Can You Grow Plants In Your Car? (Great Tips For Beginners!)

Have you ever wanted to turn your car into a green space?
You may be wondering what challenges lie in growing a bit of flora inside your vehicle, and whether it’s possible to have happy, healthy plants that travel with you.

Undoubtedly, there are some big difficulties to overcome, but what if you’re determined and dedicated, is it possible to grow plants in your car?

You can grow plants in your car as long as the climate allows it. Temperate climate works best for this and choosing your plants carefully will be key; most of the more fragile specimens will not survive the fluctuating temperatures, movements, knocks, and changing conditions that a car presents.

It can make your car unique and possibly benefit from cleaner air and a nice scent!

However, persuading a plant to grow in your car is not going to be easy:

How Can You Grow Plants In Your Car?

One of the biggest problems you might face is where to put the plants.

After all, cars aren’t exactly kitted out with convenient windowsills, and you don’t want plants sliding and falling every time you turn a corner.

If you want to grow plants in a car, you’ll need to think carefully about the positioning!

You have to make sure they get enough light, so the boot is probably out, unless your car has an open boot. Even then, you’ll need to stop them from sliding around.

Same goes for the glovebox!

Hang Plants

The best option is likely to be hanging your plant.

This will make sure it can’t slither, tip, or fall under your feet while you’re driving, and it will stop it from cluttering up surfaces you might need (e.g. the seats).

The absolute best way to achieve this is to buy a mini plant hanger, keychain size and hang them from the rearview mirror. 

Here is a great, affordable example of a mini plant hanger.

Swinging safely overhead should reduce the knocks and bumps that could otherwise damage it, and should also keep it out of your way.

Make sure that no hanging plant obstructs your view while driving; this is key to both safety and adhering to the law.

You will, however, need to think about how to water it without getting your car wet.

Unless it has a drip tray (and even if it does), you’re at risk of being sprinkled with muddy water after it has been soaked.

Taking your plant down and standing it in a saucer of water might be a good idea.

Alternatively, put some plastic in the bottom of the hanger, and be careful not to water so much that it overflows. This may involve a bit of trial and error – but think of a hanging basket, and you should manage.

Keep Plants in the Cupholders

Other options include the cup holders, but these are not very big, so only small plants can be grown in there.

You might be tempted to try a cactus, but you’d better make sure that you won’t accidentally catch your arms on it as you’re driving, and think about your passengers’ comfort too.

If you want to keep them in cupholders, there are a few cacti with no spines you could try, such as Bishop’s cap.

Keep Plants on the Backseat

You could also put a box in the car, with a compartment for your plant pot. Finding a good location for your box will depend a bit on your car’s design, however, as you won’t want it on the dashboard.

The obvious choice are the backseats if you don’t use these often.

You can also use the safety belt to keep the box in its place, which is a huge advantage.

Keep Plants in Organizer Pockets

Alternatively, if you have organizer pockets on the back of your front seats, you may be able to put small plant pots in these.

Again, however, you will have to think carefully about watering them without soaking your car with the runoff.

5 Best Plants You Can Grow In Your Car

Many plants will not thrive in a car.

The temperature fluctuations, constantly changing light levels, noise (yes, plants respond to noise) and other problems could kill off more delicate plants very quickly.

You will have to choose tough ones to have a chance of success.

When choosing plants, think about the general climate you live in. Mild climates are best; few plants will do well if you live in a very hot or a very cold place.

1. Cacti and Succulents

Cacti or succulents are one of the best. You don’t need to water them much while being small and compact. There is plenty of space for them in a car, you could hang them or keep them in cupholders.

Cacti and succulents go dormant in extreme cold and tolerate extreme heat, so they are one of the few plants that can survive in a car.

Just mind the spines!

2. Snake plants

Snake plants are tough and will usually tolerate drying out well, meaning you don’t have to water as frequently.

They like warmer temperatures, so aren’t a great choice if you live somewhere cold.

Snake plants have the added bonus of improving the air quality in the car.

3. Geraniums

Geraniums aren’t very tough plants but you could pull it off depending on the climate. 

Scented geraniums can be a good option to bring a lovely fresh smell to your car.

4. Lucky Bamboo

Lucky bamboo can be grown in just water in a cup holder – this may be one of the easiest storage solutions, and you won’t have to worry about drainage.

5. Pothos

Pothos plants can also be grown in water, but their trailing fronds will need to be kept under control. They will survive if temperatures drop to 50° F occasionally, but will die if they get colder.

One of the requirements for a plant to grow in a car is for it to have shallow roots. 

Here is a great post I wrote where I detail the best plants for shallow pots, should you want more inspiration.

Why Would You Grow Plants In Your Car?

Growing plants in your car might sound odd, but there are a few good reasons to do it – as well as a few good reasons not to!

Pros:

  • They clean your air and will help to filter out pollutants.
  • They are a great natural alternative to air fresheners.
  • They look beautiful.
  • You can enjoy them while on the road.

Cons:

  • If they obstruct your view or distract you by falling while you drive, they aren’t safe.
  • In the case of an accident, plants in your car can become projectiles so they aren’t very safe.
  • Few plants will cope with the temperature and light fluctuations in a car.
  • They can clutter up an already cramped space.
  • Watering is problematic, and if you don’t use your car for a while, you’re likely to forget about them.

Fake Plants Vs Natural Plants To Keep In A Car

You might find it significantly easier to keep fake plants in your car – you can still enjoy the “companionship” and look of a plant, but you obviously won’t get the scent or the air purification.

However, a fake plant could look lovely on the back shelf of the car, and it won’t make a mess or get damaged if it falls over.

Pro’s of keeping Natural plants in a car:

  • Natural plants act like a natural air purifier, improving air quality and scent in the car

Pro’s of keeping Fake plants in a car:

  • They are much easier to care for as they don’t care about temperature fluctuations, they don’t watering, etc.
  • They can give you the same look, a splash of green in the interior of your car.
  • They are safer because they are lighter and have no soil or water that can spill over when driving the car.

For the record, in a car is about the only place I would even consider keeping a faux plant over natural plants.

For example, checkout this faux plant makes an adorable addition to a rear view mirror. Just make sure it isn’t distracting you or obstructing your view.

Alternatively, you can try an entire plant pack like this one, which will let you kit out your whole car in beautiful, natural style. You could use some mini glue dots to hold the pots down and prevent them from falling over while you drive, and you’ll never need to worry about watering or shading them!

How Long Can Plants Survive In A Car?

If you’re moving plants rather than growing them in the car, you might be worried about the conditions.

How long can your plants survive in a car will really depend on the outside temperature and what kind of plants you have. Plants could survive in the car anywhere from a few days to only a few hours in extreme temperatures. 

Because temperature in a car get extreme very quickly, you should avoid leaving your plants in the car for more than 2-3 hours.

Unless you have a climate controlled van, it can be hard to move plants, but here are a few tips that may help:

Q: How long can I leave plants in a hot car?

A: It will depend a bit on the plant, how used to heat it is, and how hot you’re talking. Many plants will die quickly if they are left in a hot car – their roots cook.

A cactus should last longer than cool-weather plants, but no plants should be left for hours in a very hot vehicle; they simply cannot cope with it.

Q: How can I keep my plants cool in a car?

A: You can help to keep them cool by choosing shady routes or stopping in shady areas, or you can crack a window or crank up the air conditioning.

Covering your plants with damp newspaper or layering this around the pots is another good solution.

If you stand your plants in a waterproof tray, you could also consider putting in some ice packs wrapped in towels, but make sure you don’t freeze your plants in your attempt to keep them cool!

Q: How long can I leave plants in a cold car?

A: Again, most plants will tolerate some cold for a few hours, but extended periods of cold will freeze them.

Do not leave your plants in an icy car overnight – especially if they have come out of a nice, warm house.

Most plants have to be “hardened off” before they will tolerate being put outside, or even in an uninsulated car.

During the day, unless you live somewhere very cold, they should cope, especially as the vehicle will be generating heat.

Q: How can I keep my plants warm in a car?

A: The easiest way will be by running the car’s heater and keeping the windows closed.

Be careful not to cook your plants; they will wilt fast if you make them too hot. Keep the car cool but not cold, and they should be fine.

If you have to leave your plants in a cold car overnight, be very aware that they may freeze.

You can maximize their chances of survival by insulating them with cardboard or even putting in portable heat packs, but you would be better off taking them inside, no matter where you’re staying for the night, and keeping them warm that way.

Final Thoughts

Plants and cars make an uneasy pairing, but you can grow and transport plants in your car successfully as long as you’re careful.

Think about road safety before anything else, and then consider the logistics of watering, temperature consistency, and light levels.

Research what your plant needs, and decide whether you have a realistic chance of success with your plan.

Hopefully, after reading this article, you have a much better idea about how to succeed!

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