How to Grow Herbs Indoors

Place herbs near a sunny window.

This windowsill garden includes marjoram, rosemary, and lemon balm in individual pots. When choosing an indoor spot for herbs, look for bright sunlight. South-facing windows are best.

Many kitchen gardeners love the convenience of fresh herbs at home, and what could be more convenient that an indoor herb garden? Even if you live in an apartment or condo without any outdoor space, you can grow herbs indoors. The ideal setting for an indoor herb garden is the kitchen, where you can snip fresh herbs and use them in dishes without skipping a beat. If you don’t have a spot in your kitchen, though, you can still grow herbs in any sunny room. Here’s how.

Find the best spot for an indoor herb garden.

To grow well indoors, herbs need as much natural light as possible. Place them in a sunny spot near a window where they’ll get at least 4 hours of sun daily. Windows that face south or southwest are your best shot at sun, though east- or west-facing windows also will do. North-facing windows are not bright enough.

If you’re not sure whether a spot gets enough light, try this test. On a sunny to partly sunny day, turn off all lights and periodically check on the natural sunlight. How much sun does the spot get throughout the day?

Give indoor herbs good drainage.

The best way to ruin a tabletop or windowsill is to let a potted plant drain on it. Likewise, the best way to ruin most herbs is to let them sit in water so the roots will rot. Be sure to use a saucer, liner, or drain pan under the pot to catch water and protect your surface. A clay saucer lets moisture pass through, so opt for plastic, rubber, or metal instead.

Clay pots help with drainage, but they can dry out quickly. If you live in a dry climate or are growing herbs indoors during winter, when furnace heat causes homes to get especially dry, try a glazed or plastic container that won’t try out as quickly as clay.

Use a premium potting mix for containers to pot your indoor herbs. And by all means, be sure your pots have drainage holes!

Indoor herbs are happy with typical indoor temperatures.

Many cooks grow herbs indoors during the winter when it’s too cold outside or too wet to dig in the dirt, but you can grow herbs inside any time of year.  Indoor herbs prefer the same temperatures that most people do—around 65 to 70 degrees F—so if you’re comfortable, they probably are. At night, temperatures near a window may drop to 55 or 60, but most herbs like that, too. Keep foliage from touching glass to protect from getting nipped by cold.

Basil is trickier. Many kitchen gardeners yearn for basil in their indoor garden. If you have plenty of sun and warmth indoors, basil should thrive, but don’t keep it on a cool windowsill. Basil leaves will droop and fade after a short time in cool air. It prefers indoor temperatures in the 70s day and night.

Remember that the air next to a window will be cooler in winter (or hotter in summer) than your average indoor temperature, so adjust your plants accordingly. Dry air, whether from air conditioning or heating, is hard on most herbs, so if you can give them a weekly shower in the sink, they will be happier.

Indoor herb plants will probably stretch and be spindlier than plants in the outdoors, but they will still give you plenty of fresh clippings. Fertilize with Bonnie Herb, Vegetable & Flower Plant Food about once a month if you are harvesting leaves regularly.

Try these culinary herbs in your indoor herb garden:

Chives
Lemon Balm
Marjoram
Mint (Chocolate Mint, Peppermint, Spearmint, or Sweet Mint)
Oregano (Greek Oregano, Italian Oregano, or Hot & Spicy Oregano)
Parsley (Flat Italian Parsley or Curled Parsley)
Rosemary
Sage
Thyme (German Thyme or Lemon Thyme)

10 Comments

NAGWA

Hi, I bought three Bonnie herbs a week ago, thyme , mint and dill. I transferred the dill to a small clay pot. Can I transfer the other two together in one big pot??. Also would I get any flying insects or bugs if I kept them indoors???. Thanks

Danielle Carroll

Yes, you can transfer the thyme and mint into one big pot. Be careful, though, mint has a way of taking over :) It is a fast spreader! It is often grown in a container instead of the ground because of its healthy growth habit. Check out this great idea on planting mint in a container with other plants! Plants grown indoors also have pests :( This is a guide from Missouri on managing indoor plant pests. – Danielle, Bonnie Plants

jen

Hi, I live in Portland Maine and I want to start an indoor herb garden. When is it a good time to plant the seeds, and what kind of soil should I start with? Also, should I put those small stones on the bottom of the pot before potting them?
thanks,
Jen

Mary Beth

Hi Jen,
Year-round herb gardens become a “must have” when you begin by growing a few. The fresh tastes are addictive! We don’t sell seeds or advise on seed starting, but rather give gardeners a healthy head start with our herb transplants. Make sure your intended containers have drainage holes in the bottom, though the stones are not necessary. Sometimes it’s a good idea to actually put the small pebbles on top of the soil for those herbs that like drier conditions, such as lavender, rosemary, and thyme. It keeps the soil off of the leaves, too. ~Mary Beth, Bonnie Plants

Ciaotebaldi

We have a place near Pompano Beach, FL. I just bought your Sweet Basil and Rosemary, but the Rosemary stick sign doesn’t tell me what kind of Rosemary it is. I will keep it on the porch in summer and it can get hot there. Is that a problem for both? When you say “14” pot” do you measure across the round?
The #s on the Rosemary stick are: Y6538-1 and 012224.3063 Thanks
Ciaotebaldi

Mary Beth

Hello, Ciaotebaldi. The rosemary you purchased is Rosemary officinalis, which grows upright in a shrub form (as opposed to those prostrate, or trailing forms). Click the variety description to learn more about its growing habits and details. And you are correct; 14″ refers to the diameter of the top of the pot, from one side across to the other. Enjoy! ~Mary Beth, Bonnie Plants

Mary Anne Glauner

I live in Mesa, AZ where it is finally starting to cool off (74 night-93 /days) I have tried to grow Basil in my AZ Room, which is partially a/c’d, and am having trouble regulating the watering, how often should I water these herbs?

Mary Beth

Hi Mary Anne,
Basil needs regular watering, but be careful that the roots do not sit in heavy, moist soil. Ensure your pot has drainage holes and that the soil is damp about 1.5″ inches down into the soil. When that area is dry, water again. You may also enjoy this article on growing many herbs indoors. ~Mary Beth, Bonnie Plants

Faye Burke

Can any of these start from seed as late as Labor Day and be expected to grow for winter use? Which ones will still be found in stores this late.

Mary Beth

Faye, we do supply summer herbs in select locations at this date, and have supplied select areas with fall herbs like parsley and cilantro as of September 1. If you would like to know if we are supplying your local stores, email our Customer Service via the “Contact Us” page with your ZIP code. We’ll write back shortly with information you need. Happy growing! Mary Beth, Bonnie Plants

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