Indoor herb gardens are a manageable, affordable, and fun way to bring greenery into your home. They’re also a great way to exercise a green thumb—and your mind—all year-round. More benefits abound for those who enjoy using fresh herbs for cooking, brewing teas, medicinal uses, and much more. Learn some helpful tips on how to start your own indoor herb garden.
Best Herbs To Grow Indoors
Since mint is a prolific and resilient plant, it is a perfect option for new gardeners. It is also a good choice for a low-maintenance indoor gardening experience. There are many varieties of mint plants. An entire herb garden could be dedicated to mint alone. Mint likes partial to full sun, so place it in a bright window. Water mint when the soil is barely moist. Mist its leaves to keep it happy and healthy.
Chives are one of the easiest herbs to grow indoors. The plant does especially well in the winter months. Chives grow best in a south-facing window where they receive about 4 to 6 hours of indirect sunlight. Water chives whenever the soil in the container is dry to the touch. When harvesting, trim from the top, leaving at least 2 inches of growth. Harvest more shoots as the plant continues to develop.
Start parsley from seed when growing it indoors. It has a long taproot that doesn’t transplant well, so it’s best if it remains in the same container for its entire lifecycle. Indoor parsley is easy to care for once it starts to grow. Water it consistently and keep the soil moist. Parsley grows well in a container with other herbs such as mint, oregano, basil, thyme, and chives.
Lemon balm is a strong, persistent herb related to mint and does well indoors. Place it in a south or west-facing window. This plant enjoys at least 5 hours of direct sunlight each day. Water lemon balm as soon as the soil is dry to the touch. However, it does wilt if it is watered too much. Use a fertilized-enriched potting soil, or treat with a diluted fertilizer a couple of times each season.
Tarragon is a great perennial plant to grow indoors and provides many yields. This plant prefers direct sun but also does well in rooms with indirect light. Use an at least 12 to 16 inches deep, well-draining container to accommodate the larger root system. Allow the plant to dry out for a couple of days between waterings. Spritz the leaves with water every couple of days or place the plant in a more humid area of your home.
Oregano loves bright light, so place it in a sunny room or give it some support with a grow lamp. It is naturally drought-resistant and doesn’t require an excessive amount of water. You can water oregano after it has dried out for a couple of days. It grows best in quick-draining, loose potting soil.
Planning Indoor Herb Gardens
Before getting started with purchasing and planting, there are a few details to be considered about your future indoor herb garden. The first is to figure out what type of herb garden best suits your lifestyle. There are several options, such as culinary, tea, and medicinal herb gardens. Culinary herbs are the easiest and most common choices for beginning indoor herb gardeners. Once the herbs to start with are chosen, the light source, room temperature and location need to be considered.
Window Light & Heat
It’s best to place herbs in a window that is south or west-facing. A south-facing window provides the longest amount of light during the day. A west-facing window provides the most heat.
In general, herbs do well at under 90℉ room temperature. Try to aim for a range between 65℉ to 75℉.
Access to indoor herb gardens is important. Place them in areas that are within reach and easy to clean. Make sure they are out of the way of children and/or pets.
Seeds Vs. Starter Plants
There are two options to starting an indoor herb garden: buying small starter plants from a nursery or starting herbs from seed. There are pros and cons to each option.
Buying plants from a nursery
The advantage of purchasing starter plants is it takes less time for them to reach maturity. This means a quicker yield from the herbs. It is also less work, which makes it more enjoyable for beginners.
Starting plants from seed
The advantage of starting herb plants from seed is the variety available, including heirloom or organic options. Seeds are also less expensive than starter plants. The larger quantity of seeds purchased, the more affordable they are. And if there are leftover seeds for the next year, even more money is saved.
An indoor herb garden requires only soil, a container, and the plants in its simplest form. Here are some tips to consider when gathering supplies.
It’s important to purchase loose soil that promotes water drainage. An all-purpose, indoor potting soil has a great blend of mediums and nutrients for herbs. Do not use outdoor ground soil for an indoor herb garden. The health of the plant is compromised by any unwanted pests.
An herb container needs to have at least one hole at the bottom to provide sufficient drainage. It also needs to be large enough to accommodate the root system. As a rule of thumb, make sure to use a pot at least 10 inches in diameter for each herb plant.
Seeds or Plants
Starter herb plants and seeds are both relatively easy to find at local plant nurseries. Seed catalogs offer a wide variety of herbs and usually contain information on each plant. Most seed packets include an instruction guide. If starter plants are purchased, speaking to the nursery workers is a great way to gain tips and insight.
Herbs tend to be quite hearty, so if good soil is used, there shouldn’t be a need for fertilizer. However, if a low-nutrient soil is used, a low-phosphorus fertilizer is helpful. Also, don’t buy fertilizers that promote blooming; the goal is for the herbs to produce leaves instead of flowers.
Natural light is the best option for your plants. Larger, more nutritious and flavorful herb plants grow when exposed to natural light. If this isn’t an option, use either fluorescent or LED lights to shine upon your herbs.
Enjoy Your Herbaceous Endeavor
Indoor herb gardens are a perfect solution for those who want an easier gardening experience. However, do not be afraid to experiment and find what plants and methods work best for you. Take time to enjoy the fragrant smells and tastes of your yield. With a little patience, nurturing, and education, you’ll be an indoor herb gardening pro in no time.
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Rachel Dennis, Guest Contributor
Rachel Dennis, of City Homesteads, is on a mission to help others create indoor oases through gardening, fermentation, and DIY tips and techniques. Her passion is in finding affordable, sustainable, and enjoyable solutions for indoor gardeners and urban homesteaders.
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