If the winter months have you longing for the warm days of spring and summer and your plentiful outdoor garden, packed with vegetables and herbs to be harvested, there is still hope for a smaller scale version right inside your house, with the proper strategizing. While it may not have the scale and potential of your summer garden, a small indoor herb garden can be maintained with proper care and provide you delicious herbs for your winter cooking, while adding lovely fresh greenery to your space.
A mini herb garden in your kitchen, living room, or sunroom has plenty of great benefits. Besides giving you a project to work on (maybe the best benefit when you’re stuck inside for a pandemic winter), Paris Hannon, owner of Planting with P, says, “Having an indoor herb garden is amazing. You can watch as they grow taller and then use them in foods and teas. It’s also a beautiful way to bring nature into the home, creating a tranquil and peaceful environment.” So, how can you set yourself up for success? Here are some key tips.
Choose Placement Carefully
When planning your indoor herb garden, remember that most herb plants like lots of full sun for most of the day. Especially in the winter when sunlight is harder to come by, this means choosing a south-facing window to locate your plants near, if at all possible. If not, choose a spot near a window or door that gets the most sunlight throughout the day. If you’re not sure, just pay attention for a couple of days to see where sun comes in most. If you get poor light in your home, you can also opt to purchase a grow light to mimic the bright light provided by a south-facing window.
Clear off a windowsill, desk, or countertop next to this window where you’ll have enough space for your plants. Assess the space and how many plants your mini herb garden can realistically fit. Also remember to avoid spots where curious pets or kids would have easier access to your bounty.
Choose Your Plants Wisely
Next, it’s time to select a few herbs to fill your indoor garden. Most likely, each will be in its own pot or planter, so take a look at the space and how many plants will fit with enough room to grow and sprawl out. Then choose plants that will have the best chance of surviving inside, and that you’ll enjoy using! Some herb plants, like basil and cilantro, really need a ton of sunlight and can only survive outside–the light from a window just won’t cut it. However, others that need only partial sunlight will do much better indoors! These include chives, parsley, mint, rosemary, oregano, thyme, and bay laurel. I’ve also had great success regrowing green onion scraps indoors.
Pot for Care First, Looks Second
Yes, stores are filled with adorable and trendy-looking pots, but flip them all upside down and you’ll find that the vast majority of those eye-catching options don’t have drainage holes. Those are critical, particularly for plants like herbs. Without drainage holes, your plants can very easily drown and lose their vitality, or simply die. It sounds dramatic, and it kind of is. Plants are fickle. Opt for terra-cotta pots with holes, or any others you can find with drainage. Plant with quality potting soil, and consider even adding a layer of gravel or sand at the bottom for better drainage. Then don’t overwater. Let the top inch of soil get dry before adding more water.Once you’ve accomplished all these basic steps and you’re feeling more confident, you can always try stepping it up with a fun DIY planting project, or purchase a more aesthetically pleasing herb gardening setup. Just don’t forget these basics!
Annie Burdick is a writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon, but transplanted from the Midwest. She also works as a community inclusion specialist for adults with disabilities. Previously she's edited and written for magazines, websites, books, and small businesses, on an absurdly wide range of topics. She spends the rest of her time reading, eating good food, and finding new adventures in the Pacific Northwest.