Garden Topics: Growing Herbs Indoors This Winter

Growing Herbs Indoors This WinterOne of the most gratifying ways obtain herbs in the winter is to grow them yourself. You simply have to know how to go about doing it the right way. First be aware that not all herbs grow well indoors. The best herbs for being grown inside are: geranium, bay leaf, thyme, chives, garlic, oregano, sage, rosemary, mint, and parsley. for best results, Focus on growing herbs that are easily grown indoors.

Sun, the Next Consideration

To grow herbs indoors for tasty additions to your winter recipes you'll need some sunny windows, and know the light requirements of the herbs you intend to grow. The following is a general guide which may be of help:

Herbs for a Sunny Southern Window: 

Oregano, parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme are examples of herbs that grow well with lots of warm light. These herbs require plenty of sun and need about 6 hours of direct light. Chives will often do well with a southern exposure, but be sure their soils don't become dry. You may need to water them more often than herbs in other windows. That said, herbs in general don't like wet feet and like things on the drier side. The exception is chives.

Herbs that will do well in an Eastern or Western Window Exposure:

Chervil, bay, parsley, thyme, and chives will do well here. These herbs can tolerate less light. Herbs in these exposures should be watered less frequently, but please remember to turn them often so all sides of the plant gets sufficient light. This practice will prevent stretching.

Growing Tips

  1. All herbs appreciate good drainage so adding some sand or vermiculite to their potting soil when you plant them would really help. A better idea would be to use a cactus mix with some added compost.
  2. Plants need some humidity in the air. To make sure your herbs are getting the humidity they need, place a few of them on dishes filled with stones and water. This makes mini-reservoirs that will keep the air around your plants moist. Just be careful to keep the level of the water in the dish below the bottoms of their pot to avoid root rot. Rosemary is sensitive to low humidity' and should be misted twice a week if you have a forced air heating system.
  3. Select pots that are only a few inches larger that the herb's root ball. Herbs are inclined to be more comfortable with crowded roots. Unglazed terra cotta is better than plastic. Terra cotta allows moisture and air to pass through and plastic does not. If gasses in the root zone are not able to move, the roots will rot. This is what happens when the soil becomes "water-logged": the crevices around the roots become filled with water and the roots cannot breathe. If the drainage is poor the roots will eventually rot.
  4. Whether plastic or terra cotta containers are used, it is important to make sure that there are drainage holes at the bottom to allow excess water to drain out. 
  5. Herbs need nutrients in their soil and occasionally through the addition fertilizer. The faster growing herbs should receive a 1/2 dose of house plant fertilizer every two weeks. We recommend Schultz All Purpose Plant Food.
  6. As mentioned previously, turn the pots frequently to keep plants growing evenly on all sides.

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