Herbs across almost every culture in the world have healing properties, so herb gardening has always been a staple of homesteads across the world. The shift to urban gardening has not slowed down this trend, and herb gardens are easy to plant and thrive in portable containers, which makes them perfect for patio/balcony/windowsill gardening.
Herb gardening is definitely a hobby new or seasoned gardeners will enjoy. By following these carefully curated tips, anyone can plant herbs indoors in their kitchen, patio, or wherever they get a consistent patch of sunlight.
But before we dive into the basics of container gardening herbs:
● It’s best to plant your herbs in individual pots so you can customize their care. Depending on the herbs you choose to plant, different herbs have different requirements and you might have to move them around. It is much easier to move and care for individual pots.
● The intensity of the light your herbs get can affect how fragrant and strong they will smell/taste.
● Most herbs have shallow roots, so they thrive in shallow pots. This means you can repurpose household containers for your herbs.
● Herbs overwinter well, so don’t worry about the frost! With grow lights and proper ventilation, your herbs can thrive indoors during the winter.
1. Select the right herbs for your garden
Many herbs can thrive well with carefully regulated conditions, so you can make your pick of any herb depending on the use and the feel you want in your herb garden. For some pointers, here’s our guide on planting an intentional tea herb garden.
Some herbs that thrive indoors include basil, thyme, mint, chives, and rosemary. The best way to start herbs indoors is by getting seeds or established seedlings from a reputable garden store or grower. You can also go the DIY route and regrow herbs like mint and oregano from store-bought plants. One downside of this is that while it is cheap, you are not guaranteed results.
Take advantage of your grower’s expertise and let them guide you through the herb’s growth requirements and any special needs they might have.
2. Pick out your container (plain or fancy)
This is the fun part of growing plants, you get to pick out the kind of pots that suit your taste and add the vibe you want to your herb garden.
While it can be fun to be creative and buy your wishlist containers, there are certain things to look out for when picking pots that will give your herbs the best chance of thriving:
● Material: Some herbs like basil staying on the dry side, so a terracotta pot might be ideal for them. Plastic pots hold more moisture, for plants that like to stay wet for prolonged periods. Fiberglass and concrete are also popular options for herb gardening, but they are heavy and less portable.
● Drainage: Drainage is very important. Any container/pot you decide to use must have good drainage holes or your herbs will be waterlogged.
● Tray/Saucers: Always use a tray or saucer when placing your pots so it can drain directly into the tray. This helps you to keep your indoor garden clean and makes it easy for you to take care of your garden - plus no unsightly water stains.
● Size: The type of herbs you want to plant will determine the size of the pots. Always give herbs plenty of space to vine and spread. You can start herb nurseries indoors and transplant them as they grow.
● Design: You can get creative with the layout and design of your herb garden with plant containers. Use colors, shapes and handy placements to create an aesthetically pleasing herb garden.
3. Prepare your soil mix
The best soil mix for your indoor herb plants are commercial soil mixes that have been specially made for indoor garden plants, amended to suit your herb garden’s needs. Use one-third of potting mix, one-third perlite and one-third vermicompost or worm castings for a balanced herb garden soil mix. You can easily get these at nurseries or gardening stores around you.
4. Make sure your herbs are getting enough sun
Herbs are sun-loving plants so if you want your herbs to be healthy and thrive well, they must be exposed to at least 6 hours of direct sunlight. Indoors, you can place your pots close to a North-facing window where the sun is the brightest but ensure the plants do not touch the window glass as its heat can burn your herbs’ leaves or roots.
You can use LED grow lights in an improvised greenhouse indoors. They have a similar effect to that of the sun and aid the growth of your herbs, especially during the winter seasons.
5. Water your herbs consistently
When it comes to watering herbs, consistency is more important than having a schedule. Keep water moving herbs evenly moist, and let dry soil loving herbs dry out between waterings. A moisture meter will help you to stay on top of your herbs’ needs.