Here at Garden Patch, we usually focus on helping people to plan and style their outdoor gardens – but indoor gardens are just as valuable!
There are heaps of reasons why you might bring your garden inside. If you’re living in a city, where outdoor space is limited (or non-existent), you might not have a choice. Or, maybe you’ve run out of room outdoors… or just love being surrounded by plants!
Today, we’re going to be specifically looking at indoor herb garden ideas and tips. Growing herbs indoors is incredibly easy, especially as herbs are generally quite happy to live in pots, and don’t need much space. Herbs look and smell wonderful, and, compared to other trendy plants, have the added benefit of being edible. There’s just something rewarding about being able to grow ingredients at home to use in your cooking.
So, let’s take a look at some indoor herb garden ideas: how to set them up, what to grow, and how to look after them.
Where’s the best place to grow herbs indoors?
A bright windowsill is the ideal spot to grow the majority of herbs indoors. Assuming your intention is to use your plants in your cooking, growing them in the kitchen also makes sense. Basically, the sunniest window sill near your cooker!
What if I don’t have a sunny windowsill?
If you don’t have any south-facing windows but want to grow happy, healthy plants, then you’ll need a grow light. These LED lights are designed to imitate daylight, and can give any indoor gardens (not just herb gardens) the boost they need to thrive.
Growing herbs hydroponically
You might have seen kits that will let you grow herbs hydroponically at home. This means that, instead of soil, you grow your herbs in a nutrient-rich water solution. If you buy a hydroponics kit, it will take care of all the tricky bits for you (they usually cost somewhere between £20-150). Hydroponics look cool and have generally god success rates, but they’re not necessarily at all!
Indoor herb garden ideas
So, now you have an idea about which herbs you want to grow and where you can keep them, it’s time to look at some specific ideas for storing them together. These ideas are particularly helpful when you’re short on space and want to fit multiple herb plants within reach of your food prep area.
1. Start with the herbs you’re most likely to use
The main benefit to growing fresh herbs is that you can start using them in your cooking with very little effort. So, start with the herbs that you’re most likely to use in your favourite cuisines. Here are my personal favourites (but check out the “herbs” section of our kitchen garden ideas for more).
Basil is best known for making pesto, but I also love it for Caprese salads in summer, and for adding a leaf or two to homemade pizzas to make them feel fancy. Basil likes warm weather and well-drained soil and can really thrive in a pot on a sunny windowsill. Pinch leaves off regularly to encourage fresh growth, and pinch flower buds off before they bloom to maintain the best flavour. Take a look at our detailed guide to growing basil.
In our house, mint is most handy for lamb Sunday roasts, tzatziki dip and mojitos. Mint will categorically take over any flower bed it’s planted in, so keep it in its own pot for the sake of all your other plants! Mint will need plenty of water and a nutrient-rich soil to reach its best. Try different varieties to mix things up a bit – lemon balm, peppermint and chocolate mint all smell amazing!
Rosemary is good with chicken, brilliant for roast potatoes, and is used to flavour various soups and stews. I actually just like it for its unusual shape and beautiful fragrance though! In a container, rosemary likes damp soil, but don’t flood the pot!
Use parsley as a garnish for almost anything, or finely chop it up for soup and dressings.
We grow flat-leaf parsley, but curly-leaf parsley adds some nice texture to an indoor herb garden. Parsley will want quite regular watering, and plenty of sunshine.
The mild onion flavour of chive is great for dips, salads, and as a garnish (especially with eggs). I love the way chives look on the windowsill – although it’s important to keep them trimmed so they don’t get heavy and fall over. Chives are easy to grow, but will need full sunlight.
2. Label each container
This little collection of herbs (and the tomato plant on the right), is a picture-perfect example of what a little windowsill garden can look like. It’s up to you whether you put your herbs into decorative pots, but I recommend putting labels on whatever container you choose. Why?
Well, for example, my other half is a great cook but not remotely green-fingered. He was initially reluctant to get involved with my fresh herbs, but labelling them helped him figure out what he could use without checking with me every time!
3. Hang your pots on window rails
Short on space? Store your herbs vertically to squeeze more in! It’s easy enough to screw a pair of hooks in your wall, and then rest a short pole between them to hang your plants from. I still prefer writing the names of each herb on the pots, but numbering could be better if you expect to swap your plants around each season.
4. Reuse old cooking jars
If you don’t have plant pots to hand, don’t stress about spending money on new ones. Mason jars (or sauce jars, or any kind of large jar, really) will work perfectly well as herb parts, and can actually look really stylish. Make sure to fill at least one third of the jar with gravel before putting in compost though, just to make sure excess water can drain through.
5. Mix and match your jars
Don’t feel like all your jars have to match! Similar sizes will look great, but you can add some quirkiness by mixing up the shapes of your jars. The labels on these look especially cool, and are just made with an embossing label maker. I bought one so all my labels around the house look uniform and neat – they’re less than a tenner, and the label tape comes in all kinds of colours.
6. Step up your herb display game
Quite literally, with a display made from a short step ladder. This kind of display is great if you have a bit of extra floor space and a low window. As you can kind of see in the picture, the shelves are made using shallow trays stretching between opposite steps. The trays are lined with gravel, so the pots can easily drain excess water – a great idea!
7. Reclaimed construction materials as planters
With a little creativity, just about anything can be transformed into a planter. Check out this breeze block planter – cool, right? And the perfect size for an indoor herb garden. If you’re looking for more ways you can reuse salvaged materials, take a look at these ideas for using junk in your garden.
8. Pallet shelving for your herbs
In case you missed it, there are absolutely loads of ways you can use pallets in your garden. Flip a pallet up on its end and it’s pretty much the perfect size to become a vertical herb garden. Add a couple of planks to keep the soil in – or brackets and jars like this one – get your plants settled and then just reach for whatever you need.
9. Recycling containers? Yes, you (tin) can
Tin cans are also good for growing small plants. Wash them, sand down any sharp edges and let them shine. Or, get crafty and dip them in paint, wrap them in paper or wrap string around them with labels. Cute, rustic and environmentally friendly.
10. Showcase your mug collection
Is it just me that has an abundance of mugs that I’ve collected over the years? I also inherited a collection of tea cups, but have more than I could ever need to drink from. So, how can they be displayed? I like this idea – using them as small plant pots for growing mini herb plants.
Tips for growing herbs indoors
Once you know what you’re doing, most herbs are pretty easy to look after. This is especially true when they’re in your kitchen and you can keep an eye on them every day! Having said that, I have killed many, many herb plants – so there’s definitely still a learning curve, particularly if these are your first edible plants.
- Check that your pots can drain excess water. The majority of plastic pots will have drainage holes already, but just double check that they’re there and aren’t blocked by stray bits of plastic (which I’ve found several times with potted herbs I’ve bought from a supermarket). If your plants – and that’s any plant, not just herbs and vegetables – are sitting in too much moisture, their roots can rot. Don’t forget to pop a saucer underneath!
- Give your herbs a decent soil to live in. Potting compost is designed to help plants grow in pots, and won’t compact like garden soil will. You can get potting compost pretty much anywhere you buy your garden supplies.
- Remember to water your plants! It seems obvious, but double-check which of your herbs prefer moist soil, and which need it to dry out between watering. Look out for dry soil and drooping leaves telling you your herbs need some water urgently!
- Herbs like a bit of food sometimes, too! Look for a fertiliser that’s safe for use with edible plants. Or, you can make your own compost – even small homes can have indoor wormery composters that produce a nutrient-rich liquid to help your plants grow.
- Prune your herbs to encourage healthy growth. Whenever you need fresh herbs, pinch the leaves or springs off with your fingers. Frequent pinching and harvesting will actually stimulate more leaves to grow! Just try not to cut back more than a quarter of the plant at once, and remember to leave some bigger leaves so that your plants can capture plenty of sunlight. If you find that they’re getting leggy and only growing small leaves, it’s time to find a sunnier spot.
These indoor herb garden ideas should give you everything you need to start growing some happy herb plants in your kitchen. Which herbs will you be growing first?