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Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Growing Herbs Indoors

Ultimate Beginner's Guide to Growing Herbs Indoors

Growing herbs indoors is not only fun but incredibly rewarding. Nothing has the ability to add a flare to your cooking like adding fresh herbs to soups and stews, and even salads.

Not only are herbs aromatic, but their bright color and flavors complement a wide variety of dishes. If growing herbs indoors is something you’ve always wanted to do, then this guide is absolutely perfect for you!

We go over not only how to get started though, but also which herbs are the easiest to grow indoors, and how to care for them every step of the way.

So, read on to learn everything you need to know about growing herbs indoors.

Indoor Herb Gardening on countertop

How to Care for Herbs Grown Indoors


Herbs grow best when they get full sun. To grow herbs indoors, place them near the brightest window possible. A south or southwest-facing window with direct sunlight is ideal.

Always keep in mind that herbs require a lot of light. Most herbs require at least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day and will thrive in a bright, south-facing window.

Other herbs can withstand 4 hours of direct sunlight and will thrive in an east or west-facing window.

If you don’t get enough sunlight in your house or apartment, you can supplement natural light with an LED grow light as well.

We recommend rotating potted indoor herbs once a week to expose all sides of the plant equally to sunlight. This will promote more even growth.

South-facing windows receive the most light and receive the most hours of sunlight, whereas east- and west-facing windows receive sun for a portion of the day in the morning or afternoon. The sun shines brightly for longer hours in the summer. Some herbs may find this too much. Sofor the summer, consider moving your herbs to a window that faces east or west.

The winter sun is not as strong or as long. For the winter, place your indoor herb garden in a bright, south-facing window to get the most light.

Use a grow light or fluorescent light as an additional source of lighting if your home does not have a sunny south-facing window.


Water can help and hurt herbs. Water is obviously necessary for plants to grow, but too much water can cause root rot in herbs.

Put your finger into the soil up to your first knuckle to test the soil’s moisture content before watering your indoor herbs in pots. It’s time to water if the soil feels dry. If it feels moist, wait a day or two and check again.

Use a tray or saucer underneath your herb plants, and pour out any excess water that may accumulate in the tray.


A windowsill above a kitchen sink provides a small amount of additional humidity, which is particularly beneficial during the winter months when the air inside a heated home becomes extremely dry.

You can also increase humidity by putting pots on a pebble-filled, waterproof tray and letting the water from the pots drain into the tray when you water the plants.

As water evaporates from the tray, the air around the plant will become more humid. Another option is to keep a humidifier nearby.


Herbs prefer temperatures between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Make sure your herb plants’ leaves don’t touch the windows if you want your indoor herb garden to thrive during a harsh winter.

Most herbs don’t mind if your house temperature drops into the 50s at night, but basil is particularly sensitive to cold temperatures. Keep basil in an area that stays around 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

Air Circulation

Make sure your herb plants have good air circulation. The herbs won’t get enough airflow if they are too close to one another, which can facilitate in the spread of disease.

Rearranging your herb garden on a regular basis is a good idea. Avoid allowing the air around your plants to become stale and stagnant. If your indoor herb garden lacks adequate air circulation, place a fan around the plants, but avoid blowing directly on them.


Due to the fact that indoor herbs cannot obtain nutrients from garden soil and rain, they require a little boost from fertilizer. Choose from a balanced, all-purpose plant food or a liquid fish emulsion.

Half the recommended amount of plant food should be used every other week when herbs are growing. In the case of fertilizer, too little is preferable to too much.

Growing herbs in the kitchen

What are the Best Herbs to Grow Indoors?

At first, it might be tempting to jump right in and grow a lot of different herbs. In any case, you’ll have a better chance of success if you zero in on just a few that you’re confident you’ll use frequently.

There are some herbs that are easier to cultivate indoors than others. These include basil, chives, cilantro, mint, oregano, parsley, rosemary, sage, and thyme. We recommend you start with these and build up your indoor herb collection as you go.



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How to Plant and Grow Herbs Indoors

Once you know which herbs you’re going with, you’ll need to go gather some supplies and then dive right into it. This section will go through everything you’ll need and how to get started:


Herbs have different needs for sun, water, fertilizer, and harvesting. They also grow at different rates. It is simple to meet each herb’s specific needs when it is grown in a separate container.

You may need to relocate your herbs to a different window or water them more than the others. Having each plant in its own container allows you to be more flexible.

Your containers must have a minimum 6-inch diameter and 6-inch depth. If you start with seeds, you can start small and then pot up as your plants grow.

Basil and parsley have deep roots, so a taller container will allow them to spread out. Aim for at least 12 inches deep.

Drainage plays a crucial role. Herbs don’t do well in soil that is always wet. In order for extra water to drain out, your pot’s bottom needs to have a sufficient number of drainage holes. Use a saucer or tray to keep moisture off of your windowsill which you can easily find at a garden center near you.

You can grow herbs in almost any container you can think of. Terra cotta, being porous and breathable, is usually more preferable to plastic or ceramic containers, which tend to retain more moisture. Growing herbs in clay pots have been found to increase their success rate.


For your windowsill herb garden, pick a high-quality organic soilless potting mixture. The objective is a balance between good drainage and moderate moisture retention.

For indoor container plants, a good potting mix should be airy, fluffy, and well-draining. The herb might have trouble if the potting soil is too wet.

Don’t use soil from your garden because it will be too heavy for containers and may have pests or diseases.

Look for a soilless potting mix with peat moss (or coconut coir), vermiculite, and perlite.

Some indoor herbs require a sandier soil mix. To do so, combine equal parts of all-purpose potting mix and sharp sand.

How to Plant Herbs When Growing Indoors

Purchase Herb Plants

You can get your windowsill herb garden up and running quickly and easily by purchasing plants from a nursery and repotting them into your chosen containers. Herb starts can be bought at your local nursery or grocery store if you’re following this method.

Grow from Stem Cuttings

Sprouts can be cut from an outdoor herb garden, rooted in water, and planted in pots.

Herb cuttings can be used to quickly establish plants by propagating them. Cut a 5-inch stem, remove the bottom few inches of leaves, immerse the stem in water to root, plant in pots once roots appear, and water frequently until established. Then, as needed, water.

If you learn this skill, you can use it on many other plants as well.

Divisions from Your Garden

Herbs can be dug, divided, and potted from established garden plants. Chives, lemon balm, mint, oregano, sweet marjoram, and thyme are some of the most successful herbs to establish and grow from divisions.

If you have houseplants, it’s best to isolate any new plants from the garden for a while to make sure they didn’t bring in any unwanted visitors like pests or diseases.

Keep an eye on these but put them away in a different room for a few weeks to make sure there are no surprises.

Start Herbs from Seed

Growing herbs from seed takes much longer. However, annual herbs can be easily started from seeds indoors. Examples include basil, cilantro, dill, and parsley. Starting herbs from seeds is a great way to grow a lot of plants if you enjoy the nurturing process of planting and caring for plants.

Companion Planting Herbs

When you’re just starting off with growing your own herbs indoors, we recommend you plant them all in separate containers to really be able to care of each plant separately.

We have a variety of plant guides online on our website here for you to be able to easily and quickly read up on any kind of herb you’re growing indoors, and we’re certain that will help tremendously.

Different herbs like different growing conditions. For example, Mediterranean herbs like sage, thyme, and rosemary prefer dry soil, while mint is a more moisture-loving herb,

So, if you’re looking to plant herbs together, here are a few different ways to group them:

Moisture Loving Herbs: Basil, cilantro, parsley, and mint

Dry Soil Preferring Herbs: Chives, oregano, sage, rosemary, sweet marjoram, and thyme

Cold-Hardy Herbs: Chives, mint, parsley, oregano, sage, and thyme

Slow-growing herbs: Chives, mint, oregano, sage, and thyme

Growing Herbs Under Lights

Tips and Tricks for Growing Herbs Indoors

If you’re looking to grow herbs indoors but don’t feel confident enough at the moment, don’t fret! Luckily, technology has advanced significantly over the past decade and we now have many different smart indoor gardens that do most of the work for you!

Two great companies to check out include AeroGarden and Click and Grow. The former has a wide range of indoor gardens, including the incredibly popular AeroGarden Harvest.

Click and Grow also has a wide variety of options to choose from, including a specialized one for growing leafy greens such as lettuce called Click and Grow 25.

These indoor gardening systems are truly smart, and many even come with vacation mode, wi-fi connectivity features, and app compatibility to make it incredibly easy to grow herbs indoors.

They all come with LED grow lights to make sure you can grow your plants throughout the year in the comfort of your home without ever having to worry about the weather outside. They come as a starter kit with their own seed pods so that you have everything you need to get started right away without any hassle whatsoever.

We have specific reviews and guides on both AeroGarden and Click and Grow that we recommend you check out if you’re interested.

Related Articles:

AeroGarden Products: A Complete Guide for Beginners

AeroGarden Harvest Review: How to Setup and Is It Worth It?

AeroGarden Harvest Elite: Is it Better Than the Harvest?

Complete Guide to AeroGarden Bounty: Is it Worth the Price?

Click and Grow Products: A Complete Guide for Beginners

Complete Garden Tower Project Review: Should You Buy It?

10 Best Indoor Garden Systems of 2023 + Factors to Consider

How to Grow an Indoor Vegetable Garden: A Beginner’s Guide

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14 Responses to “Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Growing Herbs Indoors”

  1. Cathy Smotherman on February 18th, 2013 at 8:47 am #

    In my area rosemary does just fine outdoors in the winter, whether in pots or in the ground, so I’m wondering why you suggest bringing the rosemary indoors in the winter. Possibilities that I’ve considered are: 1) you live in a more northern growing zone than I do and rosemary doesn’t make it through your winters (but you did say it’s a perennial so I don’t know), 2) you want to make it grow more abundantly than it would in winter conditions or 3) you don’t want to have to walk out to a cold garden to harvest it :-).

    • Bosko on March 7th, 2013 at 8:39 am #

      It really depends, on the site especially. We have severe winters here in Belgrade, and yet, I’ve known a rosemary bush to go through all that not suffering a bit. But, it is a rosemary bush that’s grown in a raised concrete bed with lots of soil (a couple of meters deep) and gravel and stone to cling on to, plus it’s an old, hardy plant.

      When it’s in the pot, it’s a whole different story, it needs more water, nutrients, everything..

      However, even with all these and other things considered – the answer for me is – number 3) – I personally don’t want to walk out in order to harvest anything.

    • Denise on July 7th, 2013 at 8:24 pm #

      I am from Canada and in Canada our winters can get as cold as -30C with 2-3 feet of show covering the ground. Nothing grows outdoors in the winter. So I will be bringing my herbs indoors for the winter. Thanks for the article!

  2. eric fooy on April 10th, 2013 at 9:28 am #

    I am starting a indoor garden in a spare bath tub and shower area. I have pots set up in the tub a reflective curtain, a hanging clamp light fixture, and a small clamp fan. I am growing your basic cooking herbs. What size bulb would you recommend and how long should the timer be set to? Should I have a second bulb to cover the other side of the tub? I have started by just clamping the light fixture on the shower head. Wondering if that will be close enough to the plants. I will be ready to transfer once my seedlings begin to show.

  3. jamie romani on November 23rd, 2014 at 9:43 am #

    I am contacting you in reference to being a sponsor, our farm, Evergreen Lane Farm is the first Organically USDA Certified Commercial Aquaponic Farm Off Grid in Montgomery County PA, the second Aquaponic Farm in the US that is Organically Certified.
    We are looking for sponsors that will help us supply grow lights to improve our growing, in return we will advertise, provide feed back and sell your grow lights with our growing systems with our dealership (3 step Aquaponics.com)
    Please feel free to call me at 484-995-9023

  4. Kevin497 on March 30th, 2015 at 3:37 am #

    Impressive write-up! A great explanation on growing herbs indoor. Thanks a lot for sharing your knowledge. This would be a great helpful for the gardeners.

  5. Judy on October 3rd, 2015 at 5:50 pm #

    Hi! I have my full grown herbs: 2 basil plants that are 2 ft each,as well as the following; an oregano, 2 dill plants, a thyme, 2 mint and a “grape sized” tomato plant. I would like to keep them for the winter. We live in Bflo,NY and experience cold winters. My husband put all these plants on a standard card table & another sm table in the basement. It might get to 62-64 degrees in the winter down there.

    He purchased a 75W plant light with a wide base as well as two 48″ plant & Aquarium, F 40, T 12 bulbs.

    My question is, “How many hours a day should we leave the grow lights on now and how many hrs in the cold winter months?” Thank you for your time. I will await your response.

  6. Jerry Thomas on October 24th, 2015 at 9:03 pm #

    The knowledge provided by this post is helping me the best. Thanks for sharing!

  7. Nellie on November 10th, 2015 at 6:59 pm #

    Good day, I m hoping for some sound advice. I’m growing herbs inside in Ohio. I was inquiring how long should the light (t5) be on for maximum growth? Thank you for your time and effort. Have a great day. Nellie

    PPS specific herbs are: sweet basil, marjoram, sage, thyme.

  8. Jason on November 28th, 2015 at 2:14 pm #

    When growing, do vegetables require a circadian rhythm (short day vs long day plants)?

    I know, for example, that poinsettia is a short day plant and will not turn red unless the ‘daylight’ hours are greater than the ‘dark’ hours.

    In vegetables will 24 hour/7 day sunlight promote growth, bolting, kill off the plant? Or will it mean that the fruit/veg is not produced resulting in nothing more than a leafy plant?

    Obviously the duration of daylight hours is a factor I can control when gardening indoors.

  9. Joanne ferrante on February 29th, 2016 at 12:06 pm #

    My grandaughter has a 2 ft x 4 ft high cage for her chameleon. There is a misting system, a basking (heat lamp) and a florescent grow lamp for the plants, In the 5 months she has had the cage the plants are dying because of insufficient light. What would be a safe and efficient light system for this application? Thank you.

  10. Abby@Gardeners Services London on August 29th, 2016 at 3:25 am #

    Very informative and full of helpful tips and directions. It is true you first have to know what herbs you’re going to plant, as they all have different needs and if something works for one, it may not work that good for another herb. I personally love basil and parsley for growing indoors!

  11. Paul on September 12th, 2016 at 2:52 pm #

    Great article, I found it very helpful, thanks.

    One bit is a little misleading though…

    “(a damp basement) may require a dehumidifier to keep humidity levels at an ideal 15 – 30 percent.”

    The 15-30 percent is ideal for the basement, not ideal for your grow tent. based on what Ive read, the relative humidity inside your tent should range from around 70-80% during germination, and then dropping to 50-60% when the plants mature more.

  12. Gilles on January 15th, 2018 at 4:54 am #

    “Your indoor gardening supplier can recommend the best wattage size for your grow area. Roughly, a 400-watt light will adequately flood a two square meter (or six square foot) space.” Unfortunately, this sentence makes me wonder about some of the advice contained above. two square meters are about 21.5 square feet, or almost 4 times the square feet indicated in the text. in terms of gauging power consumption and/or light intensity needs, the information is not useful. it also does not say whether we are talking HID or LED, LED consuming about 38% less power than HID for same light delivery (PPF).