Tiny Gardens

Spring is the ideal time to dive into gardening but if you rent an apartment or live in a small rowhome, you may not have a lot of room to work with. No front or back yard? No problem. Whether you have a small side alley or enough room for a tiny garden on your windowsill or kitchen counter, there are lots of creative ways you can get growing. Here are some ideas to inspire you to create your own small green spaces at home that can thrive in any dwelling no matter how small.


Consider adding some green to your living space with a small, low-maintenance terrarium. They make beautiful accent pieces that add greenery and beauty to any room in your home. Start with a visit to Pretty Green Terrariums at 1116 South Street and at 907 Market Street which offers terrarium workshops on and off-site by appointment. 

Image: Pretty Green Terrariums

To build your own terrarium you’ll need:

  • Glass Containers: A terrarium can be created in any size or shape clear glass bowl, jar, or container, including a large mason jar. You’ll find a large selection at Urban Jungle 1526 Passyunk and ILL Exotics, 1704-6 Passyunk. Used glass bottles and condiment jars also make great containers. For a more eco-friendly option, we encourage you to reuse what you already have on hand!
  • Plants: Mini succulents and small tropical house plants are well suited to terrariums and come in many colors and shapes. They are available at most area plant shops.
  • Materials: You will need more than potting soil. Terrariums require sand and rocks in addition to succulents. City Planter in Northern Liberties sells a DIY Terrarium Kit.
Image: Urban Jungle

Start by rinsing and drying the glass container to make sure it is clean of dust or contaminants. Place small rocks or pebbles on the bottom, then add a few inches of soil. Add your plants, packing a layer of topsoil to secure them in place. Finish with a layer of sand and any decorations you would like to add such as seashells, moss, or decorative items. Lightly water the terrarium and place it by a bright window.

No time to make your own terrarium? Buy one ready-made at Philadelphia Flower Market, 1500 JFK Blvd. They also make a thoughtful, living get-well or hostess gift as opposed to flowers that droop within a few days.


The tradition of creating miniature bonsai trees is so popular there are national and regional organizations for its adherents, including the Pennsylvania Bonsai Society, founded in 1963.  Originating in China in the 3rd Century, bonsai was later adopted by the Japanese and, today is considered an art form representing spiritual harmony.

Caring for a bonsai requires continual pruning and re-potting to maintain its unique grace and size. As in any art form, there is a learning curve as well as special tools. The Philadelphia Flower Show, June 11-19, 2022 is a great opportunity to learn about bonsai and speak with its aficionados. Or chat with bonsai experts at City Planter.

Edible Container Gardens

Anyone can grow geraniums, pansies, or begonias in a window box or balcony planter. But how about growing a fresh local salad?  The roots of lettuce plants are relatively shallow, making them an excellent choice for tiny gardens. Choose from looseleaf, butterhead, romaine, iceberg, arugula, chives, cherry tomatoes, and spinach. Remember, a plant’s nutritional value is only as good as what you put in the soil; leafy greens require high amounts of nitrogen throughout the growing cycle. Rather than using seeds, you may want to buy small plugs of edible plants at area nurseries.

Talk to your local gardening center before embarking on this project and make sure your container or window box is appropriate for your purpose. You can also sign up for PHS’ workshop on growing microgreens to learn how to grow your own microgreen garden from seed to salad.

Many Philly plant shops have nurseries where you can learn more about growing edible plants and buy the tools needed to grow them. Visit Urban Jungle’s new Pennsport Plant Nursery, 1721 S. Walter Street, or Greensgrow educational urban farm, 2501 E. Cumberland St in Kensington.  

Image: Greensgrow Farms

Herb Garden

If you love to cook, reaching for fresh herbs is much more satisfying than reaching for a jar of dried parsley, and it provides a better taste to cooked meals. If you’re a first-timer, buy a small plant from a garden center and plant it on your kitchen windowsill.

Some herbs, like rosemary, lavender, and thyme, thrive in drier soil, whereas others, like mint, chives, and basil, prefer generous waterings. A common mistake with new herb growers is that they will try to grow plants with different watering needs in the same box, resulting in inconsistent growth. Ask your local plant expert for watering instructions. The easiest way to go?  Buy separate containers. 

Plant Giveaways and Swaps at The PHS Pop Up Garden South St.

Looking to pick up a free new plant or speak with master gardeners to get more tiny garden tips and ideas? Join us for a plant swap or bulb giveaway at the PHS Pop Up Garden on South Street! Solo is proud to be sponsoring the garden and the work that PHS does in our community for the fifth consecutive year. We will be sponsoring PHS’ monthly Plant Swaps with giveaways of horticultural favorites like summer gladiolus bulbs, flowering annuals, houseplants, succulents, tulip, daffodil bulbs, and more. Solo Real Estate will also be providing complimentary zinnia seed packs and new recycling containers throughout the season. 

Families, friends, and pets are welcome to experience the beautiful outdoor garden, featuring plant and garden installations, alongside a full food and beverage menu, with ample seating, entertainment, and space options to suit every party size.   

For more small-space gardening tips, read our article on container gardening 101. If you’re already an avid home gardener and need more space, consider volunteering or joining a local community garden to learn more about urban gardening in Philadelphia.

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