6 min read

How to grow an indoor herb garden

By · August 7, 2023
How to grow an indoor herb garden

There's something uniquely satisfying about cultivating fresh herbs right in the comfort of your home. Indoor herb gardens add a touch of greenery to your living space and offer a constant supply of flavour for all your home-cooked meals.

Whether you're a seasoned gardener or a complete beginner, creating an indoor herb garden is an easy way to enhance your cooking experience. Discover how to get started growing an indoor herb garden.

The Perks of an Indoor Herb Garden

Before we dive into the how-to, there are many advantages to starting an indoor herb garden:

Freshness and flavour: There's no substitute for the intense taste of freshly picked herbs in your dishes. An indoor herb garden can elevate your meals with a burst of natural flavours, enhancing your culinary creations.

Convenience at your fingertips: Say goodbye to last-minute grocery store runs for a few sprigs of herbs. With an indoor garden, your favourite herbs are readily available whenever you need them, just an arm's reach away.

Aesthetics and a great smell: Indoor herb gardens bring a touch of nature and charm to your living spaces. They can instantly liven up your home kitchen, and the right herbs can make your home smell delicious.

Year-round harvest: Unlike outdoor gardens, indoor herb gardens allow you to cultivate your favourite herbs throughout the year, regardless of the season. You can also choose which staple herbs you want on hand or rotate your favourites throughout the year.

Saving money: With the cost-of-living crisis affecting the price of groceries, buying fresh herbs has gone from a pantry staple to a luxury. Most fresh herbs retail at around $4 a packet in New Zealand. A pack of seeds costs a couple of dollars, and will last you for dozens of meals.

Getting Started: What You'll Need

Creating your indoor herb garden is a pretty simple process. You’ll need a sunny window and some additional materials to get started.

Choose Your Herbs: Select herbs you love to use in your cooking. Popular choices include basil, mint, rosemary, thyme, parsley, and chives. Start with a few varieties to ensure you can provide each plant the proper care and attention.

Containers and Soil: Opt for small pots or containers with drainage holes to prevent waterlogging. Use a high-quality, well-draining potting mix formulated explicitly for herbs.

Location: Find a well-lit spot with plenty of natural light, preferably near an east or west window. Most herbs thrive in at least 4-6 hours of sunlight daily. Ideally, you’ll have a window in your living room or kitchen. This makes harvesting your herbs at meal times easier.

Watering: Herbs generally prefer moist, but not soggy, soil. Water them when the top inch of the soil feels dry to the touch.

Temperature and Humidity: Most herbs flourish in typical room temperatures (15°C to 24°C) and moderate humidity levels. If you live in a freezing flat, finding a sunny spot for your herbs to grow will be all the more important. You can also buy indoor herb lamps, which make it easier to grow your herbs without direct sunlight.

How to care for your indoor herb garden

These essential care tips will help your indoor herb garden thrive.

Pruning: Regularly cutting your herbs helps to encourage growth. This is good news if you plan on harvesting your herbs regularly. Just make sure you don’t take more than a quarter of the leaves at once. This can distress and even kill your indoor plant. Instead, cut your plant’s leaves or sprigs with kitchen shears or with your fingers. 

Fertilisation: Feed your herbs with a balanced, water-soluble fertiliser once a month during the growing season (spring and summer). If your herbs grow well, their roots may poke out the bottom of your pots. In this case, you can transplant them into a bigger pot. Annual and perennial plants can be moved into larger pots at any time of year. Just keep them close to a natural light source to enhance their growth.

Pests and Diseases: Keep an eye out for pests and diseases, and address any issues promptly to protect your herbs. If your plant’s leaves begin to yellow, you could be overwatering them. Scale back how often you water your plants, and they should bounce back.

Where to grow your indoor herb garden

You don’t need much space to grow an indoor herb garden. Here are some ideas to get you started:

On your patio. If you have a verandah or patio on your property why not start a small outdoor herb garden?

On a windowsill. Windowsills are a great location for growing plants. If you have north facing windows, they’ll attract plenty of sun and your indoor herbs will thrive.

A kitchen bench. We’re not joking when we say you don’t need much space for an indoor garden. One or two small pots take up less room than a coffee machine!

On top of your fridge. If you have any flat surfaces that are basically unused, turn them into your indoor garden. You may have to use a stool to water them but they’ll be out of the way!

A wall. You don’t even need a windowsill to get started with an indoor herb garden. You can hang your indoor plants using macrame or buy herb planters made from silicone that stick to the inside of your window. This is a particularly good idea for renters!

Where can I buy indoor plant supplies in New Zealand?

Any hardware store is a good place to hunt for indoor plant supplies in New Zealand.

  • Bunnings has a great selection of planters and pots, as well as affordable seeds.
  • Mitre 10 is another excellent location for indoor herbs. You can shop their wide range of plants, seeds and pots on their website.
  • Palmers have garden stores in select cities on the North Island. Find a location near you here.

Tips for growing plants indoors

  • Don’t try and propagate the live herbs you can buy from the supermarket. They will usually die within a couple of days and aren’t designed for propagation.
  • Always place a saucer underneath any pots that you are growing herbs in. You can easily cause water damage to benches or surfaces if you don’t.
  • After watering your plants, leave them plants somewhere they can safely drain.
  • Choose the right pot for your herbs. Basil plants have longer roots than other herbs and will benefit from a deeper pot. Don’t plant herbs in a pot that’s too big or too small.

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