Herbs can easily be grown indoors as long as you make sure to get started off the right way. The key to successfully creating an indoor kitchen herb garden is understanding the plants requirements & making sure to give them what they need. It’s that simple.
Follow these 10 important tips to create your own Kitchen Herb Garden Indoors and you will enjoy a healthy supply of fresh herbs for years to come.
Table of Contents
- 1. Provide Strong Light For Your Indoor Herb Garden.
- 2. The Temperature Should Be Between 60-70 Degrees.
- 3. An Infrequent, Slow Thorough Watering is Best.
- 4. Select The Best Herb Pots For Your Indoor Herbs
- 5. Grow Each Herb in a Separate Pot.
- 6. Flush Indoor Herb Pots with Water To Remove Fertilizer Salt Buildup.
- 7. Select The Best Indoor Potting Mix Or Soil For Your Herbs.
- 8. Feed Your Herbs With A Seaweed Or Fish Based Fertilizer.
- 9. Provide Good Air Circulation.
- 10. Show Your Indoor Herbs Some Love.
1. Provide Strong Light For Your Indoor Herb Garden.
The more light you can provide for your indoor herb garden, the better off they will be. Did you know the intensity of the light contributes to the flavor of your herbs? Herbs grown in strong bright light will most definitely have the best flavor. Good strong light also encourages their growth. Providing enough light is one of the most important factors in successfully growing herbs indoors.
Herbs prefer 6-8 hours of direct sunlight. A bright, sunny window or sun room is an ideal location for growing herbs indoors. Southern facing windows are the best choice. You can add a small table directly in front of your window if the window sill is simply not large enough to comfortably fit your pots. Or if you have a great sunny window, but no place for a table, a suction cup window shelf is another way to create a good growing environment for your herbs.
If you don’t have a bright enough window, you can still be successful in growing herbs indoors. All you need to do is provide an additional light source. If you are growing just one or two herb pots, you can use a simple task light with a CFL bulb from the hardware store.
Small grow light setups are available for purchase in many garden centers & online retailers. They have many options available from a kitchen counter setup to a wall unit where you can grow a full herb garden. For example, the AeroGarden has created a whole line of indoor gardening systems have an LED light setup attached to the herb planter.
You can also choose to grow herbs that will do better with a little less sun. Parsley, Mint and Chives can handle less than 6 hours of direct sunlight.
2. The Temperature Should Be Between 60-70 Degrees.
Temperature is another important factor to successfully growing herbs indoors. The ideal temperature for most herbs is between 65 to 70 degrees, which works very well in most home environments.
Occasionally when you want to slow the growth for your herb plants, the temperature can be reduced further to between 60-65 degrees. Some plants require a dormant period. If you are overwintering plants indoors, you can store them in a cooler location.
Do take care when placing herbs directly next to the window. If the leaves are touching the glass, they could burn as the glass heats up with the reflected sunlight. In homes with drafty windows, it may get too cold directly next to the window. You can easily remedy this problem by adding insulation to your windows (even a towel placed between the window & screen will help).
The most particular herb when it comes to temperature is basil. Basil loves the warmth and would prefer to be at a constant 75 degrees if possible. If basil gets too cold, you will know right away, the leaves will start wilt and discolor within 24 hours.
3. An Infrequent, Slow Thorough Watering is Best.
The key to watering herbs indoors is to allow the pots to dry out somewhat in between watering. Test the soil by using your finger. If the soil is dry about 2 inches below the top (give or take, depending on the size of the pot) then it is time to water. Don’t worry that this is too dry & will harm your herb plants. The soil dries out from the top first, so although the top is dry, the soil is probably plenty moist at the bottom of the pot. The goal is to get the roots to grow deep down looking for water. This encourages a strong healthy root system.
Another important tip is to water your herbs slowly. If you water too quickly, the water may run straight through the pot and out the drainage holes before the soil has a chance to absorb it.
Try to get into a regular schedule. Two to three times a week should be sufficient, depending on the moisture level in your home. Herbs should really never need to be watered daily. If you find you need to water daily, this could mean one of several things:
- The pot is too small for the herb plant. Tip the plant out & check the roots. Are the roots taking up the whole pot? This is a sure sign it’s time to move to a larger pot size.
- The humidity level in your home may be too low. In the same area as your indoor garden, add a tray filled with small pebbles. Pour enough water to just cover them. The water will evaporate around your plants giving them the extra moisture they need to stay healthy.
- It is too hot. The heat of the sun can dry out pots quicker. If your herbs seem to be drooping & consistently getting too dry you could move them back from the window a bit.
4. Select The Best Herb Pots For Your Indoor Herbs
Selecting the correct pots or containers to use when growing herbs indoors is a very important factor in determining your success.
- Drainage. Ensuring your Herb Pots have enough Drainage is probably the most import consideration. Any pot used to grow herbs indoors needs to have adequate drainage holes. Herbs do not like to be kept in standing water, so there needs to be a way for the water to drain out of the pot.
- Saucers. Make sure to have a saucer for every pot you use to grow herb indoors. You can very quickly damage a table or make a mess if you don’t have a container for the water to drain into. Several pots come with a saucer attached or coordinating items. You can also purchase plastic plant saucers for less than a dollar in the gardening section of most hardware stores. Or if you have a decorative tray, that works equally well.
TIP: To test the drainage of a container, fill it with water & watch how quickly or slowly the water drains from the bottom. If it drains too slowly consider adding a few pebbles in the bottom of the pot so your herb’s roots are not sitting in water. This test should be done before you add soil & your herbs!
- Size. The second most important consideration in selecting the best pot for your indoor garden plants is to select pots that are correctly sized for the type of herb you are growing. For example, basil has longer roots & will benefit from a deeper pot. If you choose a pot that is too big, it will be harder to keep the soil evenly moist. If the pot is too small for your plant, your herbs growth may be stunted.
- Materials. Choose an indoor herb pot based on the humidity level of your home. The amount of moisture can be controlled by the type of pot you choose. Ceramic pots will hold in the water, while clay pots can dry out faster. If you have a drier environment, use ceramic pot instead of clay or porous pots.
- Design. Have fun with the design. Use this opportunity to spice up your kitchen or living room with some colorful pots. And don’t limit yourself to the traditional pots. You can re-purpose many household items and turn them into unique herb planters. For example: you can punch holes in the bottom of some empty tomato tin cans. This makes for a very decorative pizza herb garden. Or consider using plastic inserts inside decorative baskets. This can be another opportunity for a family project. Head out to garage sales on the hunt for unique containers to use in making herb pots.
5. Grow Each Herb in a Separate Pot.
When growing herbs indoors, don’t combine multiple herbs in one container. This is a fine practice when growing herbs outside or if you have a self-contained light system such as the Aerogarden setup.
But if you don’t have perfect conditions, it can be harder to create the perfect environment for multiple herbs in a single container. Planting herbs in separate pots gives you the most flexibility when growing indoors.
You may need to rotate your herbs to improve the air circulation or adjust the amount of light they receive. One herb may come under attack by an indoor pest like fruit flies or need to be soaked in the sink if you forgot to water it. It is much easier to grow herbs inside when you use separate pots. This allows you to address each plants needs individually.
Those great little multi-herb planters you find in the grocery or garden centers are fine temporarily. But if you want to have long term success growing herbs indoors, then consider giving each herb its own container.
6. Flush Indoor Herb Pots with Water To Remove Fertilizer Salt Buildup.
Fertilizer buildup can occur when growing herbs indoors in pots. We need to fertilize our plants to keep them healthy, however over time a salt residue can be left behind. Salts may also be deposited from your tap water. You will see a white substance starting to accumulate along the rim of the herb’s container. This buildup is also in the soil which if left untreated over time can cause your herbs to suffer.
To correct the problem, simply hold the pot over a sink & thoroughly water it until water runs from the bottom of the pot. Allow the water to fully drain from the pot before placing it back in your indoor herb garden area. Repeat this process every few months to ensure the health of your herbs. This is another reason why you want to make sure your herb pots have good drainage.
7. Select The Best Indoor Potting Mix Or Soil For Your Herbs.
The indoor herb garden requires a potting mix that provides additional drainage. When selecting a potting mix, look on the label and make sure it is suitable for indoor garden plants. If you have a potting mix that seems heavy, you can add some perilite or vermiculite to the mix. Vermiculite will actually hold the water in a little more if you have a very dry climate.
Have you ever noticed that some packages are called potting soil & some are potting mix? There actually is a difference. The potting mixes are lighter and will container an aerator such as perilite (those little white stones you see in the mix). This is what we want for growing herbs in pots indoors.
Don’t ever use dirt from the ground in your indoor garden pots. It is much too compact to be suitable for indoor growing & will not allow the plants roots to breathe. There are also tiny bugs and parasites found in outdoor soil, that you just don’t want to bring inside.
Make your own potting mix blend with cocoa peat or peat moss, perilite and coarse sand. This is an economical solution to commercially prepared blends and it lets you modify the ingredients to better suit the types of herbs you are growing. Moisture loving herbs like mint appreciate a little extra peat. And Mediterranean herbs like it on the drier side, so you can add more sand.
8. Feed Your Herbs With A Seaweed Or Fish Based Fertilizer.
The best type of fertilizer to use for herbs is either seaweed extract or fish emulsion. Both have a higher concentration of nitrogen which promotes strong leafy growth. During active growth, such as the summer months you should fertilize once a week. For slower growth periods this can be reduced to once a month.
Some herb gardeners prefer to make a week solution & include it every time they water. If you would like to go this route, add the fertilizer at one-quarter of the strength indicated on the packaging. Here are 2 good options that fit the bill here:
- Sea Magic Dry Soluble Seaweed Extract which contains micro-nutrients and amino acids to promote healthy disease resistant plants.
- Neptune Harvest’s Fertilizer is a blend of fish/seaweed blend fertilizer in an easy to use bottle.
9. Provide Good Air Circulation.
Make sure there is good air circulation around your herb plants. If the herbs are too close together, they won’t receive enough air flow which can contribute to the spreading of disease. It’s a good idea to occasionally re-arrange your herb garden. Don’t let the air become stagnant around your plants. Give them a little breathing room.
10. Show Your Indoor Herbs Some Love.
Yes that’s right, give your herbs a little love. 🙂 Talking to your plants actually does help by releasing carbon dioxide that the plants use to convert to food. You should also gently brush you hand over the tops of your herbs or encourage your children to give them a little pet. The movement simulates the motion of wind blowing and will help to encourage the stems to be strong.
Follow these tips and start your own indoor kitchen herb garden today!