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Indoor Herb Gardening for Beginners

By Ma Wen Jie ; Updated September 21, 2017
Many herbs can grow very well indoors.

Fresh herbs can add unique flavors to dishes without the cost of buying fresh herbs from the supermarket. Indoor herb gardening is not any more difficult than growing herbs outdoors. Different herbs will require slightly different care. Growing each herb type in its own pot will allow you to move that pot to its ideal growing area. In some cases, you might want to set some of your potted herbs outside during the summer.


There are two types of herbs: annuals and perennials. Both types will grow well indoors in pots, but annuals will need to be replanted once they have gone through their life cycle. Perennials, however, will keep growing with proper care and feeding. Parsley, oregano, mint and sage are among the many herbs that grow well indoors.


Most herbs require as much sun as possible. Select a south-facing or west-facing window for the best light. If you do not have a south- or west-facing window available, you can supplement the natural light with incandescent or fluorescent grow lights.


Herbs grown indoors need soil that drains very well. To make a good soil for indoor herb gardening, mix two parts of sterile potting soil with one part sand or perlite. Sand and perlite will help improve soil drainage. Put an inch of gravel in the bottom of each pot to help ensure adequate drainage.


Although each herb will need slightly different amounts of water, ensuring that the soil drains well will help reduce the risk of overwatering. Water your herbs whenever the soil feels dry, but do not water so much that the soil becomes waterlogged. Plants in unglazed clay containers or in hanging baskets may need more water than those in glazed or plastic containers.


By planting your herbs in separate pots, you can water and fertilize each herb according to its needs. Herbs grown indoors in pots, especially perennials, can benefit from fertilization. Fertilize your herbs lightly by following the package instructions. Most fertilizers have a suggested range. Fertilize at the light end of that range.


Harvest your indoor grown herbs as you would your outdoor herbs. Do not remove more than 1/3 of the leaves at a time. This will allow the herb plant to recover and put out new leaves. If your plant grows very large, you can remove and dry the leaves. In some cases, you can dry entire branches of leaves. To dry the leaves, hang them upside down by a string in a dry area.


About the Author


Although he grew up in Latin America, Mr. Ma is a writer based in Denver. He has been writing since 1987 and has written for NPR, AP, Boeing, Ford New Holland, Microsoft, RAHCO International, Umax Data Systems and other manufacturers in Taiwan. He studied creative writing at Mankato State University in Minnesota. He speaks fluent Mandarin Chinese, English and reads Spanish.