- Written by Melinda Myers Melinda Myers
Add garden-fresh flavor to your meals year-round. Grow a few of your favorite herbs indoors, harvest, and enjoy.
Select a variety of herbs you and your family enjoy and use for cooking, decoration, or fragrance. Basil, chives, cilantro, oregano, marjoram, mint, parsley, sage, and thyme are some of the easier herbs to grow indoors.
Purchase plants or seeds from your local garden center, favorite garden catalog, or produce section of the grocery store.
Most herbs need six to eight hours of bright light each day. A south-facing window in winter is best, but an east- or west-facing window may be sufficient. Increase success with artificial lights. Set the timer for 14-16 hours a day and keep lights 6-12 inches above the plants.
You will find lots of energy-efficient and stylish options for just about any space. Sleeker designs, like Gardener’s Supply Micro Grow Light Garden, can be placed on the kitchen counter or a small table. Furniture-grade options, like Bamboo LED Grow Light Garden, make it easy to grow herbs in just about any room in the house.
Use a variety of plants to create an attractive display in a large windowsill planter. Combine plants that have the same growing requirements to ensure success.
Or place each herb plant in its own container. A 4- to 7-inch pot is a good size when starting with smaller plants. Growing individual plants in their own containers allows you to provide the specific watering, care, and transplanting they need.
Select containers with drainage holes or reduce maintenance and increase success with self-watering containers. Just fill the water reservoir, which gradually releases water into the soil for the plants to use. You will need to water less often.
Fill the container with a well-drained quality potting mix. Many contain a slow-release fertilizer, providing weeks or even several months of nutrients for your plants. Just check the label for details and adjust fertilization as needed.
Water the containers thoroughly whenever the top inch of soil is dry. Pour off excess water so the plant does not sit in the excess and succumb to root rot. Or place pebbles in the tray to elevate the pot above any water that collects in the saucer or tray. This means less work for you and better growing conditions for the plant.
Incorporate a slow-release fertilizer or use a dilute solution of any indoor houseplant fertilizer once the nutrients in the potting mix are spent. Follow label directions and do not overdo it, as too much fertilizer can harm your plants.
Begin harvesting most herbs when they reach 6-8 inches in height and as needed. Use a sharp pair of garden scissors, snips, or hand pruners. Make cuts above a set of healthy leaves so the remaining plant is neater and tidier in appearance. As the plant grows, you will be able to harvest larger quantities and more often.
Start with a few of your favorite herbs and expand your collection as you gain experience. Soon you will be confident and eager to try more challenging favorites.
Melinda Myers has written more than 20 gardening books, including Small Space Gardening. She hosts The Great Courses’ How to Grow Anything DVD series and the Melinda’s Garden Moment TV and radio program. Myers is a columnist and contributing editor for Birds & Blooms magazine. MelindaMyers.com