How to Grow Herbs Indoors

How cool would it be to grow your own plants and herbs inside? It would be super convenient to just reach to your window sill and grab a few pieces of parsley or mint to throw in the meal you’re cooking. This simple kind of task doesn’t require a botanist to make happen; growing plants indoors can be quite simple if you know what you’re doing. Here’s everything you need to know to begin.

The best inside herbs

Which herbs do you use most often when cooking? Thyme can be used in soups, mint in salads, cilantro in salsa, etc. What you don’t want to do is limit yourself to herbs that can only be used for cooking. Herbs like chamomile can be used in teas, and lavender perhaps in a bubble bath.

One component to think about is how much of each herb you will need. Mint wouldn’t be used as much as oregano or parsley, so perhaps just one plant will do.

The most recommended herbs to grow indoors are:

  • Oregano
  • Cilantro
  • Mint
  • Lemon balm
  • Sage
  • Thyme
  • Rosemary
  • Chives
  • Parsley

Probably thinking what about basil? Well basil is actually a bit difficult to grow indoors for many reasons, like requires more sunlight than most, and needs a steady warm temperature. Basil is just a pain to grow indoors, but it can be done.

How to pot the herbs inside

Few plastic cups plants come in are meant to be their permanent pot, herbs like these need new cups and pretty soon after you buy them. Get yourself a few pots that allow for six inches in diameter.  Drill a hole in the bottom of the new pot, and put a water dish underneath. The potting soil you use should be made for indoor growing and not the dirt from your yard.

The most basic beginner fail is to put several different kinds of herbs in a long pot. Growers see much more success when they plant each herb in its own pot. The reason being is that some of the plants have different needs. Some require moist soil when others require drier soil. Also, mint is known to completely invade wherever it can.

How much light is needed

Many herbs need at least six hours of light a day, and preferably southwest light. If none of your windows allow for southwest light, western or eastern light will do; they will just grow more slowly. The plants that need at least six to eight hours of light a day are rosemary, sage, oregano, and thyme. Don’t forget to turn them so each side gets some light.

There are LED indoor growing lights for those homes that don’t get a ton of natural light. Chervil, mint, and chives don’t really need a ton of light. Buy yourself a lamp that holds a single bulb and place it a foot above the plants. Be sure turn off the light after the six hours.

How much water do they need

This part is critical. Water the plants as often as you need to keep the soil moist, but not damp. If the leaves start turning yellow, you will likely have overwatered.

Another important thing to remember is you must feed your plants. The plant food you will need should be for plants, not flowers. Lightly fluff the soil with a fork (making sure not to pull up any roots) and then sprinkle the food over the ground soil. Just like water, too much can be damaging. Feeding once a month is typically enough for most plants.

How to harvest without destroying them

Harvest can begin once the plants have reached six to eight inches. Do this often because trimming the plant encourages it to grow back stronger.  Just harvest in moderation, as taking off half of the plant will probably kill it, so take only about a third or a quarter.

Bolting can happen when you do not trim enough, and it forces more stems to grow. At this point there will be more stems than leaves. If the buds really start blooming snip those out immediately. The plant is trying to give its energy to the blossoms and seeds, and you want the energy being spent on the leaves.  

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