Indoor Herb Gardening Tricks of the Trade

You're going to be growing plants in containers so the same rules hold true as for any other plant (indoors or outdoors) and here's a bunch of articles on container growing.

How To Grow Annual Herbs Indoors

The deal here is that you're going to require light to grow herbs inside. Without grow lights, no amount of winter sunshine (south exposure or not) is going to grow a great herb plant.

They require full hot sunshine to grow properly. Use your grow lights and keep the bulbs 8-12 inches from the top of the foliage for best results.

Sow annual herbs every 6-8 weeks (like basil) to keep a new young and leafy crop coming along.

As long as you give them full sunlight and adequate heat, annual herbs will be fine.

Growing on a Windowsill

I know somebody is going to ask if they can grow them on a windowsill. The answer is "yes" but it's a qualified yes. There simply isn't enough light to keep an herb short, bushy and growing well. They'll get tall, leggy with soft leaves.

So yes, you can keep an annual herb "alive" indoors on a windowsill but it won't grow well or taste particularly nice when compared to full sun grown herbs.

Perennial or Biennial Herbs For An Indoor Herb Garden

This is tricky stuff because most perennial herbs want or need a dormancy period of 8-12 weeks - a resting period - so they'll start growing again.

What most often happens is that you bring the herb indoors and it simply fades away over a few months and then dies before you can put it back outdoors. They want the colder outdoor temperatures and rest - and they're not going to produce leaves in this condition.

My advice. Forget about trying to grow perennial herbs indoors over the winter. Grow them, dry and use them in traditional ways.

herb container

This container contains tender perennial herbs and it overwinters in our cold cellar - as I write in winter 2015, it's sleeping through its third winter season. It goes directly outside after I bring it out of the cold cellar in late April or early May.

The Alternative

If you have a cold cellar, then you can bring the herb container indoors and let it go dormant in the cold cellar for 8-12 weeks. Then bring it out into full sunlight and it will start growing.

The plants will be leggy (not enough light for them) but you'll get a small harvest.

If you do this, ensure you harden off your plants in the early spring because frosts will damage a soft perennial plant. (Hardening off means putting it outside for a short time on day one - and then adding an hour or two a day until it's out all day. Then leaving it outside.)

Click Here For Herb Gardening Successfully Ebook

Book cover  Successful Herbs

Biennial Herbs

Biennial herbs such as parsley can be dug in the fall, (get as many of the roots as possible and use a big enough pot to hold them all) potted up and they'll produce leaves right up to Christmas for me.

I keep them cool in the sunroom and clip off the leaves as I need them. Then I throw out the old plant (a biennial wants to go to seed the second year anyway) and start fresh again with new plants in the spring.

Seed Starting

Finally, let me tell you that starting herb seeds indoors is exactly the same as starting any other seed.

As an aside, taking herb cuttings is the same, as well and the link above will take you there.

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