Just because you live on the road doesn’t mean you can’t take along some of the sweet little luxuries of home like beautiful, green house plants. Plants filter carbon dioxide and pollutants from the air and have even been shown to reduce stress when kept inside the home. Why not reap these benefits in your mobile abode?

You may have to plan your indoor gardening a little differently due to the unique conditions of life in a vehicle but it’s totally worth it to enjoy the beauty and health benefits of indoor plants. To get started on creating your personal green oasis read on for ways to store plants, mobile plant care tips and some advice on which varieties fare well on the road.




Plant Care & Storage Solutions

Build a Shelving System

Mandy of @188squarefeet has catered to her plant obsession even while living in a seriously upgraded RV. She even has an Insta story titled, “(plant emoji) lady.” Mandy’s gorgeous mobile home features many plants, including a unique customized shelving system with holes to fit 22 tiny potted succulents. With the help of a drill, a saw, some wood and brackets you, too, could have your very own plant shelving system!

This setup is perfect for vanlifers who are constantly on the move, as it prevents the plants from falling in transit. Plus, Mandy installed hers high on the wall where her two cats and two dogs can’t get to them. “They make our trailer feel like home,” She wrote. “They keep the air fresh and just make me a happier person. I love tending to them. It’s something that brings me joy.”

Create Hangers

One of the easiest ways to ensure that plants will stay upright while driving is to keep them in hangers. With a little string, you can create your own macrame design to host your favorite plant. Or, support an artist you dig by purchasing a plant hanger at a farmer’s market or off Etsy. We dig these simple ones from Wild Light Design. Hang the plants from your rearview mirror if they won’t impede your view or create a little hanging garden from the cabinetry or ceiling in the back of your rig.

Make Use of Your Cupholder

For those who aren’t sure they’re ready to commit to plant care, or who partake in vanlife on the weekends, it’s not a bad idea to keep it simple with a cupholder plant. Choose a pot that perfectly fits the cupholder in your rig and voila! You can easily take the plant inside when you’re not on the road. Just keep an eye on its growth – if the plant outgrows its pot it may be time to bring in a new, smaller plant that will continue the cupholder legacy.

Make Specialized Plant Storage

If you’re planning on taking along a plant that’s bigger than a cup of coffee or a Nalgene bottle, you’re probably going to need a customized holder. The family behind @thebagtree wanted to bring along this awesome palm variety so they created a “bespoke oak plant box” to keep it in place after it kept falling over.


Vanlife Plant Care

Air Temperature

Plants need air flow. Just like you can’t leave a pet in a van in the hot sun for hours you shouldn’t leave plants, as they can suffocate. When choosing van plants talk with a greenhouse specialist about plant care and their temperature ranges. Select species that can thrive in the environments you’ll be traveling through for the best greenery and to lower your chances of losing your little green buddies.

Water

HGTV recommends soaking air plants for 12 hours every 10-14 days. These unique organisms will only soak up the amount of water they need so they’re not susceptible to overwatering. Potted plants require watering about once a week, but follow species-specific instructions in order to promote top plant health. Keep an eye on the leaves and water more frequently if they begin to curl up or turn brown.

People who choose to live the #vanlife often have more chaotic lifestyles than those who live in one place. That can make remembering to water your mobile garden tough. Consider getting a plant watering app like Happy Plant App or adding a calendar alert to your phone to ensure that you remember this easy-to-forget task.


Know the Local Rules

It’s important to know the rules and regulations on plant life where you’re traveling. For example, you may not be allowed to bring in soil from out of state so you might have to temporarily uproot some plants while crossing a border. If you frequently travel to areas where agriculture is highly-regulated it’s a good idea to consider parenting air plants as they won’t require this temporary change of accommodations. You may find that outside plant life isn’t allowed in National Parks, for example, so consider contacting a local greenhouse or Department of Natural Resources before crossing state lines with your mobile garden in tow.


The Best Plants for Vanlife

Succulents

Succulents love having a half to a full day of sun. Some will even change color with the seasons due to the changing amounts of sunlight. These hardy guys don’t require much plant care and like to stay wet, so let the soil dry between waterings and place crushed rock on the bottom of pots.

Snake Plants

Snake plants are a great option for vanlifers as they can handle any level of light and don’t require much water. Keep the top inch of soil moist and expect faster growth in higher levels of light. The plants are mostly green with white or yellow stripes and borders so you’re sure to find one that suits your aesthetic preferences.

Air Plants

When Atli and her dad custom fit her Ford Transit van she knew she wanted plants. After a few potted plants fell over, she decided on air plants. “I’ve always had a lot of plants even when I lived in an apartment. They make a room feel cozier.” She noted that plant care requirements are nearly the same as she would find in a stationary home, but she finds the van to be more humid. To combat this extra moisture she doesn’t water as frequently.

Air require zero soil – they get their nutrients from the air and from soaking up water! Submerge them for an hour a week and they should be good to go. Or, if you have a customized van complete with a shower consider placing the plants in the shower while you clean up. They’ll dig the humidity and thrive under filtered sunlight if you have a window in the bathroom.

Plants can offer air-cleaning powers and brighten up a space, adding good vibes to your van home wherever you park it. If your first plants don’t work out don’t lose hope – many vanlifers have a few casualties before figuring out the right conditions to keep their nomadic greenery alive.


Hatie Parmeter

Hatie Parmeter

Hatie Parmeter is a current Chicagoan but will always be a Minnesotan at heart. She is the founder of Whoa Mag, an online magazine about women who inspire others with their love of the outdoors. She enjoys paddling wood-canvas canoes in the BWCA and walking her dog Norah Jones.