How to Start an Indoor Herb Garden

For those who prepare a lot of home cooked meals, having an herb garden at your disposal is a wonderful advantage. I started growing herbs a couple of years ago when we built our entire backyard garden.

Over the years, there have been a few mishaps. We’ve lost some plants completely and learned what works best in our area when it comes to growing herbs.

Since each agricultural zone is different, and the weather can vary from place to place, I’ve found it easiest to keep my herbs indoors. We learned the hard way that the Texas summer sun is just too much for herbs and it killed all of them.

Pick a Location for your Herb Garden

When growing herbs indoors, there are a few things you need to consider. The first, and probably most important, is the location. Where are you going to keep the herbs?

Sunlight

One of the hardest parts of growing any plants indoors, including herbs, is finding a location that gets a good amount of sunlight. Generally, if you are in the Northern hemisphere, you are going to have the most amount of sunlight from a window that faces South.

Many herbs prefer full sunshine, meaning they can be in the sun for 8+ hours per day. But, there are a few that don’t need as much sun. Take into consideration what you want to grow when you are choosing a window.

If you don’t have any good windows with enough sunlight, then consider a sun lamp. They are perfect for replicating the sun’s rays to give your plants the nutrients they need to grow.

How to Start an Indoor Herb Garden

Kids/Pets

Another consideration when choosing your perfect location is any kids and/or pets that may want to touch (or eat) the herbs as they grow. My boys are old enough now to know not to touch the plants. But when we have friends over with younger children I move the plants up to a higher shelf.

We also have checked each of the plants to make sure they are safe if ingested by a cat. Our cat doesn’t eat the plants very often, but she has made herself sick chewing on one of my aloe plants so I had to move it.

Make sure your plants are out of reach of children and pets that may interfere.

How to Start an Indoor Herb Garden

Ease of Access

Remember, the goal of the herb garden is to be able to use it when you are cooking. If it isn’t easy to get to, or anywhere near the kitchen, then you may not remember it’s there. Instead of buying dried herbs in plastic containers, you can grow your own to use fresh in food as long as you can easily access the plants.

Also, you will need to water the herbs at least once per week, sometimes more. Don’t place them somewhere that’s inconvenient to get water to or they won’t grow. I have a reminder that goes off every Thursday to water my indoor plants. They are all in a place that I can easily reach.

Choose a Container for your Herbs

Once you know where to place the herb garden in your home, you need a container. This will vary greatly depending on a few different factors. Obviously, you want to make sure that the containers will fit in your chosen location.

Is it too big? Too small? Will it hold all of the herbs you want to grow? Is it easy to move if needed?

I use old glass spaghetti sauce jars for my herb garden. I cleaned the out, took off the label, and covered them in burlap to match in my living room. Then I filled them with potting soil and the seeds of the herbs I wanted to grow. Last, I made a small label for each to know what they are.

The jars fit very well on my windowsill, but they aren’t easy to move. Since they are individual, I have to move each one if needed. Our plan is to build a small wooden box that will hold all of the jars.

Only Grow what you Use

I feel like this is obvious, but should be stated. If you don’t use cilantro in your cooking, don’t worry about growing any! If basil is your go-to herb, consider planting it in multiple jars.

Wrapping back around to the idea of a No Waste Kitchen, only grow what you will use. Having a gorgeous jar of dill may look nice, but if you aren’t using it then that will eventually be wasted. While it can be composted, it takes more effort on your part for something you won’t use.

How to Start an Indoor Herb Garden

Make a List

When you decide you want your own herb garden, plan it out for a few weeks. Make yourself a list of each herb you think you would use. Then, every time you add it to a recipe, mark on your list. See which ones are your most used. You may be surprised that some you thought you would use don’t make the cut.

How to Start an Indoor Herb Garden

Build or Buy

Once you know what you want to grow, where it will go, and what type of container you’ll use, it’s time to put your herb garden together. I always try to reuse old items (such as glass jars) for projects when possible. If you have the materials at home, it’s better to use them to create your herb garden if possible.

Note: If you do a search on Google for homemade herb garden you will find a lot of wonderful ideas!

If you can’t make one at home, try shopping thrift stores first. You’d be surprised at how many glass jars and small containers you can find there. You may find just the perfect container.

As a last resort, buy something new for your herbs. This may be your only option if you need a specific container, or want a full setup that’s ready to go.

How to Start an Indoor Herb Garden

Purchase Starter Plants or Seeds

Whether you choose starter plants or seeds will greatly depend on how soon you want to use the fresh herbs. When you buy a starter plant, it’s already established and growing. You will just need to transplant it to your containers. Just beware that many plants die off after being transplanted but will come back in a few weeks.

Buying seeds will take longer to grow the plants, but they are usually more cost-effective. Seeds are also a good choice if you have jars with a small opening since you won’t need to fit the plant in there after it already has roots growing.

Water the Plants

When your herbs are first planted, make sure to give them a little bit of water each day. The best way to do this is with a misting spray bottle. It doesn’t drown the seeds and small plants but allows them to get ample water.

Once the herbs sprout, you can usually back off to watering only once or twice per week. Of course, each plant has different requirements, so make sure you follow the instructions on your seed packet or starter plant.

Your Turn

Do you have an herb garden at your house?

Where is it located? In a window? Outside? In the kitchen?

What herbs do you tend to cook with the most?

28 thoughts on “How to Start an Indoor Herb Garden”

  1. I just love your blog! It’s one of my favorites! I have been wanting to do an Herb garden for so long! thanks for this, now I have the right info to get started.

    1. It’s so easy to do inside, as long as you have a good spot to place everything. And the fresh herbs add so much flavor to your meals.

  2. Awesome! How old are your kids? We live in Texas and also learned the hard way that it’s difficult to keep some things alive in the Texas sunshine. I’ve wanted to do an indoor herb garden but I’m scared that my kids will get into it.

    1. My oldest is about 5.5 and my youngest will be 4 in March. They are really good about not touching them. My cat actually gets into them more than the boys!

  3. Hey Stephanie, this is a great step by step guide I never considered the containers herbs needed. It is a great idea though and save lots of money going out and buying them x

    1. Using jars for projects like this has saved so much money! I already buy the jars for the food in them, so might as well reuse them!

    1. We have some mint growing, too. It was outside, but our temperatures hit freezing a couple times this month so we potted some of it to save for next month when it’s warm enough to plant outside again.

  4. One of these years, we will get organized and bring some of our herbs indoors for the winter (and then set up the plant lights, which we used in our old home but haven’t used in this one yet – the only good window we have for plants in this house faces north). Otherwise, our herbs are scattered between the girls’ “tasting garden” by our front door, and our side vegetable garden. Most of the time (albeit not today), it’s mild enough outside that the perennials are still going at least half-heartedly in the winter and we can pop outside to grab some fresh something if we need it for cooking. (LOVE your pretty wrapped jars, BTW!)

    1. Our problem is the intense heat in the summer. Ours would probably be ok in the winter, but summer is brutal. I also like having them indoors because I am more likely to grab pieces off the plant when I am cooking if I don’t have to go outside!

    1. They are so easy to grow and don’t have to take up a lot of space. Fresh herbs taste so much better in a meal than dried ones!

  5. I just bought mint and basil at my local store. I never thought about parsley, I am going to get some. I love your jars.

    1. I’ve done mine from the starter plants at the store before, too! I had all the extra jars, but they were ugly, so I had to cover them somehow. And needed to mark them so I don’t forget what’s what!

  6. I love the idea behind an indoor herb garden, and re-using glass jars is genius. I wish we used spices enough, but we simply don’t because I have children who hate anything that’s not plain and covered in ketchup.

    1. I hear ya, my kids are picky eaters, too. My husband and I will often garnish our food with the fresh herbs after we take some out for the boys so they don’t have the herbs, but we still get the taste of them.

  7. I’ve always wanted to start an indoor herb garden but I just haven’t done it. I love how you are reusing spaghetti sauce jars for yours, they look great with the burlap covering them!

    1. Thanks! It was a cheap way to plant the herbs since I already had the jars. The burlap cover was the only way I was ok with them being in the living room because I wanted them to still look decorative at the same time!

  8. I have been debating on starting an indoor herb garden. Specifically, for basil and parsley, because I use those the most. The only thing I’m worried about is adding one more thing to my task list.

    1. Herbs are really easy to care for. When you first plant you want to spritz with water every day for a week or two. Then after that I have a reminder in my phone that I water once per week which seems to be enough for the herbs.

    1. I love having them in containers. We can move them outside when the weather is good and bring them in when it isn’t. And when our friends come over with their curious one-year-old I can move them up out of her reach!

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