Growing Indoors: Year-Round Herbs
Who wouldn’t appreciate a windowsill of fresh herbs? Whether you’re a city dweller or situated in the suburbs, all it takes is a little sunshine, a splash of education and a bit of determination to have herbs ready for use in only a few weeks. As any gardener will tell you, growing isn’t easy. It’s inevitable that you’ll kill off a few plants before getting the hang of it. In spirit, we’ve broken down which herbs to grow from simple to difficult so the clueless as well as the green thumb guru can experience the same satisfaction.
- Bay Tree
- Kaffir Lime Tree
- Vietnamese Coriander
Let There Be Light
Light is the most important aspect of growing indoor herbs, and many people don't have enough. Most experts agree that 6 to 8 hours of light per day is optimal. A southwestern-facing window is your best bet for good light. But if you can’t get natural sunshine, pick up a few clamp-on reflector lights with compact fluorescent bulbs. They should be placed very close to the plants, about 4 to 6 inches away. There are also light fixtures that mount under a kitchen cabinet if you want to have herbs on the counter. The bottom line is, no plant will thrive if you can't give it enough light.
Though rare, if you see brown spots on the foliage that’s a sign that your herbs are getting too much light and essentially burning. If the plants are growing longer stems and fewer leaves, then they're not getting enough light and are stretching to find more. Add supplemental light or move them to a place that receives more natural light.
Water You Waiting For?
Herbs don't need that much water. Over-watering is the biggest mistake people make trying to grow herbs indoors.
When to Water
A good rule of (green) thumb is to let all the herbs dry out completely. It could take anywhere from a few days to well over a week before you need to water. Water the base where the stem meets the dirt, not the leaves; let the water soak through. Then soak the plants again. Let them drain completely and put them back in their saucers. You can water in the morning and let the plants drain while you're at work. Never leave standing water in the saucer or you'll rot the plant's roots.
Tips + Tricks
- Your pots must have drainage holes - terracotta pots are the best to use because they breathe
2. For individual herbs, the pots should be no smaller than 6 inches in diameter. To grow multiple herbs together, you'll want to put two or three in a pot that is about 10 inches in diameter and about 8 inches deep 3. High-quality organic potting soil with good drainage is a must - Don’t just take a shovel of dirt from outside and put it in a pot. You'll bring in all the organisms that are balanced by nature but won't be under indoor growing conditions 4. Buy baby plants not seeds. Growing from seeds is harder. When you're buying plants to grow indoors, buy an herb that's never been planted outside; changing the environment can be traumatic for the plant.
5. Rotate your pots every week so they don't lean 6. Cutting your herbs encourages growth. But don't cut more than a third off 7. Herbs need good air circulation–stagnant air promotes fungal disease. You can combat this by putting your pots on a large tray covered in pebbles so that air can circulate up through the drainage holes If you're having trouble, don't be afraid to go to a local nursery and talk to a pro - they'll know your climate best and will able to make great recommendations to get you on the right track.