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How to Grow an Indoor Herb Garden

Updated on February 5, 2013
Marye Audet profile image

Marye Audet-White is an internationally known food writer, food editor for Texas Living, cookbook author, and food blogger.

Cilantro | Source

If you need a reminder of spring in the depths of winter or want fresh herbs all year knowing how to grow an indoor herb garden is imperative.  Growing herbs indoors isn't difficult with a few basic materials and a little time. Most herbs grow inside just fine as long as they have plenty of light and are watered according to their needs.

Materials You Will Need

  • A grow light or a window that gets 5-6 hours of sun (South facing is best)
  • Potting soil (preferably organic)
  • Fertilizer (preferably organic)
  • Pots or containers with drainage
  • A pan to keep the containers on
  • Pebbles
  • Herb plants or seeds

Herbs to Grow Indoors

Some herbs grow inside better than others. Here is a list of some of the easiest herbs to grow in your home.


Basil can be used for salads, soups, and sauces. It has a slightly minty flavor and is the main component of pesto. There are numerous kinds and colors, and many basil varieties have unique flavors. Consider growing several types for a variety of uses.


Chives have a delicate onion flavor that goes well in eggs, salads, and to garnish foods. They look like thick stems of grass when growing.


Cilantro imparts a warm, earthy flavor to foods and it is an important ingredient in salsa and other Mexican dishes.


Rosemary will give your kitchen a fresh fragrance. It looks like a tiny evergreen tree and is good with poultry or lamb. You can also add the fresh leaves to olive oil with salt and garlic for a bread dip.

Other Herbs to Grow Indoors

  • Lavender
  • Bay leaf
  • Chervil
  • Oregano
  • Parsley
  • Sage
  • Tarragon
  • Thyme

Tips for How to Grow an Indoor Herb garden

Preparing Pots and Planting

If you don't have a sunny window you can use a fish tank with a grow light over it. This actually makes a very effective "garden" in your home. Place a few inches of gravel in the bottom of the fish tank to set the pots on. This ensures good drainage.

Place some river rock in the bottom of a pot and then fill with organic potting soil. If you are planting seedlings just plant as you normally would. If you are planting seeds then scatter them across the surface of the pot and add a thin layer of potting soil. Keep moist. You will need to thin the plants out as they grow.

Place the pots on the river rock in the bottom of the fish tank. If you aren't using a fish tank you will want to put the pots on small dishes filled with gravel on the window sill.

Using a Grow Light

Grow lights are usually fluorescent lights. They should be placed no more than five inches above the top of your seedlings so that your plant gets plenty of beneficial light. You should ensure that the plants get about twelve hours of light per day. The easiest way to keep up with your plants' schedule is to put the light on a timer.

Most of all don't forget to turn the grow light on. If the leaves seem to be getting scorched raise the light a little bit more.

How Often to Water

Herbs, like any plant, need water to flourish. It is important that you give your plants just enough water, too much or too little will harm them. Usually, watering well once every two weeks will keep your plants in good health. The soil should be moist but not waterlogged.

If the leaves begin to turn yellow you know that you have been watering the plants too much.

Fresh Herbs for Fresh Flavor

You can create a variety of fresh herb gardens in your home for different looks and purposes. You can have a "spaghetti garden" and plant oregano, basic, and even garlic in one area. Keep lavender, lemon balm, and other fragrant herbs for a potpourri garden in another area. You can even grow your own tea garden with herbs commonly used for herbal tea.

Fresh herbs will bring a new excitement and fresh flavor to your cooking. An added benefit is that plants are natural air filters and remove pollutants for the air in your home. Growing them is a great hobby that has lasting benefits.


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    • Tuesdays child profile image

      Tuesdays child 7 years ago from In the garden

      I really, really like the fish aquarium idea!!! I've never tried herbs indoors before, but this article has inspired me. Thank you!!!! and happy spring!

    • FrugalGal profile image

      FrugalGal 7 years ago

      Great hub. I love the fish tank idea. Thank you.

    • kdnse profile image

      kdnse 7 years ago

      catnip also grows great with the fish tank method. I grow some for my cat every couple of methods using a very similar method. great hub

    • Cam Anju profile image

      Cam Anju 7 years ago from Stoughton, Wisconsin

      We have grown our on herbs indoors before, it was a lot of fun and our herb plants got so big we ended up giving clippings to the neighbors! Right now we are not growing herbs but we are growing lettuce on the kitchen counter!

    • amybradley77 profile image

      amybradley77 7 years ago

      I would love so much to do this in the future too!! I do allot of at home made things anyway, and I like to cook healthy but hearty. I just don't have the indoor space right now. Much more room outdoors, and I do want to learn how I could do this. I mostly just grow flowers and some climbing plants, some peony bushes. I had some giant sun flowers last season, hope to do that one again this Spring for sure!!! You can see pictures of our flowers and plants on my HUB. Since I do consider that a home made thing too. Thank you. A.B.

    • Teddletonmr profile image

      Mike Teddleton 7 years ago from Midwest USA

      How to Grow an Indoor Herb Garden great stuff, thanks for the ideas. Mike

    • profile image

      Peter - englisch lernen 7 years ago

      It is very interesting, to see how it works. Mybe a project for the future?

    • Growlightguy profile image

      Growlightguy 7 years ago

      Great hub! I agree that you can use a florescent light to grow the plants but imho LED's are definitely the way to go.

    • Phil The Gain profile image

      Phil The Gain 7 years ago from Planet Earth

      I like the aquarium idea alot. I think this might be my next project. Thanks for the ideas!

    • CourtneyLR profile image

      CourtneyLR 7 years ago

      The aquarium idea is excellent! The methods you describe are much cheaper and probably afford more growing room than an AeroGarden. Instead of telling people about that, I'll just send them to your hub. Thanks so much!

    • lindacee profile image

      lindacee 7 years ago from Arizona

      I love having fresh herbs for cooking at my fingertips. Buying them at the grocery is so expensive. I've had a windowsill herb garden before and don't recall why I gave it up. Your Hub has given me renewed inspiration to do it again. Thanks!

    • teriberri profile image

      teriberri 7 years ago

      Great list! Thank you for this!

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 7 years ago from London, UK

      Thank you for a very inforamative hub.

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 7 years ago from Wales

      Hi Marye,

      This is a great hub for me because i am the one who has bought 3 different herb garden kits and they have all perished.

      So if I am more successful after reading this I will let you know.I also see that you have another hub on this subject so that will be next.

      Thank you so much for sharing.

      Take care Marye.

    • aneesharyan profile image

      aneesharyan 7 years ago

      Great suggestions

    • sueroy333 profile image

      Susan Mills 7 years ago from Indiana

      This was just in time. I couldn't figure out why my chives where turning yellow. I'm a chronic over-waterer!

      Thanks! voted up!!!

    • dallas93444 profile image

      Dallas W Thompson 7 years ago from Bakersfield, CA

      Great ideas...

      I opened this site with the exact profile of your Avatar.. one elbow on desk, chin on hand, looking at screen while moving mouse...

      This would be a great project for a general science class in middle school...

    • rpalulis profile image

      rpalulis 7 years ago from NY

      I think the aquarium idea is brilliant, I might have to give that one a try this year.

    • Avamum profile image

      Sarita Harbour 7 years ago from Yellowknife, Canada

      What a great idea with the aquarium...and to think I was going to sell it on eBay! I'll have to give this a try.

    • Jane Grey profile image

      Ann Leavitt 7 years ago from Oregon

      The timing of this hub is amazing! I've been wanting to grow an indoor herb garden this winter, especially basil, to be able to make my favorite pesto dishes. Do you know how the senate bill that's going through Congress right now will affect our ability to buy herb seeds and grow our own gardens? I've heard it's not good. Any input you have on that would be appreciated.


    • chspublish profile image

      chspublish 7 years ago from Ireland

      Good hub with very useful and helpful ideas, like the use of a grow light, though it might be a bit expensive. I managed, last winter to keep some basil growing on a windowsill. It was a bit thin and leggy, but it did the job. Forgot to grow some this year, so thanks for the comprehensive hub and reminding me to get grwoing with fresh herbs.

    • DREAM ON profile image

      DREAM ON 7 years ago

      Are the grow lights expensive in the winter to use.Nice job.

    • Kim Lynn profile image

      Kim Lynn 7 years ago

      Good practical advice. I really think the aquarium idea is perfect. Thanks!

    • johnwindbell profile image

      johnwindbell 7 years ago from - the land of beards and buggies

      I caught one ....and ya caught my eye with this one.....duh. Very nice. Hurry up people and grow your own; before it's banned by the Food Safty Bill-Senate Bill 510:

      Thank you Marye.