Fresh herbs are a great way to add flavor to practically every meal you prepare, but they aren’t always easy to find and can be expensive. Growing your own herbs is one way to always have the flavors you want without going to the grocery store. You don’t have to be a seasoned gardener to start your own herb garden. If your outdoor landscape doesn’t provide you with garden space, you can even grow herbs inside your home and enjoy the bounty. This guide will help you find the supplies you need to get started and provide easy instructions to teach you how to grow an indoor herb garden.
Supplies for Your Indoor Herb Garden
When you plan your herb garden, it’s important to have all the supplies you’ll need to cultivate healthy plants. Each plant will need a container, healthy soil, and plant food to encourage growth. You can invest in an herb garden kit if you want to have almost everything in one place, but you may already have a lot of the supplies you need to get started. This supply list will help you gather all the supplies you need to create your indoor herb garden.
Seeds or Plants
Start with one or two different types of herbs if you want to start small. Many herbs, especially if you plan to keep them indoors, can be started at any time during the year; many varieties also grow year-round. This means you can add more indoor plants as you see fit without worrying about missing the start of the season.
Should I use seeds or plants to grow herbs indoors?
If you’re a beginner or you hope to see results quickly, starting with plants may yield the best success. If you’ve grown plants from seeds in the past and you have a green thumb, you’ll likely find many herbs germinate easily indoors. Seeds may take up to two weeks to germinate.
Seeds are often least expensive, but small plants called seedlings may be easier to grow. If you want to start enjoying fresh herbs faster, then seedlings and established plants jumpstart the growth timeline. Plants also require fewer rounds of transplanting. However, buying packets of seeds allows you to choose when you start your indoor garden. It also means you can browse for heirloom varieties and rare herbs that may not be available in your local plant nursery.
Planters, Herb Pots, or Containers
There are a variety of containers you can choose from to create an attractive indoor herb garden. Choose based on the size of your plants and the size of your garden space. Some planters and containers can hook onto a wall, which is ideal if you have a small kitchen or want to save your counter space. You can also look for herb pots that match your kitchen decor.
Trays to Catch Drainage
Well-drained soil is vital for healthy herbs, and a saucer or tray is equally important for catching excess water.
Instead of using heavy soil, purchase a potting mix that provides good drainage. Potting mixes often come premade with a fertilizer, mulch or wood chips for extra drainage, and other plant-specific ingredients to boost growth. It’s important to choose the right mix based on your specific herbs. Some mixes may even have pesticides, while others are completely organic. Make the right choice for your plants and your preferences.
Plants grown in pots have minimal soil to derive nutrients. Adding fertilizer helps plants achieve healthy growth. If you love DIY gardening and food ideas, you can even try composting kitchen scraps to develop your own fertilizer.
Purchase a trusty transplanter or spade. Growing plants must be transplanted into bigger containers, and the right tool will help you avoid harming your plant’s root system. These tools can help you lift the entire plant, including the root system, without cutting through the roots or putting pressure on the central stem. Also, have a dedicated pair of scissors to snip herbs. You want the blades to stay clean and food-safe, and having a pair near the plants makes it easy to add fresh herbs without interrupting your cooking.
Winter months can eliminate the sun your herbs need for prime flavor and growth. A grow light can provide an artificial replacement, and you can easily find them on Amazon. Grow lights are typically specialized LED lights that don’t heat up or stress your plants.
If you have difficulty determining when it’s watering time, a moisture sensor can help you stay on schedule. Smart sensors can connect to your phone so you receive an alert no matter where you are. Also, reminders on your phone can help you stay on top of checking the soil’s moisture levels.
Mister or Spray Bottle
Misting plants can add humidity in dry environments. Young plants, especially, benefit from having a light coating of water applied to their leaves.
Which are the best herbs for an indoor herb garden?
You can grow practically any herb indoors where there’s plenty of sunlight. However, dwarf varieties and no fuss options typically provide the best results. Some favorite indoor herbs include basil, mint, cilantro, chives, parsley, dill, oregano, rosemary, and thyme. If you don’t want to have dirt in your kitchen, hydroponic gardening can be a fun experiment. Herbs like basil, oregano, and cilantro all respond well to hydroponic growth systems.
A Step by Step Guide to Growing an Indoor Herb Garden
Your indoor herb garden can help you save money and make flavorful meals with fresh herbs. Whether you’re a master home chef or you want to cook more, starting an indoor herb garden can make preparing meals more enjoyable and add a pop of flavor to your next culinary masterpiece. To keep your plants healthy, you need to give them a good start. Follow these steps to grow a thriving indoor herb garden.
1. Find a Windowsill or Sunny Location
Herbs like sunshine. Provide your plants some space near a sunny window that will provide six to eight hours of sunlight each day. The bright light of a south-facing window will likely provide all the sunlight you need, and a planter box will use the space efficiently. For windows without a substantial window sill, consider placing a table or shelf in front of the window. If you find your plants aren’t getting enough sunlight in the fall or winter, you can purchase a grow light to encourage continued growth in the darker months.
Herbs thrive in temperatures that range from 60 to 70 degrees. If your plants are close enough to your window to touch the glass, make sure the windows are insulated.
2. Choose the Right Plants
When choosing which herbs to plant, picking herbs you use already is a great way to get started. It’s also useful to choose plants suited for indoor growth. Perennial plants like rosemary, chives, thyme, oregano, bay laurel, and mint are the best herbs to grow indoors from seedlings. Before buying plants, check them for pests. Examine each plant for sticky droppings from aphids and fine webs created by spider mites. While these pests can be removed, it’s best to start with pest-free plants whenever possible.
3. Use the Correct Containers for the Best Growth
Any container large enough to hold the plant will technically provide a space for growth. Still, some containers will provide better results than others. Good drainage is vital for herbs grown in containers because herbs don’t like to be in standing water. Ensure your container has proper drainage holes by filling it with water to see how quickly it drains. You’ll also need to make sure your container has a saucer or tray underneath to contain the excess drainage.
Pots and containers come in a variety of sizes and materials. Most containers are acceptable in any environment. However, making decisions based on the size and type of your plants, as well as the humidity level in your home, could give you an extra edge. For instance, certain plants have especially long roots that would benefit from a deeper container, and ceramic or clay pots hold in extra moisture that could be helpful in a dry environment.
Grow each plant in a separate pot when planting herbs indoors. This creates a more flexible environment for better indoor growth.
4. Plant Carefully to Create a Good Environment for the Roots
Choose a high-quality potting soil mix that includes composted bark and peat moss. This will provide your plants with loose soil that drains well. Since plants in containers have a limited amount of soil from which to get nutrients, they may also need fertilizers. So, mix an all-natural organic fertilizer (or make a DIY recipe) with your potting soil before planting. Once the plants are in place, add water slowly to completely moisten the soil instead of sending it straight through your container’s drain holes.
When organizing your containers, avoid crowding pots together so plants will have plenty of air circulation. Herbs crowded closely together can lead to stagnant air and the spread of disease. Rotate the containers as needed so that each plant gets plenty of sunlight.
5. Transplant When Needed
As your herbs grow, they will eventually outgrow their pots. Some signs it’s time to transplant include roots growing out of drainage holes, stalled growth, or a plant that leans or flops over. Many types of herbs are started indoors and moved outdoors when weather permits. Outdoor herbs can be planted in larger pots or gardens. Larger herbs can still be kept indoors, as long as they are kept near a light source.
Maintaining Indoor Herbs Throughout the Year
Growing your own herbs is a simple way to add healthy flavor to your favorite foods, so you’ll want to maintain your garden throughout every season. These indoor gardening tips can help you grow healthy plants and avoid common problems with indoor plants.
Fertilize Routinely for Healthy Plants
Weekly use of a seaweed extract or fish emulsion works best for your indoor herb garden. Fertilization during slower growth months can be reduced to once a month.
Harvest Regularly Without Overdoing It
Clip or pinch off a few sprigs at a time, but avoid removing more than a quarter of the plant. Regular cutbacks bring about new growth. Cutting too much can damage or kill the plant.
Regular Watering Is Essential for Proper Growth
However, it’s important to be careful not to provide too much water. Keep the soil moist without allowing it to get waterlogged. If potting soil looks dry or pale, it’s time for water. Check your soil by poking your finger an inch into the soil. If the mixture feels dry instead of moist, your plants need some water.
Herbs prefer well-drained soil. Too little water is typically safer than excess water.
Growing fresh herbs is a great way to experience gardening if you have little outdoor space or want to experiment before committing to a full urban garden with herbs and vegetables. Herbs also provide zesty flavors for a variety of meals. If you’ve been putting off indoor gardening because you weren’t sure how to start, now is the time to get started. With some careful planning and attentive care, fresh herbs can be grown inside any home.
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