Want fresh herbs to use in your kitchen? Want to have them all year long? Want an easy spring project that will yield long-lasting results? Want a quick way to green up your home, figuratively and literally? Try planting an indoor herb garden. You can grow herbs all year long, and though it may seem like those little pots aren’t going to produce enough for your kitchen, with a little careful planning, you’ll be surprised at your harvest.
An indoor herb garden does require more careful management than an outdoor garden, and it’s a good idea to have several pots of each herb. It’s an even better idea to have several pots that have been started a week or two apart to ensure a never-ending supply of fresh herbs.
Why grow your own? They’re pretty, they’re practical and they’re delicious. Indoor plants also contribute to improving the indoor air quality. Plus, cooking with fresh herbs you’ve grown yourself is satisfying, and you know exactly what’s going in your family’s food.
Start with a simple kit like a garden-in-a-bag, or take a more DIY approach with a terracotta herb pot. Find a sunny place for your garden and get growing. Most herbs thrive with brighter light, so look for your sunniest window and keep them out of cold drafts. Do be careful that the sunlight coming in isn’t too bright, glass can intensify the light, burning your plant’s tender leaves. It’s all about balance. Routine watering (keep them moist, not wet) and a spritz to keep off dust is all you really need for most herbs to thrive.
Once your herbs have reached a healthy height (usually 6 to 8 inches, but that varies depending on the herb and the type), you can start harvesting. As a general rule, only take one quarter or less of the plant’s growth at any time. After you’ve harvested, allow that much or more to grow back before harvesting again. This is why multiple pots of each herb can be helpful. If you are growing annuals, keep pinching off the stems before they can flower and seed to prolong your plant’s life. Eventually, even the most carefully tended annual will want to die down. You can let it go to seed and harvest those for the next generation of your garden.
Some perfect herbs for indoor gardens
Basil – start from seeds and give it lots of sun and warmth.
Cilantro – these tasty annuals need lots of sun and warmth to thrive.
Chervil – you might have to wait for summer for this one, but it’s worth the wait.
Dill – give it lots of sun and this herb will thrive indoors.
Mint – the perfect addition to iced tea, this is surprisingly easy to grow indoors.
Oregano – you want bright sun, but watch out for sunburn on these tender leaves.
Parsley – you can’t go wrong with this one, it will grow fastest in full, bright sun, but can thrive almost anywhere.
Rosemary – this one can be a challenge indoors, it needs lots of light and can be slightly picky about location, but it’s worth the effort.
Sage – find a warm, dry, sunny spot for this desert dweller.
Thyme – like oregano, this one wants bright sun, but watch out for sunburn.