Are you looking to start a herb garden indoors? Do you want fresh herbs in the winter when your outdoor plants are out of season?
You may have been told that it is challenging to grow plants like herbs indoors, but that's not true. It just requires work and dedication - and of course, the right know-how.
In this article, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know to learn how to start a herb garden indoors.
Choose the Right Plants
Starting an indoor herb garden begins with choosing the perfect plants. Just about any kind of herb can be grown indoors - these plants tend to have a compact growing habit that makes them ideal for indoor growth.
You might consider planting herbs such as:
- Lemon balm
All of these are easy-to-grow options that are perfect for beginners! You can purchase plants as seedlings or start your own plants from seed, depending on how quickly you want to be able to harvest.
Buy Your Supplies
When growing an indoor herb garden, there’s very little you will need to get started. Here’s a quick list so you know what should be in your shopping cart prior to planting:
- Seeds or seedlings
- Seed starting trays (optional)
- Watering can
- Seed starting mixture
- Container with drainage holes
- Plant labels
- Sharp scissors for harvesting
Pick the Perfect Location
Each herb varies in terms of how much sunlight it needs. In general, though, you’re going to want to choose a location that receives about six to eight hours per day of direct sunlight. This is ideal for most plants and will provide them with the sunlight they need to grow tall and strong.
Ensure Adequate Drainage
Drainage is an essential component of growing plants in any setting, but especially for container-grown plants. If a pot easily becomes waterlogged, you’re going to have trouble preventing your plants from drowning!
Therefore, choose a pot that has a way for water to get out. Most pots are equipped with drainage holes that will release excess water, but if your container doesn’t already have this, you can drill a few holes in the bottom on your own.
The type of container you use doesn't matter much. Herbs do tend to like containers that stay warm, making clay and terracotta good options, although there are some cool-weather herbs (like parsley) that prefer colder settings and therefore will thrive in plastic containers. Plastic doesn’t hold the heat quite as much as clay or terracotta.
Plant Your Seeds
If you purchased seedlings, all you need to do when you get home from the nursery is to plant your seedlings in the seed starting mixture. Typically, you can plant these at the same depth you found them in within their store bought containers.
Otherwise, when starting seeds, you’ll sow thinly on the surface of the soil. Cover lightly with a bit of soil or peat moss. Keep the seeds warm and moist until the seedlings emerge, then position them in front of a bright light (a grow light is ideal, but a sunny windowsill will work, too).
Proper watering is key when it comes to growing healthy, productive herbs. Many herbs require little water, but that doesn’t mean you can neglect them completely! Don’t let the soil dry out completely and instead, keep things consistently moist when the top 25% of the soil feels dry to the touch, it’s time to water.
You can even mist your herbs’ leaves a few times per week, if that’s easier. Just mist them a bit with a spray bottle every time you pass by.
Fertilize and Prune As Needed
Most herbs aren’t finicky when it comes to fertilizing. You may want to feed with a nitrogen-based fertilizer occasionally, usually after leafy growth has appeared and only once a month or so moving into the growing season. Don’t fertilize during the winter months, when most perennial plants tend to be dormant or more slow-growing.
You can use a regular fertilizer diluted to half-strength or one formulated specifically for herbs. Natural fertilizers like compost tea always work wonders, too!
Your plants will also benefit from regular pruning. Pruning will help your herbs maintain their shape and to help them grow in a bushy, compact fashion. The good news about pruning herbs? It’s essentially the same thing as harvesting - so you can save all of your clippings and use them just as you would any other herb plant parts you harvested!
Time to Harvest
You can harvest leaves from your herbs as soon as they look big enough to eat! Just clip a few stems or leaves whenever they seem ready. For most herbs, this will be about 50 to 60 days into their growth.
The good news about harvesting herbs is that the more frequently you cut your plant, the more often it will push out new growth - so harvest away! To prevent overtaxing your plant, just avoid clipping more than a third of the plant at any given time.
One thing to avoid when harvesting your plants is letting them flower. When herbs start to flower, this indicates that they are going to seed - something you don’t want to happen, since it will stop any future leaf production and cut your harvest period in half.
Enjoy Your Herbs!
That’s all there is to it! Now that you know how to plant, grow, and harvest your own indoor herbs, all that you need to do is get started. There are plenty of ways to enjoy your fresh herbs - toss them right into your cooking or you can dry or freeze them to be used later. Whatever you choose, you’re sure to love the convenience of having your own windowsill herb garden right in your very own kitchen.
Gardening is a great way to grow your own food and save money. Whether you want fresh herbs for cooking or need more plants in your home, planting an herb garden indoors might be the answer!
By following some simple instructions that include preparing the soil, selecting the best containers, and choosing what type of herbs will work well together in one container, you could have a thriving indoor herb garden blooming in no time.
Learning how to start an herb garden indoors can be a fun and fulfilling experience. Pick up some fresh seeds today and get ready for planting!