If you want to grow herbs indoors but don’t have a supplemental light source, the best plants to choose are ones that thrive in low light conditions. These low light herbs are a great option and they can be successfully grown in a sunny kitchen window as long as you choose the right ones.
When choosing plants for your window herb garden, look for herbs that meet the following criteria:
- Grow Well in Part Sun or Shade – less than 4-6 hours of direct sunlight.
- Shorter in Height – under 16 inches tall best.
- Grow Well in Containers – select pots with adequate drainage holes and a saucer.
- Start with a Mature Plant – young plants generally need a supplemental light source to reach maturity.
With the right setup and tips, you can begin growing herbs right in your kitchen with low light conditions. Some of the most popular herbs thrive in these conditions – many do not.
If you want to start dabbling in your own indoor herb garden, these are the best herbs for low light.
5 Low Light Herbs to Grow Indoors
We’ve selected five of the easiest herbs to grow indoors. All of the herbs on our list do well in window pots or containers and will add fresh flavors to your recipes this year.
Chives are a great candidate for growing herbs indoors. While they appreciate sunlight, they can still grow happily and healthily in low light conditions. The mature height of chives is about 10-12 inches tall which is a good height for the indoor herb garden.
- Soil: Well-drained, nutrient-rich soil with a pH of 6-7.
- Indoor Growing Potential: Chives need humidity. Keep them close to other potted plants, or use a pebble tray with water to improve humidity levels. A fan can provide adequate circulation for your chives. Keep them near a south-facing window.
- Growing from Cuttings: Chives don’t typically grow well from cuttings, but you can grow them from a bulb. You can easily find chives that are still attached to the bulb at farmer’s markets or the produce section of the grocery store.
- Harvesting: Cut the leaves (or stems) down to within one or two inches near the base of the plant.
2. Lemon Balm
Known for its citrusy flavor, lemon balm is a popular herb for indoor gardens.
As a member of the mint family, lemon balm is a hardy plant that grows quickly.
- Soil: Well-drained, sandy loam soil works best, but this hardy herb can grow in just about any soil as long as it’s not very wet. A soil pH of 6.7-7.3 is ideal.
- Indoor Growing Potential: Keep your lemon balm near the sunniest window in your home. It will tolerate shade, but will still require some light. Make sure that your pot has excellent drainage. Don’t over-water. This herb is susceptible to powdery mildew, so take care to water properly.
- Growing from Cuttings: It’s easy to grow lemon balm from cuttings. Place a fresh cutting in a cup of water, and roots will start sprouting in just a few weeks. Carefully transplant your cuttings to a new pot, and enjoy your new plant.
- Harvesting: Lemon Balm will regrow from trimmed stems, so you can combine pruning to keep the plant neat. Cut individual leaves or full stems as needed.
3. French Tarragon
French tarragon adds a subtle anise or licorice flavor to your dishes. Growing this herb indoors is simple and straightforward as long as you give it a happy environment.
- Soil: Dry, well-aerated soil with a pH of 6.5-7.5.
- Indoor Growing Potential: French tarragon is half-hardy, so it’s not very tolerant of cold temperatures. Make sure that your plant is in a warm spot in your home. It prefers temperatures near 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Tarragon grows best in lower light or diffused light environment. Keep your plant near any window that isn’t south-facing.
- Growing from Cuttings: To propagate French tarragon, root 6”-8″ stem cuttings in moist sand for four weeks.
- Harvesting: Hold each leaf by the tip and trim them at the base. Cut individual leaves instead of large clumps to maintain the health of the plant.
Mint is an herb that grows rapidly. In fact, mint can become invasive rather quickly. The plant is resilient and doesn’t require much sunlight – just three or four hours per day.
Mint is one of the easiest herbs to grow. So, if you’re new to indoor gardening, mint is a great candidate.
- Soil: A well-drained pot and standard commercial potting mix will work well. The soil should contain an equal amount of perlite, peat, and sand mixed in.
- Indoor Growing Potential: Indoor growing is ideal for this herb. Pests are less of an issue, and mint is hardy – so it is harder to kill. Temperatures should be around 65-70F. Three to four hours of light is more than sufficient.
- Growing from Cuttings: Mint grows well from cuttings. You’ll need to have a cutting that’s around 8cm in length to grow well. Stems will root in just a few weeks, and be sure to trim the top growth to reduce surface area.
- Harvesting: Since mint is such a vigorous grower, you can pick the leaves as needed. Newer leaves will have a stronger minty flavor.
Parsley is a versatile herb that’s a great addition to potatoes, pasta, and a number of other dishes.
With the right variety of parsley, you can grow this herb indoors with little issues.
Curly parsley is shorter and is easier for beginners. Flat-leaf parsley can grow quite well, but we would suggest growing multiple plants to have enough leaves for your recipes.
- Soil: Soil-less potting mix works best for parsley, which is a good option for any indoor garden. You’ll need to place the seeds around 1/4″ deep into the soil and around two inches apart for best results. Be sure to keep the soil moist for the best growth.
- Indoor Growing Potential: Growing parsley indoors will require the right soil and good watering, although the plant can persist in drought conditions. Parsley likes cooler conditions, so find a bright location, but avoid areas that get too warm.
- Growing from Cuttings: If you have a parsley plant or have a friend with a plant, you can use cuttings to grow your own. You need just 2.7 inches of a few leaves and place them in water. Within a few weeks, you’ll start to notice white roots sprouting.
- Growing from Seed: Parsley can be grown from seed indoors with a little extra effort, but you will need an additional light source.
- Harvesting: New parsley stems grow from the center, so harvest the outer more mature leaves first, letting the inner ones grow to maturity.
Tips for Growing in Low Light Conditions
Growing low light herbs is the best option if all you have no other lighting available to you. The good news is that a lot of herbs do well in these conditions, especially if you have a hydroponic garden.
A few of the tips to follow to grow herbs indoors with just natural sunlight.
- Choose the right herbs that thrive in low light
- Water your plants less frequently
- Fertilize only when plants need additional nutrients, if you fertilize too often, it could affect the taste of your herbs.
- Turn the plants regularly so each side gets enough sunlight
Your plants will demand less water and can thrive in these conditions under the right circumstances.
How to Tell If Your Herb Needs More Light
If your herbs need more light, they’ll often “give you a sign.” A few of the indicators that show herbs are in need of more light are:
- Yellowing of the herb
- Stunted growth
- Dullish color
- Stems that are elongated
When you notice your herbs giving you one of these signs, reposition the plant to a brighter location on your window sill. Then, watch to see the herb’s growth pattern, and make adjustments as necessary. Every herb is different, so you’ll find different herbs need higher or lower levels of light.
In some cases, you may eventually need to add an additional light source. Individual grow lights can be added to bring the herb back to its former glory.
Keep in mind that the sun is not as strong in the winter months. So a few of your herbs may stall growth in the winter season and become more vigorous in the warmer months. You can also transition some of these herbs to the outdoor garden in the spring.
If you plan on growing herbs that need more light, for example, basil, read our article on the best indoor herb kits and herb lights.
Which Herbs Will You Add to Your Indoor Garden This Year?
Growing herbs in the kitchen is a great option that allows you to add a bit of flavor to your food. They bring beauty, fragrance, and life to your home. Fresh herbs also have valuable nutrients that not only add flavor but can be a good source of vitamins and minerals.
Herbs can thrive in the right indoor conditions. So, why not add a few indoor herbs to your windowsill garden and bring a little joy to your kitchen today?