11 Herbs That Grow Indoors
Do you dream of being able to reach over to the windowsill to pluck some fresh herbs to make your favorite meals complete? Well, dream no longer. It’s completely possible to have an indoor herb garden when you check out these best herbs to grow indoors.
You’ll learn about why you should grow your own herbs, what you’ll need to grow herbs inside, and even which herbs you should definitely keep outside. Enjoy fresh herbs throughout the year with these herbs that grow indoors.
Why You Should Grow Herbs Indoors
I first started an indoor herb garden because the plants look pretty and are so easy to grow. Plus, fresh and dried herbs are a simple way to add some flavor to pretty much everything I cook.
But then I started reading about tests done on popular herb and spice brands that found dangerously high levels of heavy metals. Around one-third of the tested products had levels of arsenic, lead, and cadmium that were so high, they could pose a health concern for children and adults when consumed in a typical serving size.
Thyme and oregano in particular had levels of heavy metals that were exceptionally concerning. The same tests also found some products had levels of lead so high they exceeded the maximum amount anyone should have in one day.
It didn’t matter if these brands were labeled as “organic” or “packed in the USA.” It also didn’t matter if it was a store brand or a private-label brand.
After reading about this study, I realized the only way to truly keep myself and my family safe was to grow and dry herbs right at home.
How to Grow Herbs Indoors
Most herbs aren’t that fussy. When given their preferred amount of sunlight and water, they can do just fine growing indoors. When you’re ready to grow herbs inside, here’s what you’ll need.
For best results, you should grow each herb in its own pot. You can consider going with something small and simple, such as this planter set. If you don’t have a lot space to work with, this stackable planter set is a good idea.
If you’re afraid you’ll forget to water your plants, consider self-watering planters. I use these self-watering window planters to grow my herb garden and microgreens. I simply have to remember to check the water reservoir about once a week to see if it needs filled.
In fact, not only do I use self-watering planters for my herb garden, but I also use them for all of my houseplants because they completely take the guesswork out of when to water. As an added bonus, they make it easy to keep my plants alive when we go on vacation.
Different types of plants require different amounts of sunlight, so keep that in mind when you’re planning your indoor herb garden.
South-facing windows get the brightest light and the most hours of sunlight. Herbs that require a good amount of sunlight during the day will do best in these windows.
East- and west-facing windows receive sunlight for about 6 hours during the morning and afternoon. However, east-facing windows will remain cooler than those facing the west. Plants that prefer cooler temperatures and less intense sunlight are best suited for these windows.
If you don’t have a sunny windowsill in your home, most herbs will do just fine under full-spectrum grow lights.
Many herbs won’t survive in soggy soil. This is why it’s important to make sure your pots have holes for draining and you use loose soil.
Most other herbs will do just fine in regular potting soil. Keep their soil slightly moist, not soggy.
Herbs to Grow Indoors
Now that you know more about how to grow herbs inside, let’s take a look at some of the best herbs to grow indoors.
Oregano is a versatile herb that you can find in everything from Mexican and Italian to Middle Eastern cuisines. You can pluck off fresh leaves to add them to soups, tomato sauces, casseroles, and more. Or dry the leaves for even more flavor.
Since oregano is part of the mint family, you should only water it when the surface of the soil feels dry. However, make sure the plant never completely dries out. It also prefers moderate to strong sunlight.
Thyme is a great option to have in your indoor herb garden because it has a subtle flavor that complements a variety of foods.
Grow your thyme in a warm, sunny window in fast-draining soil mix. Make sure it doesn’t wilt by watering it when the surface of the soil feels dry.
You’ll be amazed at all the uses you can come up with for basil. In addition to drying the leaves, you can also use them fresh to make pesto or add them to sauces, salads, and sandwiches.
Basil likes it hot and sunny, so place it in a southern or western window or use a grow light. Make sure you avoid putting it in places where it’s cool or drafty.
Also, keep in mind that basil won’t keep growing back again and again like other herbs on this list. Instead, you can only use it until the stems start to grow woody. If you want to make sure you have a constant supply, you should start a new batch of seeds every few weeks.
Rosemary grows in evergreen-like needle leaves and brings amazing flavor and aroma to almost everything you’re cooking. You can use it to complement meats, vegetables, breads, and even herb blends.
Snip off entire sprigs to add to soups and other dishes, or strip and mince the leaves to make dried rosemary.
It prefers hot, sunny, and dry locations, but it can handle cooler temperatures (between 40 to 65º F) as long as it’s still getting strong sunlight.
Sage has a bold flavor and can actually act as a digestive aid to high-fat foods, such as cheese and pork. It’s also great for spicing up vegetables, potatoes, stuffings, soups, and stews.
It’s a versatile herb that can handle everything from full sun to partial shade. It prefers fast-draining soil that lets its roots stay dry.
6. Bay Laurel
Bay laurel is a popular herb for cooking because its thick leaves add flavor to soups, stews, vegetables, and other dishes. You can use garden snipers to cut off large, mature leaves, which have the strongest flavors.
Place the plant in a bright east- or west-facing window and pot it using fast-draining soil. Water it deeply, and let the soil slightly dry out between watering.
Chives are an onion-flavored herb that go great with soups, salads, eggs, vegetables, and meats. They grow best in the bright light of a south-facing window and prefer rich soil.
You can use scissors to cut off individual leaves as needed. If the leaves start to grow too tall and floppy, you can also trim the entire plant. Just make sure you leave at least 2 inches so it can grow back.
Mint plants can grow so prolifically they can sometimes be considered a bit of a nuisance in the garden. Many gardeners prefer to grow mint in containers because that makes it easier to keep it from spreading.
The plant’s trailing stems and fragrant leaves also make it an attractive addition to your indoor herb garden. You can trim leaves or entire sprigs for tea, mixed drinks, desserts, salads, meats, stews, and more. Give the plant moderate to strong sunlight and keep the soil moist to help it grow its best inside.
Parsley comes in either flat-leaf or curly varieties. It doesn’t matter which one you choose for your indoor herb garden. Both provide outstanding flavor to soups, salads, sauces, pestos, stuffing, chicken, fish, and vegetables.
Related: 80+ Vegan Recipes Perfect for Fall
Grow your parsley in a deep pot with rich soil in a window that receives strong sunlight. When you’re ready to harvest, simply pinch individual leaves off near the base of the stem.
Chervil is also known as French parsley and is one of the four herbs used to make the traditional French fines herbes blend. You can steep the leaves in white wine vinegar for a dressing, snip off fresh leaves for salads, or add leaves to fish, meats, eggs, vegetables, and other dishes.
Chervil does best in cooler temperatures and with moderate sun because heat will cause it to bolt. Plant new seeds every few weeks to make sure you have plenty of fresh, young leaves available.
Cilantro has countless uses in the kitchen. You can add sprigs to soups or toss chopped leaves into your favorite Mexican, Asian, or Caribbean dishes. You can even dry and crush the seeds to create coriander and add intriguing flavor to beans and stews.
Cilantro grows best in cool temperatures. It can tolerate a little bit of shade, but it prefers full sun.
Herbs to Keep Outside
While these are the best herbs to grow indoors, the following are herbs you should leave in your outside garden because they don’t do well inside.
While dill has a refreshing flavor that goes well in a lot of different dishes, it grows into a huge, bushy plant, which is why it should stay outside.
But don’t worry, dill actually does great outside because it’s a heat tolerant plant that’s slow to bolt. It’s also an important host plant for swallowtail butterfly caterpillars.
Like dill, fennel grows into a big plant, so it does better in an outdoor garden instead of an indoor garden. If you do decide to grow fennel, you can use it to flavor pastas, soups, meats, vegetables, and more.
The flowers are the harvested part of chamomile, but it’s very difficult to get this plant to flower indoors unless it gets A LOT of natural sunlight. It also might not be great for anyone who deals with pollen allergies.
Although garlic is technically more of a vegetable than an herb, most people use it as seasoning the same way they use herbs. However, garlic needs cool temperatures to grow properly, which it likely won’t get in a climate-controlled house.
Culinary Herbs to Grow in Your Indoor Herb Garden
Having an indoor herb garden isn’t just a nice way to bring some beautiful greenery into your home. Being able to use fresh or dried herbs in your meals is also an important way to protect your family from dangerous heavy metals hiding in store-bought herbs.
Thanks to this list of the best herbs to grow indoors, you now know which herbs you can use to create your own bountiful herb garden.
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