Window sill herb garden

Contents

‘How To’? Create a Windowsill Herb Garden

Steps to Successfully Grow a Windowsill Herb Garden

  • Choose a sunny windowsill which gets at least 6 hours of sun. Lack of enough sunshine will leave you with spindly, stressed plants, with little flavour.
  • Select your container(s) ensuring plenty of drainage holes.
  • Use a saucer to avoid marking your sill.
  • Start by putting a layer of potting mix in the bottom.
  • Gently remove the herb plant from its original pot loosening the roots.
  • Finish with potting mix, firming gently around the plant leaving space for watering.
  • Water immediately.
  • Drain the saucer when excess water accumulates.
  • Harvest regularly to encourage them to grow full and bushy.
  • Feed your herbs weekly.

Top Tip: Never trim more than 1/3 of the plants foliage. Pruning more than that can stress the plant.

Here are our top 5 herbs that create a wonderful windowsill herb garden:

Sweet Basil: Basil brings a taste of the Mediterranean to your food! This popular annual herb is fast-growing so will last just one season. Young foliage can be picked as required, avoiding whole stems as this weakens the plant.

Sweet Basil

Chives: This onion flavoured herb is an easy to grow perennial herb – great for salads! They can be harvested from spring to autumn and will then die down over winter. Shoots will emerge again the following spring.

Chives

Rosemary: This woody-stemmed evergreen herb produces tasty leaves that can be harvested year after year. Rosemary can be used as part of a bouquet-garni to be added to soups, stews and casseroles; whole sprigs can be roasted with root vegetables or sprinkled over Italian breads such as focaccia to add flavour.

Rosemary

Parsley: Parsley is a biennial herb with a two-year life cycle. It is a hungry plant so ensure it is kept well fed and watered. Of the two varieties available, the curly-leaved parsley is commonly used as a garnish or in parsley sauce. Flat-leaved parsley has a stronger taste as is used more widely
in Mediterranean recipes.

Flat-leaved Parsley

Thyme: This small leaved evergreen herb will form mounds of edible foliage all year round but it is best to ‘rest’ the plant in winter when it isn’t actively growing. There are many varieties of thyme available with different aromas and uses ranging from soups, sauces and adding to fish and meat dishes.

Thyme

Preserving your herbs

If your herbs are flourishing and you want to preserve some for the winter months it is really easy. All you need is an ice cube tray:

  • Always choose the freshest and healthiest looking shoots and wash well before chopping.

  • If you want to freeze whole leaves place them in the freezer on a baking tray and then put into bags once they have frozen individually
  • You can replace fresh herbs in recipes with the same amount of frozen herbs.

We also love this idea if you cook dishes that are more savoury and wouldn’t want to add water, freezing your herbs in oil is the perfect solution.

All you need is good extra virgin olive oil and cover chopped herbs in the ice cube trays. Freeze overnight, then pop out of the trays and seal in plastic bags, Freeze until ready to use. Add to any dish that has an oil or savory base. Perfect for your Sunday Roast!

We currently have lots of different herbs available that will give amazing flavour to your food and can be replanted on your sunny windowsill.

We love the idea of starting off your cherry tomatoes in spring on your windowsill. These are perfect to grow in a pot, are sweet to taste and just right for a salad.

Why not pop in and see our inspirational displays. Or ask our team of plant experts what they recommend.

The most important thing to remember is that by cultivating even the smallest inside space, will lift your mood and add lovely scents and lots of greenery to your home. So, if you’re looking for a new hobby that will help calm your mind and lift your spirits, give indoor gardening a go: you’ll soon see, and feel, a real difference.

I can remember the surprise on the faces of my guests on the day that I went to my windowsill herb garden, snipped off a few sprigs of chives, and diced them into our spring salad.

The conversation suddenly became more animated. A few of my guests were even hesitant to taste the salad as if what I had done is quite naughty!

It’s as if the only “safe” food has to come from mass-produced and packaged ingredients from huge warehouses and wrapped in plastic. My little herb garden became quite the topic of conversation.

Getting Started – Choose your Culinary Herbs & Window

Getting started with your herb selection is not all that hard. You just need a window with plenty of light to set them in and some herb seeds or seedlings. Be sure to choose a location in which you can hopefully enjoy the scent and beauty of your culinary herbs. If you will be growing the herbs on a windowsill indoors, visit our page on indoor herb gardening for additional tips.

Your windowsill garden will need pots, soil, and either seeds or seedling plants. Of course, it is much easier if you use one of the numerous windowsill herb garden kits on the market today. You can choose an herb garden kit or select each component individually for a more custom window herb garden. The right combination of all three will add flavor to your meals for years to come!

Windowsill Herb Garden Kits

Here a few herb garden windowsill kits that are easy to set up. You will find many different types of kits, from a small self-contained setup that fits on almost any window sill indoors to larger outdoor window boxes.

1. Trio of White Metal Herb Pots with Custom Labels

This pretty set of three white herb pots is super cute and comes with a coordinated drainage tray. Each pot 4 inches deep and wide, the perfect size for the store bought herbs available in the spring.

Set of 3 metal herb pots (available on Etsy)

Choose from 12 different herb labels to create your own custom set. This chic set makes a great housewarming or hostess gift!

2. Convertible Herb Pot Set

This three-piece herb planter set is just the right size to sit on a sunny windowsill. The waterproof tray is 16 inches long and 4-1/2 inches wide and includes a built-in reservoir to catch any water overflow. Each pot measures 5 inches square and will expand up to 5 inches tall.

What makes this windowsill herb pot set unique is the silicone pots.

Pop-up expandable herb pots

They can be expanded as your plants grow giving them more room for root development. Just be sure to add more soil in the bottom! This is a perfect gift idea for your favorite cook or herb gardener who likes to grow their herbs from seed.

3. The Aquaphoric Herb Garden Tub

This compact self-watering windowsill planter is long, narrow and is available in black or ivory.

What makes this little planter special is the shape. It is long and slim, making it a great fit for the windowsill. This attractive planter is fourteen inches long and just four inches wide. The interior reservoir has a water gauge to ensure you need when your plant needs more water.

4. DIY Window Box for Herbs

A DIY Herb & Vegetable Window Box

If you are looking for something a bit larger where you can choose your own herbs, you can create your own window box. Making your own window box is a weekend project which can be completed in about half a day.

The photo to the right is from an outdoor project article in Better Homes & Gardens. With a few screws, treated lumber, and tools, you can build an outdoor planter to fit on your window ledge. The decorative metal is actually copper tape and intended to deter slugs and snails from munching on your garden.

Creating your own Window Herb Garden

If you’d rather start from scratch instead of buying a kit, there are several things you will want to consider.

Should you choose Herb Seedlings or Seeds?

A real green thumb may want to grow herbs from the seed. Since windowsill gardens are rather small, you can plant seeds directly into the pots that you will use for the mature plants.

Perennial herbs should be purchased as seedlings.

However, for quicker harvest, you can transplant seedlings. The seeds of some herbs can take nearly a month to germinate, plus a few more weeks to reach harvest. Perennial herbs such as rosemary will take a full growing season until they are ready for kitchen use, so you will want to buy young plants to enjoy them sooner.

Just make sure to let the seedlings get settled in after you transplant them, to avoid shock. Don’t expose newly planted herbs to extreme temperatures or changes in the environment.

Mixing the Soil for your Herb Garden

There are many potting mixes available at the nursery, and just about any of them will do well with your herbs. You want a mixture that will drain well, so look for one with some perlite in it. These are the little white pellets that look like beanbag filling. The pellets will help keep the soil from packing down, too. Water can absorb nicely into this soil, and extra water will drain out instead of rotting the root ball of your plants.

You don’t usually need too much fertilizer for your herb garden. Too much will “burn” the plants, and will decrease the production of oils which make the herbs taste so good. As a general rule, container plants should only receive about ½ the fertilizer of garden plants. Good fertilizers for herb gardens include a fish based or seaweed type fertilizer. Sea Magic is an organic growth activator that is added to your watering can. Applied every 2-3 weeks, it will boost the growth of your herb plants, keeping them healthy throughout the growing season.

Sunlight for the Windowsill Herb Garden

Some herbs require a lot of sunlight. Rosemary, thyme, sage, and mint are popular kitchen herbs that require plenty of sun. When you grow sun-loving herbs in the windowsill garden, select a location that has southern exposure, with little overhang from the eaves of the house.

There are also some culinary herbs that can do quite well with just a few hours of sun every day. Parsley, chives, tarragon, and cilantro will grow with only about 3 hours of sun a day. Just about every package of seeds or seedlings will include a summary of the ideal growing requirements. These instructions will include whether the herb plants you choose prefer full or partial sunlight as well as many other helpful growing tips.

Use Grow Lights to Supplement the Natural Sun

If you choose to keep your windowsill herb garden indoors, you may find you need to supplement the light. You can find grow lights to place in almost any window. These will provide the optimum type of light necessary for plants to grow and can supplement a window with limited sunlight.

Fluorescent Bulbs make great grow lights

A simple method to add light is to purchase a task light and CFL bulb from your local hardware store. Clear Florescent Lights or CFL bulbs are very bright and include more than enough extra light to supplement the natural light from your window for a small windowsill herb garden.

Many task lights are designed with a clamp which makes it easier to attach to a window or sill. The clamp can be attached to almost any surface making it a very flexible solution.

LED plant lights can also be purchased that are designed to provide a full-spectrum light source for your plants.

What Temperature is Best for Growing Herbs?

Most herbs are fairly pretty cold tolerant. The daytime temperature in most modern homes (about 60-70 degrees) is perfect for growing herbs. They also appreciate a slighter cooler temperature at night, as do most people, so this works out quite well for the indoor herb gardener.

If you have a window that lets in a lot of light but is a little cold in the winter, you can probably still grow your herbs there. Just set the herb plant a little bit away from away cool drafts. Some herbs that tolerate cool weather better include Parsley, Sage, Thyme, and Chives. That is one of the benefits of growing herbs indoors; there is an herb suitable for every environment!

Selecting Window Sill Herb Garden Pots

Choose pots with drainage holes and a saucer

Drainage.

Most herbs do not like to have their feet wet. With that in mind, your choice of pots should be carefully considered. Don’t select an herb pot without good drainage holes. You will also want to include a tray or saucer underneath to catch any runoff, so you don’t want to damage your window sills with over-spill while watering.

Size.

When growing herbs indoors, the minimum size container you should use for growing herbs is a 6-inch pot. This is a fine size for smaller perennial herbs such as thyme or one of the dwarf varieties such as Greek Oregano or Spicy Globe Basil. See our article on 10 Indoor Culinary Herbs that are suitable for your window herb garden.

You can also choose to grow your herbs in a rectangle or trough-shaped windowsill herb garden planter. This can work well indoors or out since the shape is ideal to fit on the window sill or decking ledge. The personalized herb create to the right is a great gift idea for the gardener in the family.

There are several outdoor windowsill herb garden planters which can be purchased that will include the hardware required to attach it to the window. If not window box brackets or flower box holders can be found at most of the larger hardware stores.

For additional self-watering planters and other ideas to keep your garden watered without too much fuss, see our article on automatic plant watering systems.

Create a Balanced Planting.

When you plant several herbs in the same container, as you would with something like the Stack a Pot from Akro-Mils, match the plants to the location. You won’t have much success if you mix plants with different sun and water requirements in the same potting system.

For a windowsill herb garden that will thrive, make your plant choices according to similar needs. For example, you can design a Mediterranean herb garden with Rosemary, Thyme, and Oregano. The Mediterranean herbs prefer conditions with bright sun, good drainage and mild temperatures.

Caring for your Windowsill Herb Garden

Once you have created your windowsill herb garden, you will need to care for it. Most herbs, whether you raise them from seed or use transplanted seedlings, will prosper; growing more abundantly if you trim them. Letting them just grow without trimming them will often make them leggy and tough.

As the plant grows larger, it takes more energy to supply nourishment to the new growth, and the supporting stems have to “toughen up” to support new growth. The new part of the plant is the only edible part, in most cases.

If you frequently trim your herb plant, the supporting structure is not as bulky and won’t require as much water and nutrition. All of the plant’s efforts will go into new, edible growth, and you will actually have greater yield from your herb plants.

Your windowsill herb garden can bring you years of enjoyment. Just remember, the herbs need to be trimmed to continue growing, so don’t be afraid to use them! Add flavor and variety to your cooking with a great balance of culinary herbs grown in your own windowsill garden.

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Last updated by Virginia Dodd at March 2, 2019.

Learn How to Make a Windowsill Herb Garden, if you’re short of space. The pleasure of harvesting your own herbs is immense. Check out!

You don’t need a big yard for this, just a windowsill that receives a few hours of sunlight.

Anyone who has a lack of space can create a mini herb garden that grows on a window sill. Here are 6 basic steps to follow to make it possible.

1. Choose Suitable Containers to Make a Windowsill Herb Garden

Either use so many pots to grow specific herbs in each one or choose a planter as wide as that it’ll cover the space of your windowsill easily, Make sure the pot you use should be at least 6 to 8 inches deep. Herbs are shallow rooted plants so they don’t need deep containers. However, most of the herbs like mint and thyme have tendency to spread, so it’s good to select a pot that is wide.

One more benefit of choosing a large pot is that you can pour a lot of soil in it and this will save you from frequent watering.

2. Ensure Sufficient Drainage

Once you select a container or containers, the second step is to ensure good drainage. Check out the bottom of the planter for drainage holes, if they are not sufficient, make a few more.
You don’t need to put gravels or clay balls to make a drainage layer. This is a myth and doesn’t do any good for drainage. Must check out our article to learn why you shouldn’t do this!

3. Provide Quality Potting Soil

Soil or growing medium for growing herbs should be of best quality. It has to be light, penetrable, fertile and airy.
Buy soilless potting mix or make your own by adding perlite, compost and garden soil. You can’t use regular soil for growing plants in containers, and the soilless growing medium is essential for the success of your windowsill herb garden.

4. Planting a Windowsill Herb Garden

Be realistic and don’t try to grow all the aromatic and tastiest herbs you’ve heard about.
Instead, make a list of herbs you would like to plant, you would like to consume and eliminate those that don’t match the growing conditions you have.
As you’re growing things in a really small space, you can’t experiment. Forget about the species and varieties that are difficult to grow and are not suitable for the climate you’re living in.

Choose basil, rosemary, thyme, oregano, cilantro, and sage if your window is exposed to at least 5 hours of direct sun. If exposure to the sun is less than this, prefer parsley, lemon balm, fennel, chives, chervil and mint. These are all time favorite herbs and easiest to grow in containers if you want to grow something out of the box, do some research.

Also Read: How to Grow Mint Indoors

Besides this, you can also try to grow garlic and green onions and many other tasty vegetable crops on your windowsill. To learn more, must see our article on Best Vegetables To Grow On a Windowsill!

5. Windowsill Herb Garden Care

Water your plants frequently in summer, in fall and winter limit the watering needs.
You can also add hydrogel crystals in soil and do heavy mulching to preserve water if you live in a tropical climate.

To improve the quality and quantity of your crop, it is essential to use fertilizer regularly. If possible, prefer organic fertilizers that provide all the necessary nutrients while being more environment-friendly. Must remember, you’ll need nitrogen rich fertilizers to promote more foliage growth in herbs. Using compost or manure is always a good idea!

6. Harvesting

The best way to encourage the production of foliage and dense growth is to harvest herbs regularly, this frequent pinching and picking up of leaves promotes lush and healthy growth in plants. You’ll also need to deadhead flowers to stop the herbs from seeding to prolong their growing time.

In addition, to add some colors on your windowsill herb garden, you can plant annual flowers that require similar growing conditions to grow.

Also Read: Balcony Herb Garden

  1. Make sure you have a sunny windowsill, where your herbs will survive. A south or southwest window would be perfect if it gets at least 6 hours of sun per day and is away from drafts. If you don’t have a reliably sunny window, you will need to provide some type of plant lighting. Lack of enough sunshine will leave you with spindly, stressed plants, with little flavor.
  2. Purchase some of your favorite small herb plants or seed packets. Starting from seed is a less expensive alternative, but they’ll require more attention and it will be several months before you can start using them. More on that below.
  3. If you are starting with plants, get a container that is at least 6-12 inches deep. You can plant multiple herbs in a wide or long container or use at least a 6-inch pot for individual plants.
    Seeds won’t require a large pot. You can start them in any small container and move them into their final pot when they are 2 – 4 inches tall.
    Just like outdoor container gardening, make sure your pots have plenty of drainage holes. Unlike outdoor plants, also make sure you have a saucer under them, so you don’t ruin your windowsill or furniture.
  4. Use a soilless potting mix to avoid soil born diseases. Be sure the mix is light and will be well draining. Don’t try to use soil from the garden. Regular soil compresses over time, making it difficult for water to pass through.
  5. For herb plants, start by putting a 2-3 inch layer of potting mix into the bottom of your container. If you are worried about soil coming out of the bottom holes, you can cover them with a piece of screen or small coffee filter. Don’t use anything that could block the holes entirely.
  6. Carefully remove the herb plant from it’s original pot and gently loosen the roots. Place your herb plants in the new container, with the roots flared out.
  7. Finish filling in with the potting mix, firming gently around the plants. Leave about an inch at the top of the container for watering. Water immediately after planting, to help the plants settle.
  8. To start herb seeds, fill each container with dampened potting mix, to about 1 inch from the rim. Sprinkle 3 – 5 seeds on top of the soil. Cover the seeds with a dusting of potting mix and pat down gently. Cover with a plastic bag, to retain moisture. For more detailed instructions, here’s a step-by-step guide for starting seeds
  9. Keep the soil moist, until you see the seedlings poking through. At that point, remove the plastic and continue watering whenever the soil feels dry. Be sure the seedlings are receiving plenty of sun and rotate the container daily, so they grow straight.
  10. Water herb plants sparingly. Herbs don’t like to sit in wet soil. Drain the saucers, when excess water accumulates.Test to see if the containers need water by poking your finger into the soil. If it feels dry an inch or two below the surface, it’s time to water. If not, let them be. Although outdoor plants tend to need more water in the summer, indoor plants can dry out quickly when the heat is on in the winter.
    Always try and water until the excess drains out of the bottom of the container. If you repeatedly give your indoor plants just a splash of water, the salts in the water can build-up in the soil. When this happens, you’ll start to see a white film on the outside of the pot. Thoroughly flushing water through the container, until it drains out the bottom, will prevent salt build-up
  11. Feed your herbs every other month with a fertilizer labeled for use on edibles. Start by using it at only about 1/2 the recommended strength. Herbs have more concentrated flavor if they are grown without a lot of fertilizer.
    If you are seeing a lot of wispy, delicate growth, lessen the amount or frequency of fertilizer. If your plants look like they are struggling, give them a bit more. You will need to adjust your fertilizer schedule with the seasons. In general, they will grow slower in winter than in summer and will need less food then.
  12. Allow the plants some time to acclimate to their new home. Once you start seeing new growth, you can start using your herbs. With most herbs, you can snip 2 – 3 inches of the tips off, to encourage more branching. For bushy herbs, like parsley and cilantro, you can cut entire stems from the outside of the plants. New growth will fill in.

A Guide to Growing Kitchen Windowsill Herbs

YinYang / Getty

A kitchen windowsill herb garden brings nature indoors while also bringing fresh flavors to anything you cook. You can start your garden either with seeds or small plants, but keep in mind that seeds, though more affordable, involve more work and take longer to grow than a young plant. While a windowsill in the kitchen is most convenient for its proximity to meal prep, any window in your home will work. Ready to start planting? Check out a few tips to get you started.

RELATED: THE HEALING BENEFITS OF GROWING YOUR OWN HERB GARDEN

Follow these basic steps.

If you plan to start your windowsill herb garden from seeds, make sure to read your seed packets carefully for detailed planting instructions. Generally, you’ll need to start the seeds indoors about six to eight weeks before the last frost. Fill each of your containers with fresh potting soil up to one inch from the rim. Sprinkle a few seeds on top of the soil or, for larger seeds, bury them; cover with a bit of soil and pat down. Cover with a plastic wrap or dome to keep moist and promote germination. When seedlings start to show, remove the plastic.

If you want to start your windowsill herb garden from a plant, put two to three inches of potting soil into a new, larger pot than the one your seedlings originally came in. Transfer the plants to a new container, gently teasing, or loosening, the roots so they flare out; otherwise, the roots stand a chance of strangling themselves. Add potting soil up to about an inch from the top of the container. Water thoroughly and immediately.

Decide on seeds or a plant.

Starting herbs from seeds is possible and rewarding, says Toby Adams, Director of the Edible Academy at the New York Botanical Garden, in Bronx, New York, but will take significantly more time to grow to the size necessary to begin harvesting. He recommends sourcing herbs from seedlings, which are young plants that grew from seed rather than a cutting.

Take a sunny position.

“Culinary herbs like full and direct sun, so it is important to locate a windowsill with this in mind,” Adams explains. Be sure to read the tag that comes with each plant-it’ll say how many hours of sun it needs to thrive. A south-facing window with six to eight hours of sun is best; if the sill gets only partial sun, you could install grow lights, often fluorescent bulbs, though they tend to be pricey.

Plant the herbs you cook with most often.

Mint, rosemary, basil, oregano, chives, parsley, and thyme all grow especially well on a windowsill, and you’ll likely use these most in the kitchen. If there’s another herb you love and cook with regularly, you should feel free to try planting it.

Give them space.

If you crowd a plant in a too-small planter, don’t expect it to thrive. Its root system needs space to grow and if it doesn’t, it won’t be able to support the plant. For good growth, remove the herb from its original three- or four-inch pot and replant it in a container that’s at least six inches wide with drainage holes and a waterproof saucer.

Put some herbs in solitary confinement.

Some herbs, such as mint and coriander, should never be planted with other herbs since they grow quickly and tend to take over the rest of the garden. If you intend to plant anything that may impact the growth of other herbs, you should put these in their own pots.

RELATED: HOW TO HANG AN INDOOR GARDEN OF HERBS AND VEGETABLES

Mix it up.

“Many herbs are relatively compact and can be combined into one pot,” says Adams. “Consider which herbs your favorite recipes call for and put together a pot or two such as basil, parsley, and thyme or rosemary, tarragon, and chives.” If you want one container to hold a few different plants, make sure they all have the same sun, temperature, and water needs.

Don’t forget these add-ins.

Once a month, fortify your plants with organic fertilizer or compost.

Water plants just enough.

As your garden grows, don’t overwater plants until they get soggy. That’ll cause root damage. For a healthy garden, water when the soil looks and feels dry.

Plant an herb garden for a kitchen window

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There are so many reasons to grow herbs indoors; they add garden-fresh flavor to food, fragrance and greenery to indoor spaces, and because packages of fresh herbs are expensive to buy at the supermarket, growing your own can save you money. It’s easy to create an herb garden for a kitchen window when you start with a little smart planning. Most herbs grow well indoors, but you’ll need to provide a few basic necessities, like adequate light, to ensure a healthy windowsill garden.

There are plenty of herb kits available online and in stores for growing an herb garden for a kitchen window. These kits combine seeds, soil, and pots to grow popular culinary or tea herbs at home. However, as much as I love growing plants from seed, it’s much easier – and faster – to pick up a handful of herb transplants from your local garden centre or farmers market for an instant, ready-to-use herb garden.

How many plants do you need? With certain herbs, like rosemary or bay, a little goes a long way and one plant is likely sufficient for the culinary needs of an average family. Herbs like basil, parsley, or cilantro, are often used in larger quantities and I find that I like to have at least two of each. To pick which herbs you should grow in your herb garden for a kitchen window, think about the ones you use the most when you’re cooking, and start with two or three of your favorites.

Growing your own herbs indoors in winter is a fun and easy way to add garden fresh flavor to your food.

Related post: Growing Great Basil

Grow a Healthy Herb Garden for a Kitchen Window:

Healthy plants will produce a larger harvest, so aim to provide the basic necessities to your indoor herb garden. The plants will need light, water, and an occasional feeding. Another reason to keep your plants healthy? Pest prevention! Herbs that are grown with inadequate light or too much water, are more prone to pests like aphids or spider mites. Giving your herbs ideal growing conditions means healthier plants and less work for you.

Light

The biggest issue that gardeners face when growing herbs indoors is a lack of light. Herbs need plenty of light to produce healthy growth. When growing an herb garden for a kitchen window, find a south-facing window that offers at least 6 to 8 hours of sunshine. If you don’t have a good spot, you can use grow-lights.

Many indoor gardeners use fluorescent light fixtures, which are typically two to four-feet in length, and are fitted with inexpensive fluorescent tubes. These fixtures can be used to start vegetable and flower seedlings in spring and grow culinary herbs indoors in winter. In smaller spaces, like countertops, shelves, or convenient corners, where you may not have room for a large grow-light, you can grow culinary herbs with a more compact system, like the SunBlaster Grow Light Garden or the even smaller version, the Micro Grow Light. Of course, you can also set up a spotlight fitted with a simple and inexpensive incandescent light bulb.

Water

Overwatering is the fastest way to kill herb plants. Most herbs, like basil and rosemary, need well-drained soil in order to grow well, and if you’ve planted them in pots without good drainage, it can be a struggle. It’s hard to add drainage holes to clay or trendy cement pots, but you can drill some in plastic or wood pots. If using a pot without drainage holes, add a layer of pebbles to the bottom of the pot, and practice smart watering. If the soil is still moist, don’t add more water.

Also, look for a pot that fits the plant well; it should be about an inch larger than the size of the rootball. If you buy herb seedlings in four-inch pots, replant them in five to six-inch pots. If you have a wide windowsill, or a window shelf, you can grow herbs in larger pots, stuffing several different types in a single container. Or, plant them in a windowbox, for an attractive indoor garden. When repotting herbs, choose a high-quality potting mixture. These mixtures are both lightweight and free-draining, which herbs appreciate.

Herbs grown indoors will need regular watering, but be careful to not overwater.

Fertilizer

A monthly dose of fertilizer will encourage your herbs to send out fresh growth and result in healthier plants. You can use liquid or granular fertilizers, but it’s best to stick to organic products when growing edible plants. Most herbs, particularly woody herbs like thyme, oregano, and rosemary have low fertility requirements and can be fertilized with a half-dose of the recommended application. Whatever fertilizer you choose to use, be sure to read the package directions carefully before using.

Related post: The 7 Best Herbs for Container Gardening

The Best Culinary Herbs for an Indoor Herb Garden:

Most culinary and tea herbs can be easily be grown in an herb garden for a kitchen window, or under grow-lights. If you’re a tea lover, like me, try fragrant herbs like mint, lemon verbena, and lemon balm. However, for culinary use, these are my must-grow herbs:

Basil – Among the most popular of the culinary herbs, basil is grown for its complex, aromatic flavor that livens up a wide variety of dishes. Basil is easy to grow, but to grow well indoors, you have to give it plenty of light. A south-facing window is good, but a grow-light, or a supplemental grow-light that is turned on for a few hours after the sun has set each evening, is even better. Basil is among the most prized choices to include in an herb garden for a kitchen window.

Parsley – My grandmother always kept a pot of curly parsley in her windowsill because she loved the fresh flavour and scent of parsley. I also love adding parsley to my cooking, but I prefer the flat-leaved Italian parsley, which I like to chop into my salads and pastas for a punch of bright flavor. Parsley is very easy to grow indoors on a windowsill, and unlike basil, it appreciates ample moisture, so water often if the soil is dry to the touch.

There are two main types of parsley; curly and flat-leaved. Both can be used for cooking, but most gardeners prefer the bright flavour of flat-leaved parsley.

Chives – Chives may be the easiest herb to grow and have a mild onion taste that lends flavor to scrambled eggs, quiche, pasta, soups, baked potatoes, and a million other meals. Growing chives from seed is a very slow process, so it’s best to start with a pot of fully grown chives. For me, this means digging up a clump from my garden in autumn. The chives are then potted up and placed in a sunny windowsill.

Cilantro – Cilantro is a pungent herb that adds intense flavor to Mexian, Asian, and Indian dishes. It also grows well in containers on a sunny windowsill or under grow-lights. It’s relatively quick to grow from seed, but you can also find transplants for a quicker harvest. It’s not a long-lasting herb, persisting for a few months in a window before it goes to flower. I usually buy up a fresh pot of cilantro seedlings in February to replace my autumn crop.

Rosemary – Rosemary is a Mediterranean herb with a strong, fresh scent that invigorates a winter-weary gardener. It needs plenty of sun, which can be hard to provide during the short, dark days of winter. If grown with insufficient light, rosemary will produce soft, scraggly growth. I find it beneficial to grow winter rosemary under grow-lights to ensure it receives enough light. Chop and sprinkle the leaves on roasted vegetables and meats, in stuffing, and on bruschetta.

Oregano – Every Friday is homemade pizza night in our house and just before our individual pizzas are put in the oven, they’re sprinkled with fresh, chopped oregano. Oregano is very easy to grow, but slow to grow from seed, so find healthy seedlings at your farmers market. It’s also drought tolerant and the soil should be allowed to dry to the touch between waterings.

Herb Harvesting Tips:

  • Clip the herbs in your herb garden for a kitchen window often to encourage fresh growth.
  • Never remove more than one-third of the plant at any one time.
  • Herbs like basil and cilantro will eventually produce flower buds, but these should be pinched off. You want to direct all plant growth into producing flavorful foliage, not flowers. To remove, simply snip off flower buds with scissors or pinch them with your fingers.

For more information on growing an herb garden for a kitchen window, check out Indoor Kitchen Gardening, an excellent book that details how to grow herbs indoors, as well as sprouts, microgreens, and more.

Will you be growing herbs on your windowsill this winter?

Indoor herbs are happy with typical indoor temperatures.

Many cooks grow herbs indoors during the winter when it’s too cold outside or too wet to dig in the dirt, but you can grow herbs inside any time of year. Indoor herbs prefer the same temperatures that most people do—around 65 to 70 degrees F—so if you’re comfortable, they probably are. At night, temperatures near a window may drop to 55 or 60, but most herbs like that, too. Keep foliage from touching glass to protect from getting nipped by cold.

Basil is trickier. Many kitchen gardeners yearn for basil in their indoor garden. If you have plenty of sun and warmth indoors, basil should thrive, but don’t keep it on a cool windowsill. Basil leaves will droop and fade after a short time in cool air. It prefers indoor temperatures in the 70s day and night.

Remember that the air next to a window will be cooler in winter (or hotter in summer) than your average indoor temperature, so adjust your plants accordingly. Dry air, whether from air conditioning or heating, is hard on most herbs, so you may want to consider increasing the surrounding humidity.

Indoor herb plants will probably stretch and be spindlier than plants in the outdoors, but they will still give you plenty of fresh clippings. To encourage lots of growth, fertilize regularly with plant food, such as Miracle-Gro® Water Soluble Plant Food for Vegetables & Herbs, especially if you are harvesting leaves regularly. (Be sure to follow directions!)

Grow Herbs Indoors This Winter

You will eat better and even save money by growing herbs indoors — fresh ingredients for your cold-weather cooking cost next to nothing. An herb garden adds an attractive, economic aspect to the kitchen.

Place your herb containers by the sunniest window you can. Put the die-hard sun lovers in the center and the less demanding off to the sides. Of the five herbs we recommend for indoor culture, oregano requires the most light.

If you don’t have an herb garden outdoors, you can start from scratch indoors, despite the fact that icy weather is starting to threaten.

Even in late fall, it’s not too late to buy. In many areas of the country, prices are slashed on the last lonely herbs in garden centers. If your local nurseries are shuttered, you can make a quick call to mail-order nurseries and have them ship you a selection. Do make sure they are astute enough not to send your new garden out the door just as a sudden spell of particularly nasty weather strikes.

The Best Herbs to Grow Indoors

We suggest you go with these five herbs: oregano, chives, mint, rosemary, and thyme. Most cooks use them on a regular basis, and they will actually make it through the winter in your indoor garden. If you’re lucky, you can even harden them off and plant them outdoors come spring.

A caution about selecting your herbs: Just because you like to cook with a particular ingredient doesn’t mean you can grow that plant indoors. As much as you may love basil, for instance, this herb turns into a sorry specimen after a few weeks cooped up inside.

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  • Chives: Use in salads and sauces or with vegetables
  • Chocolate mint: Use in teas, soups, and salads.
  • Rosemary: Use with meat, especially lamb.
  • Oregano: Use for sauces, especially Italian cuisine.
  • Thyme: Use with fish and poultry.

Find the Perfect Pots

You will need to pot up some smallish-size herb plants, because the containers need to fit on a windowsill. 4-inch pots work nicely.

Remember to use pots with drainage holes so your herbs don’t rot. And that means the pots need to rest in saucers, which — if you are eyeing the width of your sill right now — should be a little wider than the pots. So you need at least a 5-inch windowsill. We like terra-cotta pots, but they do dry out quickly in winter’s heated indoor “weather,” and the saucers leak. Use a plastic liner or rubber pad.

How to Plant Indoor Herbs

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1. Cover the drainage hole with a small square of window screening; then fill the bottom one-third or so of the pot with potting soil. Use the plastic nursery container (with the plant still in it) to check the soil level.

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2. At this point, you can just pull the herb out of its original nursery container and place it on the soil. But here’s a neat trick: Put the herb — while it is still in its nursery container — in your windowsill pot, and fill with potting soil. You read that right: You now have a pot within a pot. It gets less confusing.

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3. Press down the soil between the rims of the two pots with a thick dowel or your fingertips. Add more soil as needed. Do not press down the soil in the plastic nursery container. Still with us?

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4. Now carefully remove the nursery container (and plant) from your windowsill pot. There will remain a perfectly formed hole in the center of the terra-cotta pot. You probably already know what’s coming.

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5. You take the herb out of the plastic nursery container and place it in the dark void at the center of your terra-cotta pot. It fits! Now water the soil and get growing.

Bring Outdoor Herbs In

Another way to start a winter herb garden indoors is to move plants from your garden into your kitchen.

You won’t want to uproot whole plants, because by this time of year they are far too large for just about any windowsill. And buying pots for huge herbs would offset any savings you might make by growing gargantuan greens indoors. What you want to save are pieces of the plant runners or divisions. Herbs like chives and mint divide easily; others require a bit more work.

However, since the plants at this point are basically freebies, you don’t need to concern yourself as much with what will make it through the dry-heat season indoors. If they die, they die, and you’ve had free fresh herbs out of season for however long it took those ill-fated herbs to sputter out.

Do not consider any such windowsill sputtering as a gardening failure. Consider it scientific experimentation and financial pioneering. Maybe you do want to try growing that basil indoors after all.

How to Transfer Outdoor Herbs

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1. To transfer suitably-sized outdoor herbs to your windowsill pot, look for new growth. Some herbs can be divided. Others, such as this golden thyme, can be separated from the mother plant by inserting a trowel sharply just behind the newly-formed roots of an advancing stem.

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2. Put the plant and root ball in a plastic bag to transport it back to your kitchen sink or potting table.

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3. Pot it up, water thoroughly, and sharpen your scissors.

Are you one of those who hate winter because you can’t cultivate your beloved garden outdoors? There is no reason to get upset anymore. Consider growing plants indoors on a sunny windowsill! Who knows, you might like this kind of planting so much that you decide to keep your mini garden inside your home throughout the year.

You should be aware that growing indoors can be a bit harder for plants than outside progress, but many plants, especially herbs, don’t need excessive care and can thrive quite well in flowerpots.

For a start, it is crucial to assess your options and existing conditions in your home. You can establish an indoor herb garden in a window of your kitchen. The next step is to decide which plants you can maintain properly and which size of the pots will fit the space you live and each particular plant.

Also, you should decide if you want to plant seedlings or have knowledge, capability, and patience to start with seeds. In that case, my advice is to buy as better seed quality as possible to avoid disappointment with the result after exhausting work. Let’s see how to do a good job.

Plant an Herb Garden on a Sunny Windowsill

Many people would like to have their own garden, but very often the kitchen windowsill is all they have at their disposal. Believe it or not, for many herbs it is enough! Actually, that way of planting herbs is not complicated. There is only one condition – to enable plants to have enough sunlight and excellent drainage. Everything else depends on you and the needs of the plants you want to cultivate.

Choose the window with at least partial sunlight (minimum four to six hours a day). The perfect solutions are a southern or southwest facing windows or a position under a skylight. Alternatively, provide fluorescent lighting (a led grow lights) which can supplement the sunlight during the short winter days.

For most gardener lovers, this type of garden is an ideal solution because growing herbs indoors provide so many privileges. These herbs:

  • Add fresh flavor to your everyday food even in winter.
  • Bring a fantastic fragrance for your home.
  • Have therapeutic properties. It is proven that greenery positively influences the establishment of a relaxed and comfortable atmosphere in the house.
  • Save your money since fresh herbs can be pretty expensive at the supermarket.

I will give you some guidance for planting an herb garden on a sunny windowsill here, but if you are afraid that you can’t do everything by yourself, you should find a good book on the subject.

Choose and Prepare Your Pots

Purchase a separate pot for each plant or make a winning combination of herbs in one bigger flowerpot. It is a beautiful solution to use a variety of plants and arrange them to be both attractive and useful. However, make sure they require the same conditions for healthy and vigorous growth.

It does matter which type of flowerpot you select. Ceramic and plastic ones will hold more moisture than pots made of porous terra-cotta. For many herbs, clay pots are the best choice for better growth.

Also, make sure they have drainage holes with the tray to keep the water. That will allow the plant to dose the amount of water it needs and protect your windowsill from extra water. Buy a well-draining potting mix and fill the chosen pot. Provide an adequate depth for each particular herb.

Pick Your Herbs

I definitely prefer growing plants from seeds, but choosing seedlings at the farmers market, a local garden center, or the store with planting supplies is a faster and easier solution. In that case, don’t forget to check young plants for pests before you buy them!

Maybe you should choose that way for your first season. Also, there are many plants and seed garden catalogs available that can help you in the very beginning. When you become an experienced and skillful gardener and discover which plants you like most, you can visit the nearby farm to find seeds or order it online.

Keep in mind that annual herbs start their growth from seeds much easier than perennial herbs. The second ones will need more time. You can also consider starting with seedlings even though you are an experienced gardener.

How many herbs you need for a season, will depend on the way how a particular herb grows, and how much of each plant you use while cooking. For example, one pot of bay or rosemary will be enough for your household, but you will probably need a larger quantity of chives, basil, thyme, cilantro, oregano, mint, dill, or parsley. Maybe you should provide two pots of each of these herbs for winter.

Plant Your Herbs

The first thing you should do is to choose an adequate mix of soil. A potting mix is the best choice for your new indoor garden on a sunny windowsill. That mixture is designed primarily for plants growing in the flowerpots. The other option is to pick out a potting mix for cactus because it allows water to stream through the soil quickly.

Fill a pot with soil mix. You can choose:

  • Special potting soil
  • A commercial seed-starting mix
  • A 50:50 combination of the two

Avoid using soil from your garden because it is too heavy and usually contains organisms which are a primary cause of many plants diseases.

Before sow your seeds, you need to check the instructions on the seed packet to determine the right depth for planting each herb you choose. If you have no space for bigger flowerpots, choose dwarf varieties of plants.

Provide Proper Maintenance

After you plant seeds or seedlings, place a pot in a sunny windowsill away from drafts. Pay attention to leaves. They shouldn’t touch a cold window. That way, you will protect plant foliage from injury. Some herbs need to be pinched to make shrubby.

Now, it is time to start taking care of your delicate baby plants to get the desired harvest after a certain time.

1. Fertilizing

Since herbs you cultivate indoors can’t receive nutrients from rain and garden soil, you need to fertilize them with a granular or liquid fertilizer every other week or every other month depending on both the herb and the fertilizer.

If you notice too much delicate growth, decrease the amount of fertilizer or extend the period between two fertilizations. If the plants are progressing slowly, add compost even before the predetermined date.

If you are not sure about the amount of fertilizer you should use, keep in mind that it is always better to under-fertilize your plants than to over-fertilize. One of a premium potting mix I highly recommend is Miracle-Gro® Indoor Potting Mix.

2. Watering and a Good drainage

Take care to water your plants regularly, but try to pour off the excess water because you don’t want to get rotten roots. There are several ways to do it properly:

  • Place stones in the tray.
  • Elevate the flowerpot above the tray where excess water collects.
  • Provide good drainage (layer of pebbles at the pot’s bottom and a flowerpot with a hole)
  • Don’t water your plant again until the top inch of soil dries.
  • Purchase a pot that fits your plant. It should be at least an inch larger than the size of the root ball.
  • Keep in mind that some herbs such as mint or basil like when the soil in the pot is a little bit moister all the time.
  • Herbs native to the Mediterranean climate such as oregano, bay, thyme, and rosemary, prefer growing in fast-draining soil.
  • Also, you should use a plastic, metal, or rubber saucer under the flowerpot to catch water and protect the surface of your windowsill.

3. Lights

Lack of lights is the most crucial challenge when growing herbs indoors. Most of these plants need six to eight hours of sunshine a day. Therefore, try to put your herbs on a sunny, south-facing windowsill or use good fluorescent grow-lights.

If your space is small and you can put flowerpots only on shelves or some corner, or if your windowsill is facing north, you need a more compact system such as the Micro Grow Light or merely use a spotlight fitted with an incandescent light bulb. That way, your plants will get up to 16 hours lights daily. You can adjust the number of hours optionally.

4. Temperatures

Most herbs are like us. They prefer the temperatures of 65 to 75 F (it is approximately 18 to 24 C). Except for basil, herbs usually don’t mind if the temperature drops to the 50 F (10 C) during the night.

Don’t forget to keep foliage away from the windows to protect them from coldness and avoid too dry air because most herbs have difficulties to tolerate lack of moisture in the air.

Best Herbs for Sunny Windowsills

As I already said, almost all herbs can grow indoors if you meet the underlying conditions for their growth. However, some of them are more suitable for cultivating on the windowsill, especially during winter, due to lower growth or because they can adjust to the limited growth conditions in pots easier.

For the first season, try to choose herbs you can find in the store. If you are a beginner, concentrate on plants which require primary care. I will try to help you to make a good choice until you gain the experience which will help you to expand the range of plants on your window in the future.

Some plants thrive well in pots and can live on your windowsill for years. Your best options are:

  • Basil
  • Bay laurel
  • Chervil
  • Chives
  • Mint
  • Oregano
  • Parsley
  • Rosemary
  • Scented geranium
  • Thyme

It is crucial to know how certain plants reproduce. There are three primary ways:

1. Herbs that you should grow from seed

For some herbs, the best solution is to buy seeds and cultivate it according to the instructions given on the packaging.

  • Basil
  • Parsley
  • Chervil
  • Borage
  • Calendula
  • Sage
  • Cilantro
  • Dill

2. Herbs that you should grow from cuttings

These herbs you should take in spring or summer (except rosemary and tarragon that root better in the autumn) and use for cuttings.

  • Lavender
  • Oregano
  • Sage
  • Mint
  • Thyme

3. Herbs that you should grow from the division

Some perennial herbs you can easily divide by digging up their root system, cutting it into a few pieces, and re-plant them.

  • Oregano
  • Monarda (bee balm)
  • Marjoram
  • Thyme
  • Chives and garlic chives
  • Lovage

Brief Tips for Growing Herbs Indoors on a Sunny Windowsill

  1. Avoid plants that grow too tall and/or wide
  2. A sunny window is always the best choice, but you can use fluorescent lights if it is necessary
  3. Water your plants only until the excess of liquor drains out
  4. To encourage your herbs to grow bushy, start snipping them as soon as they are 6 inches (15 cm) tall
  5. Never trim more than 30% of herbs foliage
  6. Start seeding the new plants to replace the old, especially annual ones, on time
  7. Keep in mind that touch with a cold window can damage foliage
  8. You can plant a few different types of herbs in a single pot only if they have similar requirements regarding humidity, temperature, and light
  9. To keep your plant shrubby, pinch back its branches
  10. Dwarf varieties of plants are more suitable for indoor gardening
  11. Never begin harvesting before your herb adjusts to its new flowerpot
  12. Remove bad leaves regularly and use them as compost

Summary

There are so many reasons for everybody to start growing herbs indoors on a sunny windowsill. That way, you will provide fragrance and greenery for your home and fresh herbs for your family throughout the year.

Generally, this type of gardening doesn’t require much equipment and effort. Secure your herbs with adequate temperature and lighting, and water and fertilize them regularly.

Be sure that these little scented, green beauties will reduce your stress, brighten your mood, feed you, and clean your air. It seems to me that these are enough reasons for you to start growing herbs on your sunny windowsill right away.

Garden Variety: Make your own windowsill herb garden

Various herbs grow in the sunlight of a kitchen window.

Want fresh herbs to include in your favorite family recipe or the latest foodie dish? Until warmer weather arrives, try growing them in a sunny window right in your kitchen. All you need is love, bright light, good soil, and a little know-how.

The first step is selecting a location. A south- or west-facing window that receives at least six hours of bright light per day is best. If you have the location but space is limited, consider building a shelf or setting a plant stand in front of the window. If your home lacks a sunny window, consider purchasing or building a small stand with grow lights. They are easy to find in garden centers and hardware stores in late winter for the many gardeners who like to start vegetable and flower plants from seed.

Next, decide which herbs you want to grow. Parsley, chives, mint and thyme are good options and may survive in a window with less than ideal light. Basil, oregano, bay, rosemary and sage are also good options for indoors. Availability of plants and seeds might dictate this decision, but at least a few of these common herbs should be easy to find at year-round garden centers.

Various herbs raised in a kitchen windowsill.

While you are out shopping for plants, pick up suitable containers. Always look for pots that have a hole in the bottom to allow drainage even though it means also getting a saucer or tray to protect the surface on which pots will be sitting.

Give each plant its own pot to maximize root space. Four- to 6-inch-diameter pots will be adequate for a few months in the kitchen. (Plants can be transplanted into larger pots outdoors in late spring to early summer.)

The last thing on the shopping list is potting soil. As always, get a good-quality potting media or mix rather than garden soil. Potting media is specially blended for use in containers, and plants are less likely to become infected with root rot than when grown in a heavy garden soil.

When you get home, fill pots almost to the brim with potting mix, then tap them a few times on a hard surface to get the potting mix to settle. Add more mix if needed until the soil surface is about a quarter of an inch from the top of the pot. Plant seeds according to package directions or transplant herb seedlings into the pots.

Water plants by setting pots in the sink and gently adding water until it flows out the bottom of the pot. Water this way every time, and allow the soil to almost completely dry out before each watering. This ensures adequate watering and will help to prevent salt buildup in the container. You may only need to water once a week or less, depending on the temperature and relative humidity of your home.

The potting mix should include adequate nutrients to sustain plant life for several months, so supplemental fertilization is unnecessary this winter and spring.

Once the herbs are growing strong, just clip stems as needed for cooking and enjoy!

— Jennifer Smith is a former horticulture extension agent for K-State Research and Extension and horticulturist for Lawrence Parks and Recreation. She is the host of “The Garden Show” and has been a gardener since childhood. Send your gardening questions and feedback to [email protected]

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