How to Start an Herb Garden Indoors

Indoor herb gardens are an excellent way to reap the benefits of fresh herbs year-round, regardless of the climate or season. The vibrant green adds colour, while the fragrant aroma fills your kitchen. Indoor herb gardens add fresh flavour to your meals and a sense of life and greenery to your home. Indoor herb gardens are more than just a source of fresh ingredients; they’re a portal to a world of culinary creativity and a natural touch in your home. Caring for these little green companions can be surprisingly therapeutic, give satisfaction as you watch them grow and reward yourself with homegrown flavour.

What is a Herb Garden

A herb garden is a dedicated space where various plants are grown specifically for their culinary, medicinal, or aromatic properties. These plants, known as herbs, are typically smaller than shrubs or trees and offer a range of benefits:

Culinary Delights

The most common type of herb garden features herbs used for seasoning and flavouring food. Popular choices include basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary, parsley, chives, mint, cilantro, and sage. These herbs can add depth, complexity, and freshness to your dishes.

Medicinal Herbs

Some herb gardens specialize in plants with medicinal properties. These herbs can be used to make teas, tinctures, and salves that treat a variety of ailments. Examples include chamomile, lavender, calendula, echinacea, peppermint, and lemon balm.

Aromatic Herbs

Herb gardens can also be designed for their fragrance, creating a pleasant and relaxing atmosphere. Plants like lavender, lemon verbena, scented geraniums, and rosemary fill the air with delightful scents.

Picking Your Perfect Plants


Choose herbs that suit your culinary preferences and cooking style. Popular herbs include basil, oregano, parsley, thyme, mint, rosemary, and chives. They all require different amounts of light and water, so researching your chosen herbs will be beneficial. Consider the mature size of the herb plant when selecting pots; for instance, sprawling herbs like mint may require larger containers. here are some herbs that you might include for your indoor garden:

  1. Basil: This culinary superstar loves warmth and sunshine. Opt for Genovese basil for classic Italian dishes or Thai basil for a Southeast Asian taste. Pinch off flower buds to encourage bushier growth.
  2. Chives: Snip away at these all-rounders for a mild oniony flavour. Chives are low-maintenance and prefer cooler temperatures.
  3. Cilantro: This essential ingredient in Latin American and Asian cuisine enjoys plenty of sunlight and well-draining soil. Cilantro bolts (goes to seed) quickly, so plant new seeds every few weeks for a continuous supply.
  4. Mint: Mint is a vigorous grower, so give it ample space in a pot. While refreshing in mojitos, be aware that mint can become invasive. Consider planting it in a pot within a pot to control its spread.
  5. Oregano: This Mediterranean herb prefers dry soil and thrives in a sunny spot. Oregano is slow to mature but rewards you with its aromatic flavour perfect for pizzas and pasta sauces.
  6. Parsley: A versatile herb with a slightly peppery taste, parsley does well in indirect sunlight and moist soil.
  7. Rosemary: With its woody stem and needle-like leaves, rosemary adds a touch of elegance to your herb garden. It prefers well-draining soil and at least 6 hours of sunlight.
  8. Sage: This silver-leaved herb is a companion to many roasted vegetables and meats. Sage prefers dry soil and is on the cooler side of temperatures.
  9. Thyme: Tiny but mighty, thyme packs a powerful punch of flavour. It enjoys full sun and well-draining soil.

Setting Up Your Herb Garden

Herbs Garden

Select a Container with Drainage

Drainage is essential for healthy herb growth. Choose containers with drainage holes to avoid waterlogging and root rot. Choose containers made of breathable materials, such as terracotta, to ensure proper aeration. Terracotta pots offer good airflow and drainage, while plastic pots are lighter and retain moisture. Consider the mature size of your herbs when choosing pot size.

Water & Sunlight

Most herbs require sunshine, ideally 6-8 hours a day. A south-facing window is ideal for most as it offers the most sunlight during the day. However, east or west-facing windows can also work with some planning. Rotate your herb containers weekly for even growth towards the sunlight. If natural light is limited, supplement with grow lights that mimic natural sunlight. Look for LED grow lights that are specifically designed for indoor plants.

Maintaining the right moisture level is essential for the health of your herbs. Water your plants when the top inch of soil feels dry to the touch, being careful not to overwater as this can lead to root rot. Additionally, keep an eye out for signs of pests or diseases and address them promptly to prevent spreading.

Harvesting and Pruning

As your herbs mature, don’t hesitate to start harvesting them for culinary use. Regular harvesting not only promotes new growth but also keeps your herbs flavorful and vibrant. Use sharp pruning shears to trim your plants, focusing on removing any dead or yellowing leaves to promote airflow and prevent disease.

Planting the Herbs From Seeds or Sprouts

There are two main ways to get your herb garden going:

  • Seeds: Starting from seeds is economical and allows you to choose specific varieties. However, it takes longer for seedlings to mature.
  • Seedlings: These young plants from a nursery or garden centre are a great option for beginners, offering a quicker path to fresh herbs.

Planting from Seeds

  1. Moisten your potting mix and fill your pots, leaving about half an inch of space at the top.
  2. Sow your seeds according to the packet instructions, some seeds require light for germination while others need to be covered slightly.
  3. Water gently and place the pots in a warm, sunny location.
  4. Keep the soil moist but not soggy and be patient! Germination times vary depending on the herb.

Transplanting Seedlings

  1. Gently remove the seedling from its nursery pot.
  2. Loosen the root ball slightly and place the seedling in its new pot with the same soil level as before.
  3. Fill in around the base of the plant and water gently.

What herbs are best in a garden?

Basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary, parsley, chives – all thrive indoors with proper care.

When to plant herb garden?

Most herbs prefer warm weather, so start seeds indoors 4-6 weeks before the last frost, or buy transplants in spring/summer.

How to stop weeds in herb garden?

Hand-pull weeds regularly to prevent them from stealing nutrients and water from your herbs.

How often should I water my herb garden?

Water deeply when the top inch of soil feels dry, but avoid soggy soil.

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