Growing herbs indoors allows you to enjoy homegrown produce whether you're short on garden space or just want to add a dash of green to your interior. For newbies, it can also serve as a low-stakes entry into more substantial edible gardening–all you need is a sunny window.
It also makes cooking at home easy–whenever you need some herbs, just clip a few sprigs to use in a recipe or as a pretty garnish.
But before you pot up your first plant, ensure your success by following these surefire strategies, even if you don't have a green thumb.
1. Pick the Right Plants
Most herbs can be grown indoors, but those that tend to really thrive inside include no-fuss picks like basil, chives, mint, oregano, parsley, rosemary and thyme.
You can start herbs from seed or cuttings, which is a branch of an existing plant cut at the node and soaked in water until new roots sprout. However, you may find it much easier and faster to start your indoor garden with seedlings from a garden shop.
2. Select a Container with Drainage
While there are dozens of herb pots you can buy, you can plant herbs in just about any container so long as it has some type of drainage. The pots also need something to protect the surface underneath them like a saucer or round plastic protector which you can find at garden centers.
You can use any size container you like provided the plant fits, but realize that the smaller the vessel, the sooner you'll have to repot. If you are using nontraditional planters such as mason jars, just make sure to place a layer of pebbles in the bottom to catch excess moisture so your potting soil doesn't get saturated.
3. Choose the Sunniest Spot
Most herbs prefer a lot of sunlight. That means you'll want to give your indoor herb garden at least six hours of sun per day to thrive.
To maximize their exposure, place plants as close as possible to your brightest window–the bright light of a south-facing window is best. Avoid setting them in the center of a room or near a window with northern exposure–neither will offer enough light.
Growth may be slow in the winter when there isn't much natural light. During those months, consider investing in a grow light or led light while you wait for spring to arrive.
4. Water-but Not Too Much
You'll be surprised by how little water it takes to sustain a small herb. To make sure your plant grows, keep the soil consistently moist, but not waterlogged. A small watering can or a drizzle under the sink will suffice. If the leaves begin to wilt or turn yellow, scale back the water.
5. Harvest a Little at a Time
Harvest a few sprigs with kitchen shears or by pinching leaves off with your fingers. Bonus: Regular cutbacks encourage new growth. Avoid removing more than a quarter of the plant at a time, which will cause distress and could even kill the plant.
Related: Guide to Cooking with Fresh Herbs
6. Transplant When Ready
Indoor herb plants are not forever. The good news/bad news is that if you do it right, your herbs will eventually outgrow their containers and need more space. If you see roots coming out of the drainage holes, growth seems to have stalled or the plant starts to flop over, it's time to transplant.
In most climates, perennial herbs such as lavender and mint can be started inside and moved into the ground after the threat of frost has passed. Annual herbs can be moved outdoors through the end of the growing season. When cold weather approaches, you can either bring the pots back indoors or leave them outside, but be sure to take cuttings before the first frost so you can start the whole indoor herb garden process over again.
Both annuals and perennials can be moved into larger pots within your home at any time; just keep them close to a light source.
Indoor Herb Garden Ideas That Don't Need a Windowsill
Try these clever, stylish indoor herb gardens, perfect for those who can only dream of a big window right over their sink.
1. Chalkboard Wall Planter
This stunning chalkboard planter from Williams Sonoma lets you grow edible art that looks good and tastes good. If you have a blank wall near a window, tuck your favorite herbs into the 10 cubbies and label to your heart's content. An added bonus-watering is easy. Fill the irrigator on top with water and moisture trickles down slowly to keep your plants hydrated. (There's a tray at the bottom to collect excess.)
2. Grow Anywhere Herb Growbar
Fake a windowsill with this wall-mounted grow light from Food52 that turns any nook into the sunniest spot in your home.
3. Vintage Milk Crate Herb Garden
Fill mason jars with your favorite herbs and house them in a vintage milk crate for easy transport from a window-side table to the sink for watering. Add chalk labels to help you remember what's what. See an easy DIY mason jar herb garden from Better Homes & Gardens.
4. Window Herb Garden
No windowsill? No problem. These adorable planters developed by blogger Stephanie Rose from Garden Therapy stick directly to the glass. A complete kit takes the guesswork out of selection with six different types of seed, plus a marker so you can write right on the window.
5. Macrame Hanging Herb Garden