How Do I Grow an Indoor Herb Garden?

Henry Gaudet

An indoor herb garden can provide you with fresh cooking ingredients all year and can make your home more attractive and fragrant. Your indoor herb garden begins with the selection of herbs to be included, a good soil mix and a tray or collection of pots. You will need to give your garden plenty of light, a steady temperature and regular watering and feeding. After your plants are growing, take care to avoid over-harvesting and accidentally killing your herbs.

Sprigs of rosemary and sage.
Sprigs of rosemary and sage.

Your first step in building an indoor herb garden is to select your herbs. A visit to the local garden center will give you the best selection of plants. Speak with the staff members there about the best varieties for your new garden.

Direct sunlight is important to an indoor herb garden.
Direct sunlight is important to an indoor herb garden.

While you’re there, you will also need to get suitable potting soil. Most herbs will need sandy soil with good drainage. Compost in the soil will provide nutrients that are needed for your garden to flourish.

You also will need pots for your garden. Herbs can share larger planters, or you might decide to plant each individually. Individual plants should be in a space 6-8 inches (about 15-20 cm) wide and at least 8 inches (20 cm) deep. Herbs sharing a planter should be spaced at least 6 inches (15 cm) apart, and planters also should be at least 8 inches (20 cm) deep.

Typically, people set up their indoor herb gardens in their kitchens for convenience, but this might not be the best option. Herbs grow best in moderate, stable temperatures. Cooking can drive up temperatures in the kitchen, slowing the growth of plants.

Place your indoor herb garden where it can get the strongest sunlight. The herbs will do best near a window facing toward the equator, where they get direct sunlight. Your plants will need at least five hours of sunlight per day, with eight hours being ideal. If your home doesn’t get sufficient sunlight, fluorescent lighting can help.

Be careful to avoid over-watering your herbs. Over-watering is a common cause of death for houseplants. Weekly or semiweekly watering is all that your herb garden needs.

Even though they don’t require constant watering, your plants might still require moisture, especially during the winter, when your home's heating system likely will reduce the humidity in your home. Set pebble-filled trays under the pots, and keep these trays filled with water. Evaporation will keep the air around your indoor herb garden moist and keep your garden green.

Potted plants also need regular feeding. Feed your herbs monthly to promote growth. Be sure to select a plant food specifically labeled as safe for edible plants.

When your indoor herb garden is flourishing, you can begin to use your fresh herbs for cooking. Be careful, however, to avoid cutting away too much at a time. If you don’t leave enough growth on the plant, it is likely to wither and die.

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Discussion Comments


Growing an indoor garden has caused me to take notice of all the different mini environments throughout my home. Before growing herbs in the house, I had not really considered how much more light one room gets than another during the course of a day, or how one room was more humid than the next.

Getting all the conditions set for your garden can be a challenge. It may help to know that everything you need to grow an indoor garden, including pots, trays and grow lights can be purchased as a set. This may be good for first time gardeners who need a bit more guidance and help until they get more experience creating the ideal environment for their chosen herbs.

Of course, grow lights can be bought separately, and lightening is often the biggest concern for indoor herb gardens since water and temperature are more easily controlled.


What surprised me most when I attempted to grow herbs inside for the first time was the number of bugs and insects the plants attracted. I had read that herbs generally are less likely to be infested by these creatures than are flowers and vegetables. I thought the chance of an infestation would be even less with an indoor garden.

As it turns out, the indoor environment is actually a better place for many bugs and little organisms to grow and feed, so you have to be aware and keep a close watch out for unwanted parasites. There are plenty of natural solutions you can use to get rid of them and help keep your indoor herb garden thriving.

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