The best way to have success when taking care of an indoor herb garden is to create conditions that are optimal for growth. This can involve a number of different things that can become quite specific depending on the climate conditions where you live and the specific type of herb that you are trying to grow indoors. With careful preparation and an increase in initial effort, you can create an indoor herb garden that is not only fragrant and beautiful, but also delicious and cost-effective in the kitchen.
When growing herbs indoors, the most important thing to remember is to provide the best possible growing environment. Optimal growing environments consist of having containers that hold nutrient rich soil and that have good drainage. This means that the container not only holds the soil in the pot while allowing extra moisture to escape, but that the soil is healthy enough to hold the moisture that the plant needs. An inch of small gravel, rocks or even broken pieces of pottery in the pot bottom should be enough to ensure adequate drainage
Growing herbs indoors provides a benefit to your plants that may not be available were you to grow them outside. In many situations, bringing your herb garden indoors lessens the likelihood of an attack by diseases and pests. Although natural growing environments are considered the most organic ways to grow food, having your herb garden indoors allows you to combine what Mother Nature has to offer with more complete control over watering, light, and fertilization. Growing herbs indoors also provides you with the benefit of enjoying these plants all year long.
A good rule of thumb to remember when considering the temperature of your herbs is that your indoor herbs will like the same temperatures you do. Room temperature (around 70 degrees) will be enough to keep your plants warm and happy. Many herbs are drought tolerant, this means that you can occasionally forget to water them and they will not die. Herbs are also naturally resistant to insects, disease, and need little fertilization.
When it comes to lighting conditions, your container-grown herbs will do best with fourteen to sixteen hours of light a day. However, they can survive on much less. However, make sure that they are getting a minimum of four hours light per day. You can tell that your herbs are not getting enough light if they begin to look “leggy” or “spindly.” If you are having trouble giving your herbs the light that they need, you may need to visit your nursery again to get suggestions on what types of artificial lighting or special light bulbs you can use to help your herbs out. In most cases, a standard grow light is all that it takes to give your herbs the extra hours that they need to thrive. Also remember that if it is possible you should put your plants near a south facing window to allow them to absorb as much direct sunlight as possible.
If you are good at taking care of your herb garden and anticipate that the garden will last you through the season and even into the coming years, you will want to re-evaluate how the herbs are being potted. Typically, a yearly re-potting will suffice. Other times a simple pruning will help to prevent over-crowding in your herb garden. If you are unable to accommodate more plants or plants that are growing dramatically, you could consider splitting the herb plant and giving it as a gift. A well cared for herb plant makes a thoughtful and useful gift for anyone who enjoys cooking or even simply enjoying the look and smell of an herb garden.