While many of us fantasize about using fresh herbs from a garden in our cooking, the truth is: maintaining an outdoor garden is a lot of work. Whether you live in an apartment or just don’t have the free time, don’t fret. You can still grow fresh culinary herbs at home with minimal effort. Here are 5 important tips to remember when growing potted herbs indoors.
1. Sunlight is your best friend.
Since your herbs will be growing indoors, it’s essential to give them the proper amount of direct sunlight. Generally, herbs need 4 to 6 hours of direct sun every day to thrive indoors. Before potting your herbs, scout out a place in your home that provides sufficient natural light, most likely by a window.
2. Be sure the pot has proper drainage.
This can be taken care of before you even plant the herb. When shopping for a pot, check the drainage holes to make sure your plant will retain moisture, yet drain easily. This will prevent the roots from sitting in soggy water and rotting out. You can also use rocks or plastic foam (in addition to drain holes) to help keep the roots out of the water.
3. Always leave some mature leaves on the plant.
While the larger leaves look the most edible, it’s super important to leave some of the big guys on your plant. Why? Because larger leaves actually act as your plant’s solar panels. If you prune the eldest leaves, your plant will have a difficult time growing. Be sure to mix it up by cutting off both mature and brand new leaves.
4. Use the right type of soil.
A common mistake in potted plants is using garden soil in the pots – a big no no! Ordinary garden soil is much too heavy for potted plants and will cause the plants to dry out too quickly. When plants grow in containers, it’s important to provide them with a quality, lightweight potting soil or soil-less mix.
5. Water wisely.
Water needs vary with each type of herb and pot size. For example, you should let the pot dry slightly between watering for Mediterranean and drought-tolerant herbs, but always keep the soil slightly moist for herbs such as basil and chives. Do a little research on the type of herbs you are growing to be sure your plant is getting the right amount to drink!