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How To Start An Indoor Herb Garden (Even With Low Light)

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Whether you have no outdoor space to grow in or simply want to have fresh herbs within arms reach in your kitchen, growing a herb garden indoors is well worth it!

I started my first kitchen window herb garden not long after my oldest child was born.

We had recently moved from our farm to an apartment and I was longing to have some real, fresh food to enjoy.

We were so lucky to have an apartment with huge windows but I didn’t realize until after we had moved in that most of the sunlight was blocked by the surrounding trees.

How To Grow Herbs Indoors text overlaid on a photo collage on the top is oregano growing in containers on a shelf, on the bottom is a close up photo of thyme growing on a window sill planter.

We only had a few hours of direct sunlight each day but I was still determined to grow as much as I could.

You may also be wondering, how can I grow herbs in my apartment even if I have low light?

The good news is that you really can have a great indoor garden! Growing your own herbs is one of the easiest ways to get started producing food indoors too.

Herbs are easy to grow plants that do well in small spaces. They are pretty to look at, smell lovely, and you can eat them. What more could we really ask for?

11 Tips For Starting An Indoor Herb Garden

1. Start With A Small Garden

If you are new to gardening it can be so tempting to jump right in and grow a little of everything. But it’s better to start slowly.

Try growing 2 or 3 types of herbs first and once you have mastered growing them well you can add some new plants to your garden.

2. What Herbs Should You Grow?

There are so many types of herbs you can grow but it’s best to start with the herbs you are already buying often from the grocery store.

This will start to save you money on groceries right away but it also means they are herbs your family already loves and will be excited to eat.

3. Where Should I Put A Herb Garden Indoors?

Windowsill Herb Garden

Before deciding where to put your indoor herb garden first think about where you live and what types of herbs you want to grow.

If you are in a cooler growing climate like I am (zone 5) then you will want to put your herb garden in the sunniest place possible in your home.

This is especially important if you grow herbs indoors during the winter time as our daylight hours are much shorter than further south.

If you live in the deep South of the USA your temperatures will be much hotter and the sunlight stronger coming through your windows.

In this case, your herbs would appreciate some shade or protection from the extreme heat. So picking an East facing window rather than a Southern facing window may be the better choice for you.

If you have young children or pets then you will also want to make sure your herbs are safe from them too.

When my children were young keeping potted plants in the windowsills was a gamble and one that would normally end up with a mess.

So I tried keeping my herbs on a table in front of the window well away from little hands, but then my cat decided she wanted to eat my herbs.

Cute stoneware hanging planters for herbs

If you have little ones or little fur babies in your home hanging your herbs up higher is a great solution!

I actually find herbs hanging in my kitchen window are easier to cut and water because I don’t have to bend and they are safe from little hands.

I love how cute these planters look they are perfect if you love the farmhouse style look!

4. Be Careful About Planting Herbs Together

Not all herbs will grow well together. Some herbs like mint grow very fast and can really take over a container quickly crowding out other plants.

While other herbs shouldn’t be planted together because they have different growing needs. For example, both parsley and mint-like moist soil, but sage and rosemary prefer dryer soil.

It wouldn’t be a good idea to combine these types of herbs together in the same container.

If you want to make combination herb planters make sure to plant herbs that have similar growing needs together. But for the best results, I like to keep each herb in its own pot.

5. Provide Enough Light

Mindful Design LED Indoor Herb Garden - at Home Mini Window Planter Kit for Herbs, Succulents, and Vegetables (White)Mindful Design LED Indoor Herb Garden – at Home Mini Window Planter Kit for Herbs, Succulents, and Vegetables (White)Mindful Design LED Indoor Herb Garden - at Home Mini Window Planter Kit for Herbs, Succulents, and Vegetables (White)


One of the biggest challenges when growing herbs indoors is not having enough sunlight. Herbs need lots of light to grow into healthy, productive plants.

If you have a south-facing window that gives you 6 to 8 hours of sunlight then that is a perfect place to grow your indoor herb garden.

If you don’t have a south-facing window, or maybe the light is blocked by trees and buildings then you might be wondering if indoor herbs need direct sunlight?

Well, it depends on where you live.

If you live in the deep South your indoor plants may grow better being set back a little from the window, or grown in an East facing window that gets less sunlight.

But if you are in a northern growing zone like I am then yes, your herbs really do need as much direct sunlight as possible to grow well.

If you can’t provide enough natural light to your herbs then using artificial lighting is a great option!

6. Growing Herbs Indoors With Artificial Light

If you live in a rather dark apartment or house you might be wondering “Can herbs grow with artificial light or do they need real sunlight?”

Yes, they can and it’s the perfect option if you don’t have enough natural sunlight.

Many gardeners use grow lights, like these fluorescent light fixtures. They range from 2 to 4 feet long and you can grow a lot of herbs using these grow lights.

We use grow lights just like this to start all of our seeds indoors each spring and they are perfect for growing herbs too.

You don’t need to worry about buying any special lightbulbs for growing plants inside.

I have fluorescent light stands with special growing bulbs as well as ones using inexpensive fluorescent shop lights and I’ve never found a difference in growth.

Future Harvest Developer SBL1600200 Grow Light GardenFuture Harvest Developer SBL1600200 Grow Light GardenFuture Harvest Developer SBL1600200 Grow Light Garden


If you don’t have room for a larger setup like that then try a smaller grow light kit that is made for use on countertops.

7. Watch The Watering

One of the most common ways to kill your herb plants is overwatering. Most herbs need well-drained soil to grow well.

Don’t be afraid to let the soil dry out a little in-between waterings.

When picking out pots to plant your herbs in make sure they have good drainage. If you’re growing in plastic or wooden planters you can easily drill some drainage holes.

But if you are using clay or ceramic planters it’s not easy to add holes to these without breaking them.

If you are using a container without drainage holes make sure to place a layer of pebbles in the bottom. This will let the extra water drain away from the soil.

Just remember not to overwater your herbs, if the soil feels moist don’t water them.

Plants that are growing in constantly wet soil have a higher chance of root rot. This is why having good drainage is so important when growing in containers.

Remember too, that you want to water the soil, not the leaves. Keeping the leaves of the plants dry will help to prevent mold problems from starting.

8. Best Soil For Herbs Indoors

Don’t ever make the mistake of bringing soil from an outdoor garden inside to use in your containers.

This will often result in a lot of pests being brought indoors and normal garden soil is to heavy to be used in container gardens.

Instead, you’ll want a good quality potting mix for growing most herbs. Our favourite potting soil is the BX Pro mix and we use this for everything from starting seeds to growing container plants.

For most herbs, this mix will be perfect.

If you are growing herbs like rosemary, bay, thyme or lavender that are native to the Mediterranean climate they really prefer a more gritty and well-draining soil type.

Adding a little sand to the potting soil can help to improve drainage for these herbs.

9. Fertilizing Herbs

Your indoor herb garden will need regular fertilizing to stay healthy. As you water plants grown in containers the nutrients in the soil get washed out. So it’s really important to keep fertilizing them monthly.

My favourite fertilizer to use on herbs is liquid seaweed, compost tea or fish emulsion.

Related: Best Organic Fertilizers For Vegetable Gardens

10. Harvest Often

Once your herbs are large enough to start harvesting from, make sure to pick them often.

This will encourage the plants to branch out more and stay compact and bushy.

Just remember not to harvest more than 1/3 of the plant at any time so that it has enough leaves to provide energy for itself.

Some herbs like basil will also start flowering, make sure to cut off the flower buds so that the plants’ energy goes into producing foliage.

11. Inspect For Pests Often

Whether you are growing outside or indoors pests are always something to be on the lookout for. Get in the habit of checking your plants for pests like aphids and spider mites.

If you find damage move the infected plant way from the others while you treat it. Often just a simple organic insecticidal soap is enough to get rid of most pests.

Remember you are growing an edible plant make sure whatever you use to treat pests is safe to use on something you’re going to eat.

7 Easy Herbs To Grow Indoors

7 Easy To Grow Herbs For Your Kitchen Window text overlaid on a photo collage of herbs. On the top is a close up of rosemary, the bottom left thyme growing on a window sill and the bottom right fresh parsley.

If you are wondering what herbs can you grow in your kitchen start by thinking what herbs do you really like to eat already?

There are many types of herbs you can grow indoors but it makes more sense to start with herbs you already buy often and you know your family will enjoy eating.

Most herbs are easy low-maintenance plants to grow. But some are pickier than others with specific watering or lighting needs.

1. Basil

Basil is an easy to grow herb for your indoor garden. But it’s important to remember that basil needs a lot of light.

If you have a bright south-facing window that should be enough, but it will grow even better if you grow it under grow lights or at least provide supplemental lighting.

2. Parsley

Parsley has to be one of the easiest to grow indoor herbs, it’s perfect for beginners! Unlike most herbs, parsley actually likes lots of moisture so make sure to water your parsley often if the soil feels dry.

3. Oregano

If you love cooking Italian recipes then you must try growing your own oregano indoors! This herb prefers to dry out between waterings but otherwise is very easy to grow.

It’s slow-growing when you start oregano from seed so if you want to start harvesting quickly make sure to pick up some seedlings from your local garden center.

4. Chives

If you want to grow your own herbs Chives are another one that is perfect to get started with. They are a very forgiving herb to grow but are slow to start from seeds.

To speed up your harvest either dig up a clump from your outside garden and pot it up for indoors or pick up some potted ones at your local garden center.

Chives can be used in any recipe that you would normally use onions in, making them one of the most flexible herbs you can grow.

5. Rosemary

Rosemary is one of my favourite herbs to grow but it needs a little more care than others. If you want your rosemary plant to last a long time then you need to make sure it has enough sunlight.

Without enough light, rosemary will become very skimpy in growth. This herb really appreciates being grown under grow lights.

6. Thyme

Thyme is another easy to grow herb that doesn’t need a lot of care. It does need a lot of light to grow well though, so make sure to keep it in a south-facing window or under grow lights.

Thyme doesn’t need a lot of water, so let it dry out a bit in-between waterings.

7. Mint

Mint is an aggressive growing plant that is perfect for container gardens. It also grows well in the shade so if you have a window that gets morning sun, that is the perfect place to grow mint indoors.

Unlike most herbs mint loves to grow in moist soil. Make sure to water often but still provide good drainage. Cut sprigs of mint often to encourage growth and always trim back the flowers.

Above All Enjoy Your Garden

Growing a mini herb garden indoors is really so much fun! Just remember to take it slowly if you are a new gardener.

Start with the herbs you really enjoy eating first and learn how to grow them well. Then you can start expanding your garden to include some new varieties.

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