How to Grow Herbs Indoors & Outdoors


Homegrown herbs are often more flavorful and pungent than purchased herbs, and they are very easy to grow. They can grow under very adverse conditions but thrive with good garden care. They are generally disease and pest resistant. Many herbs are used for home-remedy medicinal recipes--sages boots the immune system, and mint aids digestion. Herbs can be planted in a separate garden dedicated to their culture, interspersed among vegetables and flowers or on an indoor window sill. In each method, the planting and caring directions are similar.

Plant Herb Outdoors

Step 1

Choose a location outdoors that gets six to eight hours of sun per day. The soil should have good drainage and low to average fertility. Plant herbs in raised boxes or along rock ledges for easy access.

Step 2

Determine if the soil needs to be amended. If the soil is too clay-like, amend it with organic material such as compost. If soil is very sandy, additional compost will improve water retention. Work the compost into the soil with the shovel before planting the herbs. Sage, rosemary and thyme require well-drained but moderately moist soil. Basil thrives in moister conditions. Leaves wilt when water is needed.

Step 3

Dig a hole 1 1/2 times the size of the herb plant root ball. If you are planting seeds, plant to the depth recommended on the package, usually 1/4 to 1/2 inch deep. Cover with fine soil. Consider planting herbs together that are drought tolerant, such as lavender and rosemary.

Step 4

Water thoroughly. Check that drainage is good and water is not left standing around the plant. Continue watering only when soil is very dry to the touch. Herbs prefer good drainage and dry conditions. Overwatered herbs lose their distinctive aromatic qualities.

Plant Herbs Indoors

Step 1

Choose a sunny windowsill to place the herb pots. Put a few rocks or broken crockery in each pot to ensure good drainage. Fill each pot 1/2 full with organic potting soil. Press soil down firmly. The delicate root structure of basil and thyme need porous potting soil that drains well.

Step 2

Place the herbs in the pots, spreading roots carefully. Add soil so the pot is filled to within 1 inch of the top. Press soil down firmly. Herbs that do well in kitchen windowsill gardens are lemon thyme, purple sage and basil.

Step 3

Water thoroughly. Water the plants again when topsoil feels dry to the touch, about every three days. Container gardens dry out more easily.

Step 4

Add a tablespoon of organic compost to each pot every month.

Step 5

Check regularly for insect problems such as aphids and treat with insecticidal soap spray.

Tips and Warnings

  • Do not overfertilize herbs. They produce their characteristic aromatic oils when the soil is low to medium fertility. Herbs are popular to grow because they're subject to few diseases and pests. If a disease such as fungus or wilt develops, use organic pesticides. Chemical pesticides may leave a residue on culinary herbs.

Things You'll Need

  • Herbs plants or seeds
  • Garden gloves
  • Shovel
  • Trowel
  • Potting soil


  • University of Illinois Extension: Growing Herbs in the Home Garden

Who Can Help

  • The Herb Society of America: A Beginner's Herb Garden
  • North Carolina State University Extension: Growing Herbs for the Home Gardener
Keywords: grow herbs indoors, grow herbs outdoors, herb gardens

About this Author

Joan Norton, M.A., is a licensed psychotherapist and professional writer in the field of women's spirituality. She blogs and has two published books on the subject of Mary Magdalene; "14 Steps To Awaken The Sacred Feminine:Women in the Circle of Mary Magdalene," and "The Mary Magdalene Within."