Imagine the taste of fresh oregano in your signature pasta sauce, or roasted root vegetables enhanced with the warm flavor of fresh thyme. Fresh, fragrant herbs can infuse your favorite foods with added flavor and depth. Grow your own indoors, and they'll be ready and waiting all year round. All you need is a container and a sunny space.
To get your green thumb ready, we have a few tips to get you started:
Pick Your Growing Spot
Take a look at the layout of your home or apartment, and choose an open space near a sunny window that offers good air circulation. Windows facing south are ideal because they give plants sunlight exposure throughout the day, and most herbs need at least 6 hours a day to thrive. The room temperature should stay between 60°F and 75°F and have some humidity (a nearby dish filled with water and marbles or stones can help).
If you don't have a suitable spot with natural light, grow lights (found at most garden and home improvement stores) will work as well. Experts recommend turning them on from 12 to 16 hours per day.
Plants or Seeds?
Often, it's easier to start with plants, which are available seasonally at garden centers, grocery stores and even online retailers. You can also choose to start with seeds. It might take a little longer to get your garden growing, but you'll be able to choose from a wider range of plant varieties and the cost is lower, too.
Decide What to Grow
Some herbs love the container life and grow readily indoors. Compact varieties of parsley, chives, rosemary, mint, oregano, lemongrass and thyme are all good choices for an indoor garden, and will give you plenty of fresh flavors to utilize every time you cook.
Basil can also be grown indoors, but needs more light: 8 to 10 hours per day. If your garden won't be complete without a basil plant or two, try planting a variety such as Spicy Globe that is more tolerant of indoor growing conditions yet still retains the classic aroma and flavor.
Container & Soil Considerations
Plant herbs in individual pots, or group them together in a longer windowsill container with a drainage hole. Use a good-quality potting soil with added fertilizer and added vermiculite or perlite for improved water drainage. And be careful to give each plant enough room to grow – the plant description or seed packet should offer spacing recommendations for best results.
Water & Watch Them Grow
When it comes to water, different herbs have different needs. A good rule of thumb is to water after the soil surface becomes dry to the touch. Wilting is a (dangerous) sign of under-watering, while yellow leaves indicate over-watering. Once or twice a week, turn your plants to keep them growing evenly.