Growing Herbs Indoors
Grow Aromatic and Flavorful Herbs in the Home for Cooking, Aesthetics and Pure Sensory
By: Trina Alix |
Herbs are wonderful plants to grow in the garden because of their versatile use
and resilient growth; perhaps too resilient in some situations. Our experiences with them trickles into different
parts of our life. Cooking them in meals, brewing them for tea, incorporating them in cold beverages. Their
fragrances can bring back memories and shift our feelings. They help connect us with nature through our senses and
Growing herbs indoors extends our enjoyable realtionahsip with these spirited
plants into our living space. These hardy and resilient plants may become delicate and sensitive when grown indoors
making them more challenging to maintain. Be prepared to replace them every 3-6 months.
Eight herbs to grow
- Rosemary -
Provide a warm and bright window. Can tolerate drier soil conditions but don't allow soil in the container
to completely dry. Rosemary can overwinter indoors. Susceptible to
- Mint - Maximize
direct sunlight to reduce leggy growth. Susceptible to aphids, thrips and spider mites.
- Parsley -
Susceptible to aphids, thrips and spider mites. Cilantro - Susceptible to aphids, thrips
and spider mites.
- Chives - Chives
can be brought indoors from the garden. To do this, dig up a clump of chives in the Fall and plant in a
container. Keep the container outside until the first moderate/heavy frost and then bring inside for the
winter. The frost will provide the chives with a cold treatment, which will encourage the bulbs to produce
new growth when brought into the warmth of the home. They would benefit from daily misting.
- Basil - Would
benefit with as much direct sunlight as possible. Use a grow light if unable to give at least 4-6 hours of
direct sunlight. Pinch back flower buds to maintain bushy/leafy growth. Basil is susceptible to thrips and
Herbs enjoy full sun in the garden and will tolerate partial shade. Knowing this,
you will need to provide them with as much direct sunlight as possible. A sun room with full sun exposure is most
ideal for herbs. South facing windows is the second best option because
these windows tend to have the most sunlight and warmth. West facing windows can work for growing herbs
but it will not sustain them as long as a South facing window. East and North facing windows are too cool and
don't supply enough light for herbs. If you are unable to provide warm and direct sunlight then the
alternative would be to use a grow light stand with full
spectrum light bulbs. A timer can be attached to a grow light stand and set for 10-12 hours of light
per day. A grow light stand can be set up anywhere in the house, even in the basement. Place herbs in
a room with good air circulation. A small fan can be used to improve air circulation. This will
help reduce disease such as powdery mildew and plant pests.
Use a container/potting soil mix with a mixture of compost, peat,
vermiculite and perlite. The compost enriches the soil with nutrients and
helps retain moisture. The peat will help prevent soil
compaction, keeping the soil light and fluffy. The perlite/vermiculite will help with porosity and drainage.
Start with pre-grown potted herbs rather than starting
herbs from seed. Potted herbs are often sold at garden centres in
4" plastic containers. Single herb plants can be
transplanted into 6" pots. Multiple herbs should be planted in
larger containers, 10-12" pots. Use containers with holes in the bottom for proper drainage. Mist herbs on a
weekly basis in the colder months of the year when the air tends to get drier inside.
Two biggest challenges growing herbs indoors:
- Light - At least 4-6 hours of direct sunlight. 6-8
hours of direct sunlight is ideal for optimal and lush vegetative growth.
- Pest Control - Herbs are very susceptible to plant pests
especially if they are stressed from unfavorable growing conditions. Low light, consistently dry soil, poor
air circulation may contribute to pest problems. Common plant pests on herbs include aphids, spider
mites and thrips. Check for bugs on a weekly basis. Remove and dispose infested leaves and in some cases remove
and dispose heavily infested plants to reduce the spread of plant pests.
Two biggest joys of growing herbs indoors:
- Culinary use - having herbs in the home is convenient and
economical. They make cooking more enjoyable
- Sensory stimulation - being able to smell the herbs on a
cloudy and miserable day is worth clearing some space for these plants to take residence. The smell of rosemary
is good for memory, basil reduces anxiety, mint is energizing and lavender is balancing.