Growing Herbs Indoors

Most herbs will grow happily indoors if you provide them with the right conditions. Choose a decorative way in which to display them.

What to grow

House-plant herbs will not be as prolific as those grown outdoors. If you have one favourite herb, grow a number of plants, so that they can be harvested in turn. Taller herbs like Dill and Fennel will adjust to indoor life by naturally becoming dwarfed.

Rosemary, Bay, Tarragon, Sage, Thyme and Marjoram will all make attractive short-term house plants. Annuals like Parsley, Chervil and Basil can be started each year from seed. Tender plants like Basil may well do better on a sunny windowsill than outside. Grow a variety of different mints — Apple, Pineapple, Eaude-Cologne and Peppermint.

growing herbs indoors

Picking the best position

Herbs like plenty of light. Like many house plants they also require an even temperature, humidity, fresh air and sunlight. They will not survive draughts or sudden changes in temperature.

A kitchen where herbs are constantly used is an obvious place to grow them — but a small kitchen with poor ventilation may not be the ideal spot. The room temperature may fluctuate violently, in which case you should put your herbs somewhere else. A kitchen that also serves as dining-area, play space and family room will probably have a more even temperature and better ventilation.

Choosing a container for herbs

A window-box on an inside windowsill makes an excellent indoor garden for a selection of herbs.

Some herbs, such as Mint and Lemon Balm, will quickly fill any container, so when growing them with other herbs, plant them in their own individual pot.

Finding Space

Make full use of the light from a window by fixing glass shelves across its width and using for herbs.

Hang baskets at varying heights in front of a window. Use Lemon Balm, Marjoram, Tarragon, Thyme, Parsley or Mints. Nasturtiums will add colour (use leaves, flowers and seeds in salads). Grow the more upright herbs on the sill below. Kitchen colanders make unusual containers.

Use of Herbs – A winter supply

The growing season of herbs will be extended when they are grown indoors. You can also bring herbs in from the garden. To do this, transplant them into pots towards the end of September. Leave them outdoors during the day at first, and just bring them in at night. Bring them indoors altogether before the first frosts. Mint should be left out longer, until after the first frost. You can also dry or freeze herbs for winter.

Hanging up to dry Herbs can be hung upside down in small bunches until they are crisp to the touch.

Microwave drying Most herbs can be successfully dried in a microwave and retain a good colour and flavour. Those that are unsuitable are Basil, Dill, Fennel, Salad Burnet and Chervil. Pick the herbs and rinse in cold water if necessary. Pat dry with kitchen paper.

Lay about 15g (1/2oz) herbs on a double thickness of kitchen paper, cover with another sheet of paper and cook at high. Check every minute— they will probably take 3-4 minutes. Turn the ‘sandwich’ after 2 minutes. When cool they should be crisp.

Freezing

Herbs such as Chives and Parsley are best chopped before they are frozen. Pack them into ice cube trays, cover with water and freeze. The frozen cubes can then be stored in plastic bags. Sprigs can also be frozen in sealed plastic bags.

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