You can successfully grow various herbs indoors by choosing annual and perennial varieties suited to your indoor growing conditions. Use these tips to get started with indoor growing or overwinter your favorite outdoor potted herbs.
Along with herbs, indoor vegetable gardening shares a variety of other food crops to grow in your home.
Herbs to Grow Indoors
While most herbs do best outdoors with full sun during the growing season, with the right plant selections and care, it is possible to grow various annual and perennial herbs indoors on a windowsill or under grow lights in your home all year-round.
Let’s have a look at the plant options and how to provide optimum growing conditions.
- Herbs To Grow Indoors
- Indoor Herb Growing Tips
- Resources | Free Printable List
Herbs To Grow Indoors
I got into indoor food growing by accident when some peas I started indoors ended up producing flowers and pea pods. My efforts with growing herbs (mostly out of curiosity but some for culinary uses as well) followed.
The lists of herbs to try growing indoors (below) comes from my own experience as well as books and other garden bloggers.
I’ve had varying success depending on the plant, timing, and conditions.
Some herbs last for years, others may flourish in a shorter life cycle. Some just refuse to budge.
No matter what, if it interests you, try it! You can buy established plants or grow from seed or cuttings, depending on what’s most reliable for that species.
Along with starting other plants from seed, growing vegetables and herbs indoors is rewarding and—dare I say—can be far more interesting than just growing tropical plants at home.
Annual herb have a shorter lifespan than perennials. They can germinate, bloom, and produce seed within months.
- 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 can live for several years and may 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)
See the Resources section to save this list.
Indoor Herb Growing Tips
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. Your job is to provide the equivalent to a full-sun experience without overdoing it.
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.
If light or heat are too intense, some herbs will bolt, meaning they start flowering early and become inedible.
- 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 life cycle 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 or are just extremely difficult to start from seed, so you may want to use starter plants (established plants from a garden nursery) for indoor growing, or start with cuttings.
- Basil and lavender are both fickle when started from seed with lavender being the most difficult.
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.
- Never remove more than 1/3 of the plant but do take sprigs or leaves on a regular basis from mature plants for food. This also encourages new growth and prevent flowering.
- If an indoor herb does start to flower, it will become bitter, tough and inedible. But, if you want a flowering plant—keep growing!
Free Printable List
- GrowLED Herb Garden | Amazon
- Grow Light Full Spectrum LED | Amazon
- My Indoor Seed Starting & Plant Growing Setup
Seed Starting for Beginners
Sow Inside Grow Outside
by Melissa J. Will
Everything you need to get started with indoor seed starting for indoor and outdoor plants. Grow what you want—any time of year!
This ebook is a digital file you save to your device (not a physical product).
$5.99 US | PayPal, Credit Card, Apple Pay
PDF Format | About Ebook
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 ♛