Grow Your Own Herbs: Planting Herbs Indoors

Grow your own herbs indoors, and help satisfy the craving for an early spring and provide culinary additions year round.

| February/March 2001

Whether you live in an apartment or house, in the long chilly winters of the North or the deep summer heat of the South, you can always grow your own herbs indoors to satisfy your craving for fresh herbs. Tender perennials such as bay and lemon verbena can live on in the controlled environment of your home, and a bush brimming with fresh basil leaves provides year-round culinary excitement. Other favorites such as rosemary, thyme, and oregano can be grown indoors as well. Although indoor herbs will usually be less productive than those grown outdoors, they’ll still give you plenty of fabulous flavor right at your fingertips, and you won’t have to worry about unpredictable spring or autumn frosts, marauding rabbits, or other outdoor hazards.

Some herbs such as caraway and chervil, are difficult to grow inside, but a surprising number of other herbs that will thrive given a little extra attention and the proper conditions, which include the right potting mix, fertilization, water, temperature, and light. To ensure success when you grow your own herbs indoors, it’s usually best to start with plants rather than seeds. Buying plants instead of seeds will put you months ahead (sometimes even a year), and you’ll know what you’re getting. Starting such a project in spring allows you to take advantage of increasing light as well as sales at your local garden center.

Picking the Right Herb Container 

Anything from decorative ceramic pots and galvanized metal buckets to common plastic pots can be used as long as they provide adequate drainage. If your favorite decorative pot lacks necessary drainage holes, drill some or transplant your herb to a slightly smaller plastic container with holes that will fit inside it. Choose the largest pot possible to provide more room for growing roots, which will give you a bigger plant to harvest from.

Like any container-grown plant, herbs need a fast-draining potting mix to provide oxygen and prevent root rot. Garden soil just won’t cut it as it is heavy and compacts when used in containers. Look for a premium or professional mix that includes ingredients such as perlite or vermiculite to help loosen and aerate the final mix. I usually start with a high-quality potting mix, then add nutrient-rich compost or earthworm castings along with extra perlite or vermiculite.

Where to Plop Your Plants 

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