Former Extension Educator, Horticulture
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Friday, November 18, 2016
Now that fall is advancing and the outdoor growing season is coming to a close, I know that many of us will be looking for ways to hold on to a hint of spring in the midst of winter. Growing herbs indoors is a great way to stay connected to the vitality of the summer garden throughout the year and keep fresh herbs in your winter cooking.
There are several factors that need to be taken into consideration in order to provide indoor plants with the proper conditions for growth.
Natural light is best. Most herbs require six hours of full sun per day. A south facing window will typically provide the best light in a home, followed by an east or west facing window. North windows are usually too shaded for plants that have high light requirements. Rotate pots frequently to provide even lighting.
Supplemental lighting can be used when there is not enough natural light for good plant growth. Fluorescent light bulbs should be placed close to the plants, but not touching, and no further than 12 inches from the plants. Lights should be used for 12 – 16 hours per day. Don't leave the lights on 24/7. A combination of "cool" and "warm" colored lights can be used to provide a more complete spectrum of light for better plant growth.
The most common cause of death for indoor plants is over-watering. Poke your finger into the soil about a half inch to check for moisture. When it is dry, water the pot enough to moisten all the way to the bottom. (If you have drainage holes, use just enough to have some water run out. Don't leave the pot sitting in standing water in the drainage tray). Checking the soil moisture is the only reliable way to know when to water.
Most plants grow best when the daytime temperature is between 65-70°F and the nighttime temperature is between 55-60°F. Try to avoid placing plants in front of a heat register, as they may overheat.
For indoor plants, choose a potting mix that will provide good drainage.
When it comes to choosing which herbs to grow, start with ones you like to use! A few herbs that grow well indoors include parsley, basil, mint, cilantro, chives, thyme, and rosemary.