Kitchen Herb Gardening

Learn how to grow an indoor herb garden. Herbs are easy to grow indoors. All they need is sunlight and warmth. If your kitchen windowsill isn’t the ideal spot for growing herbs, branch out into other rooms because herbs add fragrance and a bright splash of color wherever you plant them.

Kitchen Herb Garden

Kitchen Herb Garden | Photo by Meredith

What to Grow: A Matter of Taste

The hardest part of planting an herb garden is choosing which ones to grow. Why not simply go with what you’ll eat?

Do you like Italian food?  Grow parsley, oregano, and basil. If you cook a lot of Mexican, Indian, and Southeast Asian dishes, add cilantro to your garden. And how about rosemary for marinades, sage for roast turkey, and mint for iced tea?

Seeds or Seedlings?

You can grow herbs from seed packets, or get young herb seedlings in small pots from your local nursery.

If you choose seedlings, check the bottoms of the pots to make sure roots aren’t growing through the drainage holes. This indicates that the plant is rootbound and might not grow well even after it’s repotted.

We’ve put together a chart listing easy-to-grow herbs, the best ways to start growing them, and recipes for each.

Herb VarietyGrowing TipsRecipes
BasilStart with seeds or seedlings. See Getting Started below.
ChivesStart with seeds.
CilantroStart with seeds.
MintStart with seeds or seedlings.
OreganoStart with seedlings.
ParsleyStart with seedlings.
RosemaryStart with seedlings.
SageStart with seedlings.
TarragonStart with seedlings.
ThymeStart with seedlings.

You’ll Need:

Soil: Use a mixture of potting soil, peat moss, and perlite. This comes ready-mixed in most garden stores.
Containers: Wooden, plastic, or clay window boxes and pots come in all sizes, shapes, and colors at your local garden store. Just for fun, look around the house for quirky containers like an old teapot or cup. Punch drainage holes into their bases and plant an assortment of herbs and edible flowers such as nasturtiums.
Sunlight: All of the herbs listed above need four to six hours of sunlight every day. If you’re short on natural light, try grow lights.

Getting Started

  • Before planting seeds in soil, soak them in water or place them between wet paper towels and into a plastic bag for 2 to 4 hours
  • Fill containers with potting soil to 3/4 inch below the rim. If planting seeds, sprinkle seeds over the soil and cover them with approximately 1/4 inch of additional soil. If you are planting a variety of seeds in one pot (or in a long window box), designate areas of the container for each herb. Use garden markers to keep track of the plants
  • Water your garden thoroughly and place the container in a warm spot out of direct sunlight. Be sure to water again whenever the soil feels dry to the touch
  • When the herbs start to emerge, move the container to their sunny spot. Again, water them whenever the soil feels dry. A spray bottle is a good way to add moisture without knocking over the delicate seedlings
  • If a large number of seeds germinate, use kitchen shears to snip unwanted plants at soil level, rather than pulling them out of the soil. This thinning helps avoid overcrowding, which prevents the herbs from growing well
  • If you’re planting young herb seedlings, dig a hole and bury the roots in the soil. If you are planting multiple seedlings in one container, plant them 2 to 3 inches apart. The seedling container can go right into a sunny spot
  • Once your herbs are established and growing, get in there and harvest them. Leave at least a sprig of each herb so that the plant can continue to grow. Trimming herbs encourages them to grow bushy — and gives you the perfect excuse to cook with your freshly grown herbs

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