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I've been growing my own herbs for many years. It is fun to do, economically beneficial, and can provide a ready supply of herbs for much of the year, if not all year round.
In general terms, there are three ways to grow herbs.
You need a reliable source of light, such as a sunny window, or a grow lamp. I personally strongly recommend putting the plants in separate pots, rather than growing them all together, as it's easier to cater for each herb's individual needs—things like soil and lighting preferences can vary considerably.
Here, in no particular order, are my 10 suggestions.
I will discuss each of the chosen herbs in more detail below.
Basil brings out the taste of tomatoes and is used extensively in Italian cookery. You can pinch a few leaves off the plant whenever you need them. Basil plants are fairly easy to grow in my experience, but tend to go straggly after a while (see below)
You can buy young plants from garden centers, but generally I would recommend growing this herb from seeds. Another alternative is to grow basil from cuttings.
These plants like lots of light and warmth, so I would recommend placing them in a southern or western facing window, or using a grow light. They don't like drafty places or cool air.
Basil likes rich soil.
This herb has limited endurance. After a while, you will notice that the plant's stem goes woody and the plant becomes straggly. For best results, you are generally best starting a new batch each month from seeds.
Rosemary is a very versatile herb with multiple uses. It works well with olive oil, and can enhance lamb, chicken, pork, or potato dishes. You can either mince up the leaves or use a sprig.
This herb is easiest to grow from young plants.
As long as the light is strong, rosemary will tolerate hot summers and appreciate cool winters. They like 6 to 8 hours of light per day. A south facing window is ideal
Most varieties of rosemary like well-drained, loamy, slightly acidic soil with a pH that is between 6.0 and 7.0. A good method for determining if the plant needs water is to dip your finger into the soil. If the top 1 to 2 inches of soil feels dry, it's time to water. Never let the pot sit in water.
Rosemary plants can grow fairly large, but will last for a long time if looked after well.
Thyme is a versatile herb that's used a lot in Italian cookery. It is delicious in soups and stews, as well as with poultry, lamb, pork, and beef. It is also great when combined with other herbs, such as basil, rosemary, oregano, sage, and garlic.
It's easiest to grow thyme from young plants bought at a garden center, but growing plants from seeds or cuttings works fine too.
These plants like plenty of light. I have had most success growing thyme on an east facing windowsill. As far as temperature goes, thyme is hardy and can thrive at anything between 50˚F and 80˚F.
This herb needs a light, airy, fast-draining soil mix and should be watered when the soil surface is dry.
Like with basil, thyme plants go woody after a while, so you will need to buy or grow new plants to replace the older ones.
Oregano is a member of the mint family and is widely used in Italian, Mexican, Central American and Middle Eastern cookery. It is also used by some cultures for medicinal purposes ranging from treating infections to repelling insects
It's easiest to grow thyme from young plants bought at a garden center, but growing from seeds or cuttings works too.
Oregano likes moderate to strong light. A southern facing window is ideal, or a grow lamp.
This plant requires excellent drainage. I would recommend a soil mix that is equal parts potting soil, sand, peat moss and perlite. Oregano should be watered only when the soil surface is dry.
As with most herbs, you should keep this plant from flowering, as this will reduce the lifespan of the plant.
Chives have a mild onion flavor and are great for salads and sandwiches, or used with eggs, potatoes, omelettes, and soups. Leaves can be clipped with scissors when this herb is needed, though at least 2 inches of growth should be left so that plants are able to resprout.
This herb can be grown from seeds, but are generally easier to grow from young plants.
Chives like bright light, requiring at least four to six hours of sunlight per day. A south facing window is best. Alternatively, grow lights will work too.
This plant requires rich, organic soil.
There are two main varieties of chives, Common Chives (Allium Schoenoprasum) and Garlic Chives (Allium tuberosum), both are perennials.
Parsley comes in curly and flat-leaf varieties—both are excellent for adding color and flavor to salads soups, and sauces. Its fresh taste is also popular in Middle Eastern cuisine.
My advise would be to grow this herb from seeds. This plant doesn't transplant well due it having a long tap root.
Parsley likes four to six hours of direct sunlight per day. I would recommend a south facing window for this herb. You should turn the pot every few days so that the plant doesn't lean.
I would advise good quality potting soil with some sand added to improve drainage.
These plants are biennial which means that they live for two years. At the end of the second growing season, they flower and produce seeds.
Mint comes in many flavorful varieties, including: peppermint, spearmint, orange, and chocolate. The leaves can be used in salads, desserts, tea, and cocktails. It's also an attractive and fragrant houseplant. .
My advise would be to grow this herb from a young plant, there are many varieties, so you will need to pick your favorite or a selection. You can also grow mint from cuttings relatively easily.
Mint likes full sunlight, but doesn't mind some shade. A windowsill that faces north can work well, as the mint receives morning sunshine along with afternoon shade.
The ideal soil for mint is moist, well-drained, and rich with organic matter.
These plants are hardy perennials and aggressive growers.
Cilantro is related to parsley, and used in Indian, Mexican, Latin American, Chinese, Middle Eastern, African, Mediterranean, and Thai cuisines. This herb can be a little more difficult to grow indoors than some of the others in my list, but it's worth the extra effort, in my opinion.
Cilantro should be grown from seeds or starter plants.
This herb needs direct sunlight for four to five hours per day.
A mixture of good quality potting soil plus sand to aid drainage is advised. Cilantro grown indoors also requires additional nutrition, as the root system range is limited and the plant is unable to access as much soil for nutrients as it would growing outside.
It's fair to say that this herb grows less abundantly indoors than when grown outside. If you pay attention to light, soil, and watering, though, and don't harvest too aggressively, you will be rewarded with a ready supply of this herb all year round.
The thick, flavorsome leaves of this plant make soups and stews delicious. It is often combined with other herbs such as thyme, sage, rosemary, and tarragon. You can pick off individual leaves as needed, or harvest a number of them and dry them for future use.
The plants take a long time to germinate from seed and are difficult to propagate from cuttings. I would recommend growing them from young plants. .
Bay laurel grows best in a bright east- or west-facing window. It likes bright sunshine, but also appreciates some shade.
This plant need soil that drains well, but are versatile when it comes to soil types. Ideal pH range is 6–7, but the plant can tolerate a range of 4.5 to 8.3.
Bay laurel is essentially a slow growing tree. It needs to be pruned regularly, if grown inside, but will last a long time if cared for.
Chervil is one of the four herbs used to make the traditional fines herbes blend (the other three are parsley, chives, and tarragon), which is used extensively in French cooking. Chervil has a delicate and subtle taste and is sometimes known as gourmet’s parsley. It goes well with eggs, especially omelettes and scrambled eggs. It is also used in salads.
I would recommend growing this herb from seeds. It is tap-rooted and does not transplant well.
Chervil does not like hot summer heat and sun, preferring light shade and cool temperatures instead.
This herb likes to grow in rich, organic soil. Keep the soil moist but don't allow it to go soggy.
This plant is a perennial.
Some plants simply don't lend themselves to being grown indoors, I would not recommend the herbs listed below:
© 2019 Paul Goodman