Garden Pro: Grow Herbs Indoors

Learn how easy it is to grow basil, rosemary and more.

The onset of cooler weather doesn’t mean you have to wait until spring to grow tasty fresh herbs. Here’s how to cultivate them indoors all winter long.

What to Grow
Mediterranean herbs are some of the best ones to grow indoors if you have enough light: Bay, thyme, oregano, basil and rosemary are good ones to start with. Get your plants from your local garden center, start them from seed or bring herb plants from your garden indoors at the end of the growing season.

How to Plant
Plant herbs in a terra cotta pot (make sure it has drainage holes so excess water escapes), using a high-quality potting mix. If your potting soil tends to stay wet for awhile, add a bit of perlite and/or sand to it.

Provide Proper Light
This is the most important factor for success in growing indoor herbs, and the more, the better. Grow your herbs in a sunny window or 6 to 8 inches below fluorescent lights.

Water Carefully
Herbs like well-drained soil: Let the top inch of the potting mix dry before watering. This may be every few days to a week, depending on temperature, the size of your herbs and the pot size.

Fertilize Regularly
Give your herbs a dash of fertilizer (following the directions on the label) once a month or so. Use a balanced fertilizer, such as 10-10-10, for healthy growth.

When harvesting herbs, you’re essentially pruning them. Clip off as much as you need to cook with, and let your plants regrow before harvesting again.

Watch the Temperature
Herbs like the same temperature range you do: 55ºF to 65ºF at night and 10 degrees warmer during the day. Keep your plants away from hot or cold drafts, such as heating vents, exterior doors or leaky windows.

Horticulturist Justin Hancock gardens in Miami, Florida. Illustration by Elara Tanguy.