Growing your own herbs can add a new dimension to your cooking. You can also save money by making your own herbal teas, tinctures and salves. Some think that herb gardening is only an option to those who have access to a plot of land, but this is untrue. Even if you live in an apartment or condo with no outdoor space, you can opt for indoor herb gardening.
Plan your garden wisely
First, think about your home’s gardening potential. South-facing windows without obstructions are ideal for indoor gardens so your plants can bask in several hours of sunlight. If most of your windows face north or are obstructed by other buildings, opt for plants that require little sunlight, or purchase a grow light and timer. Consider where heat sources are in relation to your plants—indoors plants aren’t likely to be affected by overnight chills, but too much heat can harm them.
Take your own habits into account—are you frequently away from home or can you tend to your plants daily? Indoor plants obviously do not receive rainfall, so you’ll need to choose low maintenance plants if you travel regularly and cannot find someone to care for them. If you have cats or dogs, think about where you can locate the plants so your animals cannot reach them.
How to choose the right plants
Unless you’re an experienced gardener, it’s best to start your indoor herb garden by selecting herbs that grow easily. Chives are a good option for those living in cooler climates or for those who don’t have windows with abundant sunlight. Parsley also has low sun requirements but grows more slowly so you won’t be able to harvest it as quickly as chives. Bay trees are also relatively easy to grow, but like parsley, they require more of a time investment. It’s also susceptible to scales if it becomes too dry so you’ll want to attend to its water needs carefully. See this The Spruce article for more on choosing the correct plants.
Oregano, rosemary and thyme also grow relatively easily and can be good starter plants for novice herb gardeners. Consider, however, that these herbs are all used in Mediterranean cooking which means they grow naturally in sunny climates. So if you choose to grow these plants, locate them where they’ll receive abundant sunlight.
Once you decide what herbs to grow purchase your seeds and other materials. When buying seeds, always check the expiration date on the package. Plant more seeds than you need, since it’s likely only some of them will sprout.
Although a few plants, such as lemongrass stalks, grow in water, most require soil. Buy some good potting soil for your indoor herb garden and natural fertilizer for your plants. You’ll also need containers. They needn’t be expensive, but you’ll need to consider how they drain. Terracotta planters can absorb water and cause plants to become overly dry so you’ll want to use these only with plants that have low moisture requirements. If you’re re-potting a plant that grew outdoors rather than starting from seed, select a container a few inches larger than the plant’s root ball.
How to care for your plants
Many plants require more humidity than indoor air naturally provides. You may want to place several plant containers on a tray and then cover them with pebbles or marbles and water, making sure to keep the water low enough to prevent root rot. As the water evaporates, it provides moisture to the plant’s leaves. Replenish the water regularly to rehydrate your plants. To protect your indoor plants from pests, fill a spray bottle with soapy water and spray the entire plant, including the undersides of the leaves. When you’re ready to harvest your herb plant, take no more than half if you want it to continue to grow and produce more for you.