On Your Health

Check back to the INTEGRIS On Your Health blog for the latest health and wellness news for all Oklahomans.

How to Grow Herbs Indoors

26 April 2022

Posted in

If you enjoy cooking – or just like the scenery of plants – an herb garden is worth the effort to have at your fingertips. But what if you don’t have room outdoors to plant herbs or live in a location, such as an apartment, that doesn’t make it feasible to start your own project? An indoor herb garden provides all the benefits of a traditional backyard garden in the confines of your own home. This guide will detail what you need to start your own indoor herb garden, answer specific questions on how to care for your herbs and provide a list of popular herbs to plant.

Tips for an indoor herb garden

From the right temperature to how much water is needed, there are many things to consider when starting an indoor herb garden. Here are answers to common questions people have about the process.

What do I need to grow herbs indoors?

  • Light: Sunlight is the most important part of growing any type of plant. Herbs absorb sunlight and convert it to energy as part of photosynthesis. In apartments without many windows, LED lights can take the place of natural sunlight.
  • Water: In addition to sunlight, herbs also need water during photosynthesis to absorb nutrients from the soil. Some herbs require minimal watering, while others prefer a moist environment.
  • Temperature: Herbs generally prefer an environment in the 65 to 75 F range, with 70 F as the most common temperature. Basil is the one exception – it prefers to be at 75 F.
  • Soil: Herbs need nutrient-rich soil to thrive, and you can achieve this by buying indoor potting mix. Don’t use outdoor soil, as it is too compact for indoors. Plus, you run the risk of bringing bugs inside.
  • Container: Herbs can grow in just about any container as long as there is room for water to drain – drainage is important so the herbs don’t sit in water. Examples include ceramic, clay or plastic pots. You can even use the plastic pint-sized fruit containers blueberries and strawberries come in.

Best pots for indoor herbs

Drainage is the key when selecting a pot for your indoor herbs. Whether it’s a plastic, clay or terracotta pot, use a container that has holes in the bottom to allow water to escape (you can also drill holes into the bottom to create your own drainage system).

  • Plastic: Plastic pots retain moisture longer and are better suited for herbs that prefer damper soil.
  • Clay/terracotta: These porous pots allow for air movement and dry out faster, thus are better suited for cooler climates.
  • Ceramic: These pots retain moisture and are better suited for warmer climates.
  • Metal: Metal pots are stylish, but they retain heat and may dry out your soil.
  • Wood: Like plastic pots, wood also retains water and is better suited for herbs that like moist conditions.

How often should I water my indoor herbs?

Overwatering is one of the cardinal sins of looking after any type of herb or plant. Yes, herbs need water to grow, but there is such a thing as too much water.

Frequency of watering depends on many factors, such as the herb itself, temperature in your house, humidity and type of pot (some pots dry out quicker than others). In general, you should water your herbs two to three times a week.

Here are some more specifics for individual herbs:

  • Herbs that don’t require as much watering: Oregano, rosemary, sage and thyme
  • Herbs that require more watering: Basil, cilantro, mint and parsley.

    After initially planting or buying your herbs, provide enough water to keep the soil moist for a few days. Beyond that, stick a finger an inch into the soil to check for moisture content – if it’s damp, hold off on watering and check again the following day; if it’s dry, water your herbs.

Make sure to drain off any excess water that collects at the bottom. Herbs can die if left in standing water.

Best soil for indoor herbs

Indoor potting mix is the go-to choice for indoor herbs because it helps water drain well and allows roots to grow and breathe. Stay away from gardening soil as indoor potting mix is lighter and won’t stay compacted when wet. 

You can also add perlite to your potting mix. Perlite is a mineral rock to improve aeration and drainage. As a cheap alternative, you can place pebbles or stones at the bottom of your pot so the roots aren’t sitting in water.

Once you choose your soil, select an organic fertilizer to help your herbs grow and remain healthy. When sifting through your options, read the packaging to ensure the fertilizer you choose is high in nitrogen and low in phosphorus – nitrogen encourages leaf growth. 

Add the fertilizer to the potting mix whenever you plant the herbs. You can fertilize your herbs as much as once a week, although plants can die if they’re overfed. Be aware of any salt from the fertilizer that may build up around your pot. To flush your herbs, rinse with water until it runs through the bottom and then drain it thoroughly to prevent it sitting in water.

How much light do indoor herbs need?

Indoor herbs require anywhere from four to eight hours of light each day depending on the specific type of plant. For herbs that need more sunlight, place them near a south-facing window as they’ll receive more light. East-facing windows are a good place for herbs that need partial sunlight.

When growing plants during the winter or if you have a house without many windows, an LED light can help supplement the light your plants need to grow.

Here is an overview of different herbs and how much light they need:

  • Six to eight hours of light: Basil, dill, oregano, rosemary, sage and thyme
  • At least four hours of light: Chives, cilantro, mint and parsley

gardening tips chart, herbs

Best herbs to grow indoors

This list of herbs is not an exhaustive list by any means, rather it includes some of the more popular options to choose from. When deciding what to grow, pick which herbs you like and will use more frequently. For example, some people don’t like the taste of cilantro and prefer parsley instead.

Basil: One of the few finicky herbs, basil plants prefer warm temperatures (75 F) and full sun. Basil is a versatile soft herb that can be used in sauces, pesto or as a garnish for Italian dishes.

Chives: A member of the allium family, chives are versatile enough to grow in full sun or partial shade. They generally need more moisture than other herbs. Chives have a crunchy texture and a mild onion flavor, making them a choice topping for dishes such as baked potatoes.

Cilantro: Grown from coriandrum plants (the same plant that produces coriander seeds), this soft herb does well in full sun or partial shade. Similar to parsley, cilantro is a popular addition to freshen up sauces and dips, specifically in Mexican cooking.

Dill: This member of the celery family can be grown in full sun. Used in dips, with fish dishes or as a pickling spice, dill’s flavor profile is a cross between celery and fennel.

Mint: Mint prefers less sun than other herbs, making it a prime herb for an east-facing window. This herb also needs moist soil, so plan on watering it more frequently. Mint can be used in anything from your morning tea to a chocolate dessert. 

Oregano: Known for both its Green and Italian varieties, oregano grows well in partial sun. Oregano is from the mint family and is less mild as a fresh herb than when dried. Warm and aromatic, oregano is an ideal addition for proteins, pasta dishes and potatoes. 

Parsley: A staple at restaurants as a popular garnish, parsley is an easy herb to grow considering it can thrive in cooler temperatures. It doesn’t need as much sun as other herbs, although it will require moisture. Flat leaf parsley is more common than the curly parsley you find in restaurants. Plus, curly parsley grows too slow.

Rosemary: This fragrant, woody herb can handle full sun but ideally thrives in a cooler location. Rosemary is a hard herb that is sturdy enough to stand up to soups, stews and braises without breaking down.

Sage: Another member of the mint family, sage thrives in full sun. It is an earthy herb with notes of lemon and mint. You’ll commonly find it paired with heavier dishes, such as a pork roast.

Thyme: This popular woody herb flourishes in full to partial sun. Thyme isn’t as pungent as its woody cousin, rosemary, but it does carry a similar flavor profile with notes of mint, citrus and lavender. 


For more healthy living tips and information on wellness trends, visit the INTEGRIS Health For You blog.


The Seven Forms of Rest and Why You Need All of Them

How to Start Your Own Garden

Best Cooking Oils for Better Health