Grow Herbs Indoors for food, scent, or display

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Many herbs are ideal as indoor plants and with so many different types to choose from they can fulfill a number of different roles. Added to your cooking, fresh herbs will add that extra flavour to curries, pasta dishes, gravies and much more. Maybe some fresh mint will liven up your favourite summer drink. Other herbs, such a lavender, can add a delightful natural scent to a room. Whilst others such as spearmint or greek oregano can provide extra colour with their flowers. Some may also have health benefits, such as ginger, cinnamon, or rosemary.

Remember though, that conditions are not always ideal inside. You will need to consider the following factors:

Temperature

The temperature can get too high, especially if the house is heated or if the plants are near cooking appliances.

Air

There can be a lack of ventilation - gas and air conditioning can be particular problems. Heaters can create an environment with lower levels of humidity than you would find outside.

Light

Lighting levels can be too low. In temperate climates, direct sunlight in the Winter is needed for at least 3 to 4 hours for most (if not all) herbs grown indoors. In warmer climates, even in Winter, direct sunlight may burn or overheat herb plants grown indoors. 

Ideally temperature should be around 10 to 23 degrees Centigrade for most herbs. Most types of herbs will grow happily in rooms that are a little too cool for human comfort. Most plants are tolerant slightly above or below the ideal temperature range when exposed for short periods. The main cause of death is temperature fluctuation. A sudden drop of even 8 degrees Centigrade can damage the plant or kill it. Try to minimise winter night temperature falls by checking the plant is out of draughts and removed from cold areas. Also, high temperatures such as hot spots created by sunshine will scorch leaves  and dry out the plant.

Periodically plants grown indoors should be taken outside and given adequate light to build up carbohydrate levels essential for the plant 's growth. This should be done in a temperate season where temperatures are not going to be at extremes.

How to create the right indoor environment 

Herbs are commonly grown on a window sill or kitchen bench, where they can receive plenty of light and are in easy reach when you are cooking. This is an ideal way to grow small quantities of kitchen herbs (which is all that is needed by the average family). You may grow several different herbs in the one container, though it is perhaps better to keep them segregated so that no one herb competes too strongly with the others.

Larger herbs may be grown in larger containers, perhaps being used not only to harvest, but for indoor decoration, and perhaps to add a pleasant scent to the air as people brush past. Where there is central heating, it is important to produce a moist micro-climate around the plant. This can be achieved by the following methods:

Misting

Misting deposits small droplets of water on the foliage of the plant. Misting should be done in the morning so that the foliage is not damp at night. Do not mist when the plant is exposed to direct sunlight. Misting achieves a cooling effect, overcomes moisture loss and discourages red spider mite.

Grouping

Group all pot plants together - air trapped in the foliage will increase the relative humidity.

Double Potting

Use an outer waterproof container and fill the space between the pot and container with moist peat. Double potting provides a moisture reservoir below the pot and also insulates the compost.

Herbs Suitable for growing indoors

In cool climates 

As a window kitchen garden
  • Chervil
  • Chives
  • Coriander
  • Dill
  • Hyssop
  • Lemon Balm
  • Mint (most types)
  • Marigold
  • Mustard
  • Nettle
  • Oregano
  • Parsley
  • Peppermint
  • Rosemary
  • Rue
  • Sage
  • Salad burnett
  • Savory
  • Sorrel
  • Tarragon
  • Thyme
  • Valerian
In a larger container
  • Bay Laurel
  • Coleus caninus
  • Madder
  • Lavender
  • Lemongrass
  • Scented Geraniums
  • Tansy

In warm climates

As a window/kitchen garden 
  • Chives
  • Coriander
  • Ginger
  • Oregano
  • Parsley
  • Sage
  • Tumeric
  • Sweet marjoram
  • Fenugreek

 

Learn More ... if you are interested in herbs take a look at our eBooks and Short Courses; great for learning and for reference.

Fruit, Vegetables and Herbs eBook

Herbs eBook

Medicinal Herbs eBook

Medicinal Herbs - Short Course

 

 

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