Herbs make the world go round. Their refreshing aromas entice our taste buds and add extra flavor to our home-cooked recipes. The only problem? They’re not inexpensive to purchase at the store. No wonder so many people are looking into home gardening.
While we all love an outdoor garden, this is out of the question for half of the year in most places in the United States. That’s why having the option to grow fresh herbs indoors in potted plants is such a game-changer, enabling us to grow them year-round.
Another Italian herb that packs a punch in sauces and pizza and has a preference for humidity, oregano is a great and straightforward herb to grow indoors. Make sure you give it plenty of sun by placing it in a south-facing window.
While oregano does prefer extra humidity, it isn’t as extreme as rosemary, so you won’t need to build a tent. Instead, you can place the pot on a tray filled with moistened pebbles. Oregano has good drainage and low to average water needs. It can grow to reach 2 ft tall and 18-inch widths.
This is another herbaceous plant in the mint family. The leaves emit a mild lemon scent, a perfect addition to potpourri. Its citrusy flavor also works well in salads, soups, and sauces.
Lemon balm can be cared for as you would for basil, but beware that this plant is susceptible to certain fungal diseases. Place it in a south-facing window with average watering and good drainage.
There are two subtypes of parsley: curly and flat leaf (also known as Italian parsley). Curly parsley is often used for garnish, while flat-leaf parsley is used for cooking. These herbs can grow nine-to-twelve inches in height and width.
In the winter, you should place them in a west-facing window. Like basil, parsley prefers even moisture in the soil, so good drainage is necessary, but it shouldn’t drain immediately. Not much fertilization is necessary, but be sure to use high-quality potting soil.
Thyme is another fantastic Mediterranean herb often used in cooking, especially meat and soup dishes. However, there are also varietals of thyme used for more ornamental purposes.
Red mother of thyme, for example, is a showy variety of thyme that blooms with red flowers in the spring, instantly improving the aesthetic of your landscape.
Thyme is a low-humidity herb, so you should place it in a dry, south-facing window in winter. Avoid humid rooms like the kitchen. Be wary of too much water — this herb requires sharp drainage and has minimal fertilization requirements.
Chives, also known as scallions or green onions, are flowering plants in the onion family. This herb is often used in Asian cooking to be added to noodles, soups, and stir-fries. It has an onion taste but a more leafy texture. They can reach heights and widths of 10 to 15 inches. Use an all-purpose fertilizer and provide it with average watering.
You can place this herb in a west-facing window in the winter. Over time, chives will multiply. Once they have reached considerable mass, you can divide them. By digging underneath, you’ll strike bulblets and a lot of roots. By breaking some off, you can transplant these into another pot.
As much as we might think of herbs for their aroma and taste in our cooking, there are also herbs you can grow for the benefit of your pets. Catnip is notoriously coveted by cats, which induces feelings of euphoria for them. This perennial has low to average water needs and can be placed in either west or south-facing windows in winter.
They can grow two-to-three feet tall and wide and require good drainage. Once your catnip plant has grown a bit, prune it early and frequently to prevent flowering. Instead of throwing these out, give them to your cat.
Any good Italian will tell you, you can’t live without basil. It’s one of the go-to herbs I’m constantly grabbing in the kitchen, whether for sauces, pizza, or pasta salads. The secret to growing sweet basil is to give it space and room for drainage and to pinch it frequently. Once your basil plant has grown to six inches tall, prune off buds regularly to prevent bolting.
To give your plant enough space and allow it to retain moisture but allow for proper drainage, place it in a large, deep pot and space them about a foot apart. Only water the soil of the plant instead of the leaves, and don’t overwater. Place high-quality potting soil in your pot as well as all-purpose potting soil. In the winter, place your basil in a south-facing window.
Ah, do you smell that? If you grow mint in your home, you certainly will, as its refreshing aroma is potent and relaxing. Mint is often added to drinks such as cocktails and teas or garnish on dishes. However, as great as mint smells, it’s an invasive crop that will take over your entire outdoor garden.
By growing it indoors, you can prevent this herb from invading your other crops. Place them in a west-facing window in the winter and keep the soil evenly moist. They can grow to be 18 to 36 inches tall.
Ornamental sage is often the feature of many stunning gardens, but most people want to grow culinary sage for cooking. Sage is often used to flavor vegetables, meat, and soups and is a holiday staple.
Sage is 2 to 2.5 ft tall upon maturation and reaches two-to-three feet widths. This herb requires sharp drainage and should be placed in a south-facing window during the winter.
Rosemary, similar to basil, is not one of the easiest herbs to grow indoors. This is primarily due to the crop’s preference for humidity, often lacking in northern homes during winter. But, not to fear, this problem can be solved with a bit of innovation. To create a more humid environment for your plant, build a tent around it that traps moisture.
You can do this by installing stakes in the rosemary pot with a draping of clear plastic over the top. Make sure the stakes are much taller than the plant. You can move the plastic to water your plant and then reposition it.
The man made tent will trap the evaporated water, providing more moisture. Rosemary doesn’t need a ton of water but has strong drainage needs. Place this plant in a south-facing window during winter months.
This originally appeared on Planet Natural.
Melissa Pino is a biologist, master gardener, and regular contributor for Planet Natural. Melissa's work focuses on promoting environmentally-friendly practices, helping people create healthy gardens and finding ways to achieve overall health and wellness.