You’ll be pleased to know that most herbs can be grown inside the house, and we love how you can have these right at your fingertips to not only use but to fill your home with greenery and fresh smells; what more could you want!
Rosemary, thyme, basil, chives, mint, Oregano and parsley are the hardiest of the herbs and will thrive the best inside your home; you can read more about each herb in our Kitchen Garden section…
General tips for Growing Herbs in your home
Although below, there are more specific tips related to certain herbs, and we’re sorry if the herb you’re planning on growing isn’t featured here. This article is a more general guide on herbs inside your home.
When there is less daylight sun in the winter months, it is unlikely that your herbs will grow – in replacement for this, buying a grow light or led light could be a good option until spring has arrived!
Growing Herbs – Location & Light
Herbs will typically need and want a lot of sunlight. We would suggest for them to survive, they will need…
- At least six hours of sunlight each day.
- Located in a south-facing window; if you can try to plant this as close to the window as possible but try to ensure that the leaves are not touching the glass as this could result in them burning.
- Due to lack of light they will not like to situated in the centre of a room or a north-facing window.
- If you plan to plant under a light place your herbs within a foot of the bulbs (always check the light instructions). Recommend leaving these on to start with for 12 hours and adjusting from then.
- Please give them a bit of breathing room and try to avoid overcrowding your herbs together.
- They need to have good air circulation but diseases are more likely to spread quicker and easier if they are close together.
- Try to avoid planting near drafts as even a small amount of cold temperatures can kill them off.
Growing Herbs – Watering
Despite all the sunlight your herbs love and need, you will be surprised to know they won’t require too much water. A good rule of thumb is to keep the soil moist constantly but ensuring it is not waterlogged.
If you notice that the leaves are turning yellow, then it is likely you are overwatering. A slight drizzle from a watering can is the perfect amount, no more than twice-three times a week. In hotter climates, you may find your container herbs will need daily watering. However, do not let your herbs dry out completely. By sticking your fingers around 2inches, check if the soil is dry; this is a good indication of when you need to water.
Probably one of the best ways to water your herbs is to move the plant into your sink, turn on the water and place it under. Let the water flush through the soil and exit through the drainage holes, then allow it to drain and put back in its original position fully; some people do this 2-3 times.
We would also suggest misting your herbs once a week or setting them on a tray of pebbles to keep humidity levels up. Try to avoid pouring the water over the leaves canopies and leaving them soaking wet as this can influence fungal diseases; instead, gently water directly onto the soil or mulch.
Growing Herbs – Food
During active growing seasons, which is during the summer months, we would suggest fertilising once a week. During the slower-growing months, feed your herbs once a month. Good options of fertilisers are seaweed extracts and fish emulsion.
Growing Herbs – Temperature
65-70 degrees is the ideal temperature to grow your herbs. Some herbs will require a dormant period where the temperature is 60-65 degrees.
Growing Herbs – Harvesting
You have a few methods for harvesting your herbs; most methods can be used for all herbs, but be sure to check out some different specifics in the harvesting section for each.
Growing Herbs – Drying
One method is to hand the sprigs in a dark, warm and well-ventilated area when drying herbs. You can also dry leaves on a tray; this should take roughly a day, but be sure to check before moving onto the next step.
Once these are thoroughly dried, store them in an airtight container or bag, crushing before use. If completed under suitable conditions, most herbs can retain flavour for two years.
Growing Herbs – Freezing & Storing
Freezing is a great option, always wash the leaves and dry out on a clean paper towel or air dry. Strip the leaves off and place them into an airtight bag. If you keep your herb in the fridge instead for best results, ensure you use it within 1-2 days.
Storing in a bottle of white/balsamic vinegar or olive oil: Again, wash and dry the sprigs and place them in a bottle with your choice of liquid. As long as the herb oil/vinegar stays covered, it will last. Ensure the herbs are not exposed to air; otherwise, they can develop mould.
Freezing in an ice cube tray: To complete this method, add either water or oil to an ice cube tray, and again you will need to wash and strip the leaf. We would suggest a couple of leaves cut up per cube, but this is dependent on how strong you like this flavour in the recipes.
Choosing the correct pot for your Indoor herbs
When choosing your pot for your indoor herb garden, there are three main factors to watch out for;
Drainage is vital in growing your herbs; they do not like standing in water, potentially leading to root rot. You will need to ensure that your pot has sufficient drainage and the bottom. We would also suggest having a saucer/tray for your herb(s) to sit on; this will protect your pot’s surface, allowing excess water to flow onto it.
Before adding your herbs and soil into the pot, we would always suggest testing how quick/slow the drainage is. If it has slow drainage, it would be good to add pebbles to the bottom of the pot so that your plant roots are not standing in water.
Pot Size and Material
The size of the pot you choose is also good to mention. Make sure that you select a container your plant fits in. The smaller the pot, the sooner you will have to repot, and this can cause growth to be stunted; in contrast, if you choose a pot too big, it will be harder to keep the soil evenly moist.
Likewise, the plant pot material should be considered based on the humidity of your home. If you have a drier environment in your home, we suggest using a ceramic pot; these will hold the water better than clay or porous pot that dries out faster.
Be mindful when choosing the soil for your herbs. You will want to ensure that it is rich in organic material. Using good quality potting soil should be sufficient, but avoid using soil from the garden. Check out below the perfect soil for growing specific herbs.
Unlike in the garden, we would suggest not planting multiple different hers in one container. It is hard to create a perfect environment for all of them. Therefore it is best to plant in multiple containers and create the ideal conditions and ideal environment for specific herbs.
What to look for when buying herbs
You will most likely buy herbs from a supermarket that mass produces basil, parsley, mint, and Rosemary. The opposite end of the spectrum is a specialist nursery stocking many cultivators from one or two genera; happily in the middle are garden centres. So wherever you decide to shop, here are a few tips for you.
- Try searching for the younger or healthier looking plants. Its foliage should be clean unstained and free of excessive damage. Clean pots indicate young plants grown in uncongested places with room to grow.
- Be sure to feel the compost it should be moist but not waterlogged and the surface should also be weed-free. Another good way to test this is by removing the herb from the pot; it should be easy to remove without damaging the roots.
- You will want to pick a herb with a good root ball; it should be easy to remove from its pot without damaging the plant or its roots. Check to ensure it is pest-free and has fine coarse roots. Herbs are susceptible to pests such as aphids or spider mites. Aphids will create sticky droppings around the plant whilst spider mites make fine webs on or around the leaves.
What to avoid when buying herbs
- You will want to avoid buying small plants potted in pots that are too large for them; these are typically ones that have recently been potted and not of the best value.
- If you notice that the plant looks tired wilted or has matted roots growing through the drainage holes.
- You will want to avoid a herb with bad roots; these will be congested and hard to remove from their pots.
- Also avoid leggy plants; these indicate having low lighting and grown in a crowded area these will typically be cheap and you should avoid buying unless you want to nurse back to a healthy state.
Growing Rosemary inside your Home
Growing Rosemary indoors is very handy for those who do not have any outdoor space and those who get good light in their kitchens – ease of access to grab a handful of Rosemary when it’s right next to you!
It smells incredible, tastes fantastic, and it’s also an excellent looking herb if we do say so ourselves. Although keeping this herb inside your home isn’t plain sailing, it’s more challenging inside the home; nonetheless doable! They require more tending to and attention.
Growing Rosemary – Location & Light
This Mediatarran herb is drought tolerant and will thrive best inside your home in a south or west-facing window; a windowsill would be a great option.
Morning sun is preferable, and the best motto is ‘the more. Light is always right; you will notice leaves dropping if your Rosemary is not getting enough light, so keep an eye on this telltale sign. Try to avoid having it overcrowded by other plants.
Growing Rosemary – Watering
People tend to make a prevalent mistake with Rosemary of underwatering; although they derive from the Mediterranean, they do not like to be left to dry out completely.
It is best to keep the soil evenly moist by checking on it every couple of days – the best way to do this is by touching the top of the soil. If the top of the soil is dry, it’s best to water.
In between watering, we would recommend misting – they are commonly known as the “upside-down” plant, meaning that they prefer to absolve water through the air! We would suggest every ten days giving your Rosemary a mist between watering.
Growing Rosemary – Food / Feeding
If your Rosemary is in a pot, it will typically not need fertilising, much like watering too much overfeeding will cause death. We suggested only really using when growth has become stunted or if the plant looks pale green; this should be a slow-releasing pellet-type product.
Too little amount of fertiliser is better than too much! Ensure to apply the fertiliser to the soil and not onto the leaves, and also water after.
Growing Rosemary – Temperature
Now Rosemary’s aren’t too hard when it comes to temperature; try to ensure it is away from cold drafts. For best growth, soil temperature should be around 21 degrees.
Growing Rosemary – Soil
A loamy soil that, like most other herbs, has good drainage. Your Rosemary will appreciate a soil pH of neutral to acidic. This is typically the best soil preferences that Rosemary will grow best in.
Growing Rosemary – Harvesting
As Rosemary grows most actively during the spring and summer months, this is an excellent month to harvest, but cutting these will also help with encouraging growth.
You will want to look for leaves longer than 8 inches long and ensure only to cut off the top 2 inches.
Rosemary is excellent for freezing, always wash the leaves and either let them dry out on a clean paper towel or air dry. Strip the leaves off and place them into an airtight bag.
If you keep your Rosemary in the fridge for best results, ensure you use it within 1-2 days.
Freezing in an ice cube tray is also a great option, especially as these can easily be added into soups or sauces where the rosemary flavour will taste fresher. To complete this method, add either water or oil to an ice cube tray, and again you will need to wash and strip the Rosemary. We would suggest a couple of leaves cut up per cube, but this is dependent on how strong you like this flavour in the recipes.
Storing in a bottle of white/balsamic vinegar or olive oil, wash and dry the rosemary sprigs and place them in a bottle with your choice of liquid. You can also add other infusions such as fresh garlic or peppercorn. As long as the rosemary oil/vinegar stays covered, it will last and not be exposed to air; otherwise, it can develop mould.
Growing Rosemary – Bringing indoors
When it comes to moving your potted Rosemary that has been outside all Summer into your home for the colder, frosty months – fall and winter, you will want first to put your Rosemary on a sunlight diet.
Simply moving it into the shade for a few hours a day will gradually accustom it to the reduced light inside. Once brought indoors, keep on a windowsill that has full sun!
Growing Thyme (Thymus vulgaris) inside your home
Provided your thyme gets a good amount of light and soil drainage, it can be one of the easiest herbs to grow indoors. A perennial herb that is not only perfect for food, but we love the smell of thyme growing in our kitchen!
We would suggest using a clay pot for potting your thyme; this will ensure that it dries out between waterings and prevents root rot from overwatering.
Growing Thyme – Location & Light
Thyme can tolerate indirect light; however, it ideally will need six to eight hours of daylight for the best results. It can either be placed in a southern or western facing window making it one of the perfect herbs to grow indoors.
Growing Thyme – Watering
Thyme is naturally drought-resistant, so it’s always best to underwater rather than overwater. When watering, it’s best to soak the soil thoroughly, let it completely dry out before watering again. Avoid letting it sit in water as this can cause root rot.
Growing Thyme – Food / Feeding
It’s a good idea to feed your plant every 2-4 weeks; avoid feeding in winter when growth is not as active. Use a weak liquid-based fertiliser, and you can also further dilute the strength to lower the strength.
Growing Thyme – Temperature
During the daytime, you will want to ensure that the temperature is around 16 degrees (60F) or higher.
Growing Thyme – Soil
Your thyme will appreciate a well-mixed soil with sand, potting soil and peat moss; adding perlite to this mixture will also provide adequate nutrients and help with drainage.
You will want to ensure the soil is well-drained, and they prefer neutral to alkaline soil.
Growing Thyme – Harvesting
When cutting thyme, this should be completed during the late Summer to early autumn. However, if you notice your thyme has plenty of foliage before this, you can cut off the stems, rinse them, pick off each leaf, or push the leaves off by running your index finger and thumb down the stem.
If you plan to use it straight away, chop it up and add it to your dishes. Thyme leaves can also be dried; this method is done by spreading the leaves on a cooking sheet and placing them in a warm, dry area. It would be best if you aimed to leave this in the spot for roughly a day.
Equally, once you have picked off the leaves and washed them, please place them in a moist paper towel, place them inside an airtight bag to store in your fridge. Freshly cut thyme stored in the refrigerator should be wrapped up tightly; it should last for one to two weeks.
Growing Basil (Ocimum basilicum) inside your home
Basil is beautiful to grow herbs to grow inside, and we love having it handy to add to our tomato pasta. Not only this, but they are relatively easy to grow indoors, providing you give them more than enough light and the proper care.
It would be best if you got a deep pot for your basil as they have deep roots; also, ensure that the pot has good drainage; basil is not tolerant of water stress.
Growing Basil – Location & Light
Location wise your basil need plenty of sun and warmth. If your windowsill is typically cooler, has a draft, or at night temperature drops considerably; it will not thrive being placed here and cause the leaves to droop and fade after a short amount of time.
Basil plants will appreciate a minimum of four hours of full sun, and as plants grow, rotate the pot around to have equal growth on each side and leaning towards one side. If you use fluorescent bulbs, keep these on for 12 hours, ensuring that the lights are kept about 2-4 inches away from the plant. If the leaves touch the bulb, this could burn them!
Growing Basil – Watering
Like most herbs, keep your basil moist, but ensure it’s not soaking wet. They will not enjoy going to bed at night with wet leaves, so it’s best to water in the morning before they are in direct sunlight if you notice the leaves wilting water as soon as you can. Basil plants enjoy being misted frequently.
Growing Basil – Food / Feeding
Your indoor Basil plant will require feeding, dependent on a few factors, such as the variety and purpose. If you notice that leaves turn a pale green colour, it’s a good idea to start using liquid fertiliser.
Organic fertiliser is the best option if you are using your basil for food; this will benefit the pH levels in the soil.
Growing Basil – Temperature
Basil are very particular when it comes to the temperature they like, and they love the warmth. Ideally, they would prefer 27-30 degrees both day and night.
But, if they get too cold, they will let you know by their leaves wilting and discolouring within 24 hours. Basil will not like becoming too dry.
Growing Basil – Soil
Basil will thrive indoors with a loose, rich, fertile and well-drained dry potting mix; they will typically grow in anything. A neutral pH is the best option.
Growing Basil – Harvesting
Basil is well known for freezing well; although it can shrink slightly, it should still be treated the same when added to recipes. To freeze basil, remove leaves from the stems, safely place them in boiling water or steam (this method is known as blanching), and then put into cold running water, halting the cooking process.
Dry these completely before place into an airtight container or freezer bag separating layers with wax paper. Another good option that adds a small touch of basil flavour, but without overpowering other flavours in your cooking, is preserving in oil.
You will again need to blanch your basil leaves and then place them into a blender or food processor; add one or two cups of olive oil, and ½ a teaspoon of salt per cup of basil. Pulse until blended, then either strain the mixture or leave as it is for a stronger flavour.
Store in a glass in the refrigerator and try to use it within the week; equally, you can freeze in ice cube trays.
Growing Chives (Allium schoenoprasum) inside your home
Chives are a super easy plant to grow indoors over winter. They tolerate the lower light of the winter sun and typical temperature fluctuations that they may experience on a kitchen windowsill.
With a mild onion taste, they are a great culinary herb to grow; although not as easy as growing outside, they will thrive inside.
Again we would recommend using a clay pot, but a pot with good drainage will suffice. They will thrive well in small containers, which makes them a popular choice for gardeners.
Growing Chives – Location & Light
Chives will appreciate a lot of sunlight, a sunny south side window where they will receive up to six to eight hours of full daylight, ensuring to rotate the pot, so growth is even all around.
Your Chives will also appreciate good humidity and also ensure they have good air circulation. By adding pebbles to a tray filled with water or misting regularly can help prevent low humidity.
If you place under a light, it will need to stay under this for roughly 12-14 hours a day, positioned roughly around 6-12 inches away from the light.
Growing Chives – Watering
Chives should be kept evenly moist but will not like to sit in water, although they are more tolerant of wet conditions than others. They do grow best when watered frequently, in which having good drainage is necessary.
A good rule of thumb is to check the top of the soil, and if this is dry, then this is a good time to water. If you notice the tips of the leaves turning yellow, then it is too dry.
Growing Chives – Food
In the darkest winter periods, your chives will grow at a much slower rate; this is an excellent time to feed your chives lightly. We would recommend diluted fish emulsion fertiliser which will give your chives a boost.
If you over-fertilise or use a heavy dose, this can weaken the taste of your chives, therefore use a low dose or a water-soluble at half the strength and only apply twice a month.
Growing Chives – Temperature
The ideal temperature for chives is anywhere between 18 to 21 degrees.
Growing Chives – Soil
Your chives will love rich, well-drained soil. Although they are more tolerant of wet conditions than others, they will need heavy soil.
Chives will appreciate it being chalky, loamy, clay or sandy soil with a neutral pH. Ensure you do not use garden soil as this will not suffice.
Growing Chives – Harvesting
You can harvest chives whenever they are ready, however, do not start this process until they are at least 6 inches tall, always cut 2 inches above the soil line so they can grow back.
Like most, chives taste best when picked fresh, but they can also be frozen and dried. When freezing, they can lose their colour and flavour, always wash the leaves and dry out on a clean paper towel or air dry.
Strip the leaves off and place them into an airtight bag. If you keep your Chives in the fridge, use them within 1-2 days for best results. Chives taste better when harvested in May and June.
Growing Mint (Mentha spp) inside your home
We were pleasantly surprised when finding out mint was easy to grow indoors; we especially found having the mint leaves near our kettle to make a handy mint tea at night was the dream.
Mint is well known for growing rapidly within the garden, so having the option to grow indoors saves an overrunning of mint in the garden, which is why we would typically advise always to plant mint in containers – even in the garden. When choosing a container, you will want to ensure this is wider than deeper, but the material is highly dependent.
Growing Mint – Location & Light
Your mint will appreciate a lot of sunlight; unlike in the garden where it can tolerate part shade, this will not suffice inside. If you notice that the leaves have become leggy or pale, this is a sign it is not receiving enough light.
Choosing a window that receives sunlight for most of the day is the best option, around 6-7 hours a day of sunlight is ideal.
If you plan to grow your mint indoors all year round, we suggest buying a heat lamp for this. Mint plants will also appreciate misting now and then to increase the humidity.
Growing Mint – Watering
Like most other herbs, you will want to ensure that your mint is evenly moist but not overly wet; the best way to know when to water is by touching the first 2 inches of the soil – if this is dry, you will want to water.
Mint plants will not appreciate being sat in a lot of water.
Growing Mint – Food / Feeding
Although with mint, applying frequent fertiliser is not a must, sometimes an occasional dose can be added now and then. We would suggest an all-purpose water-soluble fertiliser or fish emulsion.
Be sure to mix the fertiliser with a half-strength and not over fertilise, which causes the mint to lose its flavour.
Growing Mint – Temperature
A suitable temperature during the day is around 18-21 degrees and at night roughly about 13-15 degrees.
Growing Mint – Soil
You will want to pick a good potting mix with equal amounts of sand, peat, and perlite; this will need rich soil enriched with compost. It will need to be slightly acidic with a pH level of around 6-7.
Growing Mint – Harvesting
We love to pinch off a few leaves and add to our teas for a natural mint tea flavour, but it is also an excellent option for freezing.
We suggest freezing in an airtight container or bag or an ice cube tray with water; use these within three months. To store fresh mint after cutting, it will gently dampen the leaves in a paper towel and place them in a plastic bag. Leave this open so that air can circulate through.
Just before your plant is about to bloom is when your mint plant will have the best and strongest flavour. Typically you will not want to harvest more than three times per season, but you can pick the leaves when needed. When cutting, leave the first and second leaves and cut just above this area.
Growing Oregano (Origanum vulgare) inside your home
These herbs grow under conditions that are similar to thyme. Likewise, it grows well in a hot, dry and sunny area, so it is the perfect herb to grow inside, providing these requirements.
Like most other herbs, your Oregano will benefit from a pot with suitable drainage holes. Regarding the plant pot material, you can select the type of pot as the Oregano is not fussy; however, a pot with a 10-14 inches diameter.
Growing Oregano – Location & Light
This herb will thrive under bright light; it will roughly need around six to eight hours of sunlight a day, making a south-facing window the best position, where they will also benefit from the morning sun. Ensure that you rotate the pot to promote equal growth.
Instead, if you are using artificial light to grow your Oregano, place these roughly 14 inches away from the light, leaving it under there for approximately 14 hours a day. If you notice your herb becoming leggy, then it is likely it is not receiving enough light.
Growing Oregano – Watering
Oregano needs to dry out between watering; it’s best to water regularly, but not excessively; they can easily be killed by overwatering.
Young plants will need to be kept moist, which can be checked when touching the top of the soil. More established plants are slightly more drought tolerant.
Growing Oregano – Food / Feeding
Fertiliser in the spring can be used every two weeks, use a liquid fertiliser that has been diluted in half or supplement the soil with controlled-release pellets. Over fertilising will affect the strength of the flavour.
Growing Oregano – Temperature
Your plant will be happy in a room temperature area. However, the ideal temperature inside is between 18-21 degrees during the day.
Growing Oregano – Soil
The preferred soil will be light, airy and fast-draining soil. An equal mix of potting soil, sand, peat moss and perlite is an excellent option. When planting in the soil, ensure the root ball is buried and not the main stems as they may rot.
Another good option is using cacti soil. Their preferred soil type is slightly acidic to very alkaline.
Growing Oregano – Harvesting
You will want to let your plant grow roughly to around 4 inches before pinching the plant’s top growth; this will also encourage new growth and prevent your plant from growing too high. A good time to harvest is in the morning and just before the plant starts to flower; this will give them the best flavour and fragrance.
Drying oregano is an excellent option. Unlike most herbs, Oregano keeps its flavour. The best way to dry the herb is to tie the stem up with string, leaving a loop so that you can hang these and in a dry, dark place and hang upside down.
Instead of freezing in an ice cube tray with water, some people prefer to freeze these in tomato juice to easily be added to dishes like pasta and soup. Equally, harvesting fresh as you are cooking is always the best option.
Growing Parsley (Petroselinum crispum) inside your home
Parsley is an essential ingredient in cooking in French, Italian and Middle East dishes, used as a garnish or chopped into sauces, dressings or stuffing; it is easy to grow indoors, as long as it receives lots of light and ample water.
Although having a pot with good drainage is essential, the pot’s material is not. Parsley looks excellent when its leaves are free to hang around the edges of the pot; they are a great companion in a mixed container with mint, Oregano, basil, thyme and chives due to their similar needs.
Growing Parsley – Location & Light
Parsley will appreciate a lot of sunlight. A south window where it will receive lots of light, roughly around 6-8 hours, is the perfect amount—turning the pot approximately every 3-4 days to ensure equal growth.
Suppose your south-facing window is not in the kitchen. In that case, it’s a good idea to mist your parsley now and then, a good option is to fill the saucer (tray) full of pebbles and add water to the tray leaving the top exposed, and the water will then evaporate, increasing the humidity.
If you are using grow lights (which would be ideal to use during the winter months), these should roughly be on for 12-16 hours a day.
Growing Parsley – Watering
Your parsley will appreciate you keeping on top of its watering, ensuring that you don’t overwater and leave waterlogged. You will also not want to let your parsley soil get too dry, which causes the plant to wither and then die.
We would suggest feeling the top of the soil, and if the first 2 inches are dry, then it is best to water. It’s recommended that watering from the bottom is the best way to water inside parsley.
Growing Parsley – Food
You will find that your parsley will love fish emulsion or liquid kelp; we suggest feeding bi-monthly and ensuring to dilute as not to ruin the flavour. During the growing months, we would only suggest feeding once or twice a month.
Growing Parsley – Temperature
Ideally, you want the temperature to be roughly 27 degrees during the day and 20 degrees at night; however, it can tolerate slightly lower temperatures.
Growing Parsley – Soil
Parsley will need a rich soil that again has good drainage; they will appreciate a soil with organic matter. The pH is best to be more alkaline.
Growing Parsley – Harvesting
Once your parsley reaches 6 inches, this is the perfect time to start harvesting; the outside leaves are typically the ones that have grown first, so start with these; again, harvesting in the morning a great option!
When picking, you will want to ensure that you pick the stems at their base. If you just cut from the top, the plant will be less productive. Although not as fresh and when using straight from the plant, you can freeze parsley is one of the best ways to harvest parsley by following the steps above, by washing and chopping and then placing it in an airtight bag.
Drying your parsley out is also another good idea; for this, again wash and chop and place in an airtight bag/container and place in a warm, airy but dark location for roughly two days (checking on this before), remove the leaves from the stem and use it when needed. Both frozen and dried parsley should be used within the year.