almost anywhere and in an array of flavors and colors. Due to its adaptability, lettuce can be a great addition to both your salad and indoor decorating.
While most people think of iceberg, buttercrunch, or other green lettuce, lettuce can come in a variety of striking and interesting colors. Browns, reds, and purples are some of the most common deviations. Lettuce is also a relatively easy and fast-growing plant. Most varieties can start to be harvested at around 30 days, and plants reach maturity around 70 days.
Spinacia oleracea, spinach is a lovely cool-weather leafy green well suited to a wide variety of spaces. There are even some vine varieties that climb up trellises. They are also a great addition to shade or darker areas indoors. While they are not well suited to full shade or entirely dark rooms like bathrooms, they are well suited to areas that do not get a ton of light.
Kale, Brassica oleracea var. sabellica, is a great ornamental addition to your interior decorating. While it takes up to 75 days for kale to mature, it can usually be harvested around 35 days. Like many of the other leafy greens, kale is a fun plant to grow indoors because of its odd and interesting appearance. Between that, and its extreme popularity, growing kale indoors can be a fun conversation piece.
Be aware that kale comes in an array of sizes and colors. When picking a variety for indoors, be sure to consider how much space you can give it. Some varieties are bred to grow tall rather than bushier, so if you are limited on space, you may want to consider that.
Arugula, Eruca vesicaria ssp. sativa is a fast-growing leafy green exceptionally well suited to small spaces and being grown indoors. It can grow in as small as half a gallon container. While having around a gallon or larger of space will help arugula thrive, they are very adaptable. Between its small size and rapid growth rate, arugula is a fantastic option to grown indoors in the winter.
It can take up to partial shade but needs around six hours of sun to thrive. If it is appropriately raised, arugula can be ready to harvest in as little as 21 days.
The nightshade, or solonaceae, family, includes a wide array of flowering plants, including potatoes, eggplants, and tomatoes. Just keep in mind that fruiting plants will need to be hand-pollinated if you are growing them indoors.
Cherry tomatoes, Solanum lycopersicum var. cerasiforme, is a wide category of tomatoes that are generally small in size.
The key to growing prolific tomatoes in containers is their space. Depending on their mature size, tomatoes will need different amounts of space. Likewise, depending on their mature height, they need different sizes of support.
Small varieties like this Tiny Tim are especially well suited for containers.
Jalapeno peppers, or Capsicum annuum ‘Jalapeño’, are relatively compact and easy to grow indoors. Their primary requirement is light and warmth. If they do not get enough light, they will not produce many flowers and, thus, not many jalapeños. However, their space requirements are pretty minimal as they only need about a gallon-sized pot. They can survive in smaller spaces, but a gallon is ideal for prolific growth and production.
The key to growing a plentiful bounty of jalapenos is sunlight. Jalapenos need at least eight hours of sunlight, but more will help them to produce more flowers and fruit.
Chili peppers, Capsicum annuum, come in various shapes, sizes, and flavors. Due to their small size, many varieties are well suited to being grown indoors. Poblano peppers and Shishito peppers are especially popular mild varieties for growing in small spaces or indoors. Be aware that poblano peppers can grow to be on the larger side so that they will need more space than many other varieties.
Spicy varieties of chili peppers that do well in containers include Ring of Fire chilies, thai hot chilies, and habanero peppers. Check out this article on how to grow habanero peppers indoors for more information.
A wide variety of chili peppers grow well indoors. For other varieties and growing tips, check out this blog post.
Root vegetables are harder to grow indoors than most of the plants on this list as they require large pots to grow properly.
Carrots, Daucus carota, need their containers to be at least 12 inches deep to grow properly. Even then, it is a good idea to harvest carrots early to get baby carrots. However, carrots can grow to maturity in a container.
Carrots are fun to grow indoors during the winter because you can grow colors and varieties you will not likely see at the grocery store. However, they do grow a bit slowly; it takes about 120 days for them to reach maturity. They will also need full sun to grow to a good size.
Beets, or Beta vulgaris, may not grow to their full potential, but there is more to beets than meets the eye. When you think of beets, you probably think of the roots, but did you know you can eat beet leaves?
While beets do require full sun and a 12-inch pot like carrots, they grow much faster. In about 65 days, they reach maturity and are ready to be harvested. Before that, you can still cut off and enjoy the beet leaves. They are a great addition to salads!
While most varieties will do well in containers if they have enough space, small cultivars like Red Ace and Detroit Dark Red are great options.
Onions, Allium cepa, come in a wide array of varieties well suited to growing indoors. Small types like green onions are uniquely well suited to growing in containers. For more information on green onions and how to grow them indoors, check out this article.
It is generally easiest to grow yellow, white, and purple onions from seeds rather than transplants. Growing from seeds allows the onions more time and energy to establish their roots. It also allows you to make sure there is enough room for each onion to grow properly.
Broccoli, Brassica oleracea var. italica, is an interesting green that is sure to attract attention from house guests. It is a bit on the large side so that it will need a 12 by 12-inch pot, ideally. Additionally, the leaves will likely spread over the side of the container, so make sure the pot has plenty of space around it too.
Broccoli plants take around 70 days to mature, depending on the variety. Some varieties, such as the Royal Tenderette Hybrid, are well suited to containers and only take from fifty to sixty days to mature.
Like broccoli, cauliflower (Brassica oleracea var. botrytis) is interesting to look at as it grows. Also, like broccoli, it needs around a 12 by 12-inch pot, so it has plenty of space to grow. Wider containers are ideal. Cauliflower maturity rates depend heavily on variety and conditions so they can take anywhere from 50 to 120 days to reach maturity.
Try to avoid large varieties like snowball cauliflower. While they can grow indoors, they will generally need more space and likely not grow to their potential. Try compact types like White Corona and Flame Star Hybrids. White Corona is especially great because it grows quickly and is ready to harvest much faster than many other varieties.
Peas, Pisum sativum, are technically a legume like beans and are well suited to growing indoors. Dwarf or snap pea varieties are particularly suitable for growing indoors due to their compact size. Dwarf peas can grow in as small as a half-gallon pot.
If you are not a fan of peas but like legumes, compact varieties of pole beans can grow in small, indoor spaces but are not as productive indoors as peas are.
Microgreens are not one particular type of plant. They are several plants grown a certain way. Microgreens are great because they can grow indoors at any time of the year. Their primary requirements are space and light. Depending on the types of plants you choose, they also generally do not take much time or money.
Microgreens are great because they come in a wide variety of flavors and sizes. For example, arugula microgreens have a spicy, nutty flavor. In contrast, sunflowers have a nutty and mild flavor, and pak choy has an earthy and sweet flavor.
A lot of people confuse sprouts with microgreens, but the two are very different. Sprouts are ready to eat even faster than microgreens. It only takes from three to five days to grow sprouts from start to finish.
A wide variety of plants are well suited to be used as sprouts. Lentils, mung beans, and radishes are among the many kinds of plants well suited to being sprouts. However, most seeds can be grown as sprouts, including salad greens and garbanzo beans.
Would you like to read more about vegetables and other plants inside? Check out these other interesting and informative articles!