Can I grow herbs indoors over the winter?

Question:

Can I grow herbs indoors over the winter?

Answer:

Many herbs can be successfully grown indoors during the winter months. The best herbs to grow indoors include basil, cilantro, parsley, chervil, rosemary, bay laurel, mint, chives, oregano, thyme, sage, and lemongrass.

Light is often the most limiting factor when growing herbs indoors. Ideally, plants receive four to six hours of direct sunlight a day. Some species, like parsley, mint, and chives, will tolerate a little less light, and others, like rosemary, thyme, and bay laurel may need supplemental light from a full-spectrum LED or florescent grow light. Put the grow light on a timer for 12 to 16 hours a day. If long, lanky growth is noticed, more light may be needed.

Plant herbs in containers with a well-drained potting soil. Clay or terracotta containers work particularly well for herbs because they are more porous, allowing the potting mix to dry well between waterings. Plastic and ceramic containers, as well as hanging baskets and window boxes, are all good options as well. Be sure the container has sufficient drainage holes in the bottom. 

The water requirements vary depending on the species of herb being grown, but all should be watered when the potting soil is dry to the touch and before the plant begins to wilt. Although herbs do not require as much fertilizer as other plants, they will benefit from periodic light fertilization with a balanced, all-purpose fertilizer at half or quarter strength.

Annual herbs can be grown by seed throughout the winter months. Stagger seedings to always have new plants ready to harvest. Perennial herbs can be overwintered indoors but should be moved outdoors in late spring when temperatures warm up.

Answered by
  • Specialist
  • Consumer Horticulture Extension
Last updated on
March 19, 2024