Growing fresh herbs at home is a great way to liven your living space with the convenience of having herbs available any time you need them. Whether you start with a small starter plant for a quicker harvest, or you grow from seeds, here is your guide to success.

Finding the perfect location: Herbs indoors need as much natural light as possible. A south facing window with at least 6 hours of sun is best. While the light coming through a window is not as bright as direct sun outdoors, it is usually enough for most herbs. If you have less than 6 hours of light, or no south facing window, try growing herbs like mint, parsley, and thyme. These can grow in more shady areas. Most herbs prefer temperatures around 65 to 70 degrees. Temperatures at night might drop near the window, and most herbs won’t mind. If you are comfortable, your herbs likely are as well.

Grow Lights: Signs your herbs are not getting sufficient light include: poor growth, unusually long stems between leaf sets, smaller than usual leaves, and abnormally pale or yellowing leaves. One way to ensure your herbs are getting enough sunlight is to get a grow light. This mimics the direct sunlight, is excellent for providing plenty of light in the winter when days are shorter, and encourages your plants to grow upright and not towards your windows. You want the light 2 to 6 inches above the plant and set a timer so the plant receives 14-16 hours of light a day. Note: this is because they need more light when it is artificial.

Growing Media: Your soil should be light. This is because proper potting soil should be soil-less. It should be high-quality, sterile, and free of large particles. A good potting soil gives your herbs proper drainage and aeration. Be sure to use a seed starter mix when using seeds and an all-purpose potting mix when planting established plants. They allow adequate moisture and nutrients for the different plant stages. Thoroughly moisten the media with warm water before you sow your seeds.  

Proper Water and Drainage: The best way to keep your tables from water damage and your plants from root rot is to use a saucer or drip tray. Plastic, rubber, or metal saucers are best. Be sure your pot has drainage holes on the bottom. Plastic and ceramic containers hold in more moisture than clay. When using clay you will likely have to water your herbs more frequently. The soil generally likes to stay moist but not drenched. Once the plant is established allow the media to dry out slightly between watering. When growing seeds, use a spray bottle and spray the top with water as opposed to a watering can. Using a watering can will displace the seeds in the soil. The spray bottle also ensures all the soil surface is getting water. Be sure to check your seed packets for any specific water instructions.

Always check seed packet information for sowing, growing, and harvesting information.

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