Herbs are one of the easiest plants to grow indoors — especially if you have very little space to play with. You don’t need to be a green-fingered gardener either. All you need is a sunny window to create your own little herb garden to enjoy a convenient supply of homegrown produce at the clip of a sprig.
Although relatively easy to grow, there are a few steps to practice to ensure a successful crop. So we’ve created this handy guide to help you get started.
Where can I grow herbs?
To see the best results, herbs need as much exposure to natural light as possible. To see them thrive, you’ll need to place them by an unblocked, sunny, south-facing window that typically receives six hours of sunlight a day. Do take care though – if the leaves touch the windowpane, they can be in danger of getting sung by hot glass. Similarly, if the window area is prone to being drafty, you’ll need to try and keep it insulated – even if you just use a small hand towel.
If you have west-facing windows, you may want to opt for herbs such as parsley, thyme, and mint, as they require less light. If you don’t have a suitable sunny spot, don’t worry. You can solve this issue by investing in an under grow light. These are also particularly handy in the winter months when there isn’t much natural light. You’ll need to place the plants within a foot of the club and have the lights turned on for around 12 to 16 hours a day.
Which herbs can I grow indoors?
You’ll no doubt already have your favorite herbs for cooking with. But some varieties are better suited to growing indoors than others. To get started, we recommend opting for these:
Basil: is perfect for pairing with tomato-based dishes. It loves heat and bright light but dislikes cool, draft-prone spots. It isn’t a long-term houseplant, so you’ll need to plant a new batch of seeds every few weeks if you want a steady supply.
Thyme: This heady, aromatic herb is perhaps one of the most versatile ingredients in world cuisine. It prefers warm sunny windows and fast-draining soil.
Parsley: It’s more than just a garnish. It adds bright color and flavor to soups, salads, and fresh sauces and is particularly tasty when paired with poultry and fish. You’ll need to grow it in a deep pot with access to strong light.
Mint: This one is a staple for creating refreshing drinks – from hot herbal teas to cooling mojito cocktails. It’s both an attractive and hardy houseplant, but it does require moderate to strong light.
Oregano: It can be used in most cuisines — especially Italian. Use it in sauces, meats, casseroles, stews, and soups. As a member of the mint family, it also likes moderate to strong light.
Chives: These add a lovely mild onion flavor to soups, salads and egg-based dishes. When cutting, ensure you leave at least two inches of growth so the plants can re-sprout. They grow best in bright light.
How do I grow herbs?
You can start growing your herbs from either seed or cuttings – which is a branch of an existing plant cut at the node and soaked in water until new roots sprout. However, a much quicker and easier way to get started is to purchase seedlings from a garden shop, or a pre-potted plant from the supermarket.
If they do come from outside, you should always check for pests — like aphids and spider mites — before bringing them indoors. While they can often be removed with some soapy water, it’s much better to start off with pest-free plants.
Your herbs need to be placed inside a container with good drainage that can sit on top of a saucer or plastic protector, to ensure the surface remains protected when the water begins to drain out.
Where should I start growing herbs?
Annual and biennial herbs like basil, coriander, parsley, dill, and chervil are fast-growing and best sown at intervals throughout the spring and summer. Perennial herbs like oregano, mint, thyme, sage, rosemary, and chives grow much slower and need a more permanent home.
Care and Maintenance
Sadly, it’s not possible to leave your herbs to their own devices forever. But a little TLC will go a long way.
Water, but not too much.
Compared to other plants, herbs require very little water. You’ll want to keep the soil moist but not soggy, as this can be fatal to some plants. If you notice the leaves beginning to wilt or turn yellow, it could be a sign that you have been over-watering.
Give the herbs a trim.
Like most plants, regular cutbacks encourage new growth – but avoid removing more than a quarter of the plant at a time, as too much trimming can cause distress.
If you follow these tips, the chances are your herbs will get bigger and will eventually outgrow their containers. Plants beginning to flop (not wilt) over, roots coming out of the drainage holes, or a halt in growth can all be signs that it’s time to move your herbs into larger pots.
This article originally appeared on our sister site, Yours.