Nutrition Articles

How to Start an Indoor Herb Garden

Fresh, Fast Flavor from Your Own Windowsill

Do the changing seasons leave you a little wistful for summer’s wealth of fresh produce? Then keep the growing season going all year by starting an indoor herb garden! Even if you have little experience with plants or very little space to work with, an herb garden is the perfect way to bring a bit of Mother Nature into your home, no green thumb required! And growing your own herbs is much more convenient—and affordable—than buying them at the local grocery store.

Oregano, chives, mint, rosemary and thyme are commonly grown indoors, so pick a few of your favorites to begin. If you like to cook, you’ll love having fresh herbs right at your fingertips—just snip and sprinkle fresh chives on your steaming baked potato or add some pungent oregano to your special homemade spaghetti sauce.

To start your herb garden, you must have a sunny window available that receives at least five hours of sunlight per day. Most herbs hail from Mediterranean locales and need the light to thrive. Keep your home between 60º and 70º to create the ideal growing conditions.

While you can start your herbs from seed (more on that below), it’s easier to buy starter plants from a local nursery or farmers market. There are several types of containers you can use for the plants, but terracotta planters are very popular. Make sure your pots have drainage holes in the bottom so your herbs don’t rot. Keep a saucer or another similarly shaped item underneath to catch the excess water as it runs through. Whatever container you select should be deep enough to promote proper root development, ideally from 6-12 inches deep. You can plant multiple herbs in one container or select individual 6-inch pots for each plant.

Take care when selecting the type of soil for your herbs, as plants are very vulnerable to soil-born diseases. It’s a good idea to go with a store-bought potting mix. Your local gardening center can help you select the right one for your needs. Be sure the mix is lightweight and will drain well. Pour a two or three-inch layer of potting soil into the bottom of your container and place your plant gently in the container. Finish filling it with potting mix, pressing it firmly around the plants. Leave about an inch of space at the top to make room for watering.
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About The Author

Leanne Beattie Leanne Beattie
A freelance writer, marketing consultant and life coach, Leanne often writes about health and nutrition. See all of Leanne's articles.

Member Comments

  • It would be fun to have an herb garden, indoors or outside. Our windows don't get the right amount of light, because the house is really old. It's designed funny. - 4/4/2015 2:49:53 AM
  • Thanks for sharing! - 7/15/2013 7:09:39 AM
  • Lots of good tips here. Experience is the best teacher : ) Thanks - 7/12/2013 4:42:33 PM
    I wish I read your sight before I tried growing my own herb garden. I have learnt a lot and realised my mistakes as to why the herbs were dying on me. In the future I will buy plants from a local nursery or farm, in order to have drainage holes and have a large enough pot for root development. I was watering the herbs fairly regularly a day, which I thought would benefit them, however your blog has made me realised this is harmful and causes the roots to rot. I also had a strange ant and bug problem in relation to the herb garden in my home, is there a reason or prevention for this? - 5/1/2013 10:10:42 PM
  • Dill plants do not like the shock of being transplanted. I never could understand why they died. Read somewhere that dill should be started from seed and when I started doing this I had beautiful plants. - 3/12/2013 5:05:37 PM
    One way to help plants grown indoors in pots is to put a plastic bag over them. It keeps some moisture in, like a little greenhouse. To keep bugs away, you could use a little piece of nonwoven agricultural fabric like agribon. - 8/26/2012 9:39:14 AM
    Every time I have tried to raise indoor herbs I have an ant and bug problem?? How can this be prevented? - 8/25/2012 10:20:36 PM
  • I have learned a few things. I have tried several times to grow herb from seeds. No luck. This year bought them from a farmer's market. I have had most of them several months.(shock) However, I think I overwater some, and some of the pots didn't have the holes..
    My chives never did much. I have to cheat, and use a tool which tells approximately if the plant is dry, wet, or too wet. Now I know a few more things so I won't kill more plants. - 8/24/2012 9:22:01 PM
  • I would LOVE to grow herbs indoors! Unfortunately, I live in a very hot, dry part of the country. Has anyone had a success growing an indoor garden in the desert? If so, what did you plant? - 8/24/2012 12:34:11 PM
  • If you're wanting to start some seeds, don't you believe the line that some pots are too large for starting seeds, to use a peat pot instead. If you have a peat pot in which to start your seeds, go ahead.

    But if you don't, consider seeds in nature. All those herbs have one thought in mind, to grow, flower and produce seeds which get blown around and "planted" in the biggest pot imaginable: the earth. If you are kind enough to start them in a big pot, they won't mind. They will thank you for it. In fact, put a seed from 4 different herbs in the pot and have a mixture later. - 8/24/2012 11:07:20 AM
  • WRIPTW91
    I've been fairly successful at this, but always have trouble with the cilantro.
    Guess I'll just keep having to but a whole bunch every time a recipe calls for a smatt handful.
    - 8/24/2012 10:59:15 AM
  • Seriously, who keeps their home between 60 degrees and 70 degrees? I'm freezing all the time at 74 degrees to 76 degrees (hubby's preferred temps). Most of the other information is good, but I find it best to grow the herbs outside, harvesting regularly to keep them growing nice & full. Then, before the first frost cut the plant all the way down, hang upside down to dry. Once dry I crumble, grind and/or powder the dried herbs, and they're ready for use in the winter. In the spring I just plant more and begin again. - 8/24/2012 9:52:52 AM
    I grew mine in a 10 gallon fish tank from a garage sale. I didn't get the hood for it so I made one to insert a grow light into. I put about 2 inches of rocks, gravel in the bottom then the dirt. I water it with some of the water from my big fresh water fish tank, then give them clean water. Basil cilantro and parsley did great, Rosemary and oregano didn't. I also tried lettuce and carrots. Lettuce grew thin and weak and went to seed. Carrots grew but never produced a carrot.
    If I did it again I would use a 20 gallon tank. Make sure you put it on a sturdy support where you want it to stay. It is very heavy. Mine is by a window. It doesn't require a lot of water because of the hood. There are some beautiful terrariums for sale on the internet. Enjoy! - 8/24/2012 8:22:22 AM
    I feel like I'm a good gardener, but I have NEVER successfully grown herbs indoors. You really have to have a very (extremely) sunny window and even then you have to rotate the plant because it will start to lean over since plants stretch towards the sun. - 8/24/2012 7:45:17 AM
  • Thanks for the info just what I was looking for. - 3/13/2011 3:30:34 PM

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