July 14, 2024

Virginia House Ulverston

Home Improvement Ideas

Growing Herbs Indoors Fresh Flavors Year Round

Fresh herbs bring a welcome flavor to pasta, soups and roasted vegetables. It’s easy to grow several herbs indoors year round.

Herbs have varying needs for sun, water and fertilizer. Growing each herb in a separate container makes it easier to manage their specific requirements.

Basil (Ocimum basilicum) is a common choice for indoor gardens. Its bright green leaves add a refreshing touch to soups, salads and sauces.

Sunlight

Herbs need a lot of light to grow well. They need a south-facing window that gets at least six hours of sun daily. For the best results, herbs should be planted in a well-draining soil mixture such as potting mix mixed with equal parts of sand or cactus potting mix.

When herbs are growing in a sunny spot, they should be watered often. Keep in mind that if the plants are getting too much water they can develop root rot. You can use a watering can that has a timer or one of those clip-on lights that turn on and off at specific times to help you maintain a schedule.

Another herb that works well indoors is thyme (Thymus serpyllum). The fresh, savory leaves are delicious in soups, stews and sauces. It’s also a great seasoning for chicken, sausage and stuffing. Another good herb for the winter is chives (Allium schoenoprasum). Their spiky foliage and mild onion or garlic flavor compliment many recipes including soup, scrambled eggs and salads.

Soil

Herbs require rich, well-draining soil. Most herbs grow best in a standard indoor potting mix, although cactus potting soil also works. A good way to test soil moisture is by sticking your finger an inch into the pot – if it’s dry, water the herb.

Herb plants are easy to harvest and replant, so they are great for beginner gardeners. But don’t over-harvest; herbs that are stressed will produce smaller leaves and less aroma.

If your herbs become leggy, move them to a sunnier window or pinch off the tips to promote bushier growth. Fertilize the herbs with a low dose of water-soluble fertilizer twice a month during periods of active growth.

Some herbs that require a lot of direct sunlight outside (like thyme) can be grown indoors in a west-facing window in winter; however, most need six hours or more of bright light each day. During the winter, consider using special lights to provide supplemental lighting for the herbs in your home.

Water

Herbs require a lot of sunlight to thrive, but they also need plenty of water. Make sure your herbs are getting enough water by checking the soil regularly. A good way to do this is by sticking your finger an inch into the soil and feeling for moisture. If it’s damp, then hold off on watering; if it’s dry, then go ahead and water the plants.

If your plants are growing slowly or have stopped producing leaves, it could be a sign that they’re not getting enough light. You can try moving them to a more sunny spot or using an LED light to mimic direct sunlight.

Some herbs grow better in indirect sunlight than others. Herbs like mint (Mentha spp), bay (Laurus nobilis) and rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) do well in dappled sunlight. Others, such as chives (Allium schoenoprasum) and garlic chives (Allium tuberosum), do best in full sunlight.

Temperature

Most herbs grow well with a south-facing window and a little extra light, especially during the winter. If you don’t have a south-facing window, you can use a grow lamp to mimic sunlight. It’s also a good idea to use a low dose of a water-soluble fertilizer every two weeks.

Plant each herb in its own container. It’s easier to meet each plant’s specific needs, such as light and water. It’s a good idea to group plants that require the same conditions together such as basil, chives and cilantro.

Herbs that don’t get enough light will become leggy and may have less flavor. Look for signs of too little light such as the plants wilting midday despite the soil being moist. Other signs include long stems between leaf sets and leaves that are pale or yellow. If you spot these symptoms, move your herbs to a brighter location. Also, avoid drafts where possible. A slight draft may be fine for most herbs, but drafts that are very strong could cause them to droop.

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