I’ve been reading up a lot of companion planting and what herbs to plant with my vegetables. The problem is I’ve never really grown herbs outdoors – I always end up growing them inside because it’s just so easy. To me, growing herbs indoors seemed natural to me, but I’ve discovered that many people are intrigued by growing their own fresh herbs indoors – it’s healthy, it’s relatively low-cost, it’s easy to monitor and harvest, and it can take up minimal space. Oh, and not to mention, it can be delicious! Like with every type of gardening, though, there are a lot of factors to consider and bases to cover before getting started so I figured I’d help.
So how do you grow fresh herbs indoors? You can grow fresh herbs indoors as long as you have the right plants, pots, soil and lighting – a chive plant, a terra cotta pot, soil with good drainage and a south-western facing window could get you right on the way to starting your very own indoor herb garden.
In addition to an indoor herb garden being healthy, easy to monitor, and relatively low in cost, growing herbs indoors is a possibility for anyone with mostly any type of space. Whether you’ve got a home, an apartment, a condo, or even just a bedroom, you can make growing fresh herbs indoors a reality. If you’re looking to grow fresh herbs indoors, you may not even need a window with access to sunlight. I even read about someone recently who crafted his indoor herb garden in an unused basement shower. Crazy, right? In this article we’ll walk through what you need to know about growing fresh herbs indoors, no matter where you decide to do it.
Choose Your Herbs Wisely
When it comes to growing herbs indoors, you’ll want to make sure to start by choosing herbs that can thrive in an indoor environment. They’re not too hard to find, either; starting out with seeds from a plant nursery or department store are the best bet for getting your herbs growing efficiently. As it turns out, although a lot of herbs can thrive indoors, some are easier to maintain than others. Don’t worry, though; there are herbs to grow indoors for anyone – whether you’re a brand new beginner or an experienced green thumb.
Easier Herbs to Grow Indoors
Most of these herbs are reliable and easy to maintain. Chive and parsley don’t need much sunlight to thrive, and lemongrass doesn’t even require soil. Beware of mint; although it’s easy to maintain and grows relatively quickly, it’s invasive to its neighbors. Make sure to give your fresh mint its own pot!
Harder Herbs to Grow Indoors
Rosemary, thyme and oregano typically require about 6-8 hours of sunlight per day and may need some supplemental artificial light. They can also be sensitive to overwatering. However, with the right tools and right attention, they can add freshness and flavor to any recipe – they also look pretty great, too.
Sage, basil and cilantro are a little more difficult to grow indoors. They can be oversensitive to watering and tend to thrive more easily in the warm, summer months. However, if you’re up for a challenge and attention to detail, sage, basil and cilantro can be great additions to any indoor herb garden.
Get the Right Supplies and Environment
As you’ve seen already, some indoor-growing herbs can be sensitive. Some of them just need a little more love, which often means getting the right supplies. When growing herbs indoors, you’ll want to make sure to have the right type of pots, soil, and lighting for your herbs to flourish.
For growing indoor herbs, you’ll want to make sure the pots you choose always have drainage holes. Naturally, you’ll probably also want something to shield the surface underneath from the draining water. While many people claim that you can grow herbs indoors in any type of pot, terra cotta pots are said to be some of the best kinds of pots for growing indoor herbs because they breathe well.
Wondering what size of pot you should use? Some gardening experts say the bigger the better, especially if you’re planning on having more than one type of herb per pot. If you’re planning on growing more than one type of herb per pot, try to get a pot that’s at least 8 inches deep and 10 inches in diameter so your herbs have enough room to grow. If you’re planning on keeping your herbs separate, a pot that’s at least 6 inches in diameter is a great home for a single type of herb. You can place your pots closer together so that it increases humidity for your herbs, but try to keep a little bit of space between them so that air flow is still adequate.
Lighting is one of the key elements in growing fresh herbs indoors. Most herbs require at least four to six hours of sunlight exposure per day. If you plan to keep your herbs growing by placing them on a windowsill or near a window, a southwestern facing window is said to be best as it gets the most amount of sunlight.
Not sure what direction that is, or don’t think you have enough light? No worries, because artificial light is there to help! You can purchase clamp-on reflector lights and fluorescent bulbs to help your herbs get the light they need. You can also get your hands on light fixtures that mount on other surfaces, like kitchen counters, cabinets, and shelves to perfect an herb growing environment virtually anywhere in your house. Your artificial lights will need to be placed up close and personal to your herbs – we’re talking about four to six inches away.
Soil is another extremely important component to growing fresh herbs indoors. Soil for your indoor herbs should be loamy, not compact, and have good drainage. You can add 1 part perlite to any 25 parts soil to increase drainage for your herbs.
Your fresh indoor herbs will need to be watered, of course! One of the biggest mistakes people tend to make when growing indoor herbs is overwatering. Herbs really don’t need that much water, so it’s important to pay attention to your herbs and their soils to try and gauge when they need watering. Soil should be kept moist, but not waterlogged.
Can you grow herbs indoors during the winter?
You may live in a place that has cold months or harsh winters. If so, you may be looking around during those months and wondering if your fresh indoor herbs will make it through, or you may be wanting to cheer up your home and recipes with some fresh herbs. The first question that probably comes to mind is, can you grow fresh herbs indoors during the winter?
The answer is, you can absolutely grow fresh herbs indoors in winter! Most aspects about growing herbs indoors don’t change from season to season, but there are a few things you’ll want to be aware of when growing herbs during winter. According to some gardeners, herbs grow more slowly in the winter, or during colder months from October to March. Since herbs grow more slowly in the colder months, it can benefit them if you reduce fertilizer amounts and reduce watering amounts since your herbs won’t require as much. This will prevent overwatering or your herbs not being able to breathe. Additionally, if you have some of your fresh herbs in a windowsill or near a window, make sure to pay attention to their placements. If they are touching a cold window, the foliage of your herbs can freeze and put your entire plant in danger of dying. Sunlight is great, but touching cold windows is not so great. If you haven’t already, you may also want to consider investing in some artificial lighting for your herbs to ensure they’re getting the light they need during the winter months.
What’s the best way to grow herbs indoors from seeds?
One of the most popular way to start growing herbs indoors is right from seeds. This requires more than just planting your seeds, though; you’ll want to make sure to do the right preparation. First, make sure to have all your supplies prepared. You’ll want to at least have your pot and soil ready when the time comes to plant your seeds. A good way to give your seeds a head start to growing is to soak them in water for a few hours. If you want to give them even more of a head start, you can even get your seeds to pre-sprout. To do this, you’ll need a freezer bag, paper towel, water, and your seeds. Soak your seeds for a few hours, and then place them in a moist paper towel. Once your seeds have been soaked and put in the paper towel, place the paper towel in the freezer bag and seal it. Leave the bag out of direct light and somewhere safe at room temperature until your seeds start to sprout in the paper towel. Then you’re ready to plant your herbs and get on your way to a fresh indoor herb garden!