Tips & Tricks

Succulents in the City: The Best Apartment Plants & Urban Gardening Ideas

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There’s nothing like moving to the city. There’s people all around you, always something to do, quirky places to live, and… no room to plant anything. If you have a green thumb (or just want to successfully not kill a cactus), this can be really frustrating.

Thankfully, urban gardening is so trendy you can buy plants everywhere from the neighborhood grocery store to your block’s bodega. And it doesn’t matter how much space you have – whether your home has a yard or you just have room for a few potted plants in your living room, urban gardening is for everyone. We’ll show you which flora make the best plants for apartments and give you some tips on how to plan the perfect urban garden. Whether you’re ready to get crazy with cacti or plant some outrageous organic veggies, we’ve got your urban garden questions covered.

No Room for a Garden? Then These are the Best Plants for Apartments

If you don’t have outdoor space of your own (or just aren’t ready to commit to a whole garden yet), you can still decorate your apartment space with plenty of greenery. In fact, some plants do better in apartments than outside – here are a few to get your green thumb going:

Paddle Plants

Paddle plants are great starter apartment plants. These sweet succulents thrive in indirect light and only require a light amount of water every few days. Even if you forget to ask your roommate to water them while you’re on vacation, they’ll still be fine when you get home.

Peace Lilies

While you may be used to seeing lilies as difficult outdoor plants, peace lilies are perfect if you want a more sophisticated plant that works well indoors. Peace lilies are one of the few plants that grows under low, fluorescent lighting, so they’re ideal for corners away from your window that need some brightening.

Snake Plants

The easiest way to keep a snake plant thriving? Do nothing. You only need to water them when the soil is totally dry (which could take days or weeks), and they’re fine in indirect or direct sunlight. Stick ‘em in a pot, water, walk away, and wait for some new apartment greenery.


You don’t need endless fields of green and purple to grow lavender, just a few small planters. Lavender plants smell delightful and are a nice addition to your home aesthetic – just make sure to buy small ones so you don’t find your lavender growing out of control.

Weeping Figs

“Forever Young” is the Weeping Fig’s favorite song, because these little fellas (which can range from actually little to overly large) live long lives – sometimes as long as the humans who cultivate them. Just make sure you water this one – they’re not quite as independent as snake plants, and require regular watering to thrive.

Meyer Lemon Trees

If you’ve always wanted a fruit tree but don’t have the space, the Meyer Lemon Tree is your perfect match. It’s small, flowery, and produces fresh lemons when it’s in season. It’s a step up from the easier apartment plants, so it does require some extra care, but it will still thrive in a brightly-lit spot in your urban home.

Have More Space to Plant? Here’s How to Plan an Urban Garden

If you’re more ambitious and have a bit more space, you can take your horticulture skills to the next level. Urban gardening, whether it’s just a few window boxes or a full section of your yard, can help you feel like the city’s concrete jungle is a forest fantasy. All you need is a few good urban gardening ideas – and these steps to planning a perfect urban garden:

#1: Decide How Large (or Small) Your Urban Garden is Going to Be

Figure out the space you have to work with – do you have a full backyard you can use? Room for a 1’ by 3’ window box next to the sink? Start thinking about how much space you’d like to use and how much gardening you can realistically do so you don’t overwhelm yourself later.

#2. Land on Your Urban Garden Theme (or Themes)

Are you planning on growing your own fresh veggies? Or perhaps some urban herbs? What about a succulent sanctuary? A cactus garden? Pretty flowers to pick for your kitchen table? There are a lot of urban garden ideas out there, so it’s important to decide what you’re going for. While it would be nice to grow a little bit of everything, space and soil will likely limit you to just one or two focus points for your garden.

#3. Get to Know What Will Grow in Your Area

Not every plant grows well in every region, so before you set your heart on something, evaluate what you can realistically grow. Burpee offers a Growing Zone locator that gives you some information about what you should plant based on your location. But it’s also good to talk offline – talk to folks at the nearby nursery and farmer’s market to get an idea of what succeeds near you, and what is easiest for new urban gardeners.

#4. Select Your Seeds

Once you know your theme and have a general idea of what works in the area, you can figure out exactly which plants you want to grow. If you’re having trouble deciding, Houzz has a handy guide to choosing plants for first-time urban gardeners (and they tend to do well across regions!). Next, pick up seeds or plants at your local plant nursery, the Home Depot, or Lowe’s. If you are buying large plants, make sure you have a way to bring them home – Dolly will connect you to a local pickup truck driver who can pick up your plants and bring them home safely.

#5. Bring Your Urban Garden to Life

Break out a trowel, some work gloves, and soil – you’re ready to turn your urban gardening ideas into reality. Set up your garden space and plant those seeds!

#6. Keep Your Urban Garden Going All Year Long

Gardening isn’t just planting – it’s watering, weeding, and pruning. Keep up a regular schedule of watering and checking in on the plants for maintenance. Whether your “garden” is just a few snake plants and a succulent, or a backyard full of fresh veggies, make sure you have time set aside to help your garden be the best urban garden it can be.

Planning an urban garden is fun, but it’s also serious work. Dolly can make it easier. Our Helpers are background-checked, local pickup truck drivers who are ready to pick up your plants from the local nursery and bring them home. You can spend your time daydreaming about gardening perfection – book a Dolly and we’ll take care of the heavy lifting.

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