10 Easy Flowers You Can Grow In Your Van (Gardening Guide)

Camper van recreational vehicle at sunrise on mediterranean coast in spain. Camping on nature beach. Vacation and traveling in motor home.

Van life isn’t for everyone, but for those who seek adventure, live in the moment, and don’t mind skipping shower day every once in a while, it’s the perfect lifestyle. There’s plenty of beauty to be seen in nature, but you can also bring beauty to the inside of your van by growing potted flowers. 

Some of the easiest, hassle-free flowers you can grow in your van include forget-me-nots, pansies, begonias, sweet Alyssum, marigolds, impatiens, Gerber daisies, and lobelia. These flowers are extremely durable and have minimal maintenance requirements.

Having a potted plant inside your van will breathe life into your tiny home and provide an oasis on those rainy days when you’re stuck in the van. Read on to discover the ten easiest flowers you can grow in your van.

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Why Grow Flowers In Your Van?

As much as social media would like us to believe it, van life is not a luxurious lifestyle. You live in a very small space packed with only the necessities. 

While flowers may seem like a luxury, they have a lot of surprising benefits. 

According to an article in the Journal of ChemTech Research, one potted plant per 100 square feet of indoor space is sufficient to clean pollutants from the air. 

And since the average space inside a van is far less than 100 square feet, your single plant will have no problem keeping the air clean inside your van.

In addition to the biological benefits of cleaning the air, ornamental plants provide psychological benefits, too. An article in the Journal of Sustainability found that indoor plants boost mood. 

Specifically, indoor plants cause an increase in positive emotions and a reduction in negative emotions. Indoor plants can also cause a change in pain perception, making you feel less pain than you do (which is bound to help after a long hike!).

So, while potted plants may seem like a luxury you don’t need, they’re useful to have around when you live in a small space.

The best part? The plants on this list are EASY to take care of, so you can spend time adventuring instead of worrying about your plants.

How To Grow Flowers In Your Van

Homegrown and aromatic herbs in old clay pots. Set of culinary herbs. Green growing sage, oregano, thyme, basil, mint and oregano.

You can grow flowers in a stationary home, so why not a van?! While growing potted flowers is a little easier than growing edible plants in a van, it still comes with some tricky challenges.

Before you choose which potted plant to grow in your van, you’ll want to address some obvious obstacles:

  • Space
  • Type of pot
  • Sunlight
  • Temperature

Let’s address the elephant in the room first: Space!

Choose The Right Location For Your Van life Flowers

There are a lot of differences between living in a van and living in a home. You can’t have breakable things, you have to be able to secure everything down for when you are driving, and you have limited space.

With all that in mind, you’ll want to pick the right spot in your van so that your plant is secure yet movable, out of the way, gets enough sun, and won’t topple over when driving.

Here are some creative locations where you can place and store your potted flowers:

  • Hang Your Flowers From Your Storage Cabinets: Most van setups will have some type of cabinets near the headspace that offers storage. Consider hanging your flowers from the bottom of the cabinets by a hook.
  • Use Magnets To Keep Your Potted Flowers In Place: Magnets are a savior in the van. They can hold kitchen utensils, keep drawers closed while driving, and keep your potted flowers in place!

Lovimag’s Neodymium Disk Countersunk Hole Magnets can hold up to 26 pounds of weight. Affix one magnet to your potted flower and the other wherever you want to place your flower.

You can screw the magnet into your countertop and keep your flower on your countertop while driving or even affix it to a wall to save space.

  • Suction Cups Will Keep Your Flowers Close To A Window: Conbola’s Heavy-Duty Suction Cups With Hooks will hold up to 22 pounds. You can affix the suction cups to the window and hang your potted flowers there. This has the added benefit of providing your flowers with sunlight.

Wherever you decide to place your potted flowers, be sure they can be removed from that location. You’ll want to place your flowers outside when your van is stationary to provide adequate sunlight and air circulation.

You also want to be able to water your potted flowers outdoors so that you do not fill up your gray tank unnecessarily.

If you’d like to learn more, take a look at our piece on why you actually don’t need to water plants everyday!

One thing you don’t want to do is glue or nail your flower pot in a permanent location.

Choose A Non-Rigid Pot For Your Van life Flowers

Basil plant in a pot on  windowsill. Kitchen cooking herbs.

Ceramic pots are pretty, making a nice accent piece for your porch or windowsill. But the thing about ceramic is that it’s breakable.

And breakable things have to go when you live in a moving vehicle.

So, no ceramic, clay, or glass pots; what about hard plastic? Hard plastic is better than ceramic, clay, or glass, but it’s still a rigid container.

You want something that can mold too small or tight places for van life. You want a container that’s just as flexible as your lifestyle. For this reason, fabric pots are the way to go.

AC Infinity’s Heavy Duty Fabric Pots are an excellent choice. These come in various sizes, from 1-gallon to 25-gallons and are made of durable fabric that can be reused. Some of the sizes can even support fruit growth in your van!

The nice thing about fabric pots is that they can be folded down when not used, which is a plus when space is limited.

Give Your Flowers Enough Sunlight

Sunlight is something you’ll never be in shortage of when you live the van lifestyle. However, your indoor flowers may need some additional help with sunlight.

The plants on our list range from full-sun flowers to partial-shade flowers. Placing your flowers outdoors when you park your van can help give them the extra boost of sunlight they need to produce more flowers.

When you can’t put your flowers outside, consider parking your van so that the window faces either south or west so that it captures the most sunlight.

If you’re worried your plants aren’t getting enough sunlight, consider supplementing with grow lights. GHodec’s Grow Light for Indoor Plants includes blue, white, and red lighting for plants. 

These colors naturally mimic the sun’s wavelengths to give your plant’s the closest thing to natural sunlight. The lights also come with a clamp so you can connect them anywhere in your van, and you know they won’t fall over, even while in motion.

The best part about these grow lights is that they are powered via a 5-volt/2.4amp USB cord, the same amount of power you would use to charge your phone.

Keep The Temperature Regulated Inside Your Van

Weekend warriors might be able to get away without insulating their vans. After all, it’s just a couple of days of living in your van.

However, full-time van-lifers know the importance of insulation. It helps to keep hot air out and cool air so that the inside of your van feels comfortable on hot days. And during those colder nights, insulation will keep your van nice and toasty.

Keeping the temperature regulated inside your van is also important for your potted flowers. Some flowers can withstand fluctuating temperatures, but others are very sensitive, warm-weather-only plants that won’t do well in a van that drops 20 degrees at night.

You can use a light sheet or clothing to protect your plants if you know the temperature will drop significantly. But otherwise, you should only grow flowers in your van if you can somewhat regulate the temperature.

12 Easy Flowers To Grow In Your Van

Now onto the good stuff! What flowers are easy to grow and can withstand the mobile lifestyle? Surprisingly, there are a lot.

Very quick, you can view our overall list of the best plants to grow in your van if you’re looking for more non-flower types!

Grow Forget-Me-Nots In Vans

Macro shot of field forget me nots (myosotis arvensis) in bloom.

Forget-me-nots are known for being short flowers, which works to our advantage since we want flowers that fit in a van.

These flowers should be grown from seed and are considered low maintenance. According to North Carolina State University, forget-me-nots need less than 12 inches of space to grow.

There are many varieties of forget-me-nots, each with different characteristics and colors. Most forget-me-nots are blue with a white or yellow iris.

It’s recommended to plant seeds a few months before the last frost. Even if you are van-living in strictly warm temperatures, the thing that tells a plant whether to sprout or not has to do with the length of the days, not necessarily the temperature.

Light: Forget-me-nots appreciate full sun to partial shade. Around 3-6 hours of sun should be sufficient.

Soil: Use organically rich soil for forget-me-nots. Burpee’s Premium Organic Potting Natural Soil Mix is a good choice and contains organically-rich materials.

Water: Keep the soil moist without leaving puddles on the soil.

Bloom: Forget-me-nots bloom for a short period in April and May and sometimes re-blooms mid-summer.

Grow Begonias In Your Van

Most flowers on this list will have a ton of different varieties to choose from. Begonias are no different. 

Wax, rex, and rhizomatous begonias are going to be the best species of begonia for van life. They stay relatively small and are the easiest to care for. You can grow them from seed or find a nice potted begonia at a local garden center.

Some begonia species are very cold-sensitive, so make sure you keep the space inside your van at a comfortable temperature.

Light: Partial shade. Begonias need a little direct sunlight for their flowers to bloom, but too much sun will scorch the leaves.

Soil: Begonias do well with potting soil that contains peat moss. Baby Violet’s All-Purpose Indoor Houseplant Potting Soil Mix Peat Moss & Perlite is a great choice.

Water: Begonias should be watered frequently, but the plants are overwatered if the buds begin to drop.

Bloom: Most begonia species will bloom from summer until late fall.

Sweet Alyssum Can Grow Well In Vans

Sweet Alyssum produces beautiful white, pink, or purple flowers and has the added benefit of being very fragrant, providing your van with clean air AND nice smells.

According to the University of Florida, most normal varieties of Sweet Alyssum will bloom in spring and be done by summer. Still, some new varieties like Snow Princess, Frosty Knight, and Dark Knight will last from spring through fall.

You can always check with a local nursery or garden center to see which varieties will bloom the longest. Mostly, Alyssum grown from cuttings (instead of seed) will last the longest.

Light: Sweet Alyssum does well in full sun to partial shade.

Soil: Sweet Alyssum is not too picky with the soil type. A simple all-purpose potting soil will do just fine.

Water: Keep your Sweet Alyssum well-watered, but ensure the soil is not soggy.

Bloom: New varieties will bloom from Spring to Fall. Older varieties bloom in the spring and are typically done by summer due to heat.

You Can Grow Daisies In Vans

Daisies are one of the most popular flowers to purchase as cut flowers, but you can also plant them in containers.

Gerber daisies are a hybrid between two popular species of daisies and come in various colors, including orange, purple, white, and pink, among others.

You can snag a potted daisy plant from a garden center or plant Gerber daisies from seed in your fabric pots. Daisies will grow to about a foot tall and wide.

According to the University of Florida, Gerber daisies may become deficient in iron and manganese. Use a fertilizer like Espoma Organic Iron-tone 3-0-3 Organic Fertilizer about once a month according to the package label and directions.

Light: Provide morning sun and afternoon shade.

Soil: Gerber daisies prefer very well-drained soil. Look for a potting mix on the sandy side, and add some organic material or compost for best results.

Water: Allow the soil to dry completely between waterings.

Bloom: Gerber daisies will bloom Spring through Fall.

Try Growing Marigolds In Your Van

Orange merygold blooming

Marigolds are low-maintenance container plants that grow quickly and bloom yellow-orange flowers that will bring color into your van.

Some marigolds can grow up to three feet tall, but smaller varieties like French and Signet Marigolds reach 6-12 inches, which is the perfect size for a van-life container plant!

Marigolds are one of the most forgiving potted flowers and can handle hot temperatures, direct sun, and almost any type of soil.

Light: Marigolds love sun. Give them at least 6 hours per day. You can read more about why marigolds need full sun here.

Soil: Use a lightweight potting mix and add a handful of perlite for best results and better drainage. According to the University of Minnesota, marigolds do not require fertilizer.

Water: Allow the soil to dry completely between waterings. When watering, try to water down to about 2 inches. Marigolds are susceptible to root rot, so do not allow the soil to remain soggy.

Bloom: Marigolds typically bloom from summer until late fall/early winter, after a few hard frosts.

Dwarf Varietie Petunias Can Grow In Vans

Petunias are colorful, tubular-flowered plants that are quite prolific when allowed to spread in a flower bed. 

The best species of petunia to grow in a van will be the dwarf varieties. These include species like Dwarf Mexican Petunias and Katie Dwarf Petunias. These grow between 6 and 12 inches in height and are resistant to pests, which is a plus in the van!

Many petunia varieties are drought tolerant, making them even easier to maintain if you accidentally forget to water them. It’s recommended to plant three petunia plants per 12 inches of pot space.

Light: Give your petunias plenty of sun, at least 6 hours per day.

Soil: Petunias grow best in well-draining soil high in organic matter. Petunias are also heavy feeders. According to Texas A&M University, a high-phosphorous fertilizer does wonders for petunia plants.

Element Nutrient’s Flower Fuel includes a mixture of 1-34-32, meaning the nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium content, respectively. This is a good choice to feed your petunia plants.

Water: Petunias are more drought tolerant than other potted plants. You can allow the top 2 inches of the soil to dry out completely before watering again.

Bloom: Petunias will bloom from Spring to Fall if given the right conditions. 

Easy-To-Grow Impatiens For Your Van

Impatiens are commonly seen in hanging baskets, making them ideal if you plan to hang your plants beneath your cabinet space.

These colorful flowers can grow up to 18 inches tall, so they take up more space than some other flowers on our list. You can grow impatiens from seed or buy flowers already established in a pot from a local garden center. 

According to Iowa State University, the more shade you give your impatiens, the taller the plants will be. So, consider giving your impatiens more direct sun to keep them small and van-sized.

Light: Impatiens prefer partial shade, about 2 to 4 hours of filtered sun per day. The more light you give them, the smaller the plants will be, but the more flowers will bloom.

Soil: Use a run-of-the-mill potting soil that drains well. You can add perlite to improve drainage.

Water: Water your impatiens when the soil surface is dry to the touch.

Bloom: Impatiens will bloom in the spring or beginning of summer and last until the first frost.

Lobelia Can Grow Inside Your Van

Blue lobelia in hanging pots

Unlike many other flowers on our list, lobelia prefers cooler weather. They will not do well in super hot climates, so just be mindful of placing your lobelia outdoors if you stop in a hot desert for the day.

Lobelias varieties can be mounding or trailing. If you plan to hang your lobelia plant, consider getting a trailing variety. Stationary pots will do best with a mounding variety. Lobelias should be planted from seed.

Lobelias come in various colors, including blue, purple, and white. Lobelias do well partnered with other plants in the same container. Some of their preferred partners include:

  • Sweet Alyssum
  • Petunias
  • Impatiens
  • Pansies

All of which are on this list and are also low-maintenance.

Light: You can grow lobelia in full sun when temperatures are cooler. Place them in partial shade when summer temperatures are high.

Soil: Regular, well-draining potting soil works great for lobelia.

Water: Lobelias do not like drying out. Keep the soil moist at all times but do not let the soil become soggy.

Bloom: Depending on the variety, lobelias can be one of the first bloomers in the spring and will bloom again in the fall if conditions are right.

Pansies Are Easy To Grow In A Van

Pansies are another cool-weather plant well-known for having a face on its flowers. They come in a wide range of colors that can fit any color scheme in your van.

It is best to buy pansies as established plants as they can be difficult to plant from seed. These low-maintenance plants will grow to around 9 inches tall and wide.

Light: Pansies are cool-weather plants. They will only do good in the direct sun if the temperatures are cool. It is best to place them in partial shade in the afternoon to avoid overheating them.

Soil: Use a well-draining potting mix. Preferably sandy or sandy loam. Utah State University recommends a 5-10-5 fertilizer like Espoma’s Garden Food Fertilizer 5-10-5 applied to the potting soil before transplanting your pansies into your fabric pots.

Water: Give your pansies about 1 inch of water per week. 

Bloom: Pansies typically bloom in the spring because of the cooler temperatures. They may also bloom in the fall as temperatures cool down from summer. In mild climates, they will bloom in the winter as well.

Grow Low-Maintenance Geraniums In Your Van

Geraniums are easy to grow with brilliant pink, purple, white, and red flowers, depending on the variety.

There are three main types of geraniums: Ivy-leafed, Martha Washington, and Common. The best species for van life are the common geranium or the Martha Washington geranium. Ivy-leafed is a trailing geranium that can take up more space than you’d like in your van.

Geraniums don’t appreciate being left out in the cold as they are not cold-hardy like lobelia or pansies. However, they are great for container life as they prefer to be somewhat root-bound.

Light: Give your geraniums at least 6 hours of sun per day, but be aware that geraniums may stop flowering in hot weather. During the hottest time of the day, move your geraniums into some shade.

Soil: Any regular potting mix will do as long as it has good drainage. You can add perlite to the mixture for extra drainage.

Water: Allow the soil to dry between waterings. Geraniums are drought-tolerant to an extent.

Bloom: Geraniums will bloom from spring to fall. However, they may stop blooming if temperatures get too hot.

Final Thoughts On Growing Flowers In Your Van

That’s all we have for now on the ten easiest flowers you can grow in your van. Many of the flowers on this list are forgiving, but they still need a little TLC.

Just as a quick recap…

Ten easy flowers you can grow in your van include:

  • Forget-me-nots
  • Begonias
  • Sweet Alyssum
  • Gerber Daisies
  • Marigolds
  • Petunias
  • Impatiens
  • Lobelia
  • Pansies
  • Geraniums

You’ll want to ensure you pick the right location for your flowers and provide them with enough sunlight and water. Also, ensure the temperature doesn’t fluctuate too much in your van.

If you’re looking for the easiest flowers to plant, go with marigoldspetunias, or geraniums. These are more forgiving than others and are the lowest maintenance.

If you’re planning on being in cool weather for a lot of your trip, try growing impatiens, lobelia, or pansies, as these plants prefer cool weather and can even survive a few touches of frost.

Having flowers in your van will not only breathe life into your van’s interior but also provide physical and psychological benefits that are just too good to pass up!

References

Abd ElAziz, N. G., Mahgoub, M. H., Mazhar, A. M.M., Farahat, M. M., & Abouziena, H. F. (2015). Potentiality of Ornamental Plants and Woody Trees as Phytoremidators of Pollutants in the Air: A Review. International Journal of Chem Tech Research8(6), 468-482.

Kaplan, R. (2001). The Nature of the View from Home: Psychological Benefits. Environment and Behavior33(4), 507-542. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/00139160121973115

Ke-Tsung, H., & Li-Wen, R. (2019, August 20). Effects of Indoor Plants on Self-Reported Perceptions: A Systemic Review. Sustainability11(16), 4506. https://www.mdpi.com/2071-1050/11/16/4506#cite

Lin, M.-W., Chen, L.-Y., & Chuah, Y.-K. (2017, October). Investigation of A Potted Plant (Hedera helix) with Photo-Regulation to Remove Volatile Formaldehyde for Improving Indoor Air Quality. Aerosol and Air Quality Research17(10). https://aaqr.org/articles/aaqr-17-04-oa-0145

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