Do you love fresh herbs in your spaghetti sauce or pesto? If you like to cook, you’ll love having fresh herbs right at your fingertips. So, what if you grow your own herbs in a little indoor garden, all year round?
Here are some useful tips on herb gardening:
- Start with some easy herbs to grow inside, like basil, chives, parsley, oregano, thyme or bay. The herb plants need sun so put them in a sunny place. Six to eight hours of sunlight a day would be perfect! Remember - to a plant, light is food!
- For rooms with limited light, parsley, chives and mint are quite forgiving. If light is a challenge, fluorescent light is full-spectrum, works well on plants and is much cheaper than plant lights.
- To help indoor gardens thrive in winter make sure all pots are large enough. Herbs almost always need to be repotted in containers two to three times the size they came in. The more space they have to grow, the better.
- Don’t overwater or overfertilize your indoor plants. Excess water is harmful to the roots and causes rotting. Don’t water them until the soil just below the surface is dry. If you give too much fertilizer, they will lose their scent and taste. Once you start to see new growth, you can begin to use your herbs for cooking.
- Make sure your pots have drainage holes in the bottom so your herbs don’t rot. Keep a saucer underneath to catch the excess water as it runs through. Plants should be rotated periodically to ensure all sides are exposed to sunlight, and they do best when planted in a combination of potting soil mix and compost.
- Take care when selecting the type of soil for your herbs, as plants are very vulnerable to soil-born diseases. It’s a good idea to go with a store-bought potting mix. Your local gardening center can help you select the right one for your needs. Be sure the mix is lightweight and will drain well. Pour a two or three-inch layer of potting soil into the bottom of your container and place your plant gently in the container. Finish filling it with potting mix, pressing it firmly around the plants. Leave about an inch of space at the top to make room for watering.
- Cut the herbs back from time to time.
Best herbs for indoors
Basil likes lots of sun and warm temperatures. It is simple to grow from seed.
A perennial that grows well in containers all year long. Place the pot in an east- or west-facing window, but be sure it does not get crowded—bay needs air circulation to remain healthy.
Start chervil seeds in late summer. It grows well in low light but needs temperatures between 65°F and 70°F to thrive.
Best used fresh! Chives like bright light and cool temperatures. Dig up a clump of chives from your garden at the end of the growing season and pot it up. Leave the pot outside until the leaves die back. In early winter, move the pot to your coolest indoor spot for a few days, then finally to your brightest window.
Your best bet is to start with a tip cutting from an outdoor oregano plant. Place the pot in a south-facing window. They can be grown from seed too.
You can start this herb from seeds or dig up a clump from your garden at the end of the season. Parsley likes full sun, but will grow slowly in an east- or west-facing window.
Rosemary can do okay, but needs time to adjust to lower indoor light and should be given two weeks to transition first. Rosemary doesn’t always germinate well from seed; grow it from cuttings or as a complete plant from the nursery. The soil needs to be well drained, but don’t let it dry out completely. It grows best in a south-facing window.
Take a tip cutting from an outdoor plant to start an indoor sage. It tolerates dry, indoor air well, but it needs the strong sun it will get in a south-facing window.
A dormant period in late fall or early winter is essential for tarragon to grow indoors. Pot up a mature plant from your outdoor garden and leave it outside until the leaves die back. Bring it to your coolest indoor spot for a few days, then place it in a south-facing window for as much sun as possible. Feed well with an organic liquid fertilizer.
You can start thyme indoors either by rooting a soft tip cutting or by digging up and potting an outdoor plant. Thyme likes full sun but will grow in an east- or west-facing window.
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