Growing herbs indoors is a great way to make sure you have easy access to culinary herbs in your kitchen.
If you are a keen cook, then you will no doubt already be well aware what a big difference fresh herbs can make to your dishes. Buying the herbs you need can be expensive. But growing your own herbs at home is very affordable. It will help you eat better, at a fraction of the cost.
Of course, many common culinary herbs can find a place in your garden. But if you do not have a garden, you can still grow your own herbs at home. Even if you do have a garden, having a small herb garden in or close to your kitchen can mean that they are always close at hand when you need them.
If you would like to grow your own herbs indoors at home, it is important to understand that not all herbs are suited to indoors growing. Some prefer brighter light and outdoors conditions. But the fifteen herbs on the list below can all be grown successfully indoors – as long as you provide the right conditions and care for them correctly. Read on to learn about some great culinary herbs you could grow indoors, and to get a few tips on how to keep them alive:
Basil is a little fussier than some of the other herbs on this list. It prefers more sunlight than an indoors location can often provide. So if possible, it is often best to grow it outdoors. But here in the UK, growing basil outdoors can sometimes be a bit hit and miss too – especially with unpredictable weather conditions over the summer months. And on a bright and sunny windowsill indoors, you can still get good results when growing this annual herb.
Make sure you place basil in a spot which gets at least six hours sunlight per day. (A south facing windowsill is ideal). Use a container with good drainage, and make sure the potting medium remains moist but not sodden. Feed with an organic liquid feed like seaweed feed or compost tea over the summer for optimal growth.
Bay is a bit of an outlier on this list. Unlike the other herbs mentioned on this list, bay is actually a tree. While it will not work in a small container on a narrow windowsill, however, it is an interesting option to consider growing indoors. Potted bay can work very well as a decorative houseplant in your home, as well as providing leaves for culinary use.
Place bay in a free-draining yet moisture retentive medium, in a free-draining container large enough to accommodate the root system of the plant with an inch or two space around each side. Bay will do well in a south or west facing window. Keep temperatures between around 15 and 24 degrees for optimal growth. Mist the tree to maintain humidity levels, or keep it close to a humid area such as a sunny bathroom or a kitchen sink. Water regularly in summer to keep the soil moist, but not wet. But let the top inch of the growing medium dry out between waterings in winter.
Catnip, like basil, will grow better outdoors. But it can thrive indoors too as long as it gets at least six hours of sunlight each day. If you have a cat, your biggest challenge is likely to be keeping the plant free from the ‘attentions’ of your feline friend.
Otherwise, sunlight can be the biggest issue. But place it in a sunny windowsill and it can thrive. It needs well-drained conditions, and should not be overwatered as this can cause root rot. Indoors, catnip will not grow as vigorously as it would outdoors. But it can still provide leaves for cat entertainment, or for culinary use. It is a perennial herb, so will live more than one year. But will need to be potted up to avoid issues over time.
Chervil is an annual herb that can thrive when grown indoors. It can often, in fact, grow better inside than out, since it can have a tendency to bolt in hot and sunny conditions. It prefers light shade and cooler temperatures.
Trimming regularly for use in the kitchen can keep container grown plants healthy and bushy and reduce bolting. Again, the growing medium should be kept consistently moist, but should be relatively free-draining for best results. Chervil can work well in a container alongside other herbs in the ‘fine herbes’ mix, chives and parsley, which like similar conditions.
Chives can thrive on a sunny, south facing windowsill, and will do best when provided with between 6 and 8 hours of sunshine per day when grown indoors. They like rather humid conditions, and can do well when grown in a pot grouped with other potted herbs, or in a mixed container alongside some of the other herbs on this list. Misting can also help where humidity is low. Feed occasionally with a dilute compost tea or other weak organic feed.
Chives can be great to add to a windowsill herb garden because their scent can deter some common pests to a degree.
Coriander can have a tendency to become leggy and spindly when grown without enough light. But place it on a sunny windowsill with at least 4-5 hours of sun per day and it should do fine indoors. Pinch the growing tips off for a bushier plant. It might not be as vigorous or productive as an outdoor grown specimen. But it should provide all the leaf coriander you need.
Water coriander well, but allow the top of the growing medium to become dry to the touch between waterings. Make sure the container you choose allows free drainage. Feed with a balanced organic liquid feed weekly or fortnightly during the main growing season.
Dill needs special consideration when you grow it indoors. It forms a taproot and will need to have a container at least 12 inches deep, and at least 6-8 inches in diameter. Remember it is a taller plant, and may do better indoors with some support. Like other herbs on this list, dill needs a location with at least 6 hours of sunlight each day. Again, as with coriander, pinch of the tops to encourage bushier growth.
If you do not have space to grow dill into larger potted plants, consider growing it for micro-greens, and harvesting these when they are just a couple of weeks old.
8. Lemon Balm
Lemon balm smells and tastes great, and is another good choice for growing indoors. Lemon balm will require at least 5 hours of sunlight per day, reasonably fertile medium, and a pot which allows for moderately free-draining conditions. The larger the container, the larger your plant will grow.
Water regularly, but do not saturate the medium. Use an organic liquid feed every couple of weeks over the summer months.
9. Lemon Grass
Lemon grass is not a plant that will typically thrive outside in most of the UK. But you can grow it on a sunny windowsill inside your home. It weather conditions allow, you could place lemon grass outdoors over the summer, but you can also grow it indoors year round in a sunny spot.
You can place stalks bought from the shops into small pots to allow them to take root in spring or summer. Water thoroughly and regularly, but allow for good drainage.
Mint is one of the very easiest herbs to grow, whether you grow it indoors or outside in your garden. Mint can do well even with a bit less light than other options on this list. An east-facing window, for example, can be ideal in spring/summer. As a perennial, mint is a plant you can continue to enjoy over a number of years.
Try to keep the soil evenly moist, not dried out or overly moist. Mint likes humid conditions so if humidity is low, misting can help keep your plant healthy.
11. Oregano/ Marjoram
The related perennial herbs oregano and marjoram will both also be excellent choices for an indoors herb garden. A bright windowsill with morning sun is often ideal for growing these Mediterranean herbs.
Choose a container and growing medium which provide light, aerated, free-draining conditions. And water on a regular schedule, but not excessively, especially during the cooler months when damp and waterlogging can become a problem.
Parsley is a biennial plant that also thrives in an indoors herb garden. Parsley will grow best on a south facing windowsill with at least 6 hours on sun each day. In a kitchen, humidity will often be high enough already. But if you grow it in a different room, with lower humidity, misting may help keep your parsley happy.
Keep the soil consistently moist, but avoid letting the plant sit with its roots in water, as soggy conditions may cause problems for your parsley plant.
Rosemary has a reputation for being a somewhat more challenging plant to grow indoors. But if you bear a few things in mind, it is actually a relatively easy and trouble free herb to try. The first thing is to make sure you use a deep enough container, filled with a free-draining growing medium. Place this in as sunny a spot as possible.
Rosemary prefers to take moisture from the air, rather than through its roots, and will not tolerate waterlogged conditions. Mist foliage around once a week to provide the right humidity, and place a container with pebbles in it, filled with water, beneath the plant. Water only when the medium dries out.
Sage, like so many other herbs on this list, needs at least 6 hours of sunlight each day. But when grown in the right location, should thrive when grown indoors. Group sage with other herbs in pots to raise humidity levels, and mist when humidity is low.
Water consistently, but let the top inch or so of the growing medium dry out before you water again. For this and other herbs that like good drainage, clay pots are ideal.
A south or west facing windowsill will be ideal for growing thyme. And it can grow well alongside other Mediterranean herbs on this list which like free-draining growing conditions. There are a range of different thymes to choose from.
Water consistently, when soil is dry, but take care not to overwater. If growth is poor, feed every couple of weeks over the summer with a light organic liquid feed.