Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Indoor Herb Gardening Tips: Growing 101 for Basil, Rosemary, Parsley, Thyme, Oregano, and Mint

I used to maintain a site called, but I decided to retire it and focus all my effort on this blog. This is a page that I was especially proud of, as it represented the culmination of all my years of indoor herb gardening. Enjoy :)

Tips for growing Basil indoors 
basil leaves
  • Basil plants hate the cold. Keep them in a warm place, preferably in full sunlight. 
  • Cut the plant from the top--this will encourage new growth. Just snip off the top stem right above where it meets four sets of leaves below it. The four sets of leaves will grow and become the top of the plant, ready for harvesting. 
  • If you see flowers form, snip them off. This will improve growth of the plant and improve the flavor. 
  • Harvest and prune often, even if you don't need it right away. The more you harvest, the more it'll grow. 
  • Basil can be freezed. Just put individual basil leaves in a freezer bag, and store it in the freezer. You can take it out any time. 
  • Basil can't be refrigerated directly. If you need to store them for a short period of time, drop them in a glass of water and put that in the fridge. That will last you a few days. 
  • Cut off flowers as soon as you see them appear. This will keep your plant producing and keep the leaves savory. 
  • Watch out for aphids. 
  • Favorite recipes: Margherita Pizza, Chicken and Basil, Pesto 
Tips for growing Rosemary indoors 
sprig of rosemary
  • Keep Rosemary constantly moist, but never, ever let the roots be oversaturated or sit in water. The best policy is to look at your container's drain holes--if the dirt is damp, there's no need to water. Let the soil dry out between watering, but of course, don't let it stay dry for too long. Rosemary must be in a well-drained container. 
  • 6-8 hours of full sun is important. 
  • Make sure your room has good air circulation. 
  • Repot at least once a year, as the soil will lose its nutrients over time. 
  • Rosemary can be frozen in small freezer bags. 
  • Watch out for aphids and spider mites. 
  • Favorite recipes: Herb butter, grilling meat, foccacia. 
Tips for growing Parsley indoors

parsley leaf
  • Parsley makes a great breath freshener. It's great to chew on, for example, after eating a dish with too much garlic. 
  • Parsley also is very rich in Vitamin A and Vitamin C, as well as calcium and iron. 
  • It grows best in full sun. 
  • Parsley is ready to harvest once its leaves begin to curl and when it's produced stems with three segments. Harvest the larger leaves at the outside of the plant first just above ground level, and allow the newer interior shoots to mature. This will encourage faster growth. 
  • Parsley comes in two varieties: curly leaf and flat leaf. The flat leaf variety is preferred for cooking and chopping due to its stronger flavor and ease of handling. 
  • Pick parsley early in the day when the oils are strongest. 
  • Watch out for aphids!
  • Favorite recipes: garnish, stuffing, soup, tabouli, sauce. 

Tips for growing Thyme indoors
sprig of thyme
  • Thyme is one of the easiest herbs to grow. It's best to plant them in loose and fast-draining soil which is not very fertile. 
  • Thyme can be grown as an herb or as an attractive and fragrant plant due to their beautiful little purplish-white flowers. They can actually repel some harmful insects from your other plants due to their fragrance. 
  • To harvest, just snip leaves off as needed. 
  • To dry thyme for storage, harvest sprigs in the early autumn, tie them together, and hand them upside-down in a warm, well-ventilated, and shady area. You can store the dried leaves in a container with a tight lid. 
  • Favorite recipes: flavoring sauces, fish, meat dishes, soup and stews. 
Tips for growing Oregano indoors 
oregano leaves
  • As oregano plants start to flower, pinch off the flower buds. This will help the plants grow and will improve the flavor. 
  • Pick the leaves early in the morning for the best taste and aroma. 
  • Start harvesting when plants are about eight inches tall and have at least a dozen leaves. Just pinch the leaves off the plants and cut back the plant about three inches once you have harvested all the leaves. 
  • Oregano will produce a stronger flavor if you do NOT add fertilizer to the plant. 
  • Oregano is not as easy as other herbs to grow indoors. You should have a grow light on it at least 12 hours. Be sure NOT to overwater it--only water when the soil is dry. 
  • Favorite recipes: Anything Italian! Spaghetti sauce, pizza, meats, stews, stuffing, and breads.
Tips for growing Mint indoors 
mint leaves
  • Crush or chop prior to use--this brings out the flavor.
  • Mint is a great herb to grow indoors, as it is extremely hardy. 
  • Prune frequently for optimal growth. Clip stems liberally to shape plants and keep fresh new leaves coming on. 
  • New leaves are the best for cooking. 
  • Favorite recipes: Mint julep and other tall, cool drinks! Desserts, sauces (particularly for lamb), and jelly. Try tossing some mint leaves into hot chocolate or black tea!