If you regularly purchase fresh herbs at the grocery store, growing them in your own home can be a convenient, economical, and fun way to ensure you always have some on hand whenever you need. Besides, how pretty would they look dressing up on your kitchen windowsill?
Why You Should Grow an Indoor Herb Garden
Not everyone has the space to create an herb garden in their backyard, but luckily you can grow herbs in small pots and let them soak up the light on a sunny windowsill inside. Most herbs are relatively low maintenance to grow and can thrive indoors throughout the winter, but some are easier to maintain. Does your home get a lot of south-facing sunlight? Is it kept relatively warm in the winter? If yes, your house might be the perfect environment for an indoor herb garden.
If you plan on harvesting herbs to add flavor to your recipes, your primary consideration should, of course, be what you and your family like to consume on a frequent basis. There’s no point in growing cilantro if you don’t enjoy cilantro. On the other hand, if you’re growing herbs purely for decorative purposes, their appearance should be the driving factor. If that’s the case, you might choose a beautiful, leafy mint or sage plant over plainer-looking chives. These plants are also the best-smelling herbs to grow indoors—each has its own distinct scent that can naturally make your home smell wonderful.
Let’s look at the seven best herbs to grow indoors and the conditions and requirements for each. Most herbs, unless otherwise indicated, should be watered about once a week, or whenever the top layer of soil feels dry to the touch. Keep them in a pot that’s about an inch wider on all sides than the width of the plant itself, and that has drainage holes at the base.
Types of Herbs to Grow Indoors
It really doesn’t get any easier than sturdy and dependable chives when growing herbs indoors. This milder member of the onion family doesn’t care about sitting on a cold windowsill in the middle of winter (although they won’t grow as abundantly under those conditions as during the summer). And maintaining the slim, grass-like stalks is a cinch—all you must do is cut off their tops so that you keep them at about six inches tall.
Light conditions: They enjoy about 4 to 6 hours of full sun exposure. Make sure to rotate the plant when the leaves start to look uneven.
Whether you opt for the curly or flat-leaf variety, this super-versatile cooking ingredient is a hardy plant that tends to grow quickly, so it’s a good choice for raising indoors. Your plant won’t be as healthy without direct sun exposure, but it won’t die either. Harvest your parsley by cutting the outside stems down to the soil line rather than snipping off the tops of the stems.
Light conditions: Parsley requires warmth: 65 to 70 degrees F is best. It’ll fare well with about 6 hours of full sunlight.
Prized for its invigorating fragrance, fresh, cool taste, and lush, good looks, mint makes for a bountiful and attractive houseplant. Because it’s fast-growing, trim your mint regularly, cutting just above a set of leaves to maintain a bushy appearance. If your mint is kept too moist, it may develop a fungal disease that manifests as white or brown spots on the leaves.
Light conditions: Mint likes bright, indirect light. Consider using a grow light to give it some extra sun, or it’ll start to look pale and stretched out (as it strains toward the closest source of light). It also thrives in temperatures above 65 degrees F.
Known for its strong aroma and intense taste, sage has beautiful, fuzzy leaves in a silvery shade of green and an overall attractive shape. It’s also a robust plant to grow indoors. It doesn’t require too much water (excessive moisture will cause it to rot). But its leaves won’t wilt to reveal anything wrong until it’s too late, so it’s good to be mindful of how much you are watering—the soil should be moist but never saturated and should only be watered when dry.
Light conditions: Sage requires 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight daily, with the ideal temperature between 65- and 70 degrees F. If your home doesn’t get that much light, this herb responds well to a grow light.
With a polarizing flavor that tastes bright and citrusy for some and soapy for others, cilantro may not be for everyone. This herb grows fast, which means it can get out of control quickly. When raising it indoors, it’s important to keep harvesting the leaves, pinching them at the growing tips, to prevent the stalks from becoming too tall and spindly. Ensure the soil stays moist but avoid overwatering cilantro because its limited root system can’t handle too much moisture.
Light conditions: Cilantro likes at least 6 hours of full to partial sunlight and a temperature of 65 to 70 degrees F. You can supplement with a grow light, if necessary.
With large sweet yet pungent leaves, basil tends to proliferate quickly, but only under the right conditions. You might find that the basil you couldn’t keep from exploding during the summer becomes listless in the winter.
When the temperatures drop, avoid placing the plant too close to the chill of a windowpane, and supplement the sun exposure with a grow light. If too many stalks are starting to crowd the pot, remove new seedlings by snipping them down to the soil line.
Light conditions: It enjoys at least 6 hours of full sun exposure and a room temperature of at least 70 degrees F.
This Mediterranean herb that looks like pine needles has a woody scent and flavor that chefs love. Rosemary prefers to absorb moisture through its foliage than its roots, so you can go for longer than a week without watering it. Instead, mist the green parts with water.
Light conditions: Give it about 6 hours of full sun. If that’s not available, you’ll have to use a grow light, or the plant won’t survive indoors. It appreciates warm temps (above 70 degrees F) and dry soil.
With minimal effort, you can maintain herbs in your home year-round and enjoy the flavors they offer whenever you want. The most difficult part may be choosing which ones to grow!