Indoor Herb Growing Guide: How to Grow Herbs Indoors Year-Round
Herbs add glorious bursts of flavor to breakfast, lunch and dinner, and you don’t have to have a green thumb or a backyard to get your hands on them!
You can grow herbs and spices indoors year-round. Growing herbs indoors is simple in part because you control the climate. Check out our herb growing guide for beginners, and you’ll snip that gorgeous greenery for your own dishes in no time.
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Growing Herbs Indoors From Seeds: How to Grow Herbs in Pots
Don’t be afraid to start with seeds.
First, buy the basics:
- A few packs of your favorite herbs (when growing herbs indoors, staples like rosemary, sage and thyme are great)
- A bag or two of nutrient-rich soil
- Several pots with drainage holes (about one pot per herb should do)
- A sturdy tray large enough to hold the pots
- A plant mister
How much of each item you buy depends on how many herbs you want to grow and your available space.
Then, put soil into a pot until it’s three-quarters full. Place the pots on the tray, and fill the mister with spring water or clean rainwater.
You usually need just five seeds to get started, so you’ll have lots of leftovers in the packets. Check the back of the packet — it usually lists the number of seeds the variety needs. Sprinkle the seeds in different spots, then cover them lightly with soil (about half an inch, more or less).
The soil should be loose and airy, so don’t pat it down. Spray the soil lightly with the mister, and if the soil is dry an hour later, respray it.
Place the tray of pots somewhere warm and well-lit where the leaves (when they sprout) won’t touch the windows. An indoor temperature of 65 to 70°F is ideal, but don’t worry if it gets a bit nippy at night.
Oh, and it never hurts to label the pots or containers so you’ll know what’s about to pop up!
When the seeds sprout, water the soil, not the stems and leaves. Plus, water herbs only when the soil looks dry — overwatering can lead to fungus that kills the seedlings.
Touch the soil to tell whether it’s moist beneath the top layer. Dump out any water that collects in the tray to prevent root rot.
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Fertilizing When Growing Herbs Indoors
Give your herbs a boost with a balanced, slow-release liquid fertilizer. Try liquid seaweed or a fish emulsion. As a general rule, dilute the fertilizer by half to one-quarter (read the fertilizer package for exact directions).
You won’t need to fertilize too often because potted herbs are light feeders. Fertilizing once monthly during the growing seasons should be fine, but different herbs and growing conditions have different needs. Of course, because you’re growing herbs indoors, your conditions remain pretty much stable.
Slow-growing herbs, such as rosemary, sage, thyme, lavender, marjoram and oregano, don’t need as much fertilizer as their fast-growing counterparts, like cilantro/coriander, dill, chives and parsley.
Planting Fast-Growing Herbs
You can begin tossing dill into your dishes just 40 days after it sprouts. Basil and cilantro don’t take much longer, so you’ll be able to garnish your Italian, Mexican and Indian creations in about two months.
Chives, parsley, tarragon and marjoram are perennials — they’re gifts that keep giving, but they’re a bit slower to grow and take up to three months to mature. If you don’t feel up to growing herbs from seeds, buy young plants as a convenient shortcut to a thriving indoor herb garden.
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Growing Herbs in Water
Propagating herbs is easy.
For example, you can take a cutting from a friend with a thriving oregano plant and place the cutting in a cup of water until it grows roots. Then, plant the rooted cutting in a pot filled with well-draining soil. When you water and fertilize properly, you should have a bustling oregano shrub in a snap.
If you want to grow herbs in water and water alone, you’ll need a hydroponic system. These can be a bit pricey, but they’re fascinating (and beautiful) if you have the time and space. And yes, a number of culinary herbs grow well hydroponically:
Growing Herbs in Shade
If you’ve wondered whether herbs can grow in shade, they certainly can. Most herbs will do fine with at least four hours of sunshine daily, and indirect sunlight suffices.
Mint, cilantro, parsley, thyme and chives enjoy full shade. You can also grow herbs indoors with artificial light. Fluorescent reflector lights will do the trick, and they should hang about six inches above the plant.
Herbs to Grow in Winter
Herbs like basil, rosemary and lemon balm prefer warmth, and you’ll notice wilting if the weather gets too chilly. Place them away from drafty windows for the winter or do so nightly.
Herbs like sage tolerate dry air, but you’ll generally see slower growth than during spring and summer. Chervil and sweet bay grow well when it’s cold. Here are a few other herbs that grow just fine in winter:
[Related: Spice Up Your Winter With This Mulled Wine Crockpot Recipe]
Growing Herbs Indoors in Mason Jars
Mason jars aren’t just for canning! You can grow or transplant herbs in these gorgeous, portable, quart-sized jars.
You’ll need gravel, small rocks or marbles in the bottom two inches of the jar — no drainage holes required! For added sparkle, use colorful marbles, rocks, crystals or glass beads in whatever combination you’d like. However, avoid painted rocks or marbles (they could contain toxins).
Then, fill the mason jar with potting mix and leave two inches to spare at the top. Transplant herbs by gently loosening the roots and planting them in the soil.
Grow herbs in mason jars from seeds as you would in any other container or pot, except you don’t need a tray.
Move the mason jars per the herbs’ light and warmth requirements. Portability is one of the great parts of growing herbs indoors in mason jars. Plus, the glass catches light and amplifies the leaves’ green shades (we’re big fans of the rustic look).
What Herbs Grow Well Together?
There are benefits to placing herbs together, either in separate pots or the same container. In fact, companion planting can improve herb health.
For example, herbs like chives and basil are pest-resistant and lend that quality to their neighboring plants. Companion planting also increases humidity and can enhance herbs’ flavor due to the higher water content. Overall, group your plants per their lighting requirements.
Herbs in the same container will have similar water needs, so group moisture-loving herbs like basil, parsley and cilantro. Remember that herbs like parsley, cilantro, dill and fennel prefer deep pots for their sprawling root systems.
When growing herbs indoors, simply pinch off leaves or use a pair of clean shears to snip leaves where they meet the stem. Voila! Your culinary endeavors are easier — and likely more emotionally satisfying.
Never cut off more than one-third of the plant. Plus, periodically trimming (or pruning) herbs promotes growth.
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Good Home Chef Has Inspo for You
Growing herbs indoors isn’t just gratifying — it can prompt dish concepts and enhance your old standbys with new flavors.
At Good Home Chef, we have tons of ideas for home-cooked meals. Find recipes, kitchen must-haves, money-saving shopping lists and other awesome recommendations. There’s a little something for everyone!
Contact us anytime — we’d love to get you started on the road to kitchen mastery. Follow us on Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook for even more inspo. Comment with your favorite tips, tricks and recipes!
Featured image via Pixabay