Herbs add extra flavor and interest to dishes but can be expensive to buy. If you haven’t got a garden, you might want to know how to grow herbs indoors.
Luckily, it’s not difficult, so long as you pick the right herbs and follow our tips. So, whether you want some mint for a lamb roast or parsley for a piece of fish, here’s a small guide to growing herbs indoors (and in your backyard too).
The first thing you need to know is which herbs are better grown indoors and which ones are better to grow outdoors. As a general rule of thumb, soft herbs with tender stems and leaves tend to grow in the summer. Therefore, because they are delicate they should be grown indoors.
Hard herbs with woody stems usually grow in the winter and as such are better at coping with the outdoors.
Once you have decided which herbs you want to grow and where you can follow our tips.
How to grow herbs indoors: a full guide
1. Seeds or seedlings?
Decide whether you are going to start off from seeds or seedlings. You can grow herbs from seeds, but it is easier if you get them already started at the seedlings stage.
Unless you are an experienced gardener, which we’re guessing not, otherwise you probably wouldn’t be reading this, our advice is to get seedlings.
2. Where to position your herbs?
Now you should think about positioning them. Any plant requires at least 6 hours and 8 at best of direct sunlight to ensure healthy growth. You might want to grow your herbs in the kitchen for a trendy look, but if it is north-facing and never gets the sun, they won’t grow.
In the summer you’ll get the most light in the east and west. In the winter the light is best in a southerly direction.
3. Pick your pots
Picking your planting pots is next on the list. You want to get pots with holes in the bottom so that excess water can drain out. Herbs don’t need or like a lot of water and they particularly don’t like soggy bottoms.
If you have a nice decorative plant pot that you really want to use, put your herbs in a container that does have drainage holes and place that inside your pretty pot.
4. Don’t skimp on the potting soil
Our own bodies won’t function well on junk food and the same goes for plants. Feed them rubbish and you’ll get weak stems, small leaves, and plants with little nutritional value. And after all that work! Get good quality organic compost and give your herbs the best possible start.
5. Pick herbs you are going to eat
There is no point growing batches of lemongrass or French tarragon if you’ve never eaten them before and are not likely to. Grow the stuff you already like and use a lot of. Mint, rosemary, sage, these are all household staples.
Growing herbs in your backyard
Many of the rules regarding growing herbs indoors are the same when it comes to growing them in your backyard as well. In fact, a lot of herbs start off indoors, in greenhouses, and then get transplanted out in the spring when they are big enough.
6. What time is best to plant herbs outdoors?
Wait for the warmer spring weeks to kick in, preferably after any frosts. Certain herbs, such as mint, oregano, rosemary, sage, and thyme can be sown in May as seeds. Or you can start them off indoors or in a greenhouse as seeds then plant those out once they have reached a seedling stage.
7. Where to plant herbs outdoors?
As we discussed the ways to grow plants indoors, the best place for herbs outdoors is also a sunny area, but free from wind and draughts. Stack pots against a wall and cover at night if there is a risk of very low temperatures.
8. What kind of pots suit outdoor herbs?
As you have more space outside, you can use bigger pots. Herbs like room for their roots to grow, so use pots that are either tall or long in length. However, some herbs don’t like a potted environment, and after a while will look straggly and tired. Mint is one of those herbs.
It needs repotting every once in a while to cheer it up. Other herbs love pots and can survive quite happily for years. Bay for example and rosemary and sage live well in pots.
9. Do I need the same compost for outdoor herbs?
As you are not in control of the weather conditions outside you need to make sure your compost has excellent drainage. This means a grittier compost with more coarse grit in it so that water can drain out easily.
10. Will outdoor herbs last forever?
Some herbs are pretty hardy like rosemary and get through winter well. Others are less so. Tarragon and mint tend to die back in the colder months but others can be helped by covering in cloches or moving into a greenhouse.
Fresh herbs are a delicious addition to any meal, but they’re not cheap. So we really hope you’ve enjoyed our tips and they will help you grow herbs indoors.