If you had an outdoor herb garden this summer and some of your herb plants are still alive, bring them in and enjoy fresh herbs all winter long. You also may choose to start a new garden with seeds or with purchased plants. Most herbs thrive in pots.
Benefits of Growing Herbs Indoors
Having plants indoors is a time-honored practice of adding beauty to your home. The aromas and beautiful vibrant foliage of herbs can be healing for the soul during dark fall and winter days. Most culinary herbs have medicinal properties. By growing your own herbs, you will have herbal medicine at your fingertips.
Commercial herb growers frequently use harmful chemicals to grow their plants. Get around this by growing organic plants. Additionally, most commercial herb growers plant crops which are bred to be large. The problem? Sometimes, the biggest plant varieties are not as potent as smaller varieties. If they’re small, your plants will be more flavorful and have higher levels of healthy compounds in them.
Herbs are nutrient-dense foods, packed with antioxidants that enhance immune health as well as support proper functioning of your entire body. Nutrient levels are highest in fresh plants.
After an initial investment for plants and soil, you will save money. Fresh herbs in winter can be expensive to purchase. For the price of one bunch of herbs, you may grow a plant which keeps on producing or an entire package of seeds.
Soil Needs of Indoor Herbs
Regular garden soil is too heavy for herbs grown in pots. When growing herbs in containers, place an inch of small stones in the bottom of each pot to ensure good drainage.
Many of the common herbs, such as thyme, lavender, rosemary, aloe, basil, and oregano, hail from the dry regions. They like sandy soil. Here is a recipe for making sandy potting soil:
Mediterranean Soil Mix — Yields 5 Gallons of Potting Soil
- 2 gallons sandy soil
- 1 gallon perlite
- 1 gallon potting soil
Most herbs grow in average soil. Chives, dill, chamomile, fennel, parsley and lemongrass thrive in average soil.
Average Soil Mix — Yields 4 Gallons
- 2 gallons potting soil or loam
- 1 gallon peat moss, or compost
- 1 gallon sand or perlite
A few herbs prefer moist soil. Members of the mint family grow vigorously in pots. Try growing peppermint and lemon balm in rich, moist soil.
Rich Moist Soil Mix — Yields 2 Gallons
- 1 gallon peat moss, or compost
- 1 part garden loam or potting soil
Light, Water, and Food Requirements of Indoor Herbs
Generally, indoor herbs need a minimum of four hours of direct light each day. Plants growing in Mediterranean soil may benefit by exposure to grow lights. Mints can tolerate less light than other herbs.
Water Mediterranean herbs when the top inch of the soil in the pot is dry. Water plants in average and moist soil when the surface of the soil is dry. Be careful not to overwater your herbs, especially basil, as it makes them susceptible to fungal and other diseases. Bottom watering is best.
Feed your herbs regularly. Seaweed emulsions are excellent. Dilute the solution to one half of the recommended strength and feed your plants every other week.
Reposition your pots occasionally so that each side grows evenly.
Some people grow wonderful indoor herbs hydroponically.
Using Indoor Herbs
When your plants are well-established, you may begin to reap your harvest. In addition to fresh taste, most herbs release their delicious aroma when they are touched or harvested. Simply pinch or cut off leaves as needed. If you are growing plants with woody stems, such as rosemary or lavender, use a sharp knife or scissors. Trim the plants in a manner that keeps them attractive.
If you are substituting fresh herbs for dried herbs in a recipe, use one tablespoonful of fresh herbs for each teaspoonful of dried herb.
Choosing Herbs for Indoor Pots
Fortunately, most culinary herbs thrive in pots. Parsley, chives, thyme, mint and oregano are excellent choices for growing indoors. Sage can be fussy unless you use grow lights. Some people find rosemary challenging. You can try growing ginger, but it is unlikely that you will harvest any. Cilantro/coriander is leggy and most people do not like the smell.
When purchasing herbs or seeds, look for varieties which are described as compact.
Ordinary garden dill is much too lanky for indoor growing. However, smaller varieties are available which thrive in pots. The same is true for fennel. You can grow garlic in pots, but it takes a long time to reach maturity.
Indoor Herb Growing
Growing herbs indoors is practical and fun. Some people use large containers which they design to look like entire miniature landscapes made of herbs. Growing herbs in pots is an excellent activity to share with children. Use your imagination and design an indoor herb garden which is just right for you and your family.
Which herbs do you grow indoors for health? Share your tips in the section below: