What a joy it is for a cook to harvest sprigs of fresh herbs any time of the year. And who doesn't love swiping the branches of fresh lavender to instantly and naturally scent a room?
Many herbs make easy houseplants, while some are a bit more challenging to grow indoors. Each plant has its preferences for light, water and fertilizer. Once you learn the specific conditions, you'll be well on your way to having fresh herbs year round.
Rosemary grows in almost any light from shade to full sun as long as it has a pot in which it can grow larger. Water it no more than once a week after the top layer of soil dries. This is a great herb to grow on your kitchen windowsill; it's pretty, unique and smells great.
Basil is almost as easy; you will have to water it more often (probably every 4-5 days), and it needs full sun. Consistently harvest the leaves to make the plant bushier and promote new growth. When a bud spike appears, cut it off or the plant will go to seed, wilt and die. As long as you keep it "pruned," it will grow for many months. Plant some about every six to eight weeks to have basil year round.
Mint and sage grow easily in indoor pots. They need a sunny spot; water only when they get quite dry.
More Difficult Herbs
Cilantro grows similarly to basil, but is easily killed with too much water when it is in the seed or seedling stage. Cilantro needs full sun; rotate the plant often so that all sides receive sunlight. When cilantro goes to seed, its seeds are called coriander.
Give parsley the same conditions as cilantro. Like basil, it will also go to seed if not pruned. Trim the tips back to produce full growth. Parsley does well in cooler temperatures, so if you have a cool but sunny room, it will do quite well.
Oregano will do fairly well inside if you've given it a good start in well-balanced soil before it comes inside. It likes a sunny location and little water; pinch it back to encourage more leaves.
Sage is a perennial plant, but it gets leggy when brought inside. Keep the top of the plant trimmed to encourage fuller growth. Use a light dose of all-purpose fertilizer once a month, and water only when the soil is quite dry.
Lavender will do well if it has enough room for its roots to grow. Lavender likes regular watering and will tolerate less than full sun. If it starts to get leggy, trim it back to encourage full growth.
Thyme is difficult to grow inside; it is very picky about light and water, and in the short days of winter it typically gets limp and slowly dies.
Chives grow well inside during the spring, summer and fall. But they need to be outside in the cold winter so that they can go dormant and rest. They require full sun but not a lot of water.