How to Grow Herbs Indoors
There’s nothing better than cooking with something you’ve grown and harvested with your own hands. But not everyone is blessed with the space for a vegetable garden or even a vertical garden on a balcony or terrace. That’s okay! You can still pretend to be Meryl Streep in It’s Complicated and harvest the heck out of a window full of herbs in your kitchen. Here’s how.
Which herbs should I get?
Some herbs thrive indoors, and some don’t. If you’re a novice, stick with rosemary, oregano, thyme, or mint. If you’re feeling fancy, try basil or catnip, which can be a little more finicky. Keep in mind that herbs are not meant to be long-term houseplants. Not that it can’t be done, but don’t freak out if you lose a few plants. It’s normal!
Here’s how to use our favorite herbs.
Rosemary: Cut a few sprigs off the ends, around one to two inches, and work your cooking magic.
Oregano: Snip a few stems off the plant and then strip the leaves for use.
Thyme: Tip—don’t let the soil get too dry. Once it does, the plant will struggle to come back. Cut off a stem and strip off the small leaves.
Mint: My favorite variety is pineapple. What’s yours? There are so many to choose from and can be used in so many different ways! Strip those leaves off and make your kitchen smell like a mojito paradise.
Where do I buy them?
The best herbs come from local mom-and-pop shops. Sure, you can run out to Home Depot and buy yourself a cart of every herb imaginable, but the risk is high. Most small and locally-run nurseries source regionally in the early spring through fall, which means that you’re supporting the local economy and increasing the chances you’ll buy plants that have been taken care of properly.
Pro tip: If you’re looking for organic herbs, be sure and ask the retail associate at the nursery which herbs are classified as organic. Sometimes it’s not always clear. Also, make sure you replant the herbs in certified organic soil and use organic fertilizer.
Where should I put them?
You’re going to need a lot of natural light. If you envision a kitchen full of potted herbs but have only a tiny window, expect trouble. Herbs can be sensitive biddies. Outdoors, they aren’t so picky, but it’s a different story indoors. Give your herbs bright, indirect light through a south- or east-facing window.
Pro tip: Are you set on growing herbs indoors but don’t have enough natural light? Invest in a grow light. You can find all kinds of systems on Amazon or luxe options in your local garden store. If you go this route, make sure you’re giving your herbs 14 to 16 hours of light per day.
How do I water my herbs?
You don’t want soggy, rotting herbs sitting in your windowsill. Plant them in easy-draining soil, and make sure the container has drainage. Let the soil dry to the touch before watering again. When you water, continue to pour until the water peeks out into the drainage tray. Fertilize once a month for better results.
Pro tip: Follow the directions on the fertilizer bottle. Pouring more fertilizer into the mix won’t give your plant more of a boost—plants can get chemical burns from fertilizer misuse. Don’t let it happen to you!
What are those things crawling on my plants?
Pests love herbs, too! Be aware of what’s flying and crawling around your plants. Check them before you bring them into your home, and promote good airflow by leaving space between your herbs. Look for sticky residue, webs, black specks, and chewed-on leaves. If you have a bug problem, give your plants a shower and use dish soap to wash the leaves. Let the soil dry out all the way before watering again. If it’s a bigger problem, try using sprays to help.