The Ultimate Guide to Growing Herbs Indoors All Year Long (Plus Eight Herbs to Get You Started)
This article is a tutorial about how you can grow herbs for cooking and medicine inside indoors all year long. You’ll get growing tips, planting ideas, and a rundown of eight proven herbs that will grow inside.
Do you wish you could grow your own herbs in your home all year long? Do you have a dream of growing your own herbs, but perhaps you lack the skill? Or maybe you live in an apartment or other place where growing outside just isn’t possible? Are you like I was and are afraid you’ll accidentally kill your plants?
I can relate.
Many years ago, my homestead journey began in the middle of a huge city. Yes, I was once an urban homesteader living in a tiny home in a very large urban city. Las Vegas, Nevada, to be exact. And that’s a pretty harsh place because of the heat and dry climate whether you plant indoors or out!
Later on, I lived in the suburbs in a very strict HOA with some crazy rules about what I was allowed to plant in the yard (even the back yard).
And now, these days, I’ve moved to the Idaho panhandle. I now live on a large property with tons of space (and no rules about planting), but in an area with VERY cold winters and a short growing season.
Perhaps you live in an area with very cold winters, like I do now? Or perhaps, like I was, you are in a desert area or other inhospitable place for growing outdoors for whatever reason. In any of these cases, learning to grow your herbs indoors is a necessity for at least a few months of the year whether or not you have a yard.
Over all the decades, I learned to grow my herbs indoors because I had to.
I wanted to have my own fresh herbs for a number of reasons. I love fresh herbs in my cooking. Medicinally, many of the plants I like to use are best when fresh. And plants, especially functional ones, make your home beautiful and feel alive and cheerful.
Another reason I desired to grow my herbs indoors all year is that I wanted to conquer this self-reliance skill. I wanted to be able to demonstrate to all that you CAN develop self-reliance skills (like indoor gardening), even when living in an apartment.
Besides having your herbs close by and being more self-reliant, there are other benefits of growing plants in your home. One important reason to have some plants in your house is that they help clean the air!
Isn’t it wonderful that you can grow spices and medicine while adding beauty to your home in a way that helps detoxify the air at the same time?
In this tutorial, I’ll explain how you can grow herbs inside so you can partake of the medicinal and culinary benefits of the plants all the time! Having your herbs for cooking and/or medicine close at hand any time is the best feeling!
Knowing you don’t have to use sub-par herbs for your culinary creations and home remedies because you have your own fresh herbs growing on your windowsill is empowering, my friend.
The tricky thing is, most herbs love the outdoors. Fresh air, sunshine, and the right soil are vital to growing healthy plants.
In order to grow herbs successfully inside your home, especially all year long, you’ll need to create an environment that’s as conducive as possible to the health of your plants.
This may sound difficult, but in reality, it’s not that hard. Even a beginning gardener can grow herbs indoors with a few tips! Get ready for some tips as to how you can make your indoor garden dream come true!
With a few easy indoor gardening tips, you too can grow your own fresh herbs inside!
Oh! If you’d like the Downloadable PDF Guide to Growing 8 Herbs Indoors that also includes some ways to use them, just fill out the form at the end of this article!
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General Guidelines & Tips for Growing Herbs Indoors
Herbs do generally like to grow outdoors, but there are ways you can make their life inside your home workable for you and them. So here are some things to keep in mind:
Growing Tip 1: Light
Most herbs love sunshine, and unfortunately, most homes just don’t have a lot of it. Be sure to choose a sunny window to place your plants so they can get as much sun as they need.
If you have a window with a southern exposure that may be perfect! However, you may have a place fro your plants with lots of light, but too much heat. Windows can burn plants when the sun is directly shining through the glass.
If this is the case, using a translucent window covering will allow your plants to get enough sunlight without burning.
I have my plants lined up on sunny window sills and cute tables with a Southwest exposure. Even in my kitchen, where there is little light, my shade loving herbs like peppermint can do ok as long as they are in the window.
You’ll have to take into account the light needs of your plant. Some herbs like shade, and most love sun. You’ll need to do a little research to determine the needs of the herbs you want to grow inside.
If you just don’t have a light enough home or a sunny enough window, you can grow plants very well by setting up shelves with grow light systems. You don’t need to have the lights on all the time…just long enough to satisfy the plant’s light needs.
Growing Tip 2: Containers & Soil
Choose the right size containers, and err on the side of too much space. Herbs generally enjoy well-drained soil, so make sure the soil holds a good amount of moisture while allowing drainage.
It’s ok to let your soil dry out completely before watering them again, especially herbs like rosemary. Under watering is actually (usually) better than overwatering.
Knowing the soil needs of your plants is crucial too. Mediterranean plants like rosemary, lavender, and oregano actually enjoy poorer soil with a little sand for good drainage.
Other plants, like basil and mint, just love lots of water, so keeping the soil moist for these plants is a good idea.
I also recommend mulching the top of the soil with small pretty stones like the kind you can buy from garden centers. These tend to help regulate the temperature and moistness of the soil so the top doesn’t dry out completely while the bottom of the pot stays a soggy mess.
Using a pretty soil mulch on top also helps keep fungus gnats away. Once these get started in your home, it’s really difficult to get rid of them. So, take preventive measures and mulch away.
One other tip for planting in containers, whether indoors or out, is to add a layer of stones or broken clay pots, about an inch deep, to the bottom of the pot before you plant. This will help with drainage so you don’t have that soggy bottom problem.
Growing Tip 3: Temperature
Plants inside do best when the temperature is kept at a fairly consistent level. Try not to vary the temperature in your home more than about 15 degrees, if possible. Herbs may become stressed with too much fluctuation in temperature, and this will decrease their immunity to pests—-which you don’t want to get started.
A good temperature range is actually going to be one where you are most comfortable too! Between 60 and 80 degrees is a good standard range that’s comfortable for both plants and humans.
Growing Tip 4: Air Flow
Keep the air flow from the air conditioner or heater from blasting your indoor plants, especially herbs. Air from a heating or cooling system will dry them out and cause them to lose too much moisture through their leaves. It’s just hard on them. So, no drafts, please.
You should be able to adjust the vents in your home so they are not hitting your plants directly.
Also, on nice days, open a window to allow some fresh air in. Your plants will love you for this.
Growing Tip 5: Feeding & Nourishing Your Plants
Be sure to feed your herbs a good organic fertilizer as needed. The thing about indoor soil is there is no way for nature to replenish nutrients…so you have to be the one to take care of this!
I like a weak fish emulsion or other organic fertilizer that you can get commercially. Or consider creating your own compost. There are some great indoor compost options these days you can purchase from Amazon!
Also, beware of over-fertilizing. You can give your plants too much of a good thing. Too much fertilizer can burn your plants and actually kill them.
There are very light fertilizers now on the market that you can use every time you water. Or, just plan to fertilize once a month or so.
Growing Tip 6: Sourcing Your Herbs
SEEDS: If you can grow the plant easily from seed, such as basil, mint, oregano, thyme, etc., you might want to give this a try. The reason is that plants that are started inside from seed may just do better than plants you are bringing in from the outdoors.
Outdoor plants and cuttings have been acclimated to being outside and often have a hard time getting used to being indoors. With that said, you may have to bring some of your herbs in from outdoors on a seasonal basis anyway if you live in a cold area like I do.
Seeds do take longer to grow enough to be useful, but it might be well worth it for you!
I’m a big fan of the seeds from Seeds Now! They have a great variety to choose from. Another wonderful company is Baker’s Rare Seeds.
CUTTINGS: Some herbs will grow roots in water from cuttings. Even rosemary sprigs will root relatively easily in just water! Other herbs like peppermint and basil are also good options for this method.
If you have a friend with an herb garden, or perhaps you already have herbs growing in your own garden outside, you can experiment growing a plant this way without spending any money at all.
PLUGS FROM THE GROCERY STORE: You know those little packages that contain fresh herbs with the soil ball still attached? I’ve taken these and planted them into a good potting mixture with great success. Often there will be several plants growing together, so you may need to thin the bundle a bit.
PLANT NURSERIES: Most plant nurseries have a great herb section during the growing season in your area. Picking up a plant from a nursery to be transplanted into a pot for your home is a way to get a healthy plant that’s already on its way to maturity. Be sure to inspect for pests, such as white flies, spider mites, or gnats. You don’t want to get these started in your home.
Growing Tip 7: Humidity
Plants of most sorts do better in an area where there is some humidity in the air. The air indoors is generally a lot more dry than outdoors due to heating and cooling systems and controlled temperatures.
If you already live in a humid area, this may not be a problem. But if you’re living in a dry place, or if the area you’re in is seasonally dry, you should consider a source of extra moisture in the air.
Having a little moisture in the air is good for you, too! Especially your skin.
There are a few ways to add extra humidity to your indoor environment:
MISTERS: Use a spray bottle to add a little extra humidity on and around your plants, especially if you are in a dry environment. Taking a little time to spritz your plants once or twice a day with a spray bottle can go a long way to helping them be healthy.
WATER ON A HEAT SOURCE: Another way to add moisture to the air is by setting a pan of water on a stove top set to low. We have a wood stove, and I keep a cast iron pot filled with water to help humidify the air.
A HUMIDIFIER: Using a humidifier in your home is another way to get a bit of extra moisture into your air. You don’t have to run it all the time. A couple extra hours a day can make a big difference.
Hopefully, with these tips on growing plants indoors, you’ll be able to get your indoor herb garden going and keep it going all year long!
8 Easy Herbs to Grow Indoors
Here are a few herbs to consider growing inside your home! I have several of these growing, and as long as I stay attentive to their needs (I do check them daily), they just do wonderfully!
I love using thyme in my cooking, and it’s an incredibly healing herb as well. It boosts the immune system, and it’s not too bad in your tea, either. I even have a friend who makes a Wellness Tea blend using thyme as the main ingredient. He drinks it every day and never gets sick!
Thyme loves sunshine, so be prepared to find a nice sunny spot. You want to keep the soil pretty evenly moist with thyme, but not soaking wet. Again, be sure you’ve got well-drained soil.
You know what a great benefit of growing thyme is? You will save a ton of money! Buying fresh thyme is pricey, and when you can just go cut it from your own plant….Score! A little thyme goes a long way, too, so this is a perfect herb to start with.
Basil is one of the easier herbs to grow indoors. In fact, it will readily propagate if you place the stems in water. I’ve even taken the plugs that are in the grocery stores and grown basil from those! You can also easily start basil from seed, as it does quite well and grows quickly.
My recommendation for lighting is strong but indirect sun. Basil likes sunshine, but I’ve found that if I put it near a sunny window (in summer especially) for too long, it will burn. On the other hand, if the light is too low, it will get leggy and not do well either. You’ll have to find that sweet spot!
Basil is another herb that has both culinary and medicinal uses! It’s great for focus and concentration and delicious in pesto. There are many varieties of basil, and if you decide to grow Holy Basil (tulsi), you’ll have a wonderful adaptogenic herb for your daily tea.
Mmmmm…..sweet peppermint & spearmint….two of my favorites. Mints grow very well from seed, and you can grow a lot of them pretty fast! In general, mints don’t mind a bit of shade, so if you place them near a sunny window but not directly in the sunshine, they should do just fine.
One thing you’ll have to watch out for with mints inside your home are white flies. For some reason, mints seem to be fairly easily infested if they get too stressed. So baby those mints, and you’ll not have a problem.
Mints are wonderful for cooking, soothing headache and tummy upsets, and adding to your teas for delicious flavor!
Oregano can thrive in just about any soil and even take a bit of abuse. This is an herb that many have problems getting rid of in their garden, as it just grows so fast!
Indoors, you’ll want to keep it in strong indirect light, much like basil. The direct light from a sunny south facing window may too much for it for long periods.
Oregano is another one of those double duty herbal powerhouses with its incredible healing powers and health benefits as well as its unique taste. We’re all familiar with oregano on pizza and Italian sauce, but it’s also simply delicious on your meats, vegetables, and salad dressings.
Chives can be grown indoors, but I have found them to be a little tricky. I just love them, though, so it’s worth the effort to help them along.
Chives have a pleasant onion flavor that’s on the mild side and are perfect with any vegetable, baked potatoes, mashed potatoes, and eggs. Sprinkling the little green bits on your food also adds to the presentation!
This fun culinary herb needs a lot of light—-six hours or more in a day, and they do not like to get dried out. The tender leaves will wilt quickly with dry soil, and they will benefit from a daily misting for humidity.
Oh, rosemary has to be one of my favorite herbs in the world. It’s said to symbolize friendship and remembrance, and has been used to protect homes from evil and negative energy.
In fact, you can find out EVERYTHING (well, almost) you need to know to get started using rosemary in this article: All About Rosemary (Folklore, Benefits, Uses, Recipes, Cleaning, and Body Care).
This Mediterranean herb can grow quite large outdoors in the right conditions, and the culinary and medicinal variety (Rosemarinus officinalis) grows on upright stems with leaves about an inch long.
Rosemary helps stimulate the digestive juices and helps break down heavy proteins, and therefore is generally useful for cooking red meat. You’ll find it a common ingredient in red meat dishes of all kinds.
Growing rosemary inside is a little tricky because it just loves sunshine. In fact, indoors, I’d say put your rosemary in the sunniest window you can and try to give it around 7-9 hours of sun. I know this isn’t possible during the short winter days, so just do your best.
Rosemary outside can take soil that fluctuates from dry to wet, but indoor rosemary likes to be kept evenly moist in my experience. If I let it dry out too much, it will die fast. I’ve lost quite a few rosemary plants this way, but if you stay on top if it, you’ll have a great plant for healing and cooking indoors all year.
I’ve just started growing ginger inside, and I’m very excited about it! Since we live in such a cold area in winter, it will not grow here outdoors. So, I’m giving it a try inside. You take a healthy rhizome from the grocery store and simply plant it about an inch or two beneath the soil. Water well, and keep the soil evenly moist.
Eventually you will see green shoots come up. Here’s a good article with more details about how to grow ginger.
8) Aloe Vera
Aloe vera is a succulent with large and long fleshy leaves. It’s not really a culinary herb, having more medicinal and skin care benefits than anything; however, it’s a lovely indoor plant and an easy keeper. I thought I’d go ahead and add it to the list since I won’t have a home without it.
You can read all about how to grow aloe inside and how to use it in this article: How to Make Your Own Aloe Vera Gel from Your Own Plant and 8 Ways to Use It.
Final Thoughts on Growing Herbs Indoors All Year Long
Most homesteaders and folks into self-reliance do love to garden. But even if you are in an apartment or live in a place with a short growing season, you’re not limited to growing outdoors!
Bring those plants inside and challenge yourself to grow your herbs in the house! And you know what? If they don’t make it….it’s ok. I look upon everything I do as an experiment. You learn, adjust, and move on. So, don’t get discouraged if you have a few casualties.
Just keep on trying! Eventually, you’ll have an indoor garden others envy and will be amazed by!
It’s worth the effort to have fresh herbs all year, especially in the winter months. The cheerful green plants will add a sense of life and hygge to your home during the long winter months as well!
The herbs listed here have done quite well for me inside. I love being able to snip bits of fresh herbs off as I need them for recipes, garnishes, and teas. It’s a beautiful thing to have your favorite plants right there at your fingertips!
Do you grow plants inside? I’d love for you to share your experiences, so leave a comment in the comments section!
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Hugs, Health, and Self-Reliance,
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