Herbs such as mint, thyme, rosemary, sage, and basil make wonderful indoor plants all year round. To properly grow herbs takes a bit of extra care, however, but the effort is well worthwhile to enjoy these fragrant, beautiful, and delicious plants.
To grow the best herbs…
- Choose the Right Pot: Herbs can grow in any pot, but an unglazed, terra cotta or clay pot is best because air and moisture can circulate more freely. Pots should have proper drainage holes to keep the roots from developing rot.
- Provide Good Drainage: In addition to drainage holes, add a layer of gravel or sand to the bottom of the pot for extra drainage because herbs do not do well in soaked soil. Mixing a bit of peat, coir, or sand into the soil can also increase drainage.
- Get Plenty of Sunlight: Herbs thrive in full sun, at least 4-6 hours daily of direct sunlight. South-facing, east-facing or west-facing windows are best, or supplemental growing lights can be used if necessary.
- Stay Warm: Herbs grow best and stay healthiest in temperatures from 65-70 degrees, with at least a 10 degree drop each night to simulate outdoor conditions. Greater drops into the 40s can be occasionally tolerated, so long as the plants warm up during the day.
- Water Properly: Soaked soil will cause herbs to rot, but they still need adequate moisture to thrive. Water pots when the top inch of the soil has become dry, but do not allow standing water in the saucer or the roots will suffer.
- Keep Up the Humidity: Herbs may not like wet roots, but humidity can keep them lush and beautiful. Growing herbs in the kitchen or bathroom will provide more humidity, or elevate pots above a saucer of water (without touching the water) to increase moisture in the nearby air.
- Fertilize Regularly: For the richest herbs, pots should be fertilized every 2-4 weeks with a gentle liquid fertilizer added to regular watering. Smaller pots should be fertilized more frequently, while larger pots do not need as much supplemental nutrition.
- Control Insects: If mildew or insects become a problem, regular spray baths can help keep herbs healthy, or opt for a gentle insecticide soap spray. Follow instructions carefully and monitor plants closely to be sure insects do not spread, and discard heavily infected plants if necessary.
- Harvest Properly: When herbs are ready to harvest, pinch or trim suitable leaves and sprigs with clean pruning shears or scissors. Only harvest as much as needed, however, always leaving more than half the plant intact to minimize stress and encourage additional growth.
Herbs can be rewarding to grow indoors, and with proper care, they can be a thriving part of any indoor garden.