It’s the time of the year for families to enjoy fall crafts, gatherings of the clan and lots of home cooking. Big, multi-generational dinners usually include heaps of ingredients and plenty of stops at the grocery store. Wouldn’t it be a lot easier if we had every ingredient readily available at our fingertips? I bet you’ve never considered an indoor herb garden to help you out.
Unfortunately, between the cold weather, the low sunlight levels, and the time it things take to grow, it’s not exactly an ideal time to plant. Starting an outdoor garden of veggies, fruits, or herbs is a non-starter. However, indoor herb gardens are a great alternative to bring fresh ingredients and an invigorating burst of the outdoors into our homes.
In particular, an indoor herb garden is fabulous because it smell’s fabulous and provides you with handy, fresh herbs. Not only that, they’re straightforward enough to start and care for that the kids will be able to lend a hand. Maybe older kids could even create their own.
My friends over at ProFlowers have put together an easy-to-follow indoor herb gardening guide to help you learn everything you need to know about starting your own indoor herb garden. Check out their full list to see which herbs grow best in the conditions in your home. They also have lots of hints and tips about how you can use these herbs in your dishes.
Which herbs grow best indoors?
You can quickly grow lots of your favorites in the comfort of your own home. Some herbs are perennials and will grow back every year. Others are annuals that will die out completely after their growing season. Learn more about perennials and annuals so you can pick the best plants for your needs and your home.
The points mentioned above and many other characteristics are important to know when you’re getting started with an indoor herb garden. These factors will help you to narrow down which herbs you can grow indoors.
To help you get started, ProFlowers rounded up the best indoor herbs and broke them up based on their light preferences. Take a look at their list below to see each herb’s different needs so you can pick the best varieties for your indoor herb garden. Alternatively, you can visit their original post for this information plus additional info on herb uses.
This infographic was used with the kind permission of Proflowers
- Harvest your herbs from the top to promote bushier growth.
- Don’t pick more than a third of the plant or else you’ll stress out your herbs.
- Pinch off flowers to discourage blooming.
- Use herbs soon after harvesting for the most flavor in your dishes.
How do you start an indoor herb garden?
A healthy DIY indoor herb garden requires well-draining pots and soil, a bright light source and plenty of space. You should note what herbs you want to grow to make sure you have the space and time to cultivate them.
For now, read through all of these general herb care guidelines and planting tips so you can learn how to grow herbs indoors like a pro.
Indoor herb gardens require pots that drain well and are accustomed to your climate. Test your pots’ drainage before starting your garden so you can make any necessary adjustments. You can do one of three things to test them:
- Drill additional holes into the bottom of the pot to increase drainage. Add water afterwards to see drainage improved.
- Add pebbles below the pot to keep the plant’s roots from sitting in water.
- Pick up a new pot with better drainage.
You should ideally keep your herbs in separate pots so you can have complete control over the water, soil and light conditions for each herb. This will also make it easier to tend to their individual needs.
Alternatively, you can keep some herbs together in the same container if they have similar care guidelines. For example, place herbs that prefer lots of direct light and warmer temperatures in one planter and herbs that prefer moderate light and cooler temperatures in another planter.
Your ideal material depends on the surrounding climate. These are the different types of planters you can consider for your indoor herb garden:
- Clay-based pots, like terracotta, tend to dry out faster and work best in cooler climates.
- Glazed and ceramic containers hold water better and are ideal for warmer climates (so your herbs’ soil doesn’t dry out too fast).
- Upcycled materials like mason jars and tin cans create a fun look, but be cognizant of how different materials retain water.
The size of your pot depends on the type of herbs you’re growing. Some herbs require larger pots if they have longer roots, while others can survive in smaller pots. The right size is important because a mismatched pot can stunt your herb’s growth or make it harder for the water to reach its roots.
Once you have your plants’ pots or planters selected, make sure you give each herb breathing room to promote good air circulation. A crowd of herbs with stagnant air surrounding them can invite moisture and bacteria. If you’re planting multiple herbs in the same planter, check your specific herb’s care guidelines to see how much space it needs from other plants.
Use well-draining, indoor potting mix to give your herbs a happy home to spread their roots and breathe. An indoor potting mix is lighter than gardening soil and is better suited for indoor gardens. The higher the quality, the better. You can add a dash of perlite to your soil to increase drainage. Well-draining soil is grainy when wet and shouldn’t stick together too much.
You should never use gardening soil or dirt from your backyard because it’s normally too compact to allow proper drainage. This soil can also have bugs you probably want to keep out of your house and your food!
While considering the best soil for your indoor herb garden, you should also think about the type of fertilizer you will use.
The best fertilizers for indoor herb gardens are high-quality, natural and promote leaf growth. Fish emulsion and seaweed-based fertilizers are great natural choices for your indoor herb garden. Opt for fertilizers with more nitrogen and less phosphorus. Nitrogen encourages leaf growth, while phosphorus promotes flowering.
Regardless of what you choose, it’s important to add fertilizer directly to the soil after you water your herbs. This helps your herbs absorb nutrients.
Pro Tip: You can water and fertilize your herbs at the same time if you pick a liquid fertilizer!
Start by fertilizing your plants once a week throughout the year and adjust your fertilizing schedule accordingly depending on how your specific herbs react. Cut back to once-a-month feedings in your herbs’ dormant winter season. Our homemade plant food guide is great place to learn about the signs of nutrient deficiencies in your herbs and how you can solve them.
You might start to notice a white ring around your pot. This is a salt buildup that comes from fertilizer. Flush out your herbs’ pots to get rid of buildup by following these directions once a month:
- Thoroughly water your pot over the sink until water starts to run from the bottom.
- Let the excess water drain out.
- Water it thoroughly again and let it drain completely.
The more light herbs receive, the more flavor the herbs will have when you harvest them. Most herbs prefer at least six hours or more of sunlight every day.
- South and southwestern facing windows get the most light throughout the day and are best for herbs that require more than six hours of sun every day.
- East facing windows still get a fair amount of light during the day and are best for herbs that need six or less hours of sun and prefer cooler temperatures.
Keep your plants as close to your windows as possible so they can get enough light. You can also install grow lights directly above your indoor herb garden to supplement your herbs’ light source. Pick these up from your local garden center or hardware store.
Light deficient herbs will appear spindly and will not have many leaves. Move your herbs closer to a light source or use a stronger grow light to help them thrive.
Herbs with too much light will look burnt or have brown spots. This means that they are getting too much light. Drooping leaves and fast-drying soil are other signs of overexposure to the sun. This is not as likely to happen since most herbs love the sun, but it’s something to keep in mind in warmer climates. If this occurs, move your herbs away from the sun for a few hours to let them recover. Make sure none of the leaves touch the windows; the glass can burn your herbs.
Herbs prefer temperatures between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. This is normal room temperature, so it’s somewhat easy to achieve in most homes depending on where you live.
Water your soil slowly at its base to let it absorb the water. Let the excess drain from the bottom. It’s important to let the water drain because sitting water causes root rot. Water your indoor herb garden a couple times a week to keep your herbs nice and hydrated.
Water deficient herbs will have dry, brown leaves and very dry soil. If this happens, water your herbs and move them to a cooler place to help them recover.
Overwatered herbs will have wilted brown or yellow leaves and moist soil. Move your herbs temporarily out of direct sunlight and repot your herbs in fresh soil if possible.
You can also place a few pebbles at the bottom of your pot to prevent your roots from sitting in water and to promote air circulation from the bottom.
Keep in mind that chilly winter temperatures can throw herbs into a dormant period. This means that they’ll most likely produce less leaves and need minimal watering throughout the season. Make sure you adjust accordingly, especially since water takes a longer time to drain and dry in the winter.
Indoor Herb Garden Ideas
If you’re not sure how you can fit a garden into your kitchen, you can peruse through the ProFlowers styling tips to see how you can smartly utilize the space in your home.
This infographic was used with the kind permission of Proflowers
Now that you have the basics down, it’s time to start thinking about how you want to style your inside herb garden. You can grow herbs in the kitchen, along your wall, and in hanging pots, depending on your available space and design preferences.
Indoor kitchen herb gardens are a no-brainer since you can keep your herbs close when you’re cooking. You can also keep pots along your windowsill to let your herbs get all the light they need throughout the day. If you’re pressed for space, you can create an indoor wall herb garden to maximize your space and free up your precious counter area. This type of garden also creates a fun conversation piece when you have guests around the house.
Growing an indoor herb garden is a rewarding process that adds fresh ingredients and natural style to your kitchen! Indoor herbs are great for quickly adding a delicious twist to your morning tea or finishing off your Saturday night dinner with some fresh seasoning. Pick up a fresh bouquet with a few dipped berriesto have some flowers for your dinner table and berries to enjoy after a night of cooking.