Everyone can grow herbs at home! Gardening doesn’t have to mean a garden! Even if you live in a tiny sixth-floor flat, you’ll still have a windowsill allowing you to grow herbs indoors.
Follow our advice and you’ll soon be enjoying the fruits of your indoor herb gardening!
- Pots of 3″ diameter are a good size for the first sowing with about 3 seeds per pot.
- When the seedlings are established they can be moved into individual 6″ pots.
- March – April is the best time for sowing most seeds.
- Ready-prepared potting compost is ideal as you can be sure it’s disease-free and will give your seeds or cuttings the best start.
- Plastic or glazed pots are best for indoor herbs as they retain the moisture in the soil better.
- Put a layer of gravel at the base of your pots.
- Try ‘planting’ your collection of individual pots of herbs in compost in a larger container. This can encourage healthier growth.
Many of our favourite herbs originate in the Mediterranean or other hot climes and they like the heat and bright light of the sunshine. But watch they don’t scorch! And some, such as parsley, basil or chervil, will appreciate a little shade in the hottest part of the day.
In the winter, the light, even in the sunniest kitchen, will be of a lower intensity than that outdoors in the summer. If you plan on bringing a plant inside, allow it to adjust gradually to the change in light. A garden-grown plant that is forced to make the change too quickly will drop its leaves and may die. Rosemary is particularly susceptible to this. So leave it in gradually increasing shade for a few weeks before making the transition to indoors.
Water your herbs only when the soil is dry – you don’t want to over-water them. Water the pots from the top until it comes out of the bottom. If the water doesn’t come out or dribbles out, check the drainage holes to make sure they’re not blocked.
Good drainage is very important for indoor herbs. They don’t like being water-logged. It may even be necessary to repot them. Adding some sharp sand to the potting compost will help improve drainage, as will a layer of gravel below the compost.
- Feed herbs weekly during the growing season.
- On warm and still days, your herbs might enjoy a little time spent in the fresh air in the garden but bring them in before the temperature drops in the evening.
Herbs grown indoors, just like those outdoors, can be subject to attack by plant pests. To control the pests, wash the leaves with insecticidal soap. Dip the plant in a pail of soapy water and swish it around. Do this weekly – or more often if necessary – and pests should be kept under control.
If the plant is too large for the pail, wipe the leaves carefully with cotton wool dipped in an insecticidal soap solution.
Cats are a different matter! If you have cats in the house and they’re used to lying in the sun on the windowsill, they may resent and try to eat your herbs. Or they may just try to eat them anyway!
What Doesn’t Work
- Growing coriander or other spicy herbs for their seeds as they don’t develop enough.
- Coriander, dill, cress and other annuals don’t regrow once picked. To get round this you need to have several pots at different stages on the go at once.
- Parsley grown indoors from seed isn’t as productive as a garden plant so dig up an outdoor-grown plant and carefully repot it indoors.
- North-facing windows – herbs don’t like the cold.
Some Suggested Herbs to Grow in Pots Indoors
- Basil (Ocimum basilicum minimum) – a compact variety
- Chives (Allium schoenoprasum) – specially developed
- Dill (Anethum graveolens) – a dwarf variety
- Greek oregano (Origanum vulgare hirtum) – beautiful flavour
- Sage (Salvia officinalis ‘Compacta’) – dwarf variety
- Vietnamese coriander (Polygonum odoratum) – not the normal variety but a good substitute that regrows after cutting