Regardless of the weather outside, parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme can bring beauty and fragrance to your home anytime of the year. Fresh herbs liven up your recipes with little effort and oh so much pleasure! Just a few pots, a bright windowsill and a little attention will keep your herbs happy for months to come.
(Editor's Note: This article was originally published on December 4, 2007. Your comments are welcome, but please be aware that authors of previously published articles may not be able to respond to your questions.)
The first, and one of the most important things to consider, is drainage. Be sure that the pot has sufficient drainage holes as most herbs don't like to have wet feet. The soil should be a quality grade potting soil that drains well. Never use garden soil, it will become too compact for the roots to grow through easily. An organic potting mix is ideal if you will be using the herbs for cooking.
Light is an important factor to consider as well. A garden window would be ideal, but you can make do with a sunny windowsill, preferably with a south facing exposure. Most herbs are happy with six or more hours of sunlight a day. If you cannot provide adequite light, a grow light can be installed for little money. Most garden centers or hardware stores carry a variety of artificial lighting to suit your needs.
Water your plants when the top of the soil feels dry. Although herbs don't require much fertilizer when grown outdoors, they will appreciate an occasional feeding, especially during the growing season. An organic fertilizer would be preferable.
Herbs should grow well in temperatures that are comfortable for people. Most herbs are very forgiving and will tolerate differences in light and temperature if they are not extreme.
Some varieties adjust better than others to growing indoors, so it is important before buying plants or seeds, that you read the label to see if that plant will do well indoors. You may also want to consider the size that the plant will become as you won't want a large bush taking over your kitchen! Most herbs don't mind being a bit crowded in the pot, the size of the pot will curb the growth to an extent. Mint, chives, thyme, rosemary and oregano are good plants to consider growing indoors.
Winter doesn't have to mean the end of your outdoor herb garden either. Many smaller herbs can be potted up and brought indoors for the winter. This may require some adjustment, such as to light and temperature. Be sure to clean up the plant and check for pests before bringing them indoors. If the plant is too large, as is my 5'x6' rosemary bush, you can take cuttings and place them in a loose potting soil. Mist the cuttings often to provide the moisture the plant needs to start rooting. Many herbs such as basil, mint and rosemary can be easily be rooted in water.
Growing herbs indoors can be rewarding and enjoyable and anyone can do it, so give it a try!
Thanks to Weezingreens and julie88 for the use of their pictures.
About Karen Jones
I live in the mountains of San Diego county in a tiny rural town. I inherited a love for gardening from my mother and use herbs and flowers from my garden to make bath products.