If you create your own indoor herb garden, fresh herbs are always on hand. From parsley to cilantro, fresh herbs can make an everyday dinner feel like a five-star meal. But buying herbs at the grocery can leave you with way more than you needed and backyard gardens limit your pestos to the summer months.
For fresh herbs all year round, you’ll need to bring the garden indoors. Not only will you have the fresh ingredients you need, but you’ll also add a little life and air to your space thanks to your growing greens. Whether you’re ready for a small sage plant in your kitchen or want to dive into a full garden, these indoor herb garden ideas will make your space look—and smell—great.
Here, we’ve gathered 11 tips to help you grow herbs indoors, including what to plant, where to plant it, how to keep it alive, and more!
1. Choose herbs that you plan on using while cooking.
The first step to any indoor herb garden is, of course, choosing your plants. The best herbs for you will depend, first and foremost, on your taste (there’s really no point in growing an herb that no one in your family actually likes!). Here are some of the most common herbs that are used in indoor gardens—they’re easy to grow and found in a lot of recipes.
You can plant this versatile herb from a rootless cutting.
Make sure this plant gets plenty of sunlight and warmth.
Grow this garnish go-to in bright light and with organic potting soil.
This perennial plant is part of the onion family, and it grows easily just about anywhere. It’s native to Asia, North America, and Europe. When grown inside, it prefers a south-facing window. Trim sections off with scissors.
This hardy leaf is essential for everything from desserts to tea and can live in moderate light.
Want to bring this Italian, Mexican, and Middle Eastern staple into your kitchen? You can snip a stem from an outside plant and plant the cutting in soil in a clay pot.
Set thyme houseplants near a bright, sunny window and let the soil dry completely between waterings. Thyme is a Mediterranean herb with a zesty herbal flavor not unlike mint.
Cilantro comes from the coriander plant and is used in a variety of dishes across many cultures. Coriander is native to Southern Europe and the Middle East. You can easily grow this fragrant herb inside. Make sure that the plant gets four to five hours of sun hitting it each day, and water it whenever the soil is dry to the touch. When watering, keep pouring until the water seeps out through the drainage holes on the bottom.
This unique-looking plant grows in tall stalks. To ensure its indoor success, make sure it gets six hours of direct sunlight (at least). In addition to using potting mix, you can also use plant food to make sure lemongrass gets all the nutrients it needs.
You can propagate this herb from a cutting—no need for a seed! This kitchen herb can grow excellently in four- to six-inch pots.
This shrub produces bay leaves, which are key for plenty of stocks, stews, and sauces.
2. If you’re short on counter space, plant your herbs in hanging pots.
Tiny space? Try hanging your herb garden in front of your kitchen window or on an adjacent wall.
3. Think outside the pot.
No need to go buy planters. Just start your garden in vessels you already have such as mason jars, leftover tea tins, or a cup and saucer.
4. Install a window box.
Who says a window box has to go on the outside? Install a planter inside your window or simply set it on the windowsill.
4. Or use a terrarium.
Protect your kitchen herbs from spatters and curious cats by creating a terrarium with a glass case, such as this one from IKEA.
5. Invest in a smart indoor garden.
Ditch the potting soil and grow your herbs in a smart garden, such as the Click and Grow Smart Herb Garden, which will do everything for you but chop the herbs. The herbs grow in a nutrient-rich soil and come in easy-to-plant pods. At $99 and up, smart gardens are an investment—but if you’re not confident in your green thumb, this is a solution that will make DIY indoor gardening foolproof.
6. Put your plants in the right spot.
Conrad Richter, president of Richters Herbs, a Toronto-area nursery and grower that specializes in herbs, says to choose a sunny window that gets at least four hours of sunlight per day—south-facing is ideal, though an east- or west-facing one will also work.
7. Grow for good looks as well as taste.
When you plant herbs of varying colors and textures, the garden becomes as decorative as it is functional. To achieve that perfect combination of beauty and flavor, Richter likes purple-leaf Rosie basil, broadleaf thyme, Tarragold tarragon, Corsican mint, purple sage, and scented geraniums.
8. Choose compact varieties when possible.
When you’re growing indoors, go for herbs that look tidy in a kitchen window and won’t hog too much space. Richter’s picks: Spicy Globe and Globette basil, Kaliteri oregano, Fernleaf dill, Blue Boy rosemary, and English mint. Hoping to grow parsley? Plain and Italian are best for indoors; the curled varieties grow too slowly.
9. But still give your indoor plants room to thrive.
Herbs can be grown either in individual pots or in a shared container—it depends largely on your space and aesthetic preference. In a shared container, be sure to check the growing habit of each herb and give it the space it needs. Mint and other fast-growing, spreading varieties need individual pots so they don’t crowd out other herbs; display them together with a system like IKEA’s Satsumas plant stand. However you position your plants, just make sure there’s room for air circulation around them.
10. Check on our herbs regularly.
Using soil with good drainage (find a kind that includes sand, perlite, or vermiculite) and liquid fertilizer will keep herbs going strong, but “the worst thing people do is water a fixed amount every day whether the plants need it or not,” says Richter. “Stick a finger in the soil and if the soil feels dry, water thoroughly.” Harvest the leaves as you need them, but pluck lightly: “You want to give the plants a chance to regrow.”
11. Use a saucer to protect your furniture or counters.
Whenever you’re using pots, you want to make sure you have a saucer to place under them. Saucers catch all the water that drains out and protect the surface underneath your pot from any potential water damage. Most pots have matching saucers, but you can also buy plastic saucers that have a low profile and work just as well.
Written by Miranda Silva and Kristi Kellogg.
This article originally appeared on AD Clever.