Grow herbs inside during the winter to have fresh herbs at your fingertips for winter salads, stir fries, and sauces. Plus, make your home fragrant during the Holidays with Christmas herbs like rosemary, scented geraniums, the mints, lavender, and lemon verbena. You can buy seedlings or start with seeds. If you plan ahead, you can transplant them from your outdoor garden.
Follow these easy care tips for success!
Herbs need Sunlight:
Most herbs thrive on light - outside herbs require 5 hours of direct sunlight per day. A southern exposure is ideal! (Exceptions: Mints, bay, parsley, rosemary, and thyme, which take partial shade; and lemon balm, which actually likes full shade.) When growing herbs indoors, they receive a lot less light, especially in the winter, so you'll need to use a grow lamp at least 12 hours a day. Hang cool white fixtures 6"-8" above the herbs. If you have no natural sunlight, let the grow light on for 14-16 hours a day. Your plants will be bushy and productive.
There are many different kinds of grow lights available, including AeroGarden, Light Box, Jump Start Light System, or Hydrofarm Light System.
Most herbs prefer temperatures on the cool side, with days 65 degrees and nights 55-60 degrees F. They will do fine with days of 70 degrees F, and nights in the 60s. Many herbs will survive temperatures in the mid-to-low 40s, through scented geraniums and basils will die below 50 degrees F.
Remember! Herb foliage pressed against frozen windows will freeze and die. Slip a piece of paper between the foliage and the window.
Herbs don't like stagnant air; so keep air moving by cracking a window in an adjoining room. A blast of cold air is a CURSE! Since air and soil temperature can affect plant growth rates, keep your seedlings warm with a seedling heat mat, available at your garden center.
Herbs will need nutrients, oxygen, and moisture at the root level. Good drainage is important! Esbenshade's Potting Soil has been very successful in growing herbs. Miracle Gro Moisture Control potting mix is also a good choice.
Plant in 4"-6" pots. For plants with spreading underground runners -- like the mints -- wide, shallow pots are ideal. For parsley, a deep pot is better.
Fertilize once a month at half the recommended strength. This schedule is enough to keep them productive, but not so much that they get leggy and lose their flavor