As much as I love autumn, at some point I resign myself to the months-long loss of lush gardens and green spaces. The autumn and winter can be dreary months, but there is a way to keep a slice of summer in your home year-round: Create an indoor garden.

Indoor gardens can have several benefits in the autumn and winter: They bring some life into your space, several plants can help purify stale indoor air, and a few plants can make people more productive. And they don't have to be difficult to maintain.

Even people known for killing plants can maintain an indoor garden, so long as you choose hardy plants that work with your habits. Do you have a tendency to over-water plants? Parlor palms and tropical plants will love you for it. Perhaps you forget to water your plants for weeks? English ivy and cacti are your best friends. Or you could always pick un-killable plants that can survive drought, over-watering, and even cold.

Difficulty level: Easy

You'll need:


A variety of planters

Objets d'art

Optional: Salvaged wood and brackets for shelving

Start by deciding whether you want to use existing surfaces or if you want to hang shelves. When you're considering a space for your indoor garden, remember you'll want a warm, sunny spot that will help your plants thrive.

If you are a renter and aren't allowed to hang shelves (or if you just don't want to go to the bother), other surfaces that could hold your garden include a fireplace mantel, a console, or a trio of side tables. Less conventional but more creative options include hanging ivy in a vintage bird cage, loading plants into an old galvanized steel tub, or arranging a few compact plants on a pair of vintage chairs.

The next step is to find the right plants--and the right number of plants. There are lots of air-purifying house plants to choose from, including the peace lili, Warneckii, English ivy, and elephant ear. Gather as many of these purifying plants, and don't be afraid to add some of your favorite plants or flowers for a personal flair.

If you don't have many (or any) of these air cleaning plants, you don't need to shell out a lot of money. Most are inexpensive, but you can also ask friends for offshoots or portions of plants.

Once you've selected plants, take stock of your planters, and amass a collection of objets d'art--interesting objects that you can place in amongst the garden's plants. The objects and the number of plants will create a tone for your indoor garden space.

If you want a meditative space, you might include a Buddha, a small wire bowl filled with smooth stones, or a clear vase filled with fine, pale sand. A few choice plants, each in their own planter, will suggest order and peace. A jungle feel, on the other hand is all about lushness. Load up on plants, and add in a tribal mask from your travels or a brilliant red or yellow ceramic parrot.

If there's anything you need, head to your local re-store, thrift stores, and flea markets to look for second-hand items. If you're to look for wood for shelving, keep in mind you can always paint the shelves to fit your decor (using a low-VOC paint, of course).

When you have your plants, planters and objets assembled, take the time to layer the tableau, moving plants and objets around until you love the look. If you lack an artistic eye, invite over a creative friend who can help you arrange things while you catch up over a bottle of wine.