How to Start an Indoor Herb Garden

Everything you need to know for growing herbs indoors and starting your own DIY indoor herb garden including kitchen herb ideas and starting herbs from seeds.

 Photo by  Rose Elena  on  Unsplash

Photo by Rose Elena on Unsplash

Starting an indoor herb garden can seem challenging, but once you get the hang of it, it can be so rewarding! You’ll have fresh ingredients all winter long to add to your favorite dishes, herbs for tinctures and healing, herbs for homemade tea, and more.

Choosing herbs that grow year round will allow you to enjoy fresh produce any time of year, but don’t let that keep you from growing other herbs that may not necessarily produce year round. As long as you believe you’ll utilize them and enjoy them, go ahead and try growing them.

Related: How to Grow a Rosemary Plant Indoors

Related: How to Prepare Your Vegetable Garden for Winter

Benefits of having an indoor herb garden

Let’s just start off with some of the reasons why you should even consider starting your own indoor herb garden.

  • satisfy your green thumb - when you can’t get your hands dirty in the summer months with your outdoor garden, or maybe you’ve never had the space for an outdoor garden, you can still satisfy that green thumb of yours by growing and producing herbs all year long, in the comfort of your home.

  • save money - keeping an indoor herb garden will allow you to save money on groceries, you make a one time purchase for your seeds or starter plant and then you can enjoy its harvest anytime of year. By taking the necessary measures your herbs should continue to grow and produce year round, even after you cut away from them.

  • convenience - instead of having to head to the store anytime you need a dash of rosemary for your chicken or some mint to add to your lemonade, you can simply head to your windowsill and your indoor herb garden to harvest what you need; so convenient!

  • culinary and medicinal uses - aside from looking gorgeous by your window, your indoor herb garden can provide you with an array of herbs for cooking (you’ll be spicing up all of your favorite dishes with fresh herbs from now on), as well as medicinal uses if you choose to grow herbs that can be used for such, like aloe or lavender.

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Tips for starting an indoor herb garden

  1. Choose whether to start from seed or use starter plants

    Right off the bat you’ll want to decide whether you will want to grow your herbs from seed, or opt to pick up some starter plants from a local nursery. As can be assumed, starting from seed can pose more of a challenge, but we’ll give you some tips below if you do decide to go that route.

  2. Find the right pots

    Once you’ve got your starter plants (more on growing from seeds below), decide whether you will need to transplant your starters to larger or different pots. Terracotta pots are very popular for indoor herb gardens because they are more breathable.

    Each herb will grow differently and will need a different amount or space. Make sure to plant each starter into a pot that will give it enough room to grow and thrive. Six inch pots with at least 6-12 inch depth for root growth is ideal for most herbs.

    You’ll also want to make sure your pots have drainage holes in the bottom and you can keep a saucer below each one to make sure it catches any excess water.

  3. Choose the right soil

    A lightweight and well draining soil mix is best for your indoor herb garden. Because indoor herbs don’t have to deal with the stresses and ailments of the outdoors, they won’t be fighting as much for water. Often times too much water that isn’t draining in the pots can be harmful to them.

    You can purchase a good quality potting mix (better than potting soil) from your local nursery that will work well for growing herbs. Use it to transfer your starter plants into their designated pots.

    When transplanting your starter plants start by filling the bottom of the pots with about 2-3 inches of potting mix . You will want the top of your soil once the herb is planted to be about an inch from the top of your pot, so measure accordingly. Fill in the rest of the pot with soil around the starter and pat down firmly to secure.

  4. Find a sunny place

    You’ll want to choose a spot in your home by a sunny window that gets at least five hours of sun a day, preferably 6-8. Because your herb garden is indoors and isn’t getting the natural full days sun, you’ll want to be sure its getting as much as possible. The natural sunlight through the window will help your herbs to thrive.

    Grow lights or artificial light can be supplemented for part of the day if you feel like your herbs aren’t getting enough natural sunlight through the window. Brown spots on the plants are signs of too much sunlight (which is rare) and longer stems with less leaves are signs of too little sunlight (the plants is just focusing on growing and getting more sun, rather than producing).

  5. Water just enough

    As mentioned before, you want to make sure not to over water your herbs as it can cause the roots to rot. Look in your garden journal (more on keeping a garden or herb journal below) or in any tags that you’ve kept to make sure each herb is getting the necessary watering requirements.

    Once you have an idea of how long it takes each herb and its soil to dry out, you can develop a consistent watering schedule. Remember your saucers that you put below each pot to catch excess water? Make sure to drain those consistently. You don’t want the pot to be sitting in excess water for too long which can again cause the roots to rot.

    A good rule to go by is to not water them until the previous watering has dried. Spray bottles are very helpful in watering the plants when they are still very small and delicate.

  6. Fight pests and diseases naturally

    Different pests and diseases can often times be rinsed off in the sink, with or without soapy water. You want to prevent any spreading and get a handle on the pests and diseases right from the get go.

    Depending on what you are dealing with there are usually all natural ways to fight pests and diseases on your indoor herb garden, such as vinegar sprays, soapy water, etc.

  7. Harvest your herbs

    When you harvest and cut away at your herbs it will encourage more growth. Just be sure to never harvest more than a third of the plant at one time.

    Remember they are meant for eating (or using, in the case of medicinal herbs) so don’t be afraid to cut away what you need when you need it. The plant will be okay and will actually grow healthier and strong when its harvested and pruned accordingly.

 Photo by  Brooke Lark  on  Unsplash

Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

Best herbs to start from seed

Some herbs are easier to grow from seeds than others. Many you ‘d do better just getting starts from your local nursery, but try out some of the herbs below that are great for starting from seed.

  1. basil

  2. thyme

  3. oregano

  4. sage

  5. chives

  6. parsley

  7. cilantro

Once you’ve decided on which herbs you would like to grow from seed, you can begin the process of growing them indoors. Read along for the best tips for starting an indoor herb garden from seed.

Starting herbs from seed

Generally when starting herbs from seeds you’ll want to follow a few tips for helping them to get the best start possible and thrive in your indoor herb garden. Once you’ve chosen the seeds you’d like to grow, take a look at the packet or growing instructions to see what that particular herb calls for.

You’ll need to know the planting depth, spacing, month to sow, how large the plant will become (important for choosing what size of container to plant it in), and any other valuable information for growing that particular herb.

It would be helpful to write some of this information down in your garden journal (you could keep a separate journal just for your indoor herb garden). Take note of when you planted each seed and when it should be ready to harvest. In addition, different herbs require different amounts of water and sunlight to thrive. Write down as much information as you can about each herb to better help it grow strong and healthy.

The type of soil you use is especially important when starting herbs from seed versus transplanting grown plants or any other type of gardening. You will want to use a seed starting mix which is made specifically for starting seeds indoors.

Follow the instructions on your seed packet or planting guide, sowing the seeds as deep and as far apart as necessary. Water according to the guide that’s provided (a spray bottle is great for watering seeds or small starts), place in a sunny spot, and watch your herbs grow! When your seeds have grown into the size of usual starter plants or are outgrowing the space that they’re in, you can then follow the guide above for transplanting them and continuing to grow and nurture them.

We’ve included a helpful guide below for some of the best herbs to grow for culinary purposes, medicinal uses, and for growing year-round indoors.

Best herbs for growing year-round indoors

  • basil

  • bay

  • rosemary

  • chives

  • oregano

  • parsley

  • chervil

  • thyme

  • tarragon

  • sage

Best herbs for cooking

  • cilantro

  • lavender

  • basil

  • chives

  • parsley

  • oregano

  • lemon balm

  • sage

  • rosemary

  • tarragon

  • peppermint

Best herbs for healing

  • aloe

  • thyme

  • lemon balm

  • rosemary

  • cilantro

  • tarragon

  • spearmint

  • parsley

  • basil

  • lavender

What will you grow in your indoor herb garden?! Let us now in the comments below!

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