Ever thought of making a herb garden? You should! Even better… you can grow one indoors and use it year-round. I created a list of (what I consider) to be the easiest and ten best herbs to grow indoors.
Nothing invigorates a meal like fresh herbs, so having some on hand at all times is a must for any home chef. Don’t get me wrong, dried herbs are useful and very convenient, but if you want to kick your cooking up a level, use fresh herbs.
Even if you aren’t a gardener and think your thumb may look a little more black than green, the great news is that fresh herbs can be very convenient and easy to grow. They generally appreciate lots of sunlight and low to moderate watering, making them almost a no brainer to grow outside.
However, for those who live in a climate where herbs don’t survive outside during the cold months (hi, that’s me!), you’ll want to bring those babies inside to your indoor herb garden to enjoy them all year long.
The ideal place to grow herbs inside is the kitchen, which often has a window and affords you the ability to snip fresh herbs and use them without skipping a beat (talk about convenient). If you don’t have a suitable place in your kitchen, you can still easily grow herbs indoors. Just pick any sunny room, and you’ll be set.
Unfortunately, not all herbs do well indoors, so keep reading to learn which are the best herbs to grow indoors (and tips for growing them).
CREATING AN INDOOR HERB GARDEN
Certain indoor herbs are as simple to grow as low maintenance house plants (with the added benefit of being edible), and they are a great reminder that amazing things can come in small packages.
Not only are they ultra-useful in the garden and your cooking, but growing fresh herbs indoors also freshens up your home and makes it smell amazing. Think of them as natural deodorizers.
Once you start growing and using fresh herbs in your cooking, you’ll never go back.
If you’re not an expert gardener and want to start slow, I would recommend starting with herbs. Herbs are easier to grow than other plants, and their multiple uses will change the way you think about indoor herb gardens.
When you are starting your indoor herb garden, find an empty windowsill that gets plenty of sunlight (a south-facing window with 6+ hours of sun is ideal, but some herbs grow well in east or west windows), and you will have the perfect place to grow herbs indoors.
If keeping herbs watered and happy sounds complicated, try using a self-watering container to take out all of the guesswork and make growing herbs practically effortless.
GROWING HERBS INDOORS: THREE STARTING TIPS FOR SUCCESS
PLANT HERBS IN CONTAINERS WITH GOOD DRAINAGE
Make sure your planters have good drainage. Without proper drainage, the roots of your herbs can become overwater and waterlogged and start to rot your plants from the bottom up.
USE THE BEST POTTING SOIL YOU CAN FIND
You will want to use good potting soil. Something that is peat-free and organic will give your seeds and herb plants the best start.
START BY GROWING A COUPLE OF THE PLANTS YOU USE THE MOST
If you’re like me and could eat basil all day long, grow basil. Love Mexican dishes and use cilantro like it’s going out of style? Grow cilantro. Start small, with 2 to 5 plants, while working out the kinks.
THE BEST HERBS TO GROW INDOORS
Wondering which herbs grow best indoors? The following list of herbs are known to be easy to grow and are tolerant of growing in confined spaces. Use this list to minimize your plant selection so that you start successfully and can enjoy growing beautiful and delicious fresh herbs.
A must-have addition to any herb garden – use this delicious herb in your homemade pesto or on pizzas, pasta dishes, or salads.
- Light Requirements: 6-8 hours of direct sunlight, in a warm south-facing window (not directly next to a cold window)
- Watering Needs: Water regularly; basil prefers moist soil
- Fertilizer Needs: Give a half-strength 14-14-14 or 10-10-10 fertilizer once per week for slightly less vigorous growth but more flavorful leaves.
- How to Harvest and Use: If you’re only harvesting a little basil, pick off a few leaves from around the plant, rather than cutting a whole stem. If you’re collecting a larger amount, harvest from the top going down, cutting stems back by a third. Use basil fresh or lightly cooked.
Mint is hardy and grows quickly, making it a plant best grown in a pot—ideal for an indoor herb!
- Light Requirements: Mint performs best in full sun but can do well in partial shade. Mint will do well in a window that faces south, east, or west.
- Watering Needs: Mint needs a lot of water. Keep soil moist and humid.
- Fertilizer Needs: Feed your potted mint plant an all-purpose liquid fertilizer early in spring when you see new growth. Fertilize every four to five weeks after that, and throughout the growing season as frequent waterings will wash away soil nutrients.
- How to Harvest and Use: To harvest mint leaves pinch off any size you want from the tip of the plant. For a larger harvest, wait until just before the plant blooms. The flavor is strongest when in bloom. Cut the plant to just above the first or second set of leaves – you’ll remove the lower leaves and promote bushier growth. Also, mojitos.
Used as a flavoring in many soup and stew recipes, bay leaf is a slow-growing perennial herb that’s great for growing in containers.
- Light Requirements: Bright light with full sun to partial shade, preferably in an east or west-facing window.
- Watering Needs: Water regularly year-round to keep the soil damp. Make sure soil drains well.
- Fertilizer Needs: Apply liquid feed fertilizer twice a month between spring and summer… Stop feeding in late summer but continue to fertilize the following spring.
- How to Harvest and Use: Wait for the plant to mature before harvesting the leaves. Once the plant is old enough, you can harvest leaves at any time throughout the growing season by selecting the largest leaves and snipping them off the stem. Line a baking sheet with paper towels and lay the leaves flat on the paper towels, out of direct sunlight, for 48-72 hours to dry out (which reduces their bitterness) — once dry, store in an airtight jar or sealed plastic bag for up to 1 year.
Chives grow very well in containers, making them one of the best indoor herbs. Because they have a subtle onion flavor, they are a common kitchen ingredient.
- Light Requirements: Chives thrive in full sun, but they will grow almost anywhere. When growing chives indoors, place them in a south, east, or west-window that receives at least six hours of sunshine.
- Watering Needs: Chives grow best when watered frequently, and the soil is moist, as long as there is proper soil drainage.
- Fertilizer Needs: A little slow-release organic fertilizer at planting time will keep them growing well for up to three years.
- How to Harvest and Use: Be sure to cut the leaves down to the base when harvesting. Harvest only 3 to 4 times during the first year. In the following years, cut plants back monthly. The flavor is best when used fresh, but they can also be dried or chopped up and frozen to store for later use.
A delicious herb that adds great flavor to Italian and Mediterranean dishes and many soups.
- Light Requirements: Grows the best (and has the most flavor) when it gets as much direct full sun as possible, such as in a south-facing window.
- Watering Needs: Water thoroughly, only when the soil is dry to the touch; don’t overwater.
- Fertilizer Needs: Fertilize oregano just once during the summer growing season, with a small amount of 5-10-5 fertilizer.
- How to Harvest and Use: The flavor of oregano is most intense in mid-summer, just before it blooms, making it the best time to harvest leaves for drying. Oregano is stronger dried than fresh.
Cilantro’s bright, distinctive taste enhances dishes with tomatoes, onions, and avocados.
- Light Requirements: At least 6 hours per day of direct sunlight in an east, west, or south-facing window.
- Watering Needs: Cilantro grows best in well-drained, moist soil.
- Fertilizer Needs: Cilantro prefers slightly acidic soil. Fertilize once the plants reach 2 inches in height. Feed every other week with a balanced 10-10-10 fertilizer.
- How to Harvest and Use: Harvest while the growth is low. When the cilantro grows its stalk and after the seeds drop, cut down the plant and let it self-seed. You can cut the large leaves off individually as well. For the smaller leaves, cut them off 1-½ to 2 inches above the crown. Use fresh or freeze to store.
Dill produces very fragrant leaves and is one of the best herbs to grow indoors.
- Light Requirements: Dill does best with at least 8 hours of direct sunlight per day, making south-facing windows the best option.
- Watering Needs: Dill needs evenly moist, well-draining soil to thrive.
- Fertilizer Needs: Dill doesn’t need additional fertilizer, but you can apply a balanced 10-10-10 fertilizer once or twice during the growing season.
- How to Harvest and Use: To harvest, snip off the leaves or young flower heads for use in soups or salads. For pickling, cut whole stalks when the plant is more mature. Use fresh or freeze to store.
Thyme contributes a savory note that complements so many slow-simmered soups, stews, pastas, and roasted dishes.
- Light Requirements: Thyme thrives in hot conditions and loves the full, all-day sun — place thyme in a south-facing window for best results.
- Watering Needs: Most varieties of thyme are drought-resistant, so only give a thorough watering when the soil is completely dry.
- Fertilizer Needs: Feed thyme plants each spring with all-purpose 10-10-10 ratio fertilizer. Apply it at half-strength to keep the plant from producing too much foliage.
- How to Harvest and Use: The more you trim your thyme, the more it grows. Cut fresh stems in the morning, leaving behind tough, woody portions and at least 5 inches of growth so the plant can flourish. Regular pruning encourages more growth.
Parsley is used in so many dishes – sauces, salads, and especially soups. Not only is parsley the perfect garnish, but it’s also good for you.
- Light Requirements: Parsely requires at least 5 hours of direct sunlight per day, place in an east, west, or south-facing window.
- Watering Needs: Water parsley deeply whenever the top of the soil feels dry, then let the excess water run through the drainage hole.
- Fertilizer Needs: Feed parsley every two weeks with half-strength liquid fertilizer.
- How to Harvest and Use: Parsley is ready to be harvested When the leaf stems have three segments. Cut leaves from outside the plant whenever you need them. Use fresh or store in the freezer.
Rosemary adds a flavourful finishing touch to many a savory dish, like grilled lamb, roasted chicken, or toasty focaccia, and its fragrant leaves will keep your kitchen smelling fresh all winter long.
- Light Requirements: Rosemary needs 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight each day to thrive, making a south-facing window the best option for this herb.
- Watering Needs: Allow rosemary to dry out thoroughly between each watering.
- Fertilizer Needs: Rosemary in pots generally doesn’t require fertilizer, but you can use a diluted solution of a water-soluble liquid fertilizer if the plant looks pale green or growth is stunted.
- How to Harvest and Use: Its pine needle-like leaves grow thickly along its stems, so there isn’t necessarily a perfect spot to cut it. The plant will naturally branch off from wherever you clip it as long as you don’t clip an entire stem to the base.
There you have it! Growing herbs indoors will give you that summer-like just-picked taste to your meals all year long.