Helpful Hints & Tips for Growing Herb Plants Indoors
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An indoor herb garden allows you to enjoy the flavor and fragrance of fresh herb plants year round. A few pots of
on your kitchen windowsill will always be at hand to add herbal zest to
your cooking, and to remind you of warmer days to come. Your indoor
herb garden could begin with a simple collection of parsley, chives and
oregano. Or, you can create imaginative groupings of herb plants for
window boxes and hanging baskets. The variety of leaf textures and
growth habits present and endless array of possibilities.
We don't think much about the amount of light outside as it changes from
season to season, when we're indoors and warm with electric lights, but
this is a major factor for your plants. Especially with this time of
year being the shortest amount of daylight we'll see, you need to make
sure your plants are getting the amount they need. Though probably
dormant for the season, your flowering plants tend to like more light
than evergreens, cacti and other foliage hardy plants. Whether you
unsash your curtains, open the blinds or add additional artificial
light, your plants will need a little UV boost through the winter.
Most herb plants need 6-8 hours of direct sun each day. A south,
west or east window, unobstructed, should work just fine. There are a
few herb plants, such as mint and
that will grow in a bright north window. If your plants are getting
too leggy and thin, it means that they are not getting enough light and
need to be moved into a brighter window. If this isn't possible, then
pinch the ends back to encourage bushier growth. Remember to turn your
herb plants regularly so that all sides get even exposure to light.
Sometimes, herb plants brought into a new environment will suddenly lose
their lower leaves. Don't be alarmed by this adjustment; it is your
plant's way of dealing with the change in light intensity. The plant is
getting rid of leaves which are no longer able to produce enough food
and eventually you should see new growth at the growing tips where the
light is stronger.
is especially likely to do this.
You can grow herb plants under artificial light sources such as
fluorescent grow-lights and the newer incandescent plant lights. Since
herb plants require more light than most house plants, position lights
as close as possible to the foliage - with in 1" to 2".
Temperature and Humidity:
you've moved your little green friends indoors and you figure that
should keep them safe from the temperatures, right? Think again. Some
plants can be highly sensitive to heat and cold so make sure you aren't
Basil plant near a cold, drafty vent or your Lemongrass
right beside your wood furnace. Depending on their particular needs,
temperature can even speed and slow the growth process for your plants,
just like an artificial changing of the seasons. Herb plants are happy
in the normal home environment. Problems do arise with herbs indoors
when the temperatures are too hot and too dry, especially near a
radiator or hot air outlets. If you do have low humidity, you can place
your herb plants on a tray of pebbles which is filled with water. Do
not immerse the pots in the water, but merely rest them on the pebbles.
you're feeling dried out from running your heat on high, chances are
that your plants may be, too. Make sure to water them appropriately.
Excluding cacti and other succulents, an easy way to tell if your plant
needs water is to stick your finger partially into the dirt to test it.
If it's bone dry, don't drown it. Water moderately and monitor its
progress. If you find that your plants are needing water at alarming
rates, check to see where you have them placed. On top of a radiator or
next to your fireplace may be too hot for their liking. In general, keep
them away from direct sources of heat - don't place on top of a
radiator or under a forced air vent. Avoid
dry air by either misting your plants regularly or by filling the
drainage tray with pebbles and adding water. That will provide a
constant source of humidity if needed.
Cleaning and Prevention:
great thing about having your plants close at hand when it's too cold
to go outside, is that you can't help but to notice them. The winter
months are a great time to get to know your plants' personalities and to
give them a good cleaning. Dust and microscopic debris build up on the
plant's leaves which can block sunlight and the plant's pores. In
addition, pests can be a problem as their eggs can flourish in the
warmth of your home. Try
cleaning the tops and bottoms of your plant's leaves with a damp cloth
to remove any unwanted buildup that may be hindering your plant from
being its healthiest. While you're at it, take a close look for insects
and disease. They are pretty easy to spot, either flying or crawling
around your plants.
If you spot a problem, it's best to nip an infestation or blight in
the bud. In most cases, warm water and a mild soap will do the trick to
remove many common pests. For a deeper rooted problem, try an all
natural pesticide or fungicide, which can be bought at your local
prefer a routine and moving them into your home can be quite an
adjustment. To alleviate further disruption to their transition indoors,
try to find permanent spots for them when you bring them in. If you can
place them in areas where they won't be disturbed by the hustle and
bustle of the holidays, pets, kids or just because they're in the way,
they'll greatly appreciate it. Moving potted plants too often can really
disrupt and unsettle their soil and root structure. Leaving them to
settle in and stay sedentary will cause the least amount of stress on
them, as leaves, stems, flowers and branches can break, become weak or
tear during the moving process. This will also allow the roots to stay
strongly grounded, as soil won't be jostled about, loosening the plant's
in the pot will become exhausted as he plant grows, and they should be
replenished with a weak but regular application of soluble fertilizer.
Only apply fertilizer when the plants are actually growing, never during
periods of slow growth or dormancy. You can also use natural compost
teas made of
Comfrey or Achillea
to help encourage healthy growth, without using synthetic chemicals to
"get growing". Most herbs don't need much fertilizer, as too much will
decrease the amount of oil the plant produces. This results in a lack of
flavor and aroma, which defeats the purpose when growing great herbs!
Making sure your plants are in the best pot or container
is also crucial to its health. Think about it. When you start to
outgrow your shoes, the constriction and tightness is uncomfortable,
right? Well, many plants need to be moved to larger containers as they
get bigger to give them more adequate space to stretch and grow bigger.
The winter is a great time for this as the cool temperatures make the
process less stressful on your plants. Give your plants plenty of room
to grow and you'll get to enjoy larger and longer lasting results.
the stress of the holidays has wound down, indoor gardening can be a
terrific therapeutic hobby or, during the holidays if you need an escape
from the madness! Gardening year round allows you to enjoy the fruits
of your hard work constantly and the calming presence of your indoor
plants will bring beauty and fresh
to these bleak winter days. Many plants can be easily started indoors
during the colder months, for transplant in the spring to an outdoor
garden. Try growing your favorite
indoors this season to spice things up in your stews and other hearty
recipes or just to lend a savory fragrance to your home. By growing
now, you will be more prepared once spring gets here!