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Start an indoor herb garden! Even just a few pots of herbs grown on a windowsill or under grow lights can supply wonderful flavors at your fingertips year-round. Just be sure to select the right herbs that grow indoors in winter. Here’s how to getstarted!
Many indoor herbs prefer the same temperatures as most people—around 65 to 70 degrees F—so it’s a cozy relationship!
We’re big fans of fresh basil, rosemary, and oregano because they add flavor to foods—and a lovely scent to the kitchen. These herbs can be grown indoors during winter and at any time of the year.
Growing Herbs in the Garden: Best Herbs for Beginners
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Houseplant Care Guide
Grow herb varieties that thrive on a sunny windowsill or under grow lights. Grow them in separate pots or groupings so you can manage their watering needs. For example, basil likes moist soil and oregano and rosemary like driersoils.
Top Herbs for GrowingIndoors
Not every herb grows well indoors. Forget about coriander (cilantro), dill, and other spice herbs indoors for their seeds. Parsley doesn’t do well when grown indoors from seed, but an established outdoor plant can be brought inside and grow well in pots. French tarragon and chives, in particular, benefit from a cool period, so they are not idealcandidates.
Here are the top 7 herbs for an indoor herbgarden:
- Oregano is a perennial favorite, best started as a young plant or propagated by root division. If you have an established oregano plant, separate off a chunk and pot it up to bring indoors. New plants can be started from seed but may take a few months to reach a harvestablesize.
- Basil is an annual, so it is best to start from seed or cuttings from an established plant as they will root in water. Small-leaved varieties like dwarf Greek basil or ‘Finissimo Verde’ are best for windowsill culture, but I still grow a pot of ‘Genovese’ and keep the size down by cutting itoften.
- Thymes such as caraway, lemon, narrow-leaved French, and English garden thyme are good culinary types. They are perennials (though some may not be hardy where you live) and best started as small or new plants can be divided from the parentplant.
- Parsley is a biennial plant that goes to seed in its second season. If you pot up an existing plant, use a deep container to avoid injuring the tap root. New plants can be started fromseed.
- Sage is a perennial and can be grown from a softwood cutting or by division. If you want a more decorative plant than ordinary garden sage, try a tri-colored or golden one. Their flavor is not as pronounced, but they grow betterindoors.
- Rosemary is easiest to grow from small plants. This herb is a tender perennial where I live, so I have been growing it in a pot outdoors so I can bring it in when the weather cools down. If you also have an established plant outside, you can take cuttings. Rosemary can be fussy. It will need bright light, a cool location, lots of air circulation, and frequent misting, but the extra pampering is worth the effort, especially if it rewards you with its delicate blueblossoms.
- Cilantro is best started from seed, but it grows fast. Use it before it flowers for the best flavor. Keep starting new plants from seed asneeded.
We have Herb Growing Guides for all seven of the herbs listed above for information on planting, growing, andharvesting.
Almanaceditor, Ben, growing herbs indoors at the office under grow lights!
Starting Herbs From Seeds Vs. SmallPlants
Some herbs are best to start from seed and others are easiest to grow from small plants that you pick up at a garden store! Some herbs can even be started from cuttings; basil and mint can be rooted in a glass ofwater.
- As discussed above, perennial herbs (such as rosemary, Greek oregano, and thyme) are easiest to grow from young plants that you buy at a gardencenter.
- If you are buying small plants, it’s very important to check for pests, especially aphids (sticky droppings) and spider mites (fine webs on and between theleaves).
Using Small Plants From YourGarden
- You can also use small plants dug from thegarden.
- Cut back any plants that you are digging up to bring indoors. They will suffer a bit of shock and may take a while to adjust and start toregrow.
- Be sure to use a large enough pot to accommodate the rootball and remove as much of the old soil as possible to get rid of any insects or theireggs.
- Isolate them from your other houseplants for a few weeks and spray them every 3 to 7 days with a soapy water solution to kill off any hitchhikingpests.
- To encourage new growth, begin fertilizing the plants once you move them to your sunnywindowsill.
Tips on Growing HerbsIndoors
Remember that herbs are sun worshipers which thrive in theMediterranean, so they need a lot oflight.
- Herbs need 6 to 8 hours of bright light. South-facing windows are usually warmer and good choices for rosemary, thyme, basil, and oregano. East- and west-facing windows that get bright light are fine, but better for herbs that don’t like to get baked such as parsley, chives and chervil.Herbs don’t tolerate north-facing windows.
- Full-spectrum growlights are ideal for all herbs. Place plants within a foot of the bulbs or follow the instructions provided with your lights. Start by having the lights on for 12 to 16 hours a day for bright-light plants and adjust as necessary.
- Here in our northern climate, we do usesupplementary lighting to ensure strong growth.Grow Lights work for any herb as long as the light intensity is highenough.
See more using grow lights to start seeds indoorsand choosing the right grow lights.
- Be careful not to overwaterherbs.
- More tropical or semi-tropical herbs (rosemary, thyme, oregano) do well with equal parts of cactus mix and regular potting soil. Let the soil dry a bit beforewatering.
- Other herbs grow do best in regular potting soil. Keep soil slightly moist, but neversoggy.
- Fertilize once or twice a month with a liquid houseplantfertilizer.
Also, see our video about the best way to preserve and store your herbs.
Insights, advice, suggestions, feedback and comments from experts
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Now, let's discuss the concepts mentioned in the article about starting an indoor herb garden.
Indoor Herb Gardening
Starting an indoor herb garden can be a great way to have fresh herbs at your fingertips year-round. Even with just a few pots of herbs grown on a windowsill or under grow lights, you can enjoy wonderful flavors and aromas in your kitchen. Here are some key points to consider:
Selecting the Right Herbs
When growing herbs indoors during winter or at any time of the year, it's important to choose the right herbs that thrive in indoor conditions. Some popular herbs that can be grown indoors include:
- Basil: Fresh basil adds flavor to foods and can be grown indoors during winter. Varieties like dwarf Greek basil or 'Finissimo Verde' are best for windowsill culture.
- Rosemary: This herb adds a lovely scent to the kitchen. It's easiest to grow from small plants or cuttings from an established plant.
- Oregano: Oregano is a perennial favorite and can be started as a young plant or propagated by root division. New plants can also be started from seed.
- Thyme: Culinary thyme varieties like caraway, lemon, narrow-leaved French, and English garden thyme can be grown indoors. They are perennials and can be started as small plants or divided from the parent plant.
- Parsley: While parsley doesn't do well when grown indoors from seed, an established outdoor plant can be brought inside and grown in pots. It's a biennial plant that goes to seed in its second season.
- Sage: Sage is a perennial herb that can be grown from a softwood cutting or by division. There are decorative varieties available as well.
- Cilantro: Cilantro is best started from seed and grows fast. It's important to use it before it flowers for the best flavor.
To successfully grow herbs indoors, it's important to provide the right growing conditions. Here are some tips:
- Light: Herbs are sun worshipers and need 6 to 8 hours of bright light. South-facing windows are usually warmer and good choices for herbs like rosemary, thyme, basil, and oregano. East- and west-facing windows that get bright light are also suitable, especially for herbs that don't like excessive heat, such as parsley, chives, and chervil. If natural light is insufficient, full-spectrum grow lights placed within a foot of the plants can be used.
- Soil and Watering: Different herbs have different soil and watering needs. Some herbs, like rosemary, thyme, and oregano, do well with equal parts of cactus mix and regular potting soil. Others thrive in regular potting soil. It's important to let the soil dry a bit before watering and avoid overwatering. Each herb has specific watering requirements, so it's best to grow them in separate pots or groupings based on their needs.
- Fertilization: Herbs can be fertilized once or twice a month with a liquid houseplant fertilizer. It's important to follow the instructions provided with the fertilizer and avoid over-fertilizing.
If you're interested in more detailed information on planting, growing, and harvesting specific herbs, you can refer to herb growing guides available for each of the seven herbs mentioned in the article.
Remember, starting an indoor herb garden can be a rewarding and enjoyable experience. It allows you to have fresh herbs readily available for cooking and adds a touch of greenery to your indoor space.