You may ask yourself: “What herbs to grow indoors?”. Growing herbs in your garden and on your balcony are well known. However, you can also grow herbs indoors.
Growing herbs indoors has many benefits as you can control the environment better in terms of temperature, humidity, water.
Who doesn’t love a nice mint tea in summer, pasta with basil pesto with the family or some nice Asian dished spiced up with cilantro? The same goes for oregano and parsley.
In this article, we want to introduce the top 5 herbs to grow indoors and how you care for them. We will even throw in some tips & tricks on how to grow an endless supply of these herbs along with valuable information about the health benefits of each of them. According to the University of Maryland, herbs offer a lot of health benefits.
Without further ado, let’s jump right in and go through our Top 5 Herbs to grow indoors.
- 1 Herbs to grow: Basil
- 2 Herbs to grow: Peppermint
- 3 Herbs to grow: Cilantro
- 4 Herbs to grow: Oregano
- 5 Herbs to grow: Chives
- 6 The endless herb supply
- 7 Conclusion
Herbs to grow: Basil
Who doesn’t love basil? It is one of the most versatile and most used herbs in kitchens all around the world. You may think that basil is impossible to grow indoors as I did for most of my adult life.
This is mainly because basil is often bought in supermarkets. This basil is produced to be sold and eaten fast. It has travelled and was often kept and transported in cold temperatures in order to look fresh for the end client.
The basil you buy in plastic pots is mostly crowded, and the single plants have to fight for any light. Further, it often comes with little soil and has dying leaves on the soil ground.
Well well, these are for sure not the best circumstances for thriving indoor basil cultivation.
These basil plants may die within days or a week or two as most of mine did in the past. But you do not have to worry. Even such basil can be used to grow an almost indefinite amount of basil and these plants might live for not only days but years to come.
In the next section, we will show you how you grow basil as part of our herbs to grow article.
Herbs to grow: Supermarket-bought basil step by step guide
This is a step by step instruction to buy supermarket basil and keep it alive:
Step 1: Go to the supermarket and buy a basil plant in soil.
Step 2: Once you are home, remove the dead leaves and plant residues from the soil as these might rot and produce fungus and thus harm the basil plant.
Step 3: Remove the soil from the container as it is often of low quality. Exchange it with your own high quality indoor/outdoor plant soil.
Step 4: Thin out the individual plants/stems. They are often very crowded so that you have enough plants for two pots or one larger pot.
Great. The first important steps are done to keep your basil alive, congrats! In the next section, we will tell you how to care for your basil plants as part of the herbs to grow roundup.
Indoor care for Bails plants is easy if you follow some general rules regarding light and watering. Let’s start with the light. Basil plants love light and the heat that comes with it. The more the better in terms of light in general.
Therefore place your basil in a south or west-facing window if possible. But from your experience also an eastern window with a couple of hours of morning light will do. Read our light and window direction article for further guidance.
If you do not have the opportunity to provide such a spot, there are a lot of growing lights available that will keep your basil plants happy.
What comes next?
So we provided enough light. The next thing that we need to get right is the watering. Watering is such an important part in herbs to grow. If you want a general rule of thumb, water your basil every 1-3 days.
But better than a rule of thumb is to actually take that thumb and put it a few inches into the soil. If it is still wet (soil sticks to your thumb), do not water your basil.
Once the soil feels dry, water your basil plants. It is actually that easy. We water our basil on average every two days, each day might be too frequent in most cases.
Please also make sure that that the water drains well and no water remains in the saucer underneath the pot.
That’s it, basil care is easy. Have fun with your indoor basil, use it for soups, make pesto or salads!
As a bonus chapter in herbs to grow, let’s shed some light on how to pluck leaves so your basil plants stay happy. The experts are divided whether you should pluck your leaves from the top or bottom of the plant.
I see a tendency towards picking the top leaves in the community against the general tendency to pick the bottom leaves. In our experience picking the biggest leaves usually works great for us although the smaller the leave the better the taste.
It is important that you pick leaves every couple of days so your plant stays happy. Also, remove damaged leaves or leaves that don’t look extremely healthy.
They are still good to eat. Also, never remove all the leaves on a stem as you will give your basil plant a hard time to continue its growth.
Health benefits of basil
Basil does not only taste good it is also super healthy. It contains antioxidants and is supposed to help fight cancer. It has antibacterial properties and is anti-inflammatory.
But not enough, it is also a great source of vitamins as it contains: vitamin C, magnesium, calcium, potassium, and iron. It may even help you to manage stress. Here is an overview of all it’s health benefits:
Health Benefits summarized:
- Basil is antibacterial
- Source of many vitamins such as vitamin C, magnesium, calcium, potassium, and iron
- Helps to manage stress
- Blood vessel protection
- Helps to fight cancer
Having learnt how to care for basil and gotten to know about its health benefits, let’s now move on to Peppermint as part of the herbs to grow guide.
Herbs to grow: Peppermint
I love a good mint or peppermint tea! The peppermint plant is fairly easy to grow indoors. Its care is very similar to the basil plant.
You will need well-draining soil and a pot with great drainage is optimal as you will not overwater the plant. Use a good potting mix containing sand, perlite and peat and you are ready to grow yourself some tasty mint. Read our guide on well-draining soil for more guidance.
The main difference to the basil pant is that the mint plant likes to be moist at all times. With moist we do not mean that the mint plant is soaked in water but rather that it stays a little moist to the touch and you shouldn’t let it dry out too much.
You can also mist mint plants, something a basil plant wouldn’t appreciate.
Put the mint plant in front of an east-facing window in summer and a west-facing window in winter to ensure enough sunlight for your mint.
Like most herbs, you can grow your mint plant also directly in water. Fill a glass, a vase or a jar with water and put your cuttings of the peppermint plant in it. Make sure that no leaves touch the water by plucking the bottom leaves.
Health Benefits of Mint
Mint is your go-to breath refresher. No wonder it flavours chewing-gums and toothpaste alike. But it is also great against a cold and sore throat as it contains menthol. Peppermint water is even supposed to improve breastfeeding as peppermint water can heal nipple injuries caused by infants.
To summarize this section we wanted to give you a full health benefits overview for mint:
Health Benefits summarized:
- Breath refresher
- Helps against the cold and sore throat as it contains menthol
- Peppermint water helps with breast-feeding
- Great for your digestion
After learning about the mint plant, let’s explore the exotic tasting cilantro plan.
Herbs to grow: Cilantro
Cilantro is next on our herbs to grow list. Cilantro is the leaf part of the coriander plant. Its taste is very unique and only a little is sufficient to give a dish a very distinctive flavour.
It tastes better fresh than dried and it is, therefore, a great herb to grow indoors so you can always pluck some fresh leaves when you need them.
One thing to know is that the coriander plant doesn’t like to be transplanted. We would recommend growing this plant from seeds as it is more fragile than other herbs. It is also quite hungry for nutrients so please have a fertilizer ready.
Important: Use organic fertilizer for herbs and plants you are planning to eat.
Regular fertilizer is not beneficial for your health at all. Also do not use the full strength of the fertilizer. Dilute it and use half-strength at best as you do not want to burn the root system.
Otherwise, you might have to say bye-bye to your cilantro-amigo.
Health benefits of Cilantro:
Cilantro is rich in Vitamins. It contains Vitamin K, A, C and E and is rich in Folate, Zinc, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium and Potassium.
Also, Cilantro treats fungal and bacterial infections, helps the digestion and is good against food poisoning.
And the cilantro plant able to lower blood sugar and kills parasites in the body.
Health Benefits summarized:
- Rich in vitamins K, A, C and E
- Contains Folate, Zinc, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium and Potassium
- Helps to trea fungal and bacterial infections
- Helps digestion
- Good against food poisoning
- Lower blood sugar
- Kills parasites in the digestive tract
Whilst Cilantro is often used in the Asian kitchen, the Oregano plant is a herb often used in Italy and in the Mediterranean kitchen as well as in Mexico.
Herbs to grow: Oregano
This plant loves the heat and is found in the Mediterranean and Mexican kitchen. It needs good drainage as this is essential in herbs to grow. So make sure your soil is well-draining and that you are using a pot that has drainage holes.
Furthermore, a ground containing soil, moss, peat and perlite is best for its well being. Oregano grows best in bright light. 8 hours of light would be optimal.
You get these conditions if you place your Oregano plan in a south-facing window. As the basil the Oregano needs to dry out between watering and profits from regular cuts so new growth can develop.
All in all Oregano is an easy herb to grow. Let’s move over to the health benefits of Oregano.
Health benefits of Oregano:
The oregano plant is a perfect bug repellent but you can use it as a medicine as well. The Ancient Greeks knew this long ago.
Besides that, it can help against cancer, osteoporosis and diabetes and many more illnesses such as headaches, muscle pain and are well known for its anti-inflammatory benefits.
Health benefits summarized:
- Protection against cancer, osteoporosis and diabetes
- Good against acne and dandruff
- Good against muscle pain
- Menstrual cramps
Now let’s have a look at the indoor care of the herb chive.
Herbs to grow: Chives
It is great to have chives indoors as it is a great herb to spice your dishes. It is often used to top baked potatoes. Keep it in a window with 6 to 8 hours of sunlight.
You can achieve this by placing this herb in a south-facing window. Make sure to rotate it frequently so the chives do not grow too much to one side.
The plant also profits from a frequent trim that fosters new growth and prevents blooming.
Once chives bloom the leaves will whiter and turn brown.
When growing chives indoors don’t forget to keep the humidity. You can do this by either place it on a bowl with stones and water or by spraying the chives from time to time with water.
Water your chives once the topsoil of your container or pot is dry.
As with all indoors herbs, a well-draining pot or container filled with again well-draining soil is necessary.
Health benefits of Chives:
Chives have several benefits and was brought to America mainly due to its health benefits. It is mineral and vitamin-rich and helps to prevent certain types of cancer. It contains vitamin K and is therefore good for bone strength.
100 grams of chives will provide you with roughly 145% of the recommended daily dose of Vitamin A. This demonstrates what a powerhouse chives are when it comes to nutritional value.
Only two tablespoons of chopped chives will give you the necessary daily dose of vitamin K. Chives is very nutrient-rich and therefore essential for a healthy diet. In the following, we have summarized the main health benefits for this herb for you.
herbs to grow: Health benefits summarized:
- Chives contains vitamins A and C as well as vitamin KIs mineral rich and contains calcium, magnesium and potassium
- Has antioxidants
- Is preventing the effects of stomach and colorectal cancer
- Helps sleep due to choline
Let’s move over to our bonus paragraph explaining how you can get an endless supply of herbs for your indoor herb garden as this is really the main benefit of herbs to grow, indoors and outdoors.
The endless herb supply
Growing herbs is fairly easy. For that reason, you may ask: “How do you propagate herbs so you have an almost indefinite supply of them?”.
The most important thing to remember is where you cut your herbs. Your cuttings should have an optimal length of around 4 inches. It is important that you take clean scissors or a knife.
You can even disinfect them as you want to avoid to hurt the plant where you make the cut from. If the blades are dirty you may infect the mother plant and it might even die.
Well let’s go back to where to do the cut. Cut herbs such as basil right below a leaf node.
Remove the lower leaves so if you put the cuttings into the water there won’t be any leaves that might rot. Wait until the roots are 2 inches or longer and then you will be ready to plant your herbs into the soil.
It is important to know that you can repeat this step again and again. You can cut the cuttings once they are big enough and therefore multiply your supply of basil, oregano, peppermint or whichever herb you want to get more from.
In the last section, we will summarize what we have learnt and will look forward to how you can get started with your herbs to grow journey.
After learning about the top 5 herbs to grow indoors and the bonus paragraph on how to have an endless supply of herbs, we hope that you take the plunge and start to grow your own herbs indoors.
Ultimately If you get a few things right such as the needed amount of light, water and soil and if you put your herbs in the right container/pot, you will have a sheer unlimited supply of herbs at your fingertips.
You can buy your herbs at the supermarket, either as whole plants or cuttings. When you buy herbs at your garden centre you will often get higher quality plants. You can also raise your herbs from seeds as this is fairly easy as well.