Love herbs? Here’s a list of herbs you can grow indoors in your home all year-round, including both annual and perennial plants. Start with existing plants or grow your own herbs from seeds. It’s all part of growing your own food garden right in your kitchen.
Along with herbs, indoor vegetable gardening shares a variety of other food crops to grow in your home.
How to Grow Herbs Indoors
Herbs really do best outdoors, but there are some that do fine indoors if we can provide the right growing conditions.
The number one consideration is light. Most herbs like full sun. If you have full-sun exposure at a window, or grow-lights (you can see what I use here), you should be fine. The minimum amount of full-sun per day for many herbs is 5-6 hours. Chives are an exception, doing fine with 4 hours. Thyme loves light and needs 8 hours. I’ve noted any additional needs in the list (below).
Most herbs also strongly prefer well-draining soil and do not tolerate dampness or sitting in water. Use a lightweight potting mix (you can add perlite for better drainage) will do—and situate the pot (with good drainage) so it is never sitting in a saucer of water.
Annual and Perennial Herbs
Another thing to consider is the expected lifespan of the plant. Some herbs are annuals, completing their lifecycle within a year. Others are perennial and continue growing for several years. Annuals grown outdoors for the summer may have several months of growth left in them and do quite well on a sunny windowsill. Perennials may have years to go and benefit from moderate light and watering indoors during the winter to rest up for the next growing season.
Something I’ve noticed is, the more invasive or aggressive a herb is outdoors, the easier it is to grow indoors. Example A is mint. Unless grown in containers, it can overtake an outdoor garden, and started from seed it can thrive indoors. But the question is, do you really want mint? The number one rule is, grow what you love!
Seeds and Starter Plants
Some herbs have unreliable germination rates, so you may want to use starter plants (established plants from a garden nursery) for indoor growing, or, sow more seeds than you hope to end up with. Basil is a good example of an unpredictable seed.
Transitioning to Indoors
When bringing outdoor plants indoors, be cautious. This is the time to repot the plant, remove dead growth, check for pests, and provide new, light, well-draining potting mix. If there are any signs of pests or disease, don’t bring it inside.
Herbs are comfortable in moderate indoor temperatures of 65 to 70°F (18 to 21°C) with humidity at 30-50%.
Harvesting and Maintenance
Regular harvesting is beneficial for most herbs. While using what you snip off, you also prevent the plant from getting leggy. Never remove more than 1/3 of the plant but do take sprigs or leaves on a regular basis from mature plants. This will encourage new growth and prevent flowering. Herbs grown for their leaves become bitter once flowering begins.
I’ve named a lot of things to watch out for but please know—if you enjoy herbs and indoor gardening—it’s worth it. I grow salad greens, herbs, and various other vegetables indoors each year, and it really is satisfying to have what I need, so fresh and delicious, just feet from kitchen.
Herbs to Grow Indoors
This list started from my own experience as an indoor grower. I also checked numerous sources (books, garden bloggers) to see their lists. My own successes have varied each year, and I’m sure this is the case for others too. Bottom line, provide the most optimal conditions you can, and see how it goes. Many of the annuals should last for months. The perennials may over-winter and return to life outdoors for several years to come.
Annual herbs germinate, bloom, produce, seed, and die, within one year.
- Basil, sweet | Ocimum basilicum – leaves
Not so easy to grow from seed indoors but does okay from a starter plant.
- Chervil | Anthriscus cereifolium – leaves – perennial grown as annual
A relative of parsley, okay with low light.
- Cilantro coriander | Coriandrum sativum – goes to seed quickly (tends to bolt)
Cilantro – leaves and stems
Coriander – seeds
Recommended: Vietnamese coriander is one of the easiest to grow. Try growing sprouts indoors for culinary use.
- Lemongrass | Cymbopogon citratus – leaf stalks – zones 9-10 tropical plant
Start with a stalk from the grocery store. Trim top and grow in a few inches of water.
- Parsley | Petroselinum crispum, Petroselinum hortense – leaves – biennial grown as annual (6-8 hours sun per day)
Can be slow-growing indoors.
Perennial herbs live on for several years. They can flower or fruit year after year. If we are using the plants for their leaves or stems, regular harvesting or pruning is beneficial for preventing flowering.
- Chives | Allium schoenoprasum -Leaves and flowers- zones 3-9 (4-6 hours sun per day)
- Lemon balm | Melissa officinalis – leaves- invasive- zones 4-9
- Marjoram, sweet | Origanum majorana -tender perennial, -leaves – zones 9-10
- Mint | Mentha spp. – leaves – invasive – grow in containers in-ground or above-ground – zones 4-9
- Oregano | Origanum spp. – leaves – zones 4-8 (8 hours sun per day)
- Rosemary | Salvia rosmarinus – tender perennial– leaves (8 hours sun per day)
Can grow from seed or cuttings. Careful not to over-water.
- Sage | Salvia officinalis – leaves – zones 5-9
Can take a long time to grow. Try dwarf varieties indoors. Prone to death from over-watering.
- Tarragon, French | Artemisia dracunculus – sprigs – zones 4-8
- Thyme | Foeniculum vulgare, Thymus vulgaris – leaves and seeds – lots of varieties (8 hours sun per day)
I hope you’ll try some indoor herb growing. And don’t forget to sign up for the free newsletter.
~Melissa the Empress of Dirt ♛