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