Inside, the temperature is warm, and there’s virtually no risk of frost. Still, although growing indoors typically presents perfect year-round “weather,” gardeners still need to keep on top of watering, since Mother Nature won’t be lending a helping hand. Any herb can be the best indoor herb if you give it the care it needs.
An indoor environment can be the perfect one for growing herbs. Still, too often, people quickly kill indoor-growing herbs by relegating them to too-small pots and leaving them to flower and go to seed. Here’s how to grow these popular herbs in the comfort of your own home, 365 days a year.
1. Lemon Balm
First on this list of herbs you can grow indoors is lemon balm. Lemon balm thrives in bright sunlight and prefers dry soil, so make sure not to overwater this Mediterranean plant. Because it’s slow-growing and prefers full sun, you’ll get the best results by using a dedicated grow light for lemon balm—usually, a sunny window isn’t enough. Lemon balm may survive for a while in low light, but it’ll eventually fade and wilt without enough sunshine.
Growing mint inside means you’ll have a dedicated supply to make herbal teas and tasty cocktails. Mint is also one of the easiest herbs to grow indoors. It does well in almost any type of container, provided there’s adequate drainage. Indirect light is best, but try rotating the plant regularly, so it doesn’t grow in a lopsided fashion. Like you would outdoors, keep mint in its own pot since it can quickly outpace other plants in the vicinity.
When deciding on good herbs to grow indoors, consider tarragon. This lesser-grown herb isn’t likely to survive the winter outdoors, so if you want to harvest it for dishes when temperatures plummet outside, try growing it indoors. Because tarragon can get tall, you’ll need to choose a spot with some vertical clearance—at least 24 inches. Like with most herbs, well-draining soil is key to longevity and preventing root rot. Avoid overwatering tarragon, but make sure it has a humid enough environment by spritzing it with water every so often.
This oft-used, easy indoor herb comes in curly or flat varieties. You can grow it from seed, but you might opt to start with a potted plant instead since the herb’s seeds can take a while to sprout and grow. Choose an area that gets plenty of light—at least 6 hours in a 24-hour period. A windowsill will work during the warmer months, but avoid drafts since parsley is sensitive to very cold temperatures. Mist the plant frequently to maintain adequate humidity levels.
Chervil is a fancy French herb with a delicate flavor. It’s an ideal herb to grow inside since it doesn’t tolerate extreme temperatures—hot or cold. If growing chervil, plan for plants to grow up to 24 inches high. Like most herbs, it’s essential to harvest continuously. The more you harvest, the less likely the plant will flower and bolt, which turns the greenery bitter-tasting.
If you have a spacious kitchen, growing dill can be a cinch. Just expect the tall plant to take up plenty of vertical space. This carrot cousin needs at least 6 hours of direct sunlight and does best in a deep container—at least 12 inches deep—that can accommodate its long taproot. Water dill only when the soil is dried out. As the plant grows taller, consider adding support to prevent it from falling over.
Prune it correctly, and this Mediterranean herb might end up resembling a tiny Christmas tree. Grow rosemary indoors to enjoy its intense aroma and harvest sprigs to maximize the flavor of various culinary dishes. Keep in mind that rosemary grows rapidly and can quickly outgrow its container within a year or two. Make sure it gets at least 6 hours of full sunlight each day (or use a grow light if that’s not possible). The plant will tolerate dry conditions and does better when misted rather than deeply watered.
Sage is another herb that does well in a container. The strong-scented herb goes well with chicken and brown butter pasta. Artificial lighting will likely be required to keep a sage plant thriving, since the herb fares best with 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight. Let the topsoil dry out between waterings but make sure to provide enough ambient humidity either by misting or incorporating a pebble tray in the vicinity.
If you’ve grown oregano outside, growing it indoors is quite similar. Provide the plant with at least 6 hours of sunlight (or artificial light) and make sure the soil has a chance to dry out between waterings. Frequent trimming is also necessary to prevent the plant from getting wild and untidy. Grow herbs with similar needs, such as thyme and sage, alongside oregano, to simplify kitchen garden care.
This fresh-tasting herb can thrive indoors as long as it gets enough sunlight and lives in a pot with plenty of drainage. Letting the soil dry out between waterings ensures that root rot doesn’t set in. Unlike many other herbs, thyme prefers indirect light. But don’t think that means it will survive in the dark. At least 6 hours of indirect sunlight per day will keep the plant happy. Trim thyme regularly to encourage new growth and maintain a neat shape.
One of the most divisive herbs, cilantro isn’t necessarily an easy herb to grow indoors. In fact, it’s a bit of a challenge to grow both indoors and out because it’s sensitive to temperature swings and has a tendency to bolt prematurely. But you can enjoy cilantro’s flavor if you make sure to give the plants the equivalent of at least 6 hours of full sun per day and keep the soil moist, ensuring proper drainage. Harvest frequently to keep cilantro from flowering, turning the fresh-tasting leaves into a soapy-flavored mess.
One of the most popular herbs, people often bring basil plants home thinking they’ll keep them around for months on end. That’s because basil is often touted as the best herb to grow indoors. Basil is finicky, but you can enjoy a steady supply of potted basil leaves. To successfully grow basil indoors, make sure to choose a roomy pot; store-bought basil commonly comes in containers that are much too small to support healthy growth.
Offer the plant plenty of sunlight and keep the soil moist. And keep snipping those leaves! Basil grows quickly, so have a contingency plan in mind for when you can’t use it fast enough—freeze or share it with others, for example.
Herbs can grow well indoors only if you have time to take care of them properly. It helps to invest in indoor lights.
The prices listed here are accurate as of publication on 12/16/21.