No outdoor garden space? No problem. If you have a window ledge that receives about 6 hours of sunlight daily, you can create an indoor herb garden. It doesn’t take up a lot of room, and you’ll enjoy harvesting your own fresh herbs from this little slice of garden heaven! Follow this easy guide to make the best use of your space and create a lovely windowsill herb garden.
Make a Plan
It’s a good idea to come up with a plan for this space, and decide what herbs your family would enjoy most.
Be sure to pick plants that match your growing conditions. You don’t have a lot of space for experimentation, so choosing the right herbs for your location will ensure a satisfactory result.
In general, basil, dill, oregano, thyme, parsley, sage, rosemary, and mint are all great options. They grow year-round and don’t require a lot of maintenance. Most culinary herbs can also be used for aromatherapy, as well as being a great addition to your kitchen apothecary. Learn about all herbs different uses so you can use the ones you grow for a variety of purposes.
Go with herbs you know your family likes and uses often. If your windowsill is in the shade, get inspiration from our herbs that grow well in the shade article. If your windowsill is in a great location, you have a lot more plant options to choose from. One great idea is to plant a themed herb garden, like one of the ones listed below.
Windowsill Herb Garden Themes
Below are some quick and fun suggestions for a themed windowsill herb garden. Think of them as springboards to inspire your own garden creations, using herbs you know your family will enjoy.
Pizza Herb Garden
Some of the most well-known and popular herbs are perfectly suited for this type of mini garden. The herbs mentioned here also go well for a pasta-themed garden, since they have similar flavor profiles.
Basil is happy when it’s harvested frequently, a few leaves at a time. If flowers appear, pinch them off, or use them as well! Keep in mind that large-leaved varieties don’t thrive well indoors. Aim for compact, dwarf varieties like Pluto or Dolce Fresca instead.
Plant in well-drained soil in a spot that gets plenty of sunshine.
Greek oregano is my favorite variety for culinary use. This herb likes a lot of sun and drier soil, as it does poorly if its roots get too wet.
Flat-leafed parsley is the best for culinary use, and I like to use it fresh rather than dried. It needs regular watering and can handle partial shady conditions.
Make sure the pot has good drainage. Rosemary does not appreciate wet feet.
Choose English for culinary purposes, and make sure its soil stays dry.
Herbal Tea Lover’s Garden
This prolific herb flourishes best when contained. Use it to brew tea that’s both uplifting and relaxing. It’s also used to promote digestion, and spearmint can help balance female hormones. Plant in moist soil, in full to partial sun.
Part of the mint family, it makes a soothing tea, especially for heartache and anxiety. Grows well in partial shade, and dry soil.
Another member of the mint family, this herb helps to reduce stress, and is also a handy sleep aid. If you have cats in your home, you might opt to grow this one in a hanging basket so they don’t devour or destroy it. Plant in full to partial shade, in sandy well-drained soils.
Herbal Bath Garden
Lavender doesn’t like to be damp, so water only when the soil is dry. It’s a perennial, but can be difficult to grow from seed. Try to find a French lavender seedling at your local garden center, and ensure you place it in a spot where it gets at least 8 hours of sunlight daily.
This herb prefers dry soil and does well in partial shade. It can be harvested whenever needed—just clip it above a spot where two leaves meet.
Miniature or patio rose varieties do best in containers. There are many uses for rose petals, and they look wonderful floating in the bath.
Roses are heavy feeders and need good nutrition. Add some fishmeal to the soil when you plant it, and feed it every month so it will produce many blooms over the growing season.
A wonderful herb for the whole family. This gentle healer helps you get a good night sleep, and can also aid a child’s upset stomach.
Grow in sandy soil, in full sun.
Cut off the blooms for a delicious tea, or add fresh leaves to salads. The plant is entirely edible. It aids hay fever, common colds, and stomach upsets. It also produces beautiful blooms. Yarrow is a perennial and extremely hardy, and the white variety is the most medicinal.
Plantain herb (Plantago major) is different from the banana-like plant we often think of when we hear the name. It’s considered a lawn weed (which means it’s very easy to grow), yet its leaves are incredibly helpful for bug bites, scratches, and burns. Learn to make a plantain salve and keep it in your medicine cabinet.
Create Custom Herbal Blends
Once the herbs in your garden are ready for harvest, you can make your own delicious blends. Try some of these:
Choose the Right Container
Although window boxes are convenient and easy, I recommend using individual pots for individual herbs. This is because window boxes aren’t very deep. Unless the herbs you choose have shallow root systems, they won’t flourish in the way you might hope. I suggest that the pots be at least 8-10 inches deep.
As for the materials, you have a lot of choices. Clay pots are nice as they’re breathable and provide good drainage, which is key to a successful windowsill herb garden. Plastic pots are more flexible because they’re light and you can move and hang them anywhere easily. Ceramic pots are beautiful and come in a wide variety of colors and designs. You can also paint them to match your decor.
Drainage is Key
Container plants really don’t like wet roots. In addition, having soil that’s too wet can lead to root rot. Make sure your chosen planter has good drainage holes, or if it doesn’t, choose containers made of materials that are easy to drill some holes into. To create holes without a drill check out the video above.
Use the Right Soil
Many people might fill their containers with garden soil, but this type of soil quickly compacts in pots, creating drainage issues. Use potting mix, which is formulated especially for containers, or try a soil-less potting mix.
Feed plants with fish emulsion every 4-6 weeks.
How to Plant Your Windowsill Herbs
The easiest way to plant your herbs is from starts—that is, young plants that are already growing. Go to your local garden center and they can help you choose some good plant starts.
If you think that you’ll use your herbs regularly, start with larger plants in big containers. This way you have a steady supply. Choose a south-facing windowsill for the best light exposure, and your plants will receive more hours of sunlight.
Fluorescent lights can be used if you don’t have a sunny window, but this can be costly. Choose herbs that are best for the specific growing conditions you have.
Different herbs require different care when it comes to watering. This is another reason why I advocate for individual pots for each plant. Some like very well-drained soil, while others like more moisture.
Plants that grow in containers tend to dry out more quickly, so you may need to water more often than you thought. Do some research on the plants you choose and the ideal conditions for growing them in pots.
How to Harvest Your Herbs
There are two ways to do this. You can opt to harvest a little at a time, regularly, which promotes new growth. If your plant is small to begin with, however, it’s best that you give it time to grow. Don’t begin harvesting until the plant is about 6 inches tall. It’s easy to get over-zealous and pick too much, which might weaken the plant.
With most herbs, you can snip the first 2-3 inches off the top to encourage more branching. For bushy herbs, like parsley and cilantro, you can cut entire stems from the outside of the plants to allow new growth.
Don’t trim more than 1/3 of the plant’s foliage. Pruning more than that can really stress a plant out!
Be sure to remove the flowers from your herb plants. Flowers turn to seeds, and you want all the growing power to stay in the fresh, juicy leaves.
The second option is to harvest the whole plant when it’s ready. Then you can dry the herbs and make herbal blends.
You Can Do This!
No matter what your space limitations are, you can find herbs that suit the growing conditions in your home. The best thing about growing plants indoors is that you can start your garden at any time of year.
Culinary herbs are indispensable, and you’ll find that they can do far more than just spice up your food. Have fun learning about plants and create your own windowsill herb garden, today!