Most herbs are Mediterranean plants that love warm temperatures and regular doses of bright sunlight. Growing herbs indoors may seem like a stretch, but with a little planning, it’s possible to grow even the fussiest herbs in your kitchen, all year round. Interested? Here’s the scoop on how to go about for growing herbs indoors.
Light: Don’t assume that your bright, sunny windowsill provides adequate light for herbs, especially during the short days of winter. Even if the sunlight looks bright to you, it provides only a fraction of the sunlight your plants would receive in a sunny, summertime herb garden. Without six to eight hours of bright light, most herbs (with the exception of lower light herbs like
parsley) will become long, spindly and pale as they stretch to reach the sun. Most indoor gardeners need to provide light in the form of clamp-on CFL reflecting lights or fluorescent bulbs placed 4 to 6 inches above the tops of the plants. The latest and most energy efficient form of plant lighting comes in the new form of LED ( Light Emitting Diodes ) Grow Lights.
Heat: Herbs thrive in normal warm room temperatures between 60 F and 70 F. (18-21 C.) and about 10 degrees cooler during the night. However, some, like basil, prefer warm temperatures around the clock. Keep in mind that windows may be too cool for herbs during the winter months. Consider placing your herb garden, with fluorescent lights, on a counter top or other
area away from chilly window panes. If you decide to grow herbs in a windowsill, don’t let the leaves touch the glass.
Soil: It’s a fact that most herbs thrive in poor soil, but not indoors. Indoor herbs demand well drained soil, especially during the winter when the normal rate of transpiration is slower and moisture and air movement are limited. The answer? Simply add coarse sand or perlite to a good quality, compost-based potting mix, which ensures adequate air circulation around the roots.
Water: When it comes to watering herbs indoors, less is definitely more. Poor drainage and too much moisture invite root rot, a plant disease that is nearly always fatal. Plant herbs in a container with a good drainage hole, and then water deeply when the top inch of potting mix feels dry to the touch.
Fertilizer: Herbs require fertilizer, but not a lot. As a general rule, a weekly feeding with a dilute mixture of fish emulsion or another liquid organic fertilizer is plenty.
Grow Tents: If you’re serious about indoor growing, a reflective grow tent is a wise investment. For example, Garden Supply Guys offers the Secret Jardin propagator. With dimensions of only 3′ by 2′ by 3′, the light-proof, waterproof tent is fully washable and comes equipped with bars to support fans, grow accessories and lamps within. Grow tents provide the perfect growing environment for herbs, vegetables and flowers, or for seed starting, and you get to control the light, humidity, air circulation and temperature. The added benefits to using a grow tent is protection from pets, plant pests, and temperature shifts, creating an optimum growing environment for your beloved plants.