How to Grow Italian Herbs

Overview

Nothing beats having fresh herbs for cooking, and this is especially true in Italian cooking where fresh is always best. Most herbs can be planted indoors in containers, grown on a windowsill or patio, or can be planted outdoors in a prepared garden space. Whichever way you do it, growing your own Italian herbs will add a new dimension to your cooking. The three easiest, and most often used, Italian herbs are oregano, basil and parsley, according to University of Illinois Extension. Others herbs to consider are sage, rosemary and fennel.

Indoor Italian Herb Garden

Step 1

Purchase a planting container that has good drainage and will fit in front of a sunny window.

Step 2

Place an inch of pea gravel in the bottom of the container. Fill the remainder of the container with fertilizer-added potting soil to within 1/2 inch of the top.

Step 3

Water the container until the soil is moist throughout. When water begins to run out of the drainage hole at the bottom of the container, the soil is thoroughly moist.

Step 4

Divide the moist soil into the number of sections for each herb you plan to plant, using a pencil, chopstick or butter knife to draw lines in the soil. For instance, if you are planting oregano, thyme and basil, divide the container into three even sections.

Step 5

Sprinkle the herb seed over the moist soil in each section and cover with soil according to package instructions. Keep the seed packages for later reference for thinning the young seedlings and harvesting the herbs.

Step 6

Cover the container loosely with plastic wrap and place the container in a warm area. Remove the plastic wrap when the seedlings break through the soil.

Step 7

Place the seedlings in a bright, sunny window and allow the plants to grow for several weeks.

Step 8

Thin the seedlings as per the package instructions for the individual herbs. Allow the plants to grow until maturity, watering as necessary to keep the soil moist to the touch.

In the Garden

Step 1

Fill peat pots three-quarters full of potting soil. Water the pots until the soil is moist to the touch.

Step 2

Sow three to four herb seeds in each pot and cover with an additional 1/4 inch of potting soil.

Step 3

Cover the peat pots with plastic wrap loosely. Place the pots in a warm area.

Step 4

Remove the plastic wrap when the seedlings in the pot break through the ground.

Step 5

Allow the young seedlings to grow until they reach 2 to 3 inches in height.

Step 6

Thin the plants to one plant per peat pot. Keep the healthiest and strongest looking plant.

Step 7

Transplant the seedlings to a prepared garden space that receives at least six hours of sun per day, when all chances of frost have passed for your area.

Tips and Warnings

  • Some Italian herbs, particularly shrub-like rosemary and sage are better started from nursery transplants.

Things You'll Need

  • Growing containers
  • Pea gravel
  • Potting soil with added fertilizer
  • Pencil, chopstick or butter knife
  • Plastic wrap
  • Peat pots
  • Prepared garden space

References

  • North Carolina State University: Growing Herbs for the Home Gardener
  • University of Illinois: Growing Herbs in Containers
Keywords: grow Italian herbs, Italian herb garden, Italian herb growing

About this Author

G. K. Bayne is a freelance writer, currently writing for Demand Studios where her expertise in back-to-basics, computers and electrical equipment are the basis of her body of work. Bayne began her writing career in 1975 and has written for Demand since 2007.