If you love to cook and want to grow your own food but don’t have the time, energy or green thumb to start a full-fledged garden, learning how to grow a few herbs indoors is the way to go.
Not only does growing your own herbs have countless benefits, it doesn’t require a lot of time, space or skill. If you’ve been on the fence, this step-by-step guide can give you the confidence to grow your own herbs inside successfully.
The Benefits of an Indoor Herb Garden
Why go through all the trouble of growing your own when there are plenty of fresh herbs for sale at the supermarket? Here are a few reasons…
- Makes cooking easy: One of the BIGGEST benefits is having fresh herbs right at your fingertips, whenever you want or need them — just clip a few sprigs to use in a recipe or as a pretty garnish.
- Freshness: If you’re tired of buying packaged herbs that shrivel up in a matter of days, then growing your own is the way to go. You’ll never have to sift through herbs at the supermarket again, endlessly searching for a batch without yellowing or wilted leaves.
- Save $$$: Let’s face it, fresh herbs (especially organic ones) are expensive when purchased individually at the grocery store.
- Taste: Fresh herbs can elevate your food from a bland concoction to a delicious dish.
- Minimize calorie consumption: We’ve been taught to think that fat, sugar and salt make our food taste good, but there’s little that beats the incredible flavor of fresh herbs. Herbs allow you to cut calories because the profound flavor minimizes the need for an overabundance of oil, butter, sugar. It’s an easy way to eat healthier without missing out on flavor.
- Adds variety to your dishes: Growing your own herbs offers a great opportunity for you and your family to experiment with some different flavor combinations.
- Fun for kids: Have your kids help plant them and then set the pots in a sunny spot (outside or inside) and watch them grow together. Your kids will get excited about tending to their “garden,” picking their own herbs and then adding them to different dishes. They’ll learn that food (herbs included) doesn’t simply come from the grocery store. It’s grown, raised or cared for by someone — and in this case, that someone is them!
- Brings color to your home: In addition to tasting wonderful, fresh herbs look beautiFULL. These plants fit into compact spaces and can bring a bit of life to your home.
The Basics of an Indoor Herb Garden
How to get started
Start with one or two easy-to-grow herbs. The ones we’ve listed below are hearty and do well, even when grown inside.
By starting out slowly, you won’t become overwhelmed. This allows you to tend to them and experiment with new flavor combos in your cooking without feeling stressed.
The best herbs to grow indoors
Not all herbs do as well being grown indoors as they do out. Below are a few fuss-free herbs that are great additions to your indoor herb garden.
What you need
Whether you live in a house or an apartment, a simple way to start is by filling a few pots with soil and planting some herbs. You can quickly start your very own indoor herb garden with just a few basic things:
High-quality seeds OR sprouted herbs from a nursery or garden shop
For ease of things, we often opt for sprouts.
Containers or pots with drainage
Since herbs can be susceptible to fungus, containers should have ample drainage holes in the bottom and be no smaller than six inches in diameter.
If you are using nontraditional planters such as mason jars, just make sure to place a layer of small pebbles in the bottom to catch excess moisture so your potting soil doesn’t get saturated.
Something to protect the surface underneath the pot
If you’re gardening indoors you’ll want a saucer or round plastic protector to prevent water from leaking out of your container and damaging the surface it’s sitting on.
Use organic potting soil mixed with seaweed soil, if possible.
A little fertilizer (possibly)
Because indoor herbs don’t get the same nutrients garden soil and rain provide, they may need a little bit of a boost from fertilizer. Choose an all purpose plant food that’s made with natural ingredients. Apply the plant food at half the recommended rate every other week. It’s better to give your plants too little fertilizer than too much.
You can make an easy natural plant fertilizer by dissolving a teaspoon of epsom salts into 4 & 1/2 cups of water or sprinkle a small amount of epsom salts on the surface of the soil.
Eggshells are another great natural fertilizer for indoor plants. Before using eggshells on your plants you’ll need to remove the inner membrane, wash them and soak them in water overnight. Then, use the liquid to water your plants.
A sunny spot
Most herbs prefer a lot of sunlight. Aim for an area that provides at least six hours of sun per day. A spot close to a south or southwest window is ideal. Give your potted herbs a quarter-clockwise turn once a week to expose all sides of the plant equally to sunlight. This encourages even growth.
If your herbs growth slows in winter months when there isn’t much natural light, consider investing in a grow light.
Water and some good old TLC
Frequently Asked Questions
How often should I water my herbs?
Herb plants have varying water needs and don’t require as much water as a typical houseplant, so make sure to check what your specific herbs require.
Generally speaking, you’ll be surprised by how little water it takes to sustain a small herb. Keep the soil moist, but not waterlogged — herbs don’t like to sit in wet soil. Think “drizzle, don’t drown.” If you have a saucer underneath, pour off any extra water that collects there to avoid waterlogged soil.
If the leaves begin to wilt or turn yellow, evaluate how much water the plant is receiving. This is a common sign that you’re either over or under watering.
How often can I harvest?
Don’t be afraid to use your herbs because you think you’ll run out – remember, you’re growing them to use! Pruning your herbs regularly encourages your plants to keep producing those tasty leaves and prevents them from flowering and going to seed.
Harvest a few sprigs with kitchen shears or by pinching leaves off with your fingers. Never trim more than a third of a plant’s foliage at one time. Cutting more than that can stress the plant and cause it to decline.
What can I do if I have an over-abundance of herbs?
If you have an abundance of fresh herbs, you can dry them yourself by laying them on a cloth in a single layer until dried. De-stem them, crumble up the leaves, put your dried herbs in a spice jar and add them to your spice cabinet. You’ll be surprised at just how much flavor and aroma your dried herbs have compared to what you buy at the store.
Another great option is to whip up something with your extra herbs, like a big batch of fresh pesto, and freeze it for future use. This is a simple way to save money, plus allows you to have quality control by making a homemade version without refined ingredients.
Should I transplant my herbs when they outgrow their containers?
Too often, people quickly kill indoor-growing herbs by planting them in pots that are too small.
If you see roots coming out of the drainage holes, growth seems to have stalled or the plant starts to droop, it’s time to transplant it. This may mean moving your plant a larger pot inside or transferring it somewhere outdoors.
No plant lives forever. As your herbs hit maturity and begin to decline, start a new batch, so you’re never without fresh herbs.
When can I start planting herbs outside?
If you want to transplant your indoor herbs and get digging in the garden outside, wait until Mother’s Day has arrived and it’s safe to say that the frost has faded.
Let’s grow some goodness — together!
P.S. For a breakdown of our favorite herbs to plant indoors, check out our article 4 Easy-to-Plant Herbs that Will Take Your Meals from Drab to FAB!