The following 10 Culinary Herbs can be grown successfully indoors. Use these tips to make the most out of your indoor herb garden so you can maximize the harvest from your herbs.
Basil is a favorite culinary herb of many chefs. Basil likes full sun & warmth, so give basil the sunniest spot in your kitchen herb garden, preferably at 75 degrees.
Basil is a tender annual herb, so take care not to set it next to windows or areas that are too cold or drafty. Basil will do well in a south facing window.
Basil is quite famous for its role in making the classic pesto sauce. It is also great with tomato based dishes, vegetables & cheeses.
Indoor Basil Varieties
A good variety to grow indoors is Greek Miniature Basil. This is a compact mounding variety that will grow just 6 inches high. It can be used in the same recipes as Sweet Basil. Spicy Globe Basil is another dwarf variety with a good flavor growing to just 10 inches tall.
The larger basil varieties can be grown in the indoor herb garden without much trouble. They won’t reach their full height indoors unless you have a huge pot & supplemental light sources, so you don’t have to worry about it taking over your home. Sweet Genovese Basil is the type used in pesto. Lemon Basil is an another popular choice.
Tips for Growing Basil Indoors
Basil is very easy to start from seed. If enough light is given, you can start harvesting in as early as six weeks! Be sure to start multiple plants if you want to have enough for recipes. You can group a few plants in a single larger pot when growing basil indoors to save space.
Basil needs constant pruning to stay bushy. When pruning or harvesting your basil, snip off full branches by cutting the stem just above a leaf node. The plant will form two new leaves on either side of the cut where the leaves meet the stem.
When growing from seed, begin harvesting your basil when it has three sets of true leaves. Remove the top 2 sets, always leaving at least 1 set of true leaves on each stem. For step by step instructions – see our article on starting basil from seed indoors.
Chives is a perennial herb that is a member of the onion family. Chives grow in clumps of hollow stems which should be divided every 3 years.
The fresh taste of chives and compact growth habit make it a great culinary herb to add to your indoor garden.
Chives are best used fresh so you can appreciate their crunchy texture. They are a great addition to soups, omelets, soft cheeses and of course used as a topping on baked potatoes.
You can grow any variety of Garden Chives indoors. Garlic or Onion chives are two popular choices.
Tips to Growing Chives Indoors
Chives will grow in full sun or partial shade so can be grown in a south or east facing window. Chives prefer moister soil than most herbs.
Chives can be grown from seed indoors, but they won’t be ready for a good harvest for about 90 days. You can also divide a plant from outdoors & bring it inside for the winter.
Harvest chives by clipping close to the base of the plant (about 2 inches high), a little bit at a time. This will encourage new growth.
Fresh Cilantro has a very distinctive taste that most people either love or hate. It is highly aromatic and has a peppery zing which makes it popular in many spicy recipes.
Cilantro adds a zesty flavor to salsas, sauces and stir-fried dishes. Cilantro is widely used in Mediterranean, Asian & Mexican cuisine.
Most varieties of cilantro are suitable for indoor growing. In particular, Calypso cilantrois grows about 12-18 inches tall. Santo is another recommended variety. Both are slow to bolt so will provide a longer harvest before setting seed.
Tips for Growing Cilantro Indoors
Cilantro grows best in full sun or light shade so will do well in a south or east facing window.
You can start harvesting cilantro grown from seed in about 3-4 weeks. Cilantro benefits from an early harvest to promote bushier plants.
Dill is sometimes referred to as Dill weed to distinguish it from dill seeds that are used in pickling. Dill has light feathery leaves that branch out to create small fans.
Dill combines well with mustard or creamy sauces. Fresh leaves can be used in soft cheeses, sauces, and salads or combined with a little lemon & butter on fish or potatoes
Fern Leaf Dill is a dwarf plant which grows to just 18 inches high which make it an excellent indoor herb variety.
Tips for Growing Dill Indoors
Dill will grow in full sun or partial shade so can be placed on a South or Southwestern window. Dill is very easy to grow from seed & does well indoors. Shop for Dill Seeds
If you are growing dill from seed, plant it in small bunches in a larger pot – 3 seedlings fit nicely in an 8 inches wide pot. This makes for a nice full indoor plant & gives you plenty to harvest. Start harvesting your dill once it has 5 true leaves.
Mint is a great herb to grow indoors. It spreads quickly by rhizomes underground, so should always be kept in a separate pot, so it won’t crowd out any other herbs.
Mint is an excellent choice for adding to beverages like tea or hot chocolate. It is also useful in making deserts & of course most famous for lamb with mint sauce.
Spearmint is used most commonly in the kitchen for cooking. It has a very clean minty flavor. Peppermint & Chocolate Mint are two other favorites for that can be used as indoor herbs.
Tips for Growing Mint Indoors
Mint prefers morning sun/partial shade. Place in an east facing window if possible. Mint also prefers a moister soil, so plan on watering it more frequently than most other herbs & give it a little spritz now & then. The easiest way to add mint to your indoor garden is to purchase mint starter plants rather than grow it from seed.
The easiest way to add mint to your indoor garden is to purchase mint starter plants like the one shown to the right, rather than grow it from seed.
Oregano is a great herb to grow indoors. It has a bushy habit with slightly hairy grayish green oval shaped leaves.
Oregano is a favorite culinary herb that is frequently used in both Italian & Greek cuisine. It combines well with lemon and garlic or tomato based dishes.
Greek Oregano is a compact variety that is excellent for culinary uses and is only 8-12 inches tall.
Tips for Growing Oregano Indoors
Oregano likes full sun, so find a spot in your southern window for the best growth and flavor. Oregano is a short lived perennial and should be replaced every two years. You can grow Oregano from starter plants or seeds – starter plants are of course much quicker!
Parsley is another great herb to grow indoors. Give parsley a taller pot than most since it has a very long tap root.
Parsley is one of the 3 culinary herbs in the classic Bouquet Garni which is a bundle of parsley, thyme and bay leaves.
With its clean, fresh taste, parsley is a favorite herb in almost all types of cuisine. The leaves of parsley are used in most recipes. You can also save the stems & use them to flavor stocks.
Flat Leaf parsley has the best flavor and is used in most recipes.
Curly parsley should also be grown to be used as a garnish or in the occasional salad. The flavor is still quite nice, just milder than the flat leaf variety. You can grow both, but give the flat leaf parsley the bigger pot!
Tips for Growing Parsley Indoors
Parsley will grow well in a South or East-Facing Window. It tolerates cooler temperatures & a little more moisture than most. Clip the parsley from the outside at the base of the plant; the new growth will come from the center of the plant.
Parsley is rather easy to start from seed but can be slow to germinate. On average it will take between 14-21 days for sprouts to emerge. If you soak the seeds overnight, they will sprout much faster. We use this trick & have much success in our own indoor garden.
Rosemary has a strong, warm taste with hints of evergreen. It is a very fragrant herb that is a wonderful addition to the culinary herb garden. Just don’t use too much or you could overpower the other more delicate herbs.
Rosemary is an excellent herb to use when roasting. It is equally nice with vegetables and meats. The leaves are finely chopped when added to most recipes, or whole sprigs can be used during cooking to impart their flavor then removed just before serving.
Blue Boy Rosemary is a compact variety that does well as an indoor herb. It reaches just 24 inches high and has a nice flavor.
Tips for Growing Rosemary Indoors
Rosemary is a Mediterranean herb & prefers full sun, but a slightly cooler location. It should also be kept on the drier side, but never be allowed to dry out fully. We recommend purchasing new plants when adding Rosemary to your chef’s garden.
Sage is part of the Salvia family. They are hundreds of species of salvia that are grown in the ornamental garden, but just a few are used in cooking.
One of the most classic uses of sage is in brown butter sauce. It also pairs well with heavier meat and game, cheeses, stuffing, and breads.
Dwarf Garden Sage (Sage Officinalis Minimum) is a good choice for growing indoors. It has a compact habit and will grow to about 10 inches high.
Tips for Growing Sage Indoors
Sage prefers full strong sun, so it will do best in a south-facing window. Sage is another short-lived perennial so will need to be replaced every few years.
Thyme is a classic culinary herb that is a must have in the indoor kitchen herb garden.
It is a low growing, well branching plant which does equally well in pots or the garden.
It is added to slow-cooked soups & stews, then removed before serving. Thyme goes nicely with meat, poultry, fish and vegetables. It is extremely versatile becoming one of the most commonly used herbs in many kitchens.
Thyme is by its nature is a compact growing herb, so almost any variety can be successfully grown indoors. English thyme & Lemon Thyme are two common varieties which are grown indoors.
Tips for Growing Thyme Indoors
Thyme is very easy to grow from seed and one of our favorites since it is easy to care for & so versatile in the kitchen. You can grow thyme in Group small bunches of thyme together in one pot for a nice full effect. Five or more seedlings can be kept in an eight-inch pot.
All of the herbs listed above will grow well in the indoor herb garden. If you still need more suggestions look for the following keywords or characteristics when shopping in the catalogs or garden centers:
- Compact or Dwarf varieties
- Herbs that grow well in semi-shade
- Cool weather herbs (these generally require less light)