What can I grow indoors in 4-inch clay pots?
March 20, 2010 1:56 PM   Subscribe

What can I grow indoors in 4-inch clay pots?

I've had these empty 4-inch diameter (2.5-inches at the bottom) clay pots sitting on my kitchen window sill going on 2 years now. I've always wanted to grow something in them, but what?


- I DO NOT want to re-pot whatever I grow later, meaning the plants need to stay small or be happy with pruning.
- Little to no direct sunlight (just a little in the late afternoon).
- I'm not a master gardener, so the easier, the better.
- Herbs (I cook a lot) or colorful flowers would be great, but I'd be happy with anything green, except...
- NO CACTI (they just don't appeal to me).

So what should I grow?
posted by geeky to Home & Garden (10 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: African Violets.

Herbs you use frequently. Consistent use will keep them from outgrowing their pots.
posted by Galen at 2:35 PM on March 20, 2010

Aloes are useful and very easy to grow, but they might be too close to cacti for your taste.
posted by box at 2:50 PM on March 20, 2010

box: "Aloes are useful and very easy to grow, but they might be too close to cacti for your taste."

An aloe will quickly fill up a 4 inch pot with offsets. It's ok, because they don't mind being rootbound, but if you don't want that to happen, you will have to remove them at least once a year. I have a 6 inch pot that is overflowing with aloe leaves because I have let it go for a couple years just to see how it would do.

You wouldn't happen to want an aloe would you? I have 4 small ones that I just removed from my plants that you can have for free.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 3:14 PM on March 20, 2010

Thyme and parsley don't grow fast, but then again, you won't be able to use them in cooking much or you'll have killed them by eating them all! You could get things you can dump in the garden when they get big, such as sage and rosemary, they're worth growing because you can put them in so much cooking, it saves money, and they're useful because you can't eat them to death. Radishes and basil, you won't be repotting, you'll be resowing...quick and tasty. I buy pansies in pots and plant outdoors when they've finished flowering (get trowel, make small hole, dump).. Actually there are heaps of things. Just can't 'think of one'. That red/pink bent-over thing that's in the shops at the moment - look, in garden centres and florists there'll be heaps of things. Geraniums are traditional and tough: the real ones smell, the pelargoniums have more impressive flowers. There's something beginning with A which has succulent leaves and small flowers but flowers forever, they always sell it in florists for some reason. Or just look in a 'plant encyclopedia' type book in a charity shop or round an elderly relative's? If you like complicated pruning, Bonsai!
posted by maiamaia at 4:07 PM on March 20, 2010

Best answer: I came in to recommend African Violets, too. I have some in very similar pots (for years now). They do require some upkeep if you want them to flower decently, but it's just remembering to water and pick off dead leaves, and rotate the pot on a semi-frequent basis.
posted by anaelith at 4:59 PM on March 20, 2010

Christmas Cactus does pretty well in a small-ish pot, and doesn't mind being rootbound. If any of the branches get too long, you can cut them off, plant new ones and give them away. More information on them here.
posted by jquinby at 5:16 PM on March 20, 2010

Oh, just saw your bit about cacti. That's OK, though - they're not really cacti. And they can apparently last for many, many years. As for ease of care, I have one that a friend gave me several years ago and all I do is water it once in a awhile. I about lost it (one of the cats knocked it off the shelf), but it seems to have come back handsomely since then.
posted by jquinby at 5:19 PM on March 20, 2010

Best answer: I don't think you have many options for flowers with such a small pot and little to no direct sunlight. (I don't know much about African violets - might work!) My suggestions:

- a tiny clivia plant. Nice structural look, dark green, loves to be rootbound. Will need repotting after several years. Can tolerate very low light, little watering, tough plant!

- pothos. A very generic houseplant but looks pretty good anyway! Tolerates many light conditions, including none.

- a peace lily. It might even bloom for you! (though the bloom is not exciting). I hear peace lilies are good for cleaning the air.

- neomerica. Mine blooms every March but only for one day. Humph!

- herbs indoors with low light? I can't think of anything that'll last for more than a few months.
posted by kirst27 at 7:18 PM on March 20, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks for all of the suggestions! African violets sound like a good option. The aloe mentions made me laugh - I had an aloe plant once that I killed accidentally. I think I overwatered it. Oops!

I probably should have mentioned that I have an moderate herb garden that I grow outdoors every spring - fall, so re-potting or planting outdoors is not something I want or need to do. I was hoping to use these pots to add a little greenery indoors more than anything! Herbs would just be a nice bonus in the winter. If any of you know of specific herbs that do well indoors in indirect light, chime in and I'll try growing some next winter!
posted by geeky at 8:06 AM on March 21, 2010

Just reacting to your comment, "...to add a little greenery indoors more than anything..." You could just go for some silk flowers/foliage. Some of those look cheap and awful, but some are pretty, and if it's more about just perking up the space that might do you well.
posted by BlahLaLa at 2:09 PM on March 21, 2010

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