I love the satisfaction of bringing something to life. Just by planting the tiniest seeds into a black blanket of soil and watching day by day until finally that bright speck of green emerges and you have new life. And not only something that you grew but something that will nourish you in return.
I grew up around fresh herbs and a mother that loved to garden. We lived in Mississippi where the weather was mostly humid, mostly warm and more sunny than not. So it was perfect for patio plants and backyard gardens. We had flowers galore, giant pots of herbs and some vegetables every now and then.
Now, I’m in Arkansas, working from home and I have the time to invest in my own little herb garden. I live in an apartment on the 2nd floor with a balcony so I don’t have much room for an outdoor garden like I grew up with.
Unfortunately, my apartment almost never gets direct sunlight. But that doesn’t mean that my plants won’t survive.
Grab a snack and something to drink and follow along. From one beginner to another, today we’re talking about how to grow your own herbs indoors!

First things first, choose your window.

Before committing to growing your own herbs indoors you’ll need to choose a window that gets good lighting. For me, it’s our guest bedroom window that receives mostly indirect sunlight, but also receives direct sunlight for a few hours a day. This can be tricky when trying to grow windowsill herbs. Though there are a few herbs that like shade, most herbs are going to need at least 5 hours of direct sunlight.
The picture above was taken in September where it got more sun than it does now and my little plants were thriving! 
If you have a south facing window, this will be your best bet for direct sunlight! The more direct sunlight your herbs get, the better their flavor will be and the more they will grow. If you live somewhere like I do, your plants can also thrive on 6-8 hours of indirect sunlight.
However, I have had successful growth despite the limited amount of direct sunlight this winter!

I’ve got my window, which herbs should I grow?

So you’ve got your south facing window and you’re ready to pick out your herbs. Remember, most herbs like full sun but some can thrive off the shade too. But you also want to pick herbs you can use and benefit from so we’re going to talk about a few of my favorites today!
Herbs that love to bathe in the sun are basil, oregano, rosemary and thyme. However, in the winter months when your window doesn’t receive much sun, or if you are in a location that doesn’t often receive direct sunlight like mine, herbs like cilantro, dill, parsley, chives and mint are great shade-tolerant herbs for indoor growth.
There are TONS of herbs out in the world, but we’re starting with some basics; most of these I have planted or have seeds for in my home.


Alright, I’ve bought my seeds, how do I take care of them?

Basil does not like the winter and is extremely sensitive to frost. Cool drafty spots can cause it to die off quickly, when it’s already a short term plant. For best results, plant in the summer in a window that receives at least 6 hours of sunlight. To keep your basil going, it’s best to plant seeds in a new pot every few weeks or buy an already grown basil from the store to pot once you get home. For growth, it likes a lot of room for air to circulate, so go for a larger pot. Basil likes it’s soil to be kept moist but not soggy.
Oregano is an easy plant to grow year round indoors. It can withstand 55-75°F. It’s easy to grow from the seed, but I purchased mine from Whole Foods in September and it’s still thriving now in February! Oregano likes 6-8 hours of sunlight, but can survive on 4-6 hours. Oregano does not like to dry out so when you see the top of the soil getting dry, be sure to water it. You can use a spray bottle to to keep it moist, but I like to take my plants to the kitchen sink, turn on warm water with low pressure and use my sprayer to water them and let them drain out in the sink.
Rosemary is a great plant to grow indoors because not only is it packed with flavor but it’s also packed with fragrance. Snip a few leaves and the woody evergreen scent will fill the room! Rosemary loves the sun, but prefers cooler temperatures. Where it can withstand summer temps up to 80°F it prefers 45-75°F. Rosemary likes a well drained soil. Let the first few inches of soil dry out before watering again. Rosemary bushes are easy to harvest and maintain. They can grow outwards like a traditional bush if not trimmed, but you can also tame it into a tiny looking tree!

Thyme needs about 6 hours of sunlight and prefers dry climates. It thrives in temps from 50-85°F and well drained soil. Only water when the surface of the soil is dry, but don’t let it wilt. If kept too wet, the roots can easily rot. Thyme is considered a semi-evergreen, meaning it will retain some of its foliage in the winter but not all. For best results, I would research a winter soil!
Cilantro is another great herb to grow that matures quickly. It’s a cool season herb making it perfect for growing indoors during the winter months! Cilantro enjoys the sunlight, but appreciates the shade as well. It doesn’t like to be transplanted so once it’s grown just let it do it’s thing! One really cool fact about cilantro, is after it bolts the flowers will produce seeds. Before they fall out of the flower you can collect these and let them dry out on newspaper, packing paper or in a dehydrator. These seeds now become coriander, which is a cooking spice that goes great in curry and is also used for pickling vegetables and brewing beer!
*Bolting is basically when herbs get stressed. Kind of like many people’s first reaction to stress is to bolt! Bolting typically happens when the herb is exposed to too much heat. It produces a flower, wanting to reproduce before it dies. A little dramatic sounding, but poetic at the same time. The flower produces a seed so that you can collect them and start again with a new plant. The circle of life! 
Dill is another herb that can flourish in sun or shade. Where most plants are fine to be potted in smaller planters until they grow large enough to be transplanted, I would suggest starting dill in at least a 12″ pot because it grows long tap roots. Dill needs 6-8 hours of sunlight and can withstand temps from 60-90°F. Dill likes a moist soil when watering, but let the top of the soil dry 1-2″ before watering again. Dill weeds are ready to harvest 6-8 weeks after planting. Like cilantro, they also produce seeds and the seeds are ready to harvest once they turn a tan-ish color. Dill seeds can be used to replant new dill or used in salad dressings, meat rubs and more!

Parsley is a universally liked herb that is commonly grown in indoor gardens. However, it is a patient plant that takes several weeks to sprout. It needs at least 6 hours of full sun exposure. So if you’re looking to plant this in the winter, I would suggest waiting until the days are a little longer with more sun exposure. Parsley will tolerate 50-85°F. Parsley likes moist soil and only needs to be watered again once the first few inches are dry. When you’re ready to clip parsley for cooking, start from the outer leaves and work your way in. Parsley will grow a bloom and it is best to harvest it before the herb bolts.
Chives are one of the easiest plants to grow. They love bright light, but can also tolerate the low light that winter brings. They can also withstand the temperature changes near a window, unlike basil. Chives grow in temps ranging from 55-75 °F, so in winter it’s a good idea to bring them away from the window until the sun warms it up. Chives need at least 5 hours of full sun a day. Chives can last for years if taken care of properly! They do, however, multiply like crazy so be sure to divide them up once they get to growing.
Mint takes little care when grown indoors in a contained pot. It basically just needs water and then once it’s grown, you can clip it with scissors for you to enjoy in foods or drinks! Compared to all the other herbs, mint actually prefers indirect sunlight making it the ideal herb for indoor winter gardens. If you want to keep your mint indoors year round, place it in front of east facing windows in the spring and summer, and west facing windows in the fall and winter. Mint likes the temp around 65-70°F during the day and 55-60°F at night.

My advice and other tips on indoor herbs!

An easy way to avoid your window herbs from getting too cold in the winter is to remove them from the window at night. Right now I have mine sat on a TV tray up against the window and at night I move the TV tray back and close the curtains to try to keep as much warmth in the room as possible. Unfortunately for them, I’m a crazy person who sleeps with the AC on in the winter so if you keep your heat on at night your herbs are going to be more grateful than mine! (See picture above that was taken a few days ago.)
But leaving your heat on too much in the winter can also dehydrate your herbs. This is an easy fix. You can place a few saucers or ramekins with water near your plants to add moisture into their space or you can place a humidifier in that room! Here’s the one I have that I literally take with me from room to room.
For plants that need that extra heat like basil you can also purchase a heat lamp. I have not experimented with these yet, but I have a friend who has fostered around 40 plants and they love their heat lamps!

Get out there and grow your own garden.

Have you ever grown your own herbs? If not, don’t be afraid! I’m still new at growing my own herbs and I’m learning new things every day. Fresh herbs have tons of benefits and each herb has a lengthy list as to why they’re good for you. Fresh herbs can help manage heart disease, cancer and diabetes. They also provide anti-inflammatory and anti-tumor properties and so much more!
One thing I love most about my own herbs is the satisfaction of walking over to my herb garden while I’m cooking and trimming super fresh homegrown herbs to add to my meals.

If you have your own herb garden or are looking into growing your own herbs and have any questions, let me know in the comments below. I would love to hear from you!
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Remember to be brave in trying new things and always cook with love!
Until next time,
Haley | Creator of Haley’s Kitchen

18 Comments

  1. These are really great tips! I am growing oregano in different pots and they are doing fine, I will definitely follow your advice to care for them. I have tried to grow cilantro in the past but it has been difficult, not sure what I did wrong, but now with your advice I will try it again. Mint is also on the list. That is indeed easy to grow and so great for drinks (that mojito, hehe) and food.
    Thanks for the info!

    1. Hi Christine,

      I have cilantro seeds but have not planted them yet. I’ve heard they can be quite difficult to grow but I’ll test it out and give you an update! Mojitos are super delicious and are always the first thing to pop into my mind when I think of growing mint! Although mint can be really yummy accompanying dishes you’d never think of. It goes well with sweet potatoes, falafel, quinoa, really anything you want to use it in! Just experiment. I’m going to make a mint pesto once mine mint plant is ready!

  2. I can not believe all my favorite herbs can be grown at home! Cilantro and parsley, oh my!
    Also, thank you for showing me something new I can do with a corner window… that happens to look to the south!
    Best regards!

    1. Hi Brendaliz,

      Absolutely! And all of these herbs are fairly easy to grow at home. As long as you have the time to check on them every once in a while they will flourish!

  3. This is a excellent post with some really great tips!

    I’ve never thought about growing my herbs to be honest, but its’s definitely something I would like to do after reading this.

    I started a new health kick about a year ago, with eating and self-care, and growing my food and herbs would be ideal.

    Thanks for the awesome content.

    I have followed you on Pinterest as well 🙂

    1. Hi Adam,

      Thank you so much! I also started a physical/mental health journey in 2019. I’m not perfect and it’s not easy but what’s important is sticking with it. Growing fresh herbs is a great way to put more natural and beneficial foods into your body. It’s also super therapeutic for me and there’s something magical about bringing something to life and watching it grow in the blink of an eye.

      Thank you for the follow and if you have any questions about growing your own herbs you know where to find me!
      contact@haleyskitchen.com

  4. Hi Haley,

    This article will absolutely thrill my girlfriend. We were talking about sorting out the garden when the weather is better, and growing our own herbs etc. But, the fact we can grow them indoors too will be even better.

    I am going to share this with her and then I fully expect her to become the leader and inspire me to do what’s needed to grow our herbs, and sort out the garden.

    I will let you know how we go and if I have any questions or issues then I will get in touch, if that is OK with you?

    Thank you for sharing and keep up the amazing work.

    All the best,

    Tom

    1. Hi Tom!

      Fabulous! I’d love it if you shared it with her. You can even get them started indoors and move them outside once the weather is friendlier.

      Absolutely. If you have any questions you can email me at contact@haleyskitchen.com or find me on social media from the icons at the top-right of my website! Either way is fine with me and I am happy to answer questions for you 🙂

      Haley

  5. Luckily, I have a garden where I grow all these herbs, and I can’t wait for spring to come and work in the garden can begin again.
    I’m glad you have so much love for gardening that you decided to grow indoor herbs. And thank you for sharing your experience with us. I wish you much joy and success in growing herbs.
    Friendly greeting,
    Nina

    1. Hi Nina!

      I am jealous of your garden. Once I am done with renting I’d like to find a place that has a great space for outdoor gardening. My balcony can hold quite a few plants, but there’s nothing like planting straight into the earth.

      We are receiving quite a bit of snow and freezing temps so I will all the luck I need for my little window garden. Thank you!

      Haley

  6. Hi Haley
    I learned something new! I didn’t know that coriander is from cilantro seeds. We have been growing our own rosemary for a while now and I love and infinitely prefer the flavor of fresh herbs rather than dried herbs, so I am definitely up for expanding our efforts. We have a large stretch of south-facing window and now that we no longer have cats – bless them all they left us a few years ago to go and play with the great balls of wool in the sky – we no longer have to worry about cats eating our herbs. We also have thyme and mint in the garden but we are in direct competition with squirrels on that account. So, now that we only have a dog to worry about, and she can’t climb so easily as the cats did – indoors come the herbs!
    Thanks for the inspiration.
    Best regards
    Andy

    1. Hi Andy!

      Isn’t that interesting? It becomes two herbs in one! I also learned that people from other countries already refer to cilantro as coriander and simply call the seeds, coriander seeds haha! However, I think the cilantro leaves and coriander seeds have very different flavors so I’ll stick with calling it cilantro.

      Absolutely, fresh herbs are just fantastic and pack SO much flavor. It’s hard to go back to dried herbs after you’ve cooked with fresh herbs. Rosemary plants are amazing too. They really compliment so many dishes and are really great for you too.

      I am extremely jealous of your window! I love my apartment, but that’s the one thing that became a downer once I decided to grow indoor herbs. I might look into a nice heat lamp.

      I am so sorry to hear about your kitties! I have two boys that like to inspect every plant that I buy or grow. Squirrels, however, can be a pain in the butt for outdoor gardens. Maybe your pup can can act as a guard dog to your outdoor garden so that squirrels are hesitant to approach!

      Best wishes to your indoor garden!

  7. Great post! I have been so amazed at how and healthy herbs have grown this way. I’ve always thought I needed to have a big garden with an abundance of sunlight, but no. I love fresh herbs in my meals or to finish off a dish. Thank you for the tips and I can’t wait to continue growing!

    1. Hi Erin!

      Thank you so much. It is truly surprising! I didn’t grow up with many indoor herbs so it’s been fun and exciting to watch them grow on the window sill and flourish!

      A big garden outside with tons of sunlight is fun, but when you’re working with what you’ve got the window herbs are the best way to go. Or if you have a patio/balcony that receives a lot of sun during the warmer seasons.

      Play around with the herbs you’ve got! Put them in both sweet and savory dishes, snacks like popcorn, drinks and even desserts!

  8. Hi Haley,

    First of all, I love your website’s theme, which makes it easy to understand this is about cuisine. Impressive. 🙂

    I love to use Basil, Cilantro, and Parsley for cooking & mint for drinks, so I will try to grow them at my places. The window garden kits look super handy, and I will follow your tips to have some success soon. I cannot wait for the smile on my face when I take some herbs from the plants at my place. Haha.

    Cheers,
    Matt

    1. Hi Matt!

      Thank you so much. I’ve spent quite some time working on it, making it fluid and making sure the content is presented well! I’m glad it’s easy to navigate and gets the point across 🙂

      Basil is probably my all time favorite herb. But it’s just so dang hard to keep alive! Once summer hits I am going to challenge myself to plant it in several containers a few weeks apart from each other to see if I can keep it going. I’m growing chives right now and check on them every morning and they just keep growing! It really is incredible and it will 100% put a smile on your face.

      Best of luck!

  9. This is a very informative post on growing herbs with lots of useful tips. I love cooking and using fresh herbs whenever possible, so growing them on a windowsill is a great idea. I live in a ground floor flat which is South West facing. As I live in the UK we have long daylight hours in the summer which may be good for basil. Do you think a pot of rosemary would be ok as well? I used to live in a house with South facing garden and my rosemary bush thrived all year. Thanks for sharing:)

    1. Hi Kathy!

      I am jealous of all the sun you get! I live in the US in Arkansas where we just received 15″ of unexpected snow. It hasn’t happened since the early 1900’s! I am definitely ready for warmer days with more sunshine!

      A pot of rosemary will do well! Especially if your window gets enough sun. Rosemary can withstand cooler temps too so even in the winter it could thrive! However, if you don’t keep your rosemary plant trimmed, it will definitely turn into a bush so just keep an eye on it.

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