DIY herb garden indoor


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Nothing completes a dish you’ve made with love than fresh herbs and spices to finish off your culinary masterpiece. Of course, you can buy what you need, dried and jarred, at almost any store, but wouldn’t it be nice to have some of your favorites year-round? Fresh?

Now you can! The following ideas should spark your inner chef to making tasty, and freshly seasoned meals at any time of the year, especially if you are looking for a little taste of summer during the colder months! Not to mention the ambiance it lends to your indoor spaces.

Table of Contents

Self Watering Herb Gardens


For simple, year-round culinary flavor additions, consider planting your own herb garden. This self-watering design allows you peace of mind and the ability to walk away from your garden without worry of it wilting or going dry. Of course, you will need to periodically care for and water, this makes things much easier.

Window Gardens


If you have a sunny window, you may want to consider taking advantage of the power of the sun and place a few pots with various herbs and flowers to brighten your space. Growing kits are perfect solutions for helping bring these spaces to life as they often have everything you need to get up and going.

Revive the Shelf


All you need is an hour and about $20 to make this super cute wooden shelf planter. Supplies include some cut pieces of pine (a lumberyard will cut your wood for free if you bring measurements), paint, nails, wood glue, small clay pots, and a bit of rope to create this adorable hanging planter for indoor garden freshness!

Keeping it Vertical


Whether you hang it or prop it up, this awesome little vertical garden will make a big statement in your kitchen space, all while providing you with cooking yumminess. Personalize your buckets with a little paint, or replace handles with a bit of rope to make a rustic statement.

Endless Flavor: Grow Garlic Indoors!

Who doesn’t LOVE garlic?! This is a staple in my household and I hate when I buy a whole bulb and can’t use it all right away, or end up not having any at all. Never go without using this great indoor bulb growing technique. And perhaps, you can also put it to good use throughout the house with a variety of other plants! See it here.

*You might also like: Everything you need to know about how to grow Rosemary

Put That Empty Windowsill to Good Use


What exactly IS the use of a windowsill anyway? I’m assuming it’s purely aesthetic, (go with me here) and it’s otherwise wasted space -and so therefor you MUST spruce it up even more. A series of small, colorful pots, decent light, and a selection of your favorite herbs and plants is exactly what it is crying out for.

Caddy Up and Create a Transportable Garden


Words do not describe this simple, genius utensil caddy hack, but I’m going to try anyway. Born of a totally unplanned find, the mother of this idea walked into a store to purchase plants and walked out with a total reinvention of her original idea after spotting a cute, galvanized utensil caddy. Follow her simple steps to create your own portable indoor herb extravaganza!

Get Another Handle on Recyclable Favorites


Seriously, what can’t you make from an old pallet and mason jars? This dainty little table top planter fits as many, or as few, mason jars (or any other type of container) as you want for your garden favorites. Paint to match your style, screw on a couple drawer handles, and you have the cutest planter whatever side of the Mississippi you live on.

Chalk it Up to a Great Idea


Whoever invented chalkboard paint deserves a medal. I mean seriously, you can now paint on almost ANY surface and make it your own artistic creation. And that’s why this simple indoor garden hack using clay pots is pure crafting ingenuity. Tie on a little raffia and you have a cute, country planter.

*You might also like: 45 Amasing Indoor Garden Ideas: #27 is so Easy!

The Power of Light


Grow lights are an excellent way to provide everything your indoor plants need to thrive even in the darker winter months. Grow kits that include everything you need for the health of your plants are excellent options for beginners and take the stress out of choosing what is best.

Stackable Solutions


If you are hard pressed for space, but still want to attempt some indoor gardening, take advantage of tiered planters that allow you to grow your herbs vertically, and thus take up less space. Many herbs require very little space as long as they are well watered and occasionally fertilized, and can thrive in small planting conditions, making this an excellent option.

Clothespin-able Planters?


Yet another DIY favorite, the clothespin has been used for ornaments, puzzles, picture holders… but what about a plant pot? It’s rather quite simple and I can’t figure why I didn’t think of this. Using a simple tuna can (or small cat/dog food can) and some clothespins you can make a unique little planter that looks like it took hours (but only takes minutes) to make!

Let Your Rainy Days Just Drip Away…


Once you see these planters you can’t unsee them ever again. For the life of me I am unable to figure out what’s NOT to love about these delightful rainy cloud planters. Totally eclectic and fun for any age, hang these on your walls for the perfect miniature herb garden in no time! To find where to purchase, click here.

Within Reach


Don’t let winter blues get you down! Using some supplies you probably have already lying around the house, along with some plastic lidded coffee cans (or tea and hot chocolate), you can create your own hanging herb paradise to last you through the coldest months. These are great if you are short of space and want something unique and personalized to fit your decor.

It’s All in the Details


Fairy gardens are all the rage as an added addition to your garden beds, but why not bring them indoors and bring an eclectic pop of interest to your decor? Find a cute base or two, pick out your favorite herbs, and bring your garden to life with a few cute necessities for a happy fairy household.

Hang it Take Two: Add Lighting


This might be my favorite indoor garden hack of all time. Up the ante with your upside down favorites (see #10) and add them into a lighting piece of your own design. You’ll want to be sure to use bulbs that don’t put out a lot of heat, but this is sure to be an original crowd favorite

Hanging Around Takes Tres


It doesn’t take long to collect the materials needed to create a recycled hanging plant display of your own using tin cans, old jars, thrift shop coffee mug finds, or even plastic soda pop bottles. Find your desired backdrop material, a collection of plants, and get busy!

Modern Edges


This graceful towering style looks complicated, but couldn’t be more simple! A few hardware purchases, power tools, and a bit of innovation will give you this sleek, modern look that will wow your guests. Just cut, sand, screw, and plant!

This One Takes the Cut


In order to complete this project to par, you’ll need to cut glass bottles either with a cutter, or one of the many techniques available (hint: just search online). But once you have those two halves, you have a simple, self-watering, hands free design for plants on your indoor surfaces. Use in windowsills (see #4), countertops, table tops – or even add into cute table top planter (see #6).

Bring it on Back… WAY Back

Who doesn’t love a good thrift shop find? Or in this case, a few good thrift shop finds. Don’t pass up those old rusty kettles, pitchers, pots, and pans – instead get creative with your junk yard discoveries and create a one of a kind herbal garden.

Harvestable Indoor Garden Solutions


Aerogarden indoor gardening solutions are a great way for even the most amateur of gardeners to get experience growing indoors. These are all-inclusive kits that can be used over and over and even provide choices of the seedlings you can grow.

New Twist on an Old Favorite


One way or another, Mason jars have a habit of popping up over and over again whenever a project idea list is in the works. And it doesn’t take much to see why. Mason jars are versatile and fun – often lending a quirky touch to any decor. This original jar set-up takes a new twist when you create your own tabletop garden.

Re-clutter Your Gutter


Buy a short piece of new gutter and end caps, or recycle what you have, but either way, you will have a singularly unique planter when you re-clutter this gutter with your herb garden. Mount it on rustic barn wood, paint a pattern on it, or take advantage of some chalkboard paint to get the look you want and need.



This uncomplicated idea is a no-brainer. Find one big pot you can’t live without, put it near a patio window or other area that receives either good direct, or indirect light, and plant your herbs in all together. With enough depth for roots and good drainage (use a good 3-inch depth of pea gravel to keep water from pooling in large pots), perennial herbs can easily grow amongst one another without choking each other out. Plus your use of them will easily keep them under control.

Window Space: Put it to Use


Grab yourself an adjustable shower curtain rod, some hooks or similar, and cute hanging pails – put it in a sunny window, add herbs, and viola! You have a beautiful hanging window garden! This is one project that I think I’m going to have to put to good use!

Pots Galore!


Time to gather up all those dollar store planter finds, stashed away shed pots, and yard sale steals – and assemble into an eclectic collection of pots and herbs (maybe throw in a flowering plant or two) as an indoor garden. If you have an open table space that gets good lighting (consistent indirect lighting is fine), you too can create a garden table indoors!

Aluminum Genius


Don’t crush those soda cans until you have as many as you need to create this inventive way to show off your indoor gardening skills. Spray paint, chalkboard stickers, and a little twine or ribbon finishes these mini planters. To complete the look, consider painting over old 6-pack holders and just add in your new ‘pots’ as a crafty way to show off your favorite herbs.

Simple Love, Simple Label


Mix and match and play with this idea using small clay or ceramic pots and a little pea gravel in the bottom of a shallow basket. Create some cute planter stakes with some stamps and popsicles sticks, and you have a uniquely you little herb garden to pick from all year long.

Care For a Spot of Tea?


Mismatched tea sets and old silver spoons make for a match made in heaven. Stack them, group them, set them on a tray- however you decide to display your “afternoon tea garden” is sure to be a favorite setting in your house. With a simple metal stamp set you can personalize your plantings even further.

Shelving Update


Update an old shelving unit, or create your own, to bring to life a sunny wall with this unique dropped pot unit. The simple design can be actualized through your choice of wood stains and paints to provide a low-maintenance way to keep your fresh herbs and plants near at hand.

Make Space!


If you have the space for this awesome ladder shelving hack, take it. I find this idea to be such a neat use of space and an uncommon way to show off your treasures. And what better way to add in some of the above ideas to an equally artistic backdrop?

The Indoor Herbage How To: Read This


If you’ve found a favorite way to display your indoor herbs from the list above, you still need to make sure you can keep them alive. This isn’t a very hard task, but there are a few helpful tips to remember to keep your experience as maintenance free as possible, and to get the most out of your favorite flavors. This handy infographic not only give you some great advice, it also provides you with the best plants to grow indoors and their optimal harvesting time!

*You might also like: Can garden soil be used in pots?

Let’s Get Started!

How much fun were those choices!? I don’t know about you, but I’m unable to pick a favorite and can’t wait to try a few of them out with a mix of indoor plants and herbs.

Obviously, there is no reason why you can’t keep fresh herbs indoors year-round with the proper care. And as always, I’d love to hear which were your favorites, what additions you might have, and see your indoor herb garden results! Please share and tag your friends!


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Indoor herbs are happy with typical indoor temperatures.

Many cooks grow herbs indoors during the winter when it’s too cold outside or too wet to dig in the dirt, but you can grow herbs inside any time of year. Indoor herbs prefer the same temperatures that most people do—around 65 to 70 degrees F—so if you’re comfortable, they probably are. At night, temperatures near a window may drop to 55 or 60, but most herbs like that, too. Keep foliage from touching glass to protect from getting nipped by cold.

Basil is trickier. Many kitchen gardeners yearn for basil in their indoor garden. If you have plenty of sun and warmth indoors, basil should thrive, but don’t keep it on a cool windowsill. Basil leaves will droop and fade after a short time in cool air. It prefers indoor temperatures in the 70s day and night.

Remember that the air next to a window will be cooler in winter (or hotter in summer) than your average indoor temperature, so adjust your plants accordingly. Dry air, whether from air conditioning or heating, is hard on most herbs, so you may want to consider increasing the surrounding humidity.

Indoor herb plants will probably stretch and be spindlier than plants in the outdoors, but they will still give you plenty of fresh clippings. To encourage lots of growth, fertilize regularly with plant food, such as Miracle-Gro® Water Soluble Plant Food for Vegetables & Herbs, especially if you are harvesting leaves regularly. (Be sure to follow directions!)

Pallet & Wood DIY Herb Garden Ideas


Buying fresh herbs at the grocery store can get expensive. You get a small amount for $2-$4 and the quality usually isn’t that great. You can save a lot of money by having your own DIY herb garden. Herbs are easy to take care of and don’t require much space. The seedlings, potting soil and pots are very inexpensive too. Also, the taste difference between dried herbs and fresh ones is huge!

If you are new to gardening, I recommend you check out these articles before you get started:

  • Get Started Growing Herbs in Pots
  • “10 Mistakes that New Herb Gardeners Make and How to Avoid Them”
  • Ten of the Best Herbs to Grow in Containers
  • YOUTUBE: Beginners’ Gardening Tips : How to Maintain an Indoor Herb Garden
  • 7 Infographics That’ll Teach You Everything About Growing An Indoor Herb Garden
  • How to Freeze & Preserve Fresh Herbs in Olive Oil

What supplies you can get at Dollar Tree:

  • terra cotta pots
  • planters
  • potting soil
  • pebbles and river rocks
  • gardening tools (pruning shears, garden trowel)
  • garden gloves
  • plant labels
  • coconut liners

What you will need for these projects:

  • seeds, seedlings or herb plants
  • potting soil
  • gravel, pebbles or river rocks

Here are the best cheap and easy herb gardens ideas to inspire you:

Pallet Vertical DIY Herb Garden: Hanging Planter
pallet + extra planks + chalkboard paint + chalk

Pallet Herb Garden
pallet + extra wood boards + outdoor paint + vinyl letters + terra cotta pots

Super Easy Pallet Planter
old pallet + hose clamps + screws + terra-cotta pots

Wood Planter for the Wall
wood + drill + wood glue + finish nails + spray paint + 2-3′ of rope + small clay pots

Hanging Herb Garden
boards + rope + terra cotta pots + zip ties + drill

Potted DIY Herb Garden Ideas

One Pot Herb Garden
large terra cotta pot + chalkboard labels + chalk pen

Tiered Pots Herb Garden (no source found)

Chalkboard Pot Herb Garden
terra-cotta pots + chalkboard paint + chalk

Burlap Covered Potted Herbs (source not found)
burlap roll + terra cotta pots + herbs & potting soil

Chalk Painted Herb Planters
gray and white chalk paint + terra cotta pots + letter stamps + ink pad`

Hanging Kitchen Garden
clay pots + white spray paint ($1 at Walmart) + rubber bands + jute rope + wood dowel rods + curtain rings (Dollar Tree) + curtain brackets

Hanging Indoor Herb Garden
pots + craft paint + drill + command hooks

Clothespin Herb Planters
tuna can + clothespins + dark walnut stain marker + oil-rubbed bronze spray paint

Crooked Herb Garden Pots
various sized pots with holes + lightweight (but NOT flexible) metal rod

Wall Herb Garden
plastic pots + spray paint + awl + small clear command hooks

Copper Pipe Hanging Planter
copper pipe + end caps + curtain rod brackets + paracord + copper spray paint

Other DIY Herb Garden Ideas

Wood Box Herb Garden
wood box planter + white spray paint + jumbo craft sticks + black vinyl letters

Ladder Herb Garden (no source found)
metal planters with handles + s hooks + ladder

Vertical Hanging Buckets
hooks + vinyl numbers + buckets($1 Target) + narrow picture frame or other backing

Windowsill Herb Garden
wood box planter + wood stain + chalk

Hanging Herb and Vegetable Basket

IKEA Wine Rack Herb Garden
IKEA Vurm + 4 pint glasses + pebbles + + Latex paint + clear chalkboard coating + chalk

Floating PVC Window Herb Planter
PVC pipe + knock-out plugs + eye hooks + s-hooks + chain

Repurposed DIY Herb Garden Ideas

Herb Garden With Old Glass Jars
black chalk paint + chalk + pebbles

Mason Jar DIY Herb Garden
pint size masons jars + vintage style mason jar holder

Mason Jar Wall Planter
quart mason jars + hose clamps + 2 pieces of scrap wood + wood stain

Indoor Hanging Herb Garden
They sell those jars with handles at Dollar Tree and you could get a cheap metal rack from Dollar Tree too and spray paint it bronze

Hanging Bottle Hern Garden
Scrap of wood + 2-litre plastic bottles +batting + small screws + 2 picture hooks +2 concrete nails + hammer

Windowsill Tin Can Herb Garden
tin cans + spray paint + chalkboard labels + chalk marker

DIY Copper Tin Can Herb Garden
metallic spray paint + empty cans + wood tags + chalkboard paint + chalk + twine

Table Top Herb Garden from a Pallet
scrap wood + chalk paint + two handles + mason jars + nails and hammer

Mason Jar Garden Hanger
wood board + mason jars + pipe clamps + triangle ring hangers + hanging wire + picture hanger + chalkboard paint & chalk

Old Kettle Herb Garden
You can get some unique kettles at thrift stores for cheap

Spice Rack Planter
1 Spice rack + 1 Roll of burlap
You could also do something similar with a metal shower caddy
(you can get them at Dollar Tree for $1)

Old Chandelier Herb Garden
thrift store chandelier + spray paint + sticker letters + s-hook

Coffee Mug Herb Garden

Tea Tin Herb Planters
Large tea tins + hammer+ awl or large nail

Vintage Teacup Herb Garden
You can get vintage teacups at thrift stores for cheap

Kitchen Countertop Herb Garden
empty cans +ribbon +terra-cotta saucer + drill + twine + tags

Kitchen Herb Garden
galvanized metal planter set + free printable herb garden markers + clothespins

Herb Garden Using A Galvanized Utensil Caddy

Wash Tub Herb Garden
wash tub + magnetic alphabet letters + spray paint

Herb Planter From a Wagon
drill + gravel + old wagon

Shoe Organizer Herb Garden
You can get shoe organizers at IKEA for $5

Basket Herb Garden
You can get large baskets at thrift stores for $2-3

Recycled Shutter Herb Garden

Plastic Kiddie Pool into a Garden Planter
if you already have a kiddie pool that you don’t use anymore, then this is a great way to repurpose it!
kiddie pool + Plastic window screening or newspaper + drill

Hanging Gutter Garden
pvc white rain gutter + gutter end caps + steel cables + Feeney cross clamps + Feeney steel rods + galvanized eye hooks

DIY Herb Garden Markers

Chalkboard Markers
chalkboard paint + paint stir sticks + chalk or chalk pen

Clay Stamped Markers
oven bake-able polymer clay + rubber letter stamps

Wine Cork Markers
wine corks + magic marker + wooden skewers

DIY Scrabble Tile Herb Garden Markers
craft sticks + scrabble tiles + hot glue gun

DIY Clothespin Garden Markers
clothespins + acrylic paint. + black marker

Painted Rock Markers
large rocks + permanent marker + clear sealer

16.7KsharesCarly Hennigan/ Istock What you’ll need:

  • Pots with drainage holes
  • Gravel
  • Fresh soil (from local garden center)
  • Herb seed packets or seedlings
  • Plant markers


1. Visit your local garden supply center to buy seeds or seedlings. Can’t find what you’re looking for? Check out the selection of seeds at the Seed Shop and have them delivered.

2. Fill the bottom of each pot with 3/4-inch gravel, then fill completely with soil. Dig a hole in the soil large enough for your plant to fit into. Remove the seedling from its plastic nursery container and set into planting hole. Gentle press down the soil around the plant. If starting from seeds, fill the pot with soil and then gently press seeds into soil 1/4 inch.

3. Spray-paint the top band of each pot with chalkboard paint. Let dry completely and then write the name of the herb using colorful chalk. The best part? When it’s time to transfer plants, just wipe the chalkboard clean and re-label!

Ultimate indoor herbs:

  • Oregano: Find a sunny spot for this light-lover and turn the plant for even growth.
  • Rosemary: Buy a nursery-grown plant and pot in dry soil or a mixture of soil and coarse sand.
  • Basil: The key to growing basil indoors is helping it get as much sun as possible and keeping the soil moist, yet well-drained. During the dark winter months, place the plant in the sunniest spot in your house.
  • Peppermint: Can thrive in minimal light, although some sun each day is best.
  • Chives: One of the easiest herbs to grow indoors, chives are ready to be chopped when they reach 6 to 12 inches.
  • Parsley: Set your parsley in a sun-drenched, south-facing window.
  • Thyme: Thyme grows best when it gets 6 hours of sun per day.

Avoid these mistakes:

  • Don’t plant all of your herbs in one pot. Give each herb its own home and line up a row of pots along your windowsill.
  • Don’t use soil from your backyard. Visit your local garden center for some fresh potting soil that’s better suited for indoor use.
  • Don’t overwater. Let the soil dry out between waterings and look for yellow leaves, a sign that your plant needs less water.

Enjoy your fresh herbs in these recipes:

  • Cheddar & Chive Smashed Potatoes
  • Six-Herb Linguine
  • Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta & Rosemary

Editor’s Note: We are thrilled to welcome Katie Stemp and Kellie Phelan, co-owners of Seattle Farm School, to our blog! Katie, Seattle Farm School’s founder, is giving us all the info we need to successfully grow herbs indoors. With cold weather moving in this weekend, we’re excited for an indoor gardening project (and recipes for scrumptious herb-focused snacks). Learn more about Katie and Kellie at the end of this post.

Time required: 30 minutes once all materials are collected
Materials needed:
– Herbs of your choice
– Pots or containers made of metal, plastic or ceramic with drainage holes
– Tray or plate for under the container
– Good quality container soil mix, preferably organic
– Paper towel or coffee filter to cover drainage hole
– Grow lamp (optional for low sunlight locations)
– Fertilizer (fish emulsion, seaweed, or other herb-specific organic fertilizer)

Growing herbs indoors is easy! If their basic needs are met, such as good soil, adequate light
and the right amount of water, herbs will reward you with gorgeous plants and flavorful meals all year round. If you are new to indoor gardening or cooking with fresh herbs, these basic instructions will get you started.

Getting Started


The first question to ask yourself when planning your indoor herb garden is what herbs do you like to cook with? If you have never used fresh herbs before, examine your spice rack and choose herbs that you frequently use in their dried form. Start with 3-5 favorites! A few herbs that grow well indoors are thyme, mint, rosemary, chives, and parsley.

Many herbs have similar light requirements and can be grown together in a large container, or separately in smaller pots. Mint is an aggressive grower and is best grown in its own pot. Grouping herbs with similar watering needs can help your plants thrive: rosemary, thyme, and sage need less water than herbs such as chives, parsley, mint, and cilantro.

We suggest starting with small herb plants you can get at a nursery for most of your indoor garden. Choose herbs that have good color, strong stems, no damage or signs of disease (yellow or browning leaves or mold growing on top of the soil). If you would like to try starting your herbs from seed you could easily grow basil or cilantro quickly. Bill Thorness, a local gardener and author, did a nice seed starting post on Swansons’ blog.


For an herb to be useful in the long term, it will need room to grow. Choose a container that will provide at least 8 square inches of space per herb to avoid overcrowding. Good air circulation will help keep the leaves dry, which will help prevent disease.

Containers made of plastic, metal or ceramic are all good choices as long as they have drainage holes at the bottom. You can cut, drill, or pound drainage holes if needed depending
on the container material. For the purpose of growing smaller herbs indoors, terracotta
pots tend to dry out too quickly, making it hard to keep the soil at the correct moisture level.
Don’t forget a tray or plate to put underneath your container to keep extra water from escaping.


Buy a good quality soil mix made specifically for container gardening, preferably an organic version. It will help maintain the correct soil moisture level for your plant. Don’t use soil from your garden outside – it’s too heavy and usually filled with weed seeds. A nursery associate can guide you to the right product for your needs.


If your desired herb garden location does not get at least 6 hours of direct sunlight every day, you will want to add artificial light to keep your plants growing well. My kitchen has a large window above the counter but it faces north and gets no direct sunlight so I have added an LED grow lamp on a timer to keep my herbs healthy.


At home, transplant your herbs from their nursery pots to your indoor containers. On the inside of your chosen container, cover the drainage hole with a paper towel, coffee filter or plastic screening to keep soil in and let extra water out. Fill the container three-quarters of the way with the container soil mix, making a hole where the new plant will go.

Avoid damaging your herb by not pulling the plant out of the pot by its stem. Instead, take your herb out of its nursery pot by softly squeezing the outside of the container to loosen the plant from the pot, then place your hand at the base of the plant positioning the plant stem between your thumb and pointer finger. Turn the pot over and remove the herb from the pot. With your other hand, loosen the roots and place it in the new container. If the roots are too long and rootbound in the pot, you can cut off the very bottom of the roots to allow room for growth into the new soil.

Fill around the plant with more soil until its level with the original soil level from the nursery pot. Water around the plant to get rid of air holes in the pot, and top off with more soil if needed. Your soil level should be just below the rim of the container.

Ongoing Maintenance


A good rule of thumb for container herbs is to water only when the surface starts to dry out. Stick a finger into the soil and if it’s dry up to your knuckle (or an inch below the surface), it’s time to water. You want the soil to be damp like a sponge that has been squeezed out, not soaking wet.

Turn your containers weekly so both sides of the plants get adequate sunlight. Adjust supplemental grow lamp time based on how well your plants are growing or not growing. If they start looking “leggy” and get long stems with few leaves that look like they are stretching up for more sunlight, it’s a sign that your plant is not thriving and needs more light. If sunshine is not available, or we have long periods of gray overcast weather, provide additional light for up to 12 hours per day, with the grow lamp bulb 6 inches above the top of the herb. Note that no matter what, a plant grown indoors will most likely grow slower than those grown in the ground or large containers outside.


Keep the climate stable and containers away from cold, drafty areas of your home. An indoor temperature between 60-75 degrees is perfect. You can always move your herb plants outside in the summer and back inside for the winter.


All indoor herbs benefit from occasional feeding with an all-purpose water-soluble
fertilizer. Fish emulsion or seaweed can also be used. In general, fertilize herbs every 2 weeks and follow the instructions based on the fertilizer type. Only feed plants when they are actively growing and do not over-fertilize. Too much fertilizer may kill the herb plants.

Pruning & Harvesting

Prune for strong growth. Your herbs will grow best if you regularly prune and harvest from
them for good growth. Always cut sprigs, not individual leaves. On woody herbs like thyme,
rosemary, mint, and sage, either pinch or cut with scissors on the stem above a set of leaves to
encourage new branches to grow from the leaves you left behind. This type of pruning will
create a strong, multi-branched herb that will produce more than if you just picked the leaves
only. On soft-stemmed herbs like parsley, cut from the outer leaves and new ones will grow from the center. For chives, cut at the base of the stem.

Growing seasons

All plants will eventually flower as part of their life cycle, but pruning to delay this inevitability will give you a longer harvest. Once a plant starts to flower, the flavor becomes more bitter.
Many herbs will go dormant for part of the year and die back before regrowing. Don’t worry if you experience this at home, it’s perfectly normal! They need to hibernate for a while to regain strength and energy for the next growing season. Chives and other soft-stemmed herbs will do this more than woody herbs like rosemary or thyme.

Diseases & Pests

The most common way to kill an indoor herb is to overwater and rot the roots. If your herbs have good air circulation, are not getting too much water, and you are continuously pruning and harvesting from them, they will stay much healthier. If you do find signs of disease or plant weakness (leaves that are yellowing, mold growing around the base of the plant, or bugs attacking) be sure to isolate the plant from the others so that it doesn’t spread. Check the roots to make sure they are white, strong and healthy (not brown and dry or gray and mushy) and remove the affected parts of the plant or root then repot in new soil.

by Matt Gibson

Many of the most popular garden herbs are native to the mediterranean, which is a warm climate area. If you are trying to grow these herbs outdoors in the winter, they will not be able to withstand the icy winds and frosts that will inevitably sweep through your area. Luckily for herb loving gardeners, there are ways to protect these herbs during the winter, or you can simply choose from a large selection of herbs that are cold hardy and well suited to surviving winter weather in cold climate areas.

Another option for growing warm weather herbs during the winter is to start an indoor herb garden. Whether your herb garden resides indoors or outdoors, growing your own herbs will greatly enhance your cooking, as you will have instant access to lots of flavor enhancing plants that can add a taste-bud-popping zing to any dish you make!

What herbs can survive winter outdoors?

Thyme – Thyme fares far better in cold climates than many other herbs, and is able to survive harsh winters more often than not. Add a four to six inch layer of mulch to thyme plants in the late fall and remove the mulch in the early spring.

Lemon Balm – Cut back lemon balm in the fall leaving about two inches of stem above ground. The plant may freeze during the winter but its underground roots will survive anyway and regrow like new in the spring.

Oregano – In zones eight and below, oregano is evergreen. In zones seven and up, protect oregano plants with mulch or cover with a cold frame. Alternatively, oregano plants can be potted and moved indoors during the winter to insure survival. Cut out dead stems in the early spring before the plants begin to restart their growth cycle.

Catnip – In the late fall, cut catnip plants back to just a few inches. Remove any new growth, as it will not survive the freezes. Give catnip plants one last deep, long drink of water and then do not water at all during the winter dormancy period.

Sorrel – Cut sorrel plants to the ground in late fall. Cover with soil and mulch and remove mulch in early spring before new growth begins.

Mint – Trim mint to the ground just before winter to prevent disease and pest issues. Use a light mulch for protection from winter frosts. Remove mulch in early spring when mint plants start to shoot back up.

Parsley – Cut parsley plants back in early fall and apply two to three inches of a lightweight mulch around them. Remove mulch as soon as threat of frosts have passed as parsley shoots will have trouble growing through heavy layers.

Chives – Chives do not need any additional winter care. They will go dormant on their own and return in the spring once the soil has thawed.

Horseradish – Horseradish is usually harvested during the winter. If you want your horseradish to grow back next year, just leave some of the bottom parts of the roots in the ground and they will grow back on their own.

Lavender – Lavender plants may go dormant for a few months during the winter or they may stay evergreen. If you are growing your lavender in poor draining soils, dig it up in the early winter and improve the soil before replanting. Add mulch in cold climate areas or gravel in warm areas. Slow manual watering routine, only watering lavender during prolonged droughts and dry periods. Divide old, larger plants. If plant has gone dormant, do not harvest. If it is staying evergreen, harvest throughout the winter. If your winter is especially wet, pot up your lavender and bring it inside until the spring. Save heavy pruning for spring.

Tarragon – In zones two and below, lay down a two to three inch layer of straw or dead leaves for protection. Tarragon needs fast-draining soil to thrive, so check drainage capabilities and improve soil drainage if needed.

Caraway – Caraway dies back in autumn so you only need to worry about protecting the root system, as the stems and leaves have all disappeared by winter time. Add a four to six inch layer of mulch in late fall to protect roots. Remove mulch at the beginning of spring when new growth begins.

Sage – Sprinkle a layer of straw mulch around the lower stem of sage shrubs before winter sets in. Organic manure also works as a light mulch for sage. Sage is prone to freezing in the lower stem and the exposed areas of the roots, so adding a light mulch is essential to winter survival.

Can you start an herb garden in winter?

Starting an herb garden outdoors during the winter season is certainly possible, but you will be limited as to which herbs you can grow successfully outdoors. Because of these limitations, starting an indoor herb garden during the winter is an excellent idea. You can also start an indoor herb garden for the more popular herbs that aren’t frost hardy, and expand it by dedicating a full bed or a portion of a bed to cold-hardy herbs outdoors. Depending on where you live, you may be able to harden off your indoor herbs and move them outdoors in the spring. Even if you get complacent and decide to keep an indoor and an outdoor space for herbs, what’s not to love? Two herb gardens are better than one!

What do you do with garden herbs in the winter?

Generally, stop manually watering your herb garden during the winter unless this year’s winter is especially dry. If you are experiencing a dry winter, you will want to occasionally deep water your herb garden bed when the ground isn’t frozen, at least 24 hours before the next expected freeze.

Never use fertilizer after August. Fertilizing your herbs during the winter is too late in the season to encourage new growth, as that tender new growth will most likely not survive through the winter freezes.

Chives, Thyme, Tarragon, Mint, Fennel, Oregano, and Lavender just need a good pruning. Cut them down to around four to six inches after the first few freezes. In climates five and below, add a three to six inch layer of mulch after the first hard freeze. If you don’t have wood chip mulch, leaves, pine needles, or straw will work just as well. Remove mulch just after new growth starts to appear in the spring.

Rosemary, bay laurel, and lemon verbena should be cut nearly to the ground after the first frost. Then, cover the plants with soil and cover the soil with a four to six inch layer of mulch to protect the plants through the winter. If possible, add a layer of evergreen boughs to protect your perennial herbs against harsh winds. Rosemary will survive outdoors in zones six and up with these protective measures. In colder climate zones, you may want to pot up your rosemary and attempt to overwinter it indoors. Provide overwintering rosemary with cool temperatures, lightly moist soil and full sunlight.

Annual herbs such as dill and coriander will perish at first frost, so pull them up immediately when the temperatures drop so they do not become infested with pests. Parsley, basil, and other tender perennial herbs should be potted up and moved indoors in the fall and placed back in the beds the following spring.

Can you leave herbs outside in the winter?

Cold-hardy herbs can be left outside if provided with a little bit of protection, as discussed in the previous section of this article. Tender perennials typically need to be potted up and overwintered indoors. Specific care needs depend on the particular plant and the USDA hardiness climate zone you live in. Some gardeners decide to house all of their herbs indoors, while others prefer an indoor/outdoor mix, and some keep their herb garden an outdoor-only operation.

What herbs should you grow indoors in the winter?

Bay leaves, oregano, chives, thyme, chervil, parsley, sage, tarragon, chocolate mint, rosemary, and basil are all great herbs to grow indoors. Click here to learn what herbs are best for growing in containers indoors.

Want to learn more about winter herb gardens?

Better Homes & Garden covers Growing Herbs Indoors in Winter

Gardening Know How covers Herbs that Survive Winter

Gardening Know How covers How to Overwinter Herbs

Good Housekeeping covers Indoor Herb Garden

Good Housekeeping covers Winter Herb Garden

HGTV covers Winter Herbs

How to Grow and Look After Winter Herbs

Some herbs simply won’t grow in the UK over the winter: basil is an example, and chives will survive and return exuberantly in the spring, but won’t actually grow, even in a cold frame. However, quite a few herbs can be kept going, especially if you can grow them under glass.

Rosemary is cold-hardy, and will do fine even out of a cold frame. You should be able to crop a little from it if it’s a well-established plant, but be careful not to overdo it. It’s unlikely to put much new growth on unless the winter is quite mild, but taking some of the old growth is fine. Good for roast potatoes!

Mint and parsley are both cold-hardy, and parsley in particular will keep growing even through a little snow. It’s slow growth, though, and you won’t be able to use that much of it unless you have a lot of plants. If you’re keen to keep it cropping, it’s probably worth moving it into a cold frame to encourage more growth, especially if you’re a bit further north. Happily, parsley self-seeds with abandon, so after a season or two you may well have plenty of small plants in the corners of pots, and perhaps not even be all that bothered if you accidentally kill off a couple by over-harvesting.

Bay trees are cold-hardy, but like rosemary, there’s a limit to how much you can crop over the winter as the plant won’t be growing very much if at all.

Sage and thyme will survive without any protection over the winter, but you probably won’t be able to crop any of them unless the winter is unusually mild. They’re unlikely to put on much new growth and you don’t want to chop off all of the old growth for cooking or you’ll take away all the plant’s reserves. These will do well in a cold frame and should grow at least a handful of fresh leaves, in which case you should be able to keep getting (limited!) quantities of fresh herbs from them over the winter.

Oregano will die back altogether over winter, and even in a cold frame may not put on any new growth (though it’s worth a go). However, it will return in the spring unless the winter was unusually cold.

In general, though, bear in mind that the plants won’t be doing much in the way of new growth, so you should be careful when cropping. Don’t take so much that the plant can’t keep itself alive!

Keeping the more delicate herbs (thyme, oregano, even mint and par­sley) in a cold frame will mean that they will pick up again much earlier in the spring than they would if just left outdoors, so it’s worth it even if you can’t use them very much over the winter. Parsley is biennial: it sets seed in its second year. So a parsley plant will keep going happily for a full year, before flowering and setting seed in the second year, after which it dies. Either save the seeds, or let it sow itself in the surrounding pots.

Remember that you can freeze or dry fresh herbs throughout the year to give yourself a supply of your own herbs through the winter months.

This excerpt was taken from Permaculture in Pots: How to Grow Food in Small Urban Spaces (e-book also available), currently available at the special price of £9.70. It is available from or call us on 01730 823 311.

Photo credit:

Further resources

Vegetables to grow in winter

Growing salads in winter

Year round growing in underground greenhouses

The Winter Harvest Handbook by Eliot Coleman


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Windermere Blog

Temperatures may be dropping, but that doesn’t mean we have to bid farewell to our herb gardens. Cold-hardy herbs, such as chives, mint, oregano, parsley, sage and thyme, can often survive cold-winter temperatures while continuing to produce flavorful foliage, as long as they are provided with some protection or grown indoors. Even herbs like rosemary that are more cold-sensitive can survive winter using additional methods of protection. Let’s explore different ways we can prolong the herb harvest and enjoy the fresh taste of our favorite herbs throughout the cold of winter.

Herbs 1: Bachman’s Landscape Design – Tom Haugo, original photo on Houzz

Herbs 2: Home & Garden Design, Atlanta – Danna Cain, ASLA, original photo on Houzz

A glass cloche protects plants in the center of this raised bed in Atlanta.

1. Protect herbs from the cold by placing them in a cold frame or cloche. Covering herbs helps trap the heat that rises from the soil, elevating the temperature inside by several degrees. This can extend the growing season in both fall and spring.

Cold frames are topped with glass panes that slope downward and are situated so they face south. This ensures that the most sunlight will reach the plants inside, creating an environment that is several degrees warmer than outside.

Cloches are a smaller and more portable way to protect plants from the cold. Traditional ones are bell-shaped and made from glass. They can be expensive, but you can make your own by cutting off the bottom of a 1-gallon plastic milk jug or other large plastic container. Place each one over individual herb plants and nestle the bottom inch or two of the cloche into the soil to anchor it.

Herbs 3: The Room Illuminated, original photo on Houzz

2. Add a thick layer of coarse mulch over herbs. Many herbs can grow through the winter under the insulation provided from straw, shredded bark or other coarse mulch. In areas that experience moderate-winter cold, USDA Zone 6 and warmer, herbs will continue to produce some new growth despite some winter cold. Simply pull back the mulch and cut the herbs you need, then cover them back up. While they won’t produce as much new growth as they do in the warm season, you should be able to obtain a small harvest. Don’t worry if a layer of snow falls, as it will provide additional insulation for the herbs below. Once spring arrives, you can turn the mulch into the soil.

3. Pot up herbs and move them into a frost-free greenhouse or sun porch. If you’re growing herbs in the ground, you can transfer them to pots and move them to a protected spot. Select the herbs you want to keep growing over winter, such as chives, oregano, sage and thyme. Cut them back to 1 inch tall and, using a sharp shovel, divide them at their base, making sure to include the roots so each one will fit into the container. Use well-draining planting mix in the containers and plant each herb in a separate pot. They will grow back and you’ll be able to harvest their flavorful leaves until you transplant them back into the garden once spring arrives.

Related: Move Herbs to a Sunroom for Full Sun

Herbs 4: J M Interiors, original photo on Houzz

4. Grow herbs in front of a sunny window. Herbs can be grown from seed or cuttings and make a great addition to a sunny kitchen window that gets at least six hours of sunlight. If using artificial lighting, 14 hours is usually sufficient. The temperature should range between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit, or 15.6 and 21.1 degrees Celsius, for best results. You can transplant herbs from the garden or begin from scratch by sowing seed.

The rewards of growing herbs indoors throughout the winter are great when the fresh flavor of summer is within arm’s reach. Chives, oregano, parsley and thyme are just a few of the easiest herbs to grow on a sunny windowsill. Use a well-draining planting mix in your container. Water deeply when the top inch of soil is almost completely dry.

Herbs 5: Noelle Johnson Landscape Consulting, original photo on Houzz

5. Extend the life of fresh herbs by putting them in water. Herbs such as basil and mint grow quickly when placed in a container of water for a few weeks. Other herbs that work well in water are sage, oregano and thyme. When placed in water, they begin to produce roots and will grow new leaves. This is a useful way to prolong the harvest, whether you bring in cuttings from the garden or buy fresh herbs at the grocery store.

The process is easy. Simply cut the ends of each stem and put them in a small jar or cup filled with water. Be sure to remove any lower leaves so they won’t be submerged in the water. Place on a sunny windowsill.

The leaves produced indoors will be thinner and slightly less flavorful than those grown outdoors but will still add welcome flavor to your favorite dishes. Refill the water as needed and enjoy the prolonged harvest for several weeks to come.

Related: Elevate Plants to Reach Sunny Windows With These Plant Stands

By Noelle Johnson, Houzz