Orenda Home Garden_Indoor Water Garden Guide

Indoor Water Garden: How-to Guide

Crafting an indoor water garden brings not only nature into any space but also a sense of calm. This low-maintenance greenery can improve air quality and make wonderful garden gifts, too.

Without soil, indoor water plants will naturally grow slower. But they will thrive for a long time.

The best thing about growing water plants indoors is that they are disease and pest resistant. Plus, it’s perfect for the plant watering-challenged!

Here’s how you can start this easy and meditative DIY project.

Types of Indoor Water Garden Plants

Begin your project by choosing which types of water plants to grow. Use your plant selection as the basis for your container and substrate later. There are three options to choose from:

  1. Submerged plants. These are true aquatics where the entire plant thrives underwater. Examples are java fern, java moss, anacharis, anubias and Amazon sword plant. Use large or tall containers for this option to keep both foliage and roots in water.
  2. Emergent plants. Also known as shoreline or wetland plants, these grow above the water surface. Calla lilies, spider plants, English ivy, philodendron and pothos are some common semi-aquatics. They would look great in narrow vases or wide-mouthed jars.
  3. Free-floating plants. These plants have shallow plant roots, making them capable of floating on the surface. If you have low or bowl-like containers, those are ideal for growing dwarf water lettuce, duckweed, water hyacinth and Amazon frogbit.

Orenda Home Garden_Indoor Water Garden Plants

Tools for Starting an Indoor Water Garden

After selecting your water plants, you also need to prep your container, base media and water.


Any container that can hold water will work for your indoor garden project. Just make sure to use the right container size that suits your chosen plant type.

You don’t have to buy new vases or bowls, though. You can visit thrift shops or repurpose bottles and food jars if you like.

More importantly, keep these tips in mind when choosing your plant container:

  • Avoid any corrosive receptacles like those made of metal, copper, brass or lead. These can react with water or your fertiliser and result in plant damage.
  • Choose dark or opaque containers if you plan to place your indoor water garden plants in a brighter location. These should block out sunlight and prevent algae growth.
  • A tall glass vase is ideal for displaying foliage with an attractive root system.

Base Media

Base media will keep your plant arrangement in place or submerged in water. Some examples are decorative stone, aquarium gravel, beach pebbles, sand, marbles, beads and broken seashells.

Choose the base material that works best with your aquatic plants and container. You can easily find them from pet stores or aquarium suppliers.


Ideally, use filtered or distilled water when creating your indoor water garden. But you can also use regular tap water.

Just make sure to let it sit for a day to let chemicals, like chlorine, evaporate. When setting up your garden, you can also add some powdered or small pieces of charcoal. These should keep your water clear and fresh smelling.

Keep in mind that you will have to add water-soluble fertiliser as well to keep your plants healthy. When you do, make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

Orenda Home Garden_Indoor Water Garden Materials

Steps to Start an Indoor Water Garden

Now that you have your plants and building materials ready, it’s time to assemble your indoor décor. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you from start to finish.

Clean the plant roots

Before potting any aquatic plant, make sure to free the roots of debris. Doing this will keep your water clean and allow the roots to adapt to their new home.

You might need to use a small rag or old toothbrush to scrub every nook and cranny. Afterwards, carefully give the roots a final wash under running water.

Arrange and pot your plants

If you’re using free-floating plants, fill your container with water first, then place your aquatics on top.

But to make it more attractive, use a clear bowl, arrange some pebbles or stones at the bottom before putting your plants.

Now, for semi and true aquatics, you need to secure your plants first using your base media before filling the container with water.

When arranging, make sure not to cover the crown completely with gravel to allow root growth.

Add water to your garden

You can now fill your container with water once you’re okay with your indoor water garden design. Ordinary tap or distilled water should work.

But make sure to keep it at room temperature. Also, add the water carefully so as not to ruin your arrangement. Pour it on one side of your container, away from your plants.

Put your final decorations

If you want to make it look even more unique, you can finish your garden with beautiful ornaments. Colourful rocks, crystals or figurines will surely make your indoor garden shine!

Orenda Home Garden_Indoor Water Garden Care

Indoor Water Garden Care

Water plants require minimal care and maintenance. That’s why it’s perfect for novice gardeners. But you still have to do a few things to keep your garden thriving:

  • Put your indoor plant in a bright area with indirect light. Any room with a window should be alright.
  • Add an aquatic plant food tablet into your water garden a few weeks after you set it up. Check the package instruction before use.
  • Change out the water every couple of weeks to prevent the growth of algae. Make sure to check the roots and trim off dead leaves.
  • Do not use soap or detergent to clean your container. Traces of it can affect plant respiration.

An indoor water garden is an easy way to beautify your home, not to mention enhance your planting skills. After this project, why not step it up and try smart gardens or hydroponic gardening next?

Lachlan Grattan

When I finally have the home of my dreams, my garden and home became and oasis and a place of self-expression. I love adding touches around the house to improve the living space and garden area. It’s my shelter, after all, and I want it to be as cozy as possible. I created Orenda Home & Garden as a go-to resource for my readers who wants to get ideas, inspiration or tips to make their home better and more comfortable.