How To Grow An Indoor Herb Garden

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Herb gardening isn’t just for outdoorsy types. And, it doesn’t take a backyard to grow a beautiful and delicious herb garden. Whether it’s a small window in the kitchen or a large greenhouse window, any window that receives full sun will grow an herb garden. Herbs are easy to grow, make beautiful decorations and add a pleasant fragrance to any indoor environment.

Selecting Herbs To Grow Indoors

What are some of the best herbs to grow indoors? For the beginning gardener, basil, parsley and chives are easy to start from seed and do not require much care. Another option for the beginning gardener is to purchase transplants from a garden center.

What Are Different Herbs Used For?

The kitchen spice rack is a source of herb ideas. Herbs that are regularly used when cooking are good choices for an indoor herb garden. Herb gardens can also be designed around a theme:

  • Herbs can be used for baths. Basil, lavender and mint create a stimulating bath. Chamomile is relaxing. Sage can be used for a footbath. Bay calms aching muscles and joints.
  • Herbs make a natural dye for fabrics and fibers. Marjoram turns to green and sage turns to yellow when processed into a dye.
  • A large number of herbs can be brewed to make a relaxing cup of tea. Herbs for a tea garden include mint, sage, marjoram, chamomile, ginger, scented geranium, thyme and basil.

Herbs can be started from seed, rooted cuttings or transplants. Here are a few tips for starting herbs:

  • Starting herbs from seed is a cost-effective way to get an herb plant, but it is also time-consuming. It takes a couple of months before the plant is ready for harvest.
  • Herbs can also be started from cuttings. Herbs that can be easily rooted from a cutting include bay, oregano, rosemary, sage and thyme.
  • Some herbs do best if transplanted. For herbs such as chives and parsley, separate a clump from an existing plant and put in a container. Other herbs, such as tarragon and thyme, can be dug out of the garden, potted and moved indoors.
Ready for Planting Finished Product

How To Design An Indoor Herb Garden

The first task when designing an herb garden is to choose a location. Most herbs prefer at least five hours of full sun a day. Place herbs near a south or west facing window. If there isn’t enough light in the area where the plants are kept, a few grow lights will do the trick. Herb growing under artificial lights requires 14 to 16 hours of light a day.

Herbs have other environmental needs. Plants should be kept in an area that maintains a daytime temperature in the 70s and a nighttime temperature in the 50s. Herbs do not like to be crowded and need air circulation. And, herbs should be turned frequently so that they don’t become lopsided.

Style Ideas For Indoor Herb Gardens

Once a location has been selected, it’s time to get creative and decorative. When planning an indoor herb garden, beauty is the rule. Here are a few tips to beautify an indoor herb garden:

  • Group porcelain pots with an Asian motif with simple clay pots to add elegance to a room.
  • Place wicker baskets and brass tubs side by side to add contrast to arrangements.
  • Window boxes and hanging planters move the eyes from the floor up toward the ceiling and add height to a room.
  • Mix herbs of different growth habits together – tall plants with short plants, bushy plants with hanging vines, flowering herbs with leafy herbs.
  • Protect countertops or window sills by putting pots in a saucer or placing pots on a tile or ceramic surface.

Caring for the indoor herb garden

One of the advantages of an indoor herb garden is that it is indoors. This makes it easier to monitor and care for plants. All it takes is a little time a few days a week and herb plants can be kept healthy.

Potted herbs prefer a rich soil mixture that provides adequate drainage. A quality commercial potting soil or a homemade potting mix does the job. Here are a few homemade potting mixes that work well for herb plants:

  • 2 parts compost, 1 part vermiculite and 1 part perlite
  • 1 part potting soil, 1 part sand and 1 part peat moss
  • 1 part compost, 1 part sand and 1 part perlite

Herbs like to be watered regularly, but not over watered. Water plants when the surface of the soil becomes dry with room temperature water. If the indoor air is dry, provide some humidity by placing plants in a tray filled with pebbles. Fill the tray with water so that the water is below the pebbles. The plants can sit on top of the pebbles, enjoy the humidity and not become water logged.

Regular feeding is a must. A feeding of seaweed or fish emulsion fertilizer at half the recommended strength applied once a month provides plants with enough nutrients to keep them productive. The light feeding of fertilizer also helps plants from becoming leggy.

Herb Garden Pest Control Tips

Pests are not usually a problem with indoor herb plants. Pests that infest indoor herb gardens include mites, whitefly, aphids and scale. These pests can be controlled with a mixture of soap and water. Mix a teaspoon of mild dish soap and a quart of water in a 32 ounce spray bottle. Spray once a week until the problem has completely disappeared.

The Benefits Of An Indoor Herb Garden

Herbs are hard-working houseplants. An indoor herb garden brings the beauty of the outdoors to the indoors and provides fresh tastes to the table.

Herbs are decorative, flavorful and fragrant. Some herbs, such as sage, are well-suited for decorations. Sage comes in green, purple or party colors and has blue or red flowers. A quick swat to a lavender or rosemary plant releases a pungent fragrance into the air. Bay can be trained into a dwarf tree. The possibilities are endless in an indoor herb garden.

Last Updated: December 19, 2011
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About Coletta Teske Coletta Teske has 25 years' experience in tech journalism, as well as home and gardening topics. She has freelanced for Fortune 500 companies such as Boeing and Microsoft, published more than two dozen computer books for Prima Publishing and Macmillan, and worked as a freelance correspondent for West Hawaii Today. Coletta has been an avid gardener since she was 2 years old. While living in Hawaii, she achieved a lifelong dream of becoming a certified master gardener.

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