Herb Growing Garden Guide

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Growing Herbs Indoors

  • Perennial herbs are best for indoor gardens.
  • Things like parsley, rosemary, mints, thyme, sage, and chives all work well.
  • Avoid faster-growing annual types such as cilantro or dill; plant faster, easy-to-grow types in outdoor herb gardens.
  • Breathable pots made from terra cotta or wood with excellent drainage make the best containers for herbs. Metal or glazed ceramic pots with good drainage holes can also be utilized, but closer attention to watering will be needed, as these materials do not breathe as well.

Watering Herbs

  • Most herbs are considered low water use. This is why soil and pots with excellent drainage are critical.
  • As with many types of plants, the larger the leaves, the more water they require.
  • Basil, Lemon Balm, Lemongrass, Ginger, or Turmeric are some examples of herbs that prefer rich, moist soils.
  • Rosemary, Sage, Lavender, Bay Laurel, and Catnips or Catmint are all varieties that can be grown in slightly drier conditions, along with heat and bright sunlight.
  • Overwatering is the most common demise of herbs, especially when grown indoors.

Indoor Herbs VS Outdoor Herbs

  • Most herbs grow best in full sun, which means at least 6 hours of sun in outdoor gardens.
  • Indoors, a south or southwest facing window with strong light is the best exposure for herbs like Rosemary, Lavender, Oregano, or Basil.
  • If you only have an eastern or northeastern exposure with medium light, then try Parsley, Chives, Mints, or Thyme.
  • Utilizing grow lights also works well, especially in long, dark northern regions.
  • Indoor herbs grow at a much slower rate, which means watering demands are less, therefore harvests or cuttings are done less often.
  • Average indoor temperature of 72°F is fine for most herbs, but just like with other houseplants, keep herbs away from cold panes of glass and out of hot or cold vent drafts and doors to the outside.
  • Starting some herbs from seeds can be challenging. Ask us for help or specific advice for each type.

Weeds in Herb Gardens

  • Prevention is most critical.
  • Avoid weeding later by laying down landscape paper, fabric, or plastic mulch prior to planting.
  • Utilizing pre-emergent herbicide products with natural corn gluten meal (Preen®) after herb plants are in the ground is a helpful weed prevention measure.
  • Mulching around plants with up to 2 inches of grass clippings, compost, or straw also helps suppress weeds and retains soil moisture at the same time.
  • Otherwise, if weeds already exist, hand cultivating and pulling them while the soil is moist after a good rain or watering is the best and safest solution.

Outdoor Herb Winterizing

  • For most herb gardeners, the main task is to cut all harvestable leaves and stems well before the first frost.
  • Use what you can fresh, then dry the rest for future use.
  • Air drying works best, but it takes time. Hang small bunches upside down with stems held by rubber bands, jute, or ribbon. In a dry, dark location with good air circulation, herbs usually take a few weeks to cure.
  • For quicker results, the microwave or a food dehydrator work well.
  • Once all are harvested, clean up beds like you would for other perennials.
  • After frost, cut stems of herbaceous herbs virtually to the ground.
  • Some hardy varieties with rigid stems and seed heads may be left standing for winter interest and for feeding hungry birds.
  • Once stems have been cut and removed, then add 2 inches of fresh compost around plants and keep watering through fall, especially if the weather is dry.
  • Stop all fertilizing by mid-summer to allow normal dormancy.
  • Mulching over crowns with 4-6 inches of clean straw or shredded leaves after plants are dormant will help protect plants through the worst of the winter weather, especially those varieties that may be marginally hardy or in areas that get cold without a lot of insulating snow cover.

Please look through our other Garden Guides for specific info and advice for different types of herbs.