There’s nothing quite like walking out to your garden to grab a sprig of fresh rosemary or even grabbing a few leaves of basil from the small pot on your kitchen windowsill. When they are available, fresh herbs add a delightful burst of fresh flavor to any meal, and are even lovely when used as a garnish! Whether you’ve had a garden for years or you are convinced you just weren’t born with a green thumb, there are herbs that everyone can grow right in their own home!
One of the best things about herbs is that you don’t need a garden or a large yard to grow them. Herbs can be grown in a small pot right on your windowsill! Once you learn the proper amount of sunlight and water that herbs need to flourish, you’ll be able to grow your own fresh herbs in no time.
Once you get the hang of it, growing anything from seed is very simple. But if you’ve never had your own garden or had any luck tending to plants, it’s much easier to start with pre-potted plants. Any garden store (or even many supermarkets!) sell pre-potted herbs that you can take home and start using immediately. If you’re unsure of your ability to take care of multiple types of herbs at once, try purchasing a few small pots of the same herb and experimenting with different amounts of sunlight and water to find the perfect combination. Once you feel confident with that, branch out to a few other types of herbs!
Choosing the Right Pot
If you’re planting indoors, you can choose to grow your herbs in a window box, a grow bag, or a traditional pot. All of these can be good choices, as long as they all have proper drainage. If the pot you choose doesn’t properly drain water, your plant will drown.
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Grow bags are a good choice because the plant doesn’t become “root bound” – which is when the roots become too large for the pot the plant is in and begin to circle around the pot. In turn, the plant becomes structurally damaged and cannot easily get water and nutrients. In grow bags, which are made of a breathable fabric, the plant will reach air at the edge of the bag and naturally prune itself. However, these bags can be messy indoors if you don’t have them placed over a proper drainage area.
Most store-bought herbs are bought in either window boxes or pots, which are good choices for the beginner grower. If the plant looks as though it is getting too big for its pot, transfer it into a larger one to promote proper growth.
Plan on watering your herbs every day. In the summer months, it is better to do this in the evening rather than in the heat of the day. If you’re using a pot, try placing it on a small saucer. Pour water directly into the soil (not onto the leaves of the plant), until the soil is moist throughout but not soaking wet. Any excess water will leak out of the bottom of the pot onto the saucer.
Here Comes the Sun
Sunlight is very important for herbs grown indoors. When choosing a proper spot, try placing them in a sunny spot near a window that gets at least 6 hours of sunlight per day. The best windows are those that are facing south or southwest. You can choose windows that are facing east or west as well, but north-facing windows typically don’t let in enough sunlight for herbs to properly grow.
Taking Care of Herbs
Keeping your herbs well-pruned (cutting off leaves and parts of stems) can help them continue growing and producing properly. Leafy herbs such as basil will start to flower and die back if left unpruned. By pinching off flowers that begin to grow, you’ll encourage more leaf growth. If the plant begins to get too tall, try pinching off leaves from the top to promote a bushier shape.1
Woodier herbs such as rosemary will become too woody with age, and will no longer produce any leaves. You should always cut off any shoots that are yellowing or no longer producing any leaves. To create a bushier plant, try trimming off the top one to two inches of the plant. This will cause the branch to split and can be helpful for growing woody herbs in a more confined space.2
Always give your herbs proper space to grow. If you have a window box and the herbs seem to be crowding each other, move one to its own pot! Otherwise, the roots won’t have room to grow and will no longer get the proper amount of water and nutrients.
Easy Herbs to Begin With
Most herbs can be grown indoors year-round! Some easy herbs to start with are chives, mint, parsley, thyme, rosemary, oregano, cilantro, and basil. Start with one or two of your favorite herbs and branch out from there. You’ll have your own successful indoor herb garden in no time!
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