How to Start an Indoor Herb Garden

Looking for the best way to take your healthy cooking to the next level? How about using fresh herbs from an indoor herb garden in your cooking? Indoor herb gardens provide fresh herbs at your fingertips and fill your home with fragrance and greenery. Growing herbs in your home or apartment are aesthetically pleasing and a great way to incorporate new flavor in your cooking. 

Growing herbs indoors lets you enjoy homegrown produce, whether you are short on garden space or want to add a hint of green to your interior. For newbies, it can also serve as a low-stakes entry into more substantial edible gardening–all you need is a sunny window. 

Get started with your indoor Herb Garden with these easy steps

Step 1: Pick the suitable pots

One tremendous charm of a homegrown herb garden is it is always ready for action. Grab a few leaves of basil, sage, or a sprig of thyme from your herb garden. Want to add a spicy zing to that pasta or chicken roast? You can always place your herbs in convenient locations with a pot, like your deck, porch, or at the kitchen counter. 

The material of a container can vary. You can choose between Clay, wood, resin, and metal. What is most important is that it should provide enough drainage. Any planter or pot you use must let excess water escape, which is the reason most planting container bottoms have few holes in them.

Mason jars are cute to look at, but they don’t make the ideal herb gardens. Without proper drainage, the herbs will eventually experience root rot. Choose a suitable container that matches the size of the herbs you will grow. Pick something too large, and your plants will spend excess energy growing their roots. A smaller planter will cause your herbs to become root-bound. That will hamper their nutrition, stress them or even kill them.

Step 2: Choose your favorite herbs

Start simple if this is the first time you have tried growing herbs. Parsley, mint, and basil are some excellent picks for pot-growing. They all tend to grow abundantly and don’t mind frequent harvesting.

Step 3: Use starter plants instead of seeds

Unless you are a newbie gardener, use starter plants for your herbs. This will easily save you two to three weeks of growth time and increase the chances of a successful harvest. 

Step 4: Choose the Right Soil.

When you decide to plant, use potting soil and not garden soil, potting soil drains water more efficiently. Potting soil is lighter and porous, while the latter is dense and traps moisture inside containers. If you don’t have one, pick up a garden trowel. They are good at digging holes, handling soil, and removing weeds when necessary.

Step 5: Care and harvesting

It takes constant, regular care for herbs to flourish. That means you must water them on a consistent schedule. You will need to harvest them often since this primes them for new growth. Just be sure to match any treatment of your herbs to their specific variety. 

See Also: Benefits of Having Indoor Plants

Choose the right herbs for your indoor herb garden

For those looking to get started into indoor gardening, these 13 herbs are easy, to begin with, and can be utilized regularly in your cooking. 

Mint

The essential ingredient in tabouli, tzatziki, kebab, mojitos, and peppermint hot chocolate or tea, mint is a no-brainer for your indoor herb garden. Mint grows and spreads rapidly and thus making it the best option for indoor growing. Mint loves full sun but can also grow in the partial shade. Whether you decide to grow spearmint or peppermint, this herb grows happily indoors and requires lots of watering. If you choose to transfer your mint plant outdoors, make sure to keep it in a pot or an enclosed space so that it doesn’t overtake other herbs or plants. 

Dill

The dill plant’s small yellow blooms aren’t simply easy on the eyes, but their seeds can be used to prepare vinegar or pickled foods. While dill plants can be grown indoors, the best time to plant dill is between October and the early spring. You can use a six or eight-inch pot with drainage holes while placing seeds 1/4 to 1/2 inch deep in the Potting Soil. Dill would not need as much watering as other herbs. To know if it needs watering, make sure to check the ground. If it feels dry, give it water.

Basil

The easy-to-grow basil will undoubtedly add a delicious aroma to your herb garden and elevate your favorite sauces and salads. Opt for smaller globe varieties for potted basil plants to ensure room for growth. Proper drainage is essential for the success of your basil plant. If the plant becomes too moist, the roots can rot. Try watering this herb just once a week, and if the soil feels too dry, then you can try it twice a week. Basil is sensitive to the cold and thus makes sure the temperature does not drop below 55 degrees. If you do not have ample access to sunlight, basil may not be the right herb for you.

Sage

Primarily used as a culinary or medicinal herb, sage’s oval-shaped leaves can spice up your poultry dishes or stuffing. It is ideal to buy a starter plant or use clippings from an existing plant when growing sage. Clip the tip off an outdoor sage plant and plant it in a pot with soil if you use clippings. A relatively shade-tolerant herb, wait until the soil is dry to give it a thorough watering.

Lemon Balm

Lemon balm is always considered a curative herb used in various tonics and teas. Its essential oil can also be extracted and used for multiple purposes. One of the easiest herbs to grow starts with packaged seeds, or you can also pick up new seedlings from your local plant nursery. Lemon balm spreads rapidly like its cousin, mint, making it suitable for potting. You can water lemon balm regularly, but don’t let the soil get too moist. Lemon balm needs direct sunlight to thrive, so make sure it is part of your indoor herb garden sitting on a bright window beam. 

Rosemary

Rosemary can be tricky to grow indoors because it requires full sunlight. However, for those aspiring gardeners, slowly acclimating a rosemary plant to a reduced sun schedule can also help your herb stay strong through the long winter months. Several weeks before bringing your plant indoors, make sure to gradually move the rosemary to shadier areas of your yard while preparing it for the reduced indoor lighting. Because rosemary likes to absorb moisture from the air, you only need to water this herb once every two weeks. 

Cilantro

A brightly colored and flavorful addition to your food, cilantro is key to making delicious homemade salsa, guacamole, and more. However, cilantro is short-lived by nature, and thus many gardeners recommend seedlings with two or three-week intervals to keep a full-time supply. When growing cilantro indoors, it is best to use an unglazed terra-cotta pot and space plants three to four inches apart. Make sure to water the cilantro only when the soil is dry.

Thyme

One of the most versatile herbs, thyme, can also be grown in pots as small as four to six inches. Similar to rosemary and sage, thyme can be grown from the clippings of an existing outdoor plant. While thyme prefers all sun, it can flourish in either east- or west-facing windows.

Chives

Bring a burst of color to your indoor herb garden each spring with chives’ gorgeous white and purple flowers. Tasting subtly like onion, chives are versatile in cooking and add flavor to more basic dishes. Chives can grow best in full sun but will be happy indoors on a sunny windowsill, too.

Parsley

This versatile workhorse plant, parsley, can be used fresh or dried, edible, or ornamental in cooking. Parsley can be grown from seed or clippings from an outdoor plant at the end of the season. If you plan to use seeds, make sure to soak them in warm water to crack their coat before planting. While parsley likes full sun, it can grow slowly in an east- or west-facing window as well. You do not want the roots to sit in water, so you’ll only need to water parsley about once a week. 

Bay Leaf

Originated in the Mediterranean region, bay leaf plants certainly add rich flavor to soups, stews, sauces, and many other dishes. Also known as bay laurel, bay leaf herb is a slowly growing tree that can get large if left grows naturally. Bay Leaf produces densely and only needs occasional watering. Start with a bay leaf plant from a local nursery, usually sold in three to four-inch pots. Transplant it to a larger pool for optimal growth. 

Oregano

Oregano is the best herb for beginning gardeners as it is both hardy and shade-tolerant. At the end of summer, you grab a few clippings from an established plant and root out in a cup of water. Once planted in soil, you need to only water it when the soil dries out. Fresh oregano gives a milder taste than dried and is best added at cooking to retain its flavor.

Fennel

Similar in texture to the dill plant, fennel is widely used as a garnish for fish or salads. Fennel is most often grown outdoors, but a large enough pot fennel produces a long taproot that requires plenty of depth and good sunlight; fennel can be a welcome addition to your indoor herb garden. Water regularly as the fennel should have consistently moist soil. Make sure to harvest the bulb before it bolts for the best flavor.

Troubleshooting for Common Indoor Herb Growing Problems

The most challenging part about growing herbs indoors is when they start having problems, and you have less to no idea what is going wrong. However, most issues are easily fixable. Here is a list of the issues to help you deal with them.

Yellow leaves

The primary cause of yellow leaves on indoor herbs is overwatering. It should not be soggy or wet. Make sure to allow the soil to dry out more in-between waterings.

Plants are drooping

This can be due to either over or under-watering. Try to stick your finger one inch into the soil. If it feels wet, let it dry out a bit more and If it feels dry, then make sure to give your herbs more water.

White spots on leaves

If you find white spots on the leaves, it is likely to be powdery mildew or other diseases. Try to prune off the infected leaves, give the plants more airflow, and always keep the leaves dry.

Indoor herbs grow tall and leggy

When your indoor herbs get thin and leggy, that means they are not obtaining sufficient light. You can either shift them to a sunnier window or add agrow light. 

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The Wrap-up

Herbs are great plants. They always add flavor and nutrition to foods, produce lovely fragrances in your garden, and are excellent plants for pollinators and beneficial insects. Growing your herbs can also save you money on groceries every week. Provided you have a sunny windowsill, you can start an indoor herb garden in just a few days and add fresh herbs to your foods within a few weeks.

Indoor herb gardening is a great hobby, and it is best to have a fresh supply on hand whenever you require them to cook delicious dishes. Depending on which ones you pick to try, it cannot be easy to keep them growing. But, once you know it, you will see just how easy growing herbs indoors can be.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which Herbs Grow Best Indoors?

Compact or Dwarf varieties grow best inside since their growth habit is ideal for smaller spaces.  

Where can I buy herbs in winter?

Herbs are easy to come by, especially in late spring and summertime; however, winter can be a difficult time to find healthy potted fresh herbs. In this case, the grocery store is typically your best option for live plants.

Can you grow herbs in just water?

Yes, certain types of herbs grow well in only water. However, it is not an ideal way to grow them long-term. Thus, if you want to keep them alive and healthy for longer, it is best to plant them in the potting soil.

Do indoor herbs need regular sunlight?

Yes. If they lack sufficient sunlight, they can become weak and leggy. The best spot for growing herbs indoors is on an east or west-facing window ledge or near a sunny south-facing window.

Can you grow herbs indoors around the year? 

Most of the herbs can be grown indoors all year round, as long as perennial plants. However, some, like cilantro, parsley, basil, etc., are annuals or bi-annuals and will only live for one or two years.

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Rostislav Shetman is the founder of 9Kilo Moving. He has been in the moving and relocation industry for more than 25 years, making him an expert in his field. Rostislav started as a helper, dispatcher and driver and has worked his way up to owning his own company. He takes great pride in his work and enjoys helping people relocate across the United States of America. When he's not working, Rostislav enjoys spending time with his family and friends. They are the light of his life and bring him happiness every day.