Full disclosure: I feel pretty weird writing about my bathroom, but we all have one—even tiny studio renters—and my facilities have facilitated a gardening breakthrough: dealing with the needs and messes of plant care without the typical space or tools. I don’t own a watering hose or a patch of dirt, so the indoor outhouse has become my horticultural center. Many of my plants live in my loo full time, and they love it for the same reasons it’s my favorite place in the apartment:
- It’s steamy
If you’ve ever been caught in the sprinkler while selecting lettuce in the produce section, you’ll understand why the shower is a humid oasis for leaves. Higher humidity slows evaporation, so I find I don’t have to water my plants as often. Wet leaves are also easier to wipe free of dust, which can be a breeding ground for mites. I’ll also never forget that when my calamondin tree first blossomed, the warm mist brought out a heady fragrance.
- Ample light
I live on the second floor with north-facing windows. The street noise is brighter than the sunlight, so until I find plants that can sono-synthesize, I have to put all my plants up against the panes for them to survive. The window in the bathroom is prime real estate, although I’m constantly rotating the pots clockwise so the leaves don’t plaster themselves to the glass.
I like to think the plant posse on my sill creates strength in numbers, and my showertime serenades provide an extra boost of CO2. It often feels as if my plants do more for me, though, as buffers against urban hubbub. My apartment faces Olmstead’s first parkway, emphasis on the way. It’s a central mall of bike lanes, walkways, and trees dividing a four-lane boulevard that’s flanked by service lanes and sidewalks—and my bathroom is 10 feet from it all. Even though the glass is frosted, a little leafy privacy goes a long way. I feel sheltered by the green that separates my sudsy vulnerability from the ruckus below, especially when I crack open the window.
- Shower curtain rods = plant hangers
As a renter, my ideal plant spots are those that won’t damage the wood floors or the drywall. Hanging a plant on the shower curtain rod is a no-drill, no-spill solution, especially when the bathroom sill is crowded. One thing I do have is pretty high ceilings. A hanging container allows my plants to take advantage of the light up there, and the vines spilling over the planter and dangling from above make the space look and feel more like a jungle.
5. Dirt washes down the drain.
I used to garden on a layer of newspaper on the dining room table, which led to more vacuuming than planting. The shower is much easier and tidier. When I know I have to do a lot of watering, leaf cleaning, or planter scrubbing, I can embrace the dirty work even as I rinse off. The shower curtain contains mud splatters and is easily washed. Hygiene and horticulture coexist.
6. The tub is tubby
…and more suited for soil than any sink. The kitchen is for food, my bathroom sink is for washing up not hosing off, and is prone to clogging. The bottom of my shower, though? That gets cleaned once a week…or so…and it’s GIANT! I can water five plants at once, in a round, rotating them as their soil drains. Best of all, it’s better for work-at-home gardening since I can stop mid-stream, draw the shower curtain and come back to it later in the day, whereas I definitely need both sinks accessible.
7. Watering options
Need to fill a watering can faster than any sink faucet? There’s a giant spigot for that. Need to powerwash some planters? Turn the handle all the way (I’ve got great water pressure). Got a delicate plant that needs even water distribution versus a watering can deluge? Stick it under the showerhead. Did you find a dead bug hiding in those leaves? A watery grave is only a flush away.
8. Au naturale
Where else in the city can I garden like Eve before expulsion? We’re meant to feel this way: free among flora, and yet, getting naked in nature risks exposure and, often, a big fine. Here I can bury my nose in the leaves, scope out new growth, and not have to worry about the dirty looks I’ll get. It’s just me and my plants, dancing in our daily rainshower (just ignore the sound of jackhammers coming from the street).