How to Grow and Care for Plants in Your RV

Mar 8, 2021 | Food & Camp Cooking, Maintenance & Mods

How to Grow and Care for Plants in Your RV

Being on the road doesn’t mean you can’t grow a garden. Here are some tips for the best plants to have in your RV and how to care for them.

By Autumn Bailey

Photo: Autumn Bailey

When I was young, my family moved frequently. What I remember the most is how my mother made every new house feel like home by creating a garden oasis of flowers and vegetables. 

When my own family decided to live on the road in a toy hauler, I knew I wouldn’t be able to cultivate an outdoor garden everywhere we went. But I decided to work with what I had and create space inside our tiny home for that plant magic I grew up with.

It took some trial and error, and yes, some plants were maimed in the process—but I’ve gotten the hang of moving from place to place and helping my plants adapt to new climates. Here are some tips that help my plants thrive while living life on the road.

Plants on kitchen counter in renovated RV
Photo: Autumn Bailey
View of renovated living room in an RV with plants hanging
Photo: Autumn Bailey

Tips for Caring for Indoor Plants in an RV

  1. If you’re apprehensive about plants in an RV, start with something easy to care for, like snake plants, pothos, air plants, and aloe vera plants. These low-stress plants can help you gain some green thumb confidence.
  2. Be mindful of the climate you’re in and water accordingly. In the dry desert air, you may notice your plants need watering more often, while a humid climate might call for less. If you’re not sure, feel the potting soil every few days to see if your plants are drinking slowly or quickly. 
  3. As you’re living in close quarters, items get touched and moved often. I keep my plants out of harm’s way when we’re stationary so they don’t get brushed against or damaged. Safe places for plants in an RV can be on a shelf or hung from the ceiling. 
  4. Get creative with the containers you use to pot your plants. I use tall, narrow jars, repurposed tin cans, or small glass containers in places where a standard-sized pot doesn’t fit. Whatever you use, just make sure it can drain properly as it’s easy to overwater plants, especially in a new climate. For a DIY drainage hack, add a layer of pebbles to the bottom of the pot to avoid overwatering and root rot. 
  5. Place your plants in as much natural light as possible to help them thrive. RV bathrooms with shower skylights tend to have the best-filtered light, and showering puts moisture in the air which is another way for plants to absorb more water. 
  6. Find a safe place for your plants when you’re moving, as it’s easy for them to fall off a counter or shelf in transit. Set them on the shower floor or in the sink to avoid any mess. 
  7. Help your plants adjust to extreme climates by properly maintaining them. Clean and mist their leaves regularly and use nutritional soil. I feed my plants with homemade plant superfood, which consists of banana peels soaked in water. The minerals leach from the peels when soaked in water for a few days and provide excellent nourishment for potted plants. 

Seasons and climates can change drastically when you’re on the road, and while it can take time for your plants to adjust to new climates, they’re adaptable and resilient. I like to take a page from my mother’s nomadic gardening book and “bloom where I’m planted.”

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Autumn Bailey

Autumn is from the Gold Country of Northern California and has been traveling full-time with her family in their 2016 Keystone Fuzion Toyhauler for the last four and a half years. She and her family strive to live minimally and intentionally on the road, and find their joy in the day to day adventures of nomadic living.