A friend called me earlier this week excited to find a selection of potted herbs at a local store. “I want them all,” she said, “can I get them to grow?”
Growing herbs indoors is possible but a little tricky so here are my 11 tips on what to do if you want to grow herbs indoors:
1. Find a spot with at least 6 hours of sunlight a day. South-facing windows are best although I have mine facing more west.
2. Place your herbs away from other plants. A stand that is taller than surrounding plants will work, or place them in an area apart from other plants. You don’t want hitchhiking bugs to find your herbs and most indoor plants have something keeping them company this time of year.
3. Make sure the pots you place the herbs in have a saucer so the herbs don’t sit in water. Don’t use clay unless you have something under it because water moves through clay. Choose plastic, rubber or metal saucers. There are pretty ceramic ones but they will tend to loose moisture as well so wait until summer to use those.
4. Same consideration about what pots to use. I have grown herbs in both clay and plastic pots. In cold climates like ours, furnace heat tends to dry out homes so use a plastic pot instead of clay so the soil stays moist longer.
5. Make sure your pot has drainage holes so the herbs are not sitting in water.
6. Don’t dig up soil from outside. Use a good potting mix. Place the mix in the pot, mist with water and let it drain through before adding an herb plant.
7. If you have your herbs in a window, make sure the foliage is not touching glass so it doesn’t get nipped by cold.
8. Give herbs a weekly mist. Better yet, give them a sink bath, let drain, and return to their window spot to keep their soil moist and hydrated from winter dry heat.
9. Pinch herbs with fingers when ready to use. Cutting with a knife or kitchen scissors may add a metallic flavor.
10. My catnip plants tend to make it half way through winter until they are discovered by my cats. One minute I have a lovely pot of catnip, the next thing I know the pot looks like scissors moved through it. I have pulled one plant through after it was chewed on but I had to put it in a hanging basket to keep it from being a snack.
11. The following are herbs I have successfully grown inside and pulled through winter:
I am now growing a small pot of basil along with rosemary, cilantro and parsley. The basil hasn’t grown much since I transplanted it. During summer, basil prefers temperatures in the 70s so I am trying now to give it similar conditions.
Herbs grown inside will look leggier than growing them outside but they will still give you fresh herbs to add flavor to your winter cooking.