Herbs are super easy plants to grow indoors. Fresh herbs add flavor and intense aromas to any dish and taste delicious.
Growing herbs indoors in pots is one of the easiest ways to brighten up your indoor environment but also has some cool benefits including:
• growing your own fresh produce
• saving money
• having a ready supply of fresh herbs every day.
Starting your very own indoor herb garden is a fantastic way for beginner gardeners to start growing your very own fresh produce.
From pots to soil, from fertilising to harvesting, read on to explore how easy growing herbs in pots for beginners is…
Types of herbs
Herbs have three main types: annual, perennial and evergreen perennials.
There are obvious visible differences in plant structure and leaf shape between different types of herbs. But there are also differences in the lifecycle of herbs.
Annual herbs have a specific growing season. It is best to start these as seedlings, harvesting herbs a little at a time until they start to flower. Once they flower, generally toward the end of the growing season, the taste of the herbs will turn bitter, and they will then go to seed and die.
Some annual herbs include:
- Parsley (lives for two years, but is usually grown as an annual for best flavor)
Perennial herb grow for many years – often growing and spreading each year. They are a great investment to get the most out of your garden budget because you can harvest and prune these herbs from year to year.
Some perennial herbs include:
- Caraway (blooms in second year)
- Lemon Balm
Evergreen perennial herbs
These hardy perennial herbs form woody stems and take on more shrubby forms. They stay green all winter, so they’re great for incorporating into your indoor herb garden.
Some evergreen perennial herbs include:
Growing herbs in pots for beginners – the basics
So, we want to make sure you get the juiciest, healthiest growth and plenty of leaves or seeds for you to harvest from your indoor gardening efforts.
Growing herbs in pots for beginners is easy when you know the basics and have access to a few helpful tips.
The choice of indoor herb garden pots is seemingly endless – from individual pots to large indoor herb basins.
Growing each of your herbs in a collection of similar of different pots is by far the most convenient and effortless way to start your indoor herb garden.
Plant each of your indoor herbs in a separate pot, scatter them around your home or line them up on a windowsill. Whatever you choose will bring some bright green into your indoor environment.
Some herbs are a little anti-social and are actually better suited to having their own pot. Whereas some will do well when grouped together.
Mint has a tendency to expand and spread quickly into any readily available space. In a group setting, it will quickly overtake the pot and cause other herbs to struggle. Plant this herb in its own pot to contain its spread and get the best out of your mint.
When grouping herbs, choose varieties that need similar growing conditions. Remember to think each herb’s preferences in terms of the type of soil, sunlight, moisture and other care requirements.
For example, you might like to group mediterranean herbs – such as rosemary, oregano, thyme, basil, and sage – which all thrive in a well-drained soil and full sun position. A group collection like this will make a beautiful center piece in any kitchen.
The advantage of individual pots is that you can move your indoor herbs around from season to season to ensure they get just the right amount of sunlight regardless of the season.
Indoor herbs can be started from seed, cuttings or seedlings. Planting herbs from cuttings (with roots) or seedlings is easier than starting them from seed. But, if you have purchased seeds, just read the directions on the packaging to ensure you plant the seeds at the right depth.
For seedlings and cuttings, start by filling your chosen pot with fresh potting mix.
Make a planting hole large enough for the entire root ball of the seeding or cutting.
Carefully tap the herb out of the seedling container or remove from the water.
Check the roots and gently tease out if necessary.
Place the plant in the hole. Make sure it is at the same depth as it was in the seedling container. Don’t heap potting soil up around its stem.
Place additional potting soil around the plant, pressing the soil down gently to cover all of the roots and to stabilize the plant.
Herbs get their flavor and aroma from essential oils in their foliage. These oils are produced when they receive plenty of light.
Within the home, the best positions for growing herbs in pots are windowsills because most herbs require 6 or more hours of sunshine every day. However, any nice sunny position in your home will be suitable.
Some herbs, like mint, parsley, chives and chervil, will also thrive in less intense light positions.
If you don’t have a sunny windowsill, most indoor herbs will also grow well under a grow light.
The key to successfully growing herbs indoors in pots is drainage.
Indoor herbs thrive in pots so long as the drainage is adequate.
This means that the pot needs to have drainage holes and the potting soil must encourage the free flow of water throughout the pot. In addition, the potting soil must allow any excess water to drain away.
You should select a quality organic potting mix to give your indoor herbs a good start and solid foundation to grow in.
If your chosen pot doesn’t have drainage holes, either reconsider your choice or drill some drainage holes into the bottom.
Never allow your indoor herbs to stand in a saucer of water as they will find this environment too moist or develop root rot.
When potting, before adding potting soil, place some medium grade gravel, mesh or broken pieces of pot over the drainage holes to stop all the soil from falling through.
While most herbs grown in the garden do not require much fertilizer, you do need to fertilize herbs grown in pots. Unlike herbs in the garden, your indoor herbs cannot seek out additional nutrients by expanding their roots into new soil.
The amount of soil in pots is limited to the size of the pot. Therefore it dries out faster and requires more supplementation of nutrients than the soil in your garden.
Initially the nutrients in the potting soil will support the growth of your indoor herbs. However, after about 2 – 4 weeks, the nutrients will run out and you will need to fertilize your indoor herbs.
There are a wide array of commercially available fertilizers – both organic and chemical. We recommend using an organic fertilizer, especially given you will be harvesting and eating the herbs you have grown.
Most fertilizers provide all the essential nutrients for your indoor herbs to grow, but each works at different rates and for different periods of time.
Make sure you read the instructions on the packaging to understand how often you should fertilize your indoor herbs and how much you should use.
Apply fertilizers sparingly to herbs. Heavy doses or fertiilizing too frequently, will produce large plants, but the essential oils that produce their flavor and aroma will be diminished.
In the same way that we have to supplement nutrients to herbs grown in pots, watering indoor herbs growing in pots also requires a little more attention. Pots dry out quicker.
Poke your finger in the potting soil to test if it feels moist or not. If it feels dry, then start watering. If it feels moist, then you can leave it for now and check again later.
Don’t over water – remember that most herbs thrive in moist but well drained soil conditions.
Some herbs will even droop a little to signal that it is time for a drink.
Finally, remember to enjoy both the experience of growing indoor herbs, but also harvesting your herbs.
Pick the leaves from your indoor herb plants regularly. This actually helps them to grow more shoots, become more bushy, stops them ‘bolting’ and will increase your future leaf harvest.
Our article on 9 of the best herbs for beginner gardeners provides more detailed information on how to harvest specific to each herb.
I love this YouTube video called How to Harvest Herbs by Bonnie Plants which shows you how to harvest your herbs for maximum flavor and to encourage your herbs to become more bushy. The video is filmed harvesting herbs grown outdoors but the concepts are the same for indoor herbs.
Whether you are starting from seeds or seedlings, as your indoor herbs grow, you will need to remove any plants that are not thriving. This provides more space, nutrients, and water to those plants that are thriving.
Also, remember to inspect your herbs frequently to make sure you don’t have any creepy crawly pests moving in and enjoying your fresh herbs before you can. If you find any unwanted visitors, you can use our article indoor plant bugs to work out which pest has moved in and how to get rid of them.
Which herbs can I grow?
When it comes to growing herbs in pots for beginners, most of the perennial herbs, meaning those that continue to grow forever, are easiest to grow from seedlings.
You can purchase seedlings from your local garden center. Some supermarkets regularly stock herb seedlings. Some of the perennial herbs include: Rosemary, Thyme, Oregano, Chives and Mint.
Watch out for garden pests:
Inspect any seedlings for pests before purchasing. Do the same if you are taking cuttings from outside to start your indoor herb garden. Aphids, spider mites and scale are common on many herbs.
Many herbs can also be cultivated from a cutting kept in water – allowing the plant to grow roots before transferring to a pot and soil. Some of these herbs include: Basil and Mint.
And some herbs are best started from seeds. Seeds can be purchased from your local garden center, supermarket or even online. Some of these herbs include: Cilantro, Coriander and Chervil.
Our article on 9 of the best herbs for beginner gardeners provides a wealth of information on herbs, their preferred sun, soil, moisture and care requirements.
So, you can see that growing herbs in pots for beginners is super easy and very rewarding.
Many herb varieties will thrive in pots on a sunny windowsill allowing you to keep your kitchen supplied with a range of fresh herbs all year round. Your friends will love you if you give them the odd bunch of fresh herbs for their kitchen as well.
For best results, don’t over water, fertilize with an organic fertilizer, give each herb its own pot and harvest regularly.
Make sure you hang around and check out our other indoor gardening blog posts.
Remember, life is better with indoor plants!