Indoor Plant Information
Updated - June 29, 2015 10:32 AM


Greens for sautéing or braising: kale, collard, choys and mustard greens for an excellent combination of flavors and textures.


Catalina is a baby spinach variety


Four basic types of lettuce are butterhead, crisphead, cos or romaine (upright) and loose-leaf.

Greens adapted for indoor growing are: loose leaf lettuce varieties, such as Black Seeded Simpson and Tom Thumb. Look for baby or little on the seed packet.

Tips for Growing Lettuce Indoors

Lettuce is a short-season crop so sow lettuce seeds every week or two for a more continual harvest.

Sow seeds thinly over the soil. Lettuce seeds are tiny, and they need light to germinate, so cover the seeds lightly, never more than 1/4-in (.5 cm). Then, mist with water until thoroughly moist. Mist to keep the medium continually moist. Germination is about 7-14 days, depending on the type.

Cool is best for lettuce. Average temperature between 60-70°F, with a 10°F drop at night would be good.

Seedlings need more intense light than mature plants. If seedlings don't get enough strong light, they'll become spindly, 14-16 hours with the source at 4 inches. Rotate plants if necessary to prevent leaning toward light. Plants don't thrive with more light, turn it off at night.

Lettuce is made up of 90% water and has shallow roots, so keep the soil moist, but not soggy. It is best to water from the bottom with a watering tray. Use water that is at room temperature.

Thin seedlings when they grow their second set of leaves by transplanting them or using in a salad. Allow 3 inches between plants.

Fertilize after the first true leaves appear at half-strength, once a week for three weeks. Avoid getting any fertilizer on the leaves.

Harvest anytime the plants are big enough to use. Clip the outer leaves first, leaving the inner leaves for later. Mature plants go to seed quickly and will taste bitter so check them so you can harvest them before they do.



Smaller than baby greens and harvested later than sprouts microgreens can provide a variety of leaf flavors, such as sweet and spicy, and are high in nutritional value. Also they provide a variety of colors and textures that are good for garnishing salads, soups, plates, and sandwiches. USDA Ag Research Magazine January 2014

Microgreens have three basic parts: stem, cotyledon, and the first pair leaves. Typically harvested at 2-4 weeks and less than 2 inches tall.

Microgreens are different than sprouts.


Sprouts are whole plants (root, cotyledon, leaves) and are legally defined with production and marketing regulations due to their high risk of microbial contamination compared to microgreens and other plant parts. See the FDA publication Guidance for Industry: Reducing Microbial Food Safety Hazards for Sprouted Seeds (FDA 1999).


Smaller varieties include Micro Tom, Orange Pixie, Patio, Tiny Tim, Small Fry, Red Robin—all are cherry types.


Grow under the same conditions as tomatoes

Lemon grass - Cymbopogon

Cymbopogon flexuosus is East Indian lemon grass also called Cochin grass or Malabar grass (Malayalam: (inchippullu) and is native to Cambodia, Vietnam, India, Sri Lanka, Burma, and Thailand.

Cymbopogon citratus is West Indian lemon grass and is native to maritime Southeast Asia. Also known as serai in Malaysia and Brunei, serai or sereh in Indonesia, and tanglad in the Philippines.

Both can be used interchangeably, Cymbopogon citratus is more suitable for cooking.

Other names include: lemon grass, lemongrass, barbed wire grass, silky heads, citronella grass, cha de Dartigalongue, fever grass, tanglad, hierba Luisa, or gavati chaha, Citronella grass (Cymbopogon nardus and Cymbopogon winterianus - grow to about 2 m and have magenta-colored base stems), and others.
(source - lists 52 different species).


Cut the fresh leaves from the garden (as much you care to), wash them up, cut them into small pieces about 1 to 1 1/2 inches long and keep in the refrigerator in a plastic container. It can be used dried and powdered, or fresh.

Whenever you like to make a tea, just take about 25 to 30 pieces, put in a traveler’s mug or a tea pot, pour in boil water and steep for 15 minutes. You’ll have a very green lemon grass tea. Bo use the traveler mug as it keeps the tea warm pretty long and that's for one person.

Tea - Camellia

Camellia plant genus, from which all forms of tea are harvested, is amazingly resilient and adaptable, says Douglas Ruhren, a horticulturist at the American Camellia Society.

Camellia sinensis var. sinensis, not to be confused with Camellia sinensis var. assamica, which is an Indian tea; Indian tea plants are less tolerant of the cold. "These are really easy plants to grow if winters are warm," he adds, "and I think most people would have an easy time growing them." you can order the plant online from Camellia Forest Nurseries in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. In five years, if you're a modest tea drinker, you could have a significant amount of tea, To make the tea, you have to pick the two to three newest leaves, and the leaf bud, on each shoot. What you do with those leaves after that will determine whether you end up with green tea or oolong tea (which falls somewhere between green tea and black tea in terms of taste). For green tea, the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences at the University of Florida says to steam or pan-heat the leaves at 480 to 570 degrees F for 10 to 15 minutes while constantly stirring them to keep them from burning. Then dry the leaves in a standard oven or toaster oven at 212 to 302 degrees for another 10 to 15 minutes, and they're ready to brew.
For oolong tea, you need to allow the leaves to wilt, first in full sun for 30 to 60 minutes then in the shade for another eight to 10 hours. While they're wilting in the shade, you need to stir them once every hour. Bring the leaves inside, and pan-heat them on low heat, between 121 and 149 degrees F for 15 minutes. Oolong tea doesn't need to be dried, as green tea does. Traditionally, the leaves are rolled up, either into thin strips or into tiny balls, preserving the leaves' oils and flavors. As you brew the tea, the leaves unfurl and release their flavor. In China, oolong leaves are customarily brewed two to three times because each steeping process changes the flavor a little bit.

“They like to dry out between waterings,” he said. “Put your finger down in the dirt and if it’s wet, leave it alone.”

Currently Nuccio’s only has seedlings in 4-inch containers. Anything bigger gets sold quickly. The seedlings should go into a 1-gallon pot for at least a year before moving into a 5-gallon pot and ultimately into the ground.

“Go step by step,” Cardenas said. The soil should be more than 50% peat moss and commercial camellia mix on top of a drainage layer of gravel or wire mesh. Even though tea thrives in some of the rainiest places on Earth, it can’t tolerate wet feet. And don’t let the glossy leaves fool you. Tea can be plagued by the same pests that go after the rest of the garden: aphids, caterpillars, mites.

Although some leaves could be plucked as soon as this summer, harvesting can’t truly begin until the bush is a few years old. You remove the newest two or three leaves and the unopened leaf bud at the tip. These leaves are the softest, and the pruning leads to a fuller bush. One plant can produce both green or black tea, although some varieties are better for one or the other. The leaf-drying process takes a few days but is not difficult.

Tea produces wonderfully scented white flowers. If not pruned, the plant can get quite tall, morphing from a shrub into a real tree. The Indian cultivar Camellia sinensis var. assamica can get more than 50 feet tall.

Seeds, harvest tips and an extensive variety of tea sub-species are also available from Camellia Forest Nursery in Chapel Hill, N.C.

Source: Camellia Forest Nursery and Tea Gardens



Dr. Robert Sweetland's notes