How To Start An Indoor Herb Garden – Tips for Success
It is one of the most versatile and easy types of gardens to begin at any skill level.
I will walk you through how to get started successfully with some great tips that will keep you from getting discouraged. Growing herbs can be very rewarding and soon you will be reaping the rewards of mother nature right from the comfort of your own home.
I am an organic gardener by personal choice. I will touch on organic methods within this article but will not focus on those alone. I would like to help anyone on their journey towards indoor herb gardening so this guide will provide the information for anyone.
- Sun (light)
The missing ingredients that change this from a blank recipe into a specific herbal recipe are based on which type is being grown and additional specific needs of that plant.
Herbs will require space to breathe and room for their roots to stretch and grow that cannot be provided by regular soil or from even store bought soils labeled as garden soil. Soils labeled potting mixes are the best-growing soils for your herbs.
Potting mix, my recommended choice.
- It is looser than the packaged garden soils. Often with a greater balance of ingredients including rich amounts of perlite.
- Perlite improves aeration in your soil, keeps it from clumping and becoming compact and allows the room for the roots to grow. It can also aid humidity in your growing containers as the water evaporates from the porous surface of these small pieces of volcanic glass.
- In addition, the Potting mix and soils have Peat Moss or Coco Coir Peat and the additions of fertilizers and/or compost.
⇒ Give your plants a great start with a quality potting soil that will keep your plants thriving. You can’t go wrong with this product, loaded with nutrients essential for healthy plants. Click on the link to see for yourself. Fox Farm Ocean Forest Review
You Can Make your own Mix.
- No need to buy potting mix if you are comfortable building up your own growing medium. This is the mix I like to make and find it works great for my indoor herbs and plants.
- Mix equal parts of a good grade compost, to Perlite or Vermiculite, to Peat Moss or Coco Coir. For added and continued feeding to your plants you can add in a slow release fertilizer to your mix per instructions found on the container or organically by adding in about 1 cup of worm casting to every bucket of potting mix made.
Herbs need light to process energy and create the food they need to grow. It is an essential ingredient
Learn about Photosynthesis
To start an indoor herb garden you will need to have 4 to 6 hours of sunlight a day available. When considering natural sunlight the best positions in your home are in Southwest or Southern facing windows. If you have two or more intersecting windows, you can try to place your herb planters near these locations.
If you are unsure about the amount of sunlight being provided naturally for your plants, you can measure it with a sun meter. There are various sunlight meters available that can be placed inside a pot or on a surface that measure the light potential in a given location.
The Grow light alternative:
All is not lost if you do not have the amount of natural light needed for healthy growth of your herbs indoors. The market is flooded with many artificial lighting options that mimic the natural sunlight needed by your plants. They range from fairly inexpensive alternatives to very high-end dollar sun giants used by major greenhouse producers.
⇒Want the best lighting options I have found? You can also get a break down of LED lighting with this review of 10 Best LED Grow Lights by clicking the link.
Herbs and other plants need air in two ways. I am sure you already know that through photosynthesis plants combine water, sunlight and carbon dioxide to produce sugar and oxygen. They also need to have that same air to be able to move around their root system. We talked about this in the importance of having a nice loose soil but it is also important for the next part.
Water is also used by the plant to produce its food and energy that allows it to grow. There can be too much water! You can overwater your plants to deprive them of the air their roots need to grow. Whenever possible water your herbs from underneath by planting them in containers with drainage holes and setting them in a couple inches of water for a 5 to 10 minutes. When watering from above water slowly and evenly and watch for even saturation. Make your watering infrequent allowing the top inch or two to dry out on your containers in between.
⇒ Improper watering is the leading cause of plant failure. Read an article here on How to water your plants.
A decorative planter of mixed herbs can be beautiful and while they are small it may be OK. As your plants get larger, it is best that they have their own space. The top growth, as well as their roots, are going to need space to spread out and grow. Crowded plants and roots can deprive your herbs of the essential water and air they need as well. if your herb plant is getting very large chances are the root growth is getting larger. Watch for the spacing in the ground of your plants every few months and transplant when any signs of them becoming root bound into a larger container.
- Transplants: When buying starter plants for transplanting be sure to inspect them thoroughly. The plant should be vibrant, firm and green. Also, inspect the soil that you can see, there should be no visible fungus or algae. Remember that anything you bring into your home can affect the rest of your indoor garden plants and herbs, so be picky.
- Seeds: Purchase seeds from companies that you trust or that have a good reputation. Check the dates on the package. Although most seeds are good longer than a year from the date of packaging, it is when they are kept under the right conditions. It is difficult to tell how a store cared for last year’s seeds that they may be selling at discounted rates, fresh seeds are always best.
This is just a short list of the many available herbs out there to grow. You can try one, all or none of these. What herbs you chose to start in your indoor garden space will be for your personal preference and following the proper guidelines on the packages of seeds and the information I laid out for you, you should have great success!
Fern leaf variety or dwarf fern leaf varieties are great choices for indoors as they grown much shorter than their larger counterparts. They are slow to bolt (go to seed) and offer a great yield. Germinate in 7 to 21 days from seed.
Santro or Cruiser varieties are great choices as they are quick to germinate and slow to bolt. Germinate 7 to 10 days.
There is a lot of varieties that all add different splashes of color and variations in flavor. I have found them all to be very successfully grown indoors. Note that they do not like cool drafts so if you place in a window, make sure the temperature stays above 60 to 65 at all times. Keep Basil pinched and it will continue to grow bushier and thicker stemmed. Most germinate within 5 to 10 days and require nice warm soil so keep in a warm place during germination like the top of your refrigerator or on a low heat grow mat.
You can get more specific information on growing basil by following this link to another article on this site. How to Grow Basil Indoors -A Family Favorite
Some may consider this a salad green but it is actually a herb that makes a great addition to your indoor herb garden. There is so many varieties, all great to try, but spice things up with a nice wasabi arugula for a kick of flavor. Germination 5 – 7 days, keep a continual planting schedule to keep fresh herbal greens to add to your favorite salads.
Many Varieties out their but be sure to keep mint growing in its own container. Mint has a tendency to overtake a pot and the flavor of other herbs. A little slower to germinate but once growing it is quick to show its beauty and with proper care can fill a pot. Germination 10 -15 days
Mint is a great herb to add to your garden. You can learn more in another article on this site by heading to this link Growing Mint in Containers- Best method
In addition, your herb seed may have some specific needs in order to germinate. Some require light, some certain soil temperatures, and some specific soil. In addition, some seeds even require being cut or split prior to planting or soaked for a certain amount of hours.
The planting depth of the seed is also indicated by the seed packet. This varies from herb to herb as well so make sure you check every packet of seeds to be sure you are giving your seed the best chance for sprouting.
The seed packet will also indicate some special notes about transplanting as well. Some herb plants do not like to be transplanted so it is important to start them in the pot or container you intend to grow them in or in peat pots that can be directly planted in their permanent containers later on.
Most herb seeds can be very tiny and take extra care in planting. Often these very tiny seeds can be found to purchase in varieties called seed tapes (tiny seeds are fixed to strip of tape for easy planting), or pelleted in a bullet of nutrients and soil for easier planting. Both of these methods are also acceptable ways to plant and I have found they work as well as direct seed.
- Read the seed packet completely and follow any steps required before planting (example soaking, cutting etc.)
- Prepare your container(s) for planting by adding your potting mix or if recommended by seed packet seed starter mix
- This can be the permanent container or pot
- Peat pots that you can later transplant
- 6 or more cell seed starting trays
- Pre-moisten your soil prior to planting. This will keep you from washing away the seed or disrupting the seed placement after planting.
- Plant your seeds as instructed by the packet and at the right depth. Spacing is not as important now. Not all seeds will germinate so when planting make sure you plant more than you need and thin later.
- Cover the container with plastic wrap. This is important. It helps to retain moisture in the soil as the new seedling is trying to grow.
- Follow any additional requirements based on the seed packet. Examples include placing under lights or in sunlight, or on heat or heated area for seeds requiring heat to germinate.
- Watch your seeds and don’t allow the soil to dry out. Do not over saturate but keep the soil moist.
- Patience is a virtue to start an indoor herb garden from seed. Soon enough life in the form of emerging herb plants will appear.
- The first set of leaves on most your seedlings are called seed leaves, these are not the true leaves of your herb plant. The next set will be the true leaves. After your seedling has grown 1 to 2 sets of true leaves (depending on seedling size and amount of germination) it is time to thin down seedlings. To do this try to keep the healthiest looking seedlings and following the spacing guidelines from the seed packets. Snip out the extra seedlings to remove. Pulling can damage the roots of the surrounding seedlings.
- When you have reached your 3rd set of true leaves you are ready for transplant if needed, or you are beginning to see roots emerging from the bottom of seedling trays. The next step of this how to grow herbs indoors tutorial will walk you through this.
This can be the quickest and easiest way to start an indoor herb garden. it will give you a jump start you can see right away!
Some recommended suggestions for choosing the right container:
- Pot should have proper drainage. Holes placed in the bottom of the container are a must, to keep from overwatering and allowing the excess water to drain through the soil. For added drainage, a layer of pebbles or coarse sand can also be added to the bottom of the pot before planting.
- A container should fit the plants’ future growth. Most herbs can be kept compact when pruned regularly but some are naturally larger plants and the root growth will quickly outgrow your pot. You can refer to your seed packet for plant size to get an idea of growth size of your herb.
- If you are growing an edible herb make sure to use a food-safe container. Whether you’re purchasing new or making your own from recycled material check that the materials are not toxic. This can seep into the soil and potentially make your plant toxic.
- Fill pot with potting mix to about an inch below the rim
- Make a hole in the potting mix that is large enough to completely bury your root ball of your seedling and place it inside
- Move the fresh potting mix gently around the root ball to secure it but do not compact it too firmly.
- Water and watch for over settling of the soil. Add more soil if needed.
Keep it rotating. This is especially important for plants growing in windows or with natural sunlight. For even growth make sure to keep turning your plants every few days so that all sides are getting the sunlight they crave.
Humidity. Most herbs come from the Mediterranean and a much more humid environment than inside of our homes. Mist your herbs lightly once or twice a week to give them some added humidity they crave. Another easy tip is to set their pots on saucers filled with pebbles. When excess water drains off it will stay below the pebbles and away from the pot but will allow for humidity to increase through evaporation around your plants.
A little breeze or tender touches. You can help keep the stems of your herb plants strong by allowing a light fan to blow on them occasionally or through regular gentle touching. This helps to mimic outdoor weather conditions and strengthens the plant and keeps it growing thicker.
Growing your indoor herb garden will fill your home with great smells of growing greenery and new culinary delights. Friends will admire your green decor and look to you for advice on how to start an indoor herb garden now.
I hope that this guide and tips put you on the path to success in creating your green space with your herbal garden.
I welcome any comments or questions that you have and look forward to helping you with your inside herd gardens. Drop A comment below and let’s start a conversation! ⇓
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Author - Gardener - Herbalist - Owner Inside Herb GardensIt is my pleasure and great joy to share my love of gardening and joy of herbs with you. May they help to enrich your life, improve your health and bring you joy. I am always here to help you along your journey. Let’s Grow Together!