Before winter arrives, now is the time to get serious about growing herbs indoors during the colder months. Many herbs will grow surprisingly well in your home, particularly in a sunny window with moderately cool room temperatures.
Moving Your Herbs Indoors
That's good news to gardeners, like me, who love to cook with homegrown ingredients. An indoor herb garden allows us to enjoy delicious fresh flavors in the dead of winter.
If you're transplanting herbs into containers, be sure to use a high quality potting soil – and not regular garden soil. Remove as much soil from the roots as possible, before repotting the herb.
The above thyme plant prefers well-drained, dry to medium soil. So, my terra cotta pot is a good choice. Just keep in mind you'll need to water terra cotta more frequently than plastic pots. I often water my herbs in the sink so I don't need to worry about drainage.
You can also propagate cuttings from thyme, rosemary and sage plants, by taking a piece from a mature herb. Prune off a couple inches of stem, including the tip. Remove the lower leaves and place the stem in a soil-free mixture.
Most herbs don't need a rooting hormone, although rosemary and bay are two exceptions. Keep the area moist by covering the plant with a dome of plastic wrap. Place the plants in bright light, but not direct sun. The herbs should root within a week or two, and can be transplanted when the roots are 1/4 to 1/2 inch long.
To prepare my herbs for growing indoors, I start by placing them in a bright, cool spot for a week to 10 days. I often store my herbs on a covered porch for the transition period.
Before I bring these herbs to their new home, I check them carefully for insects, and I water them well. And then I place the herbs like sage and rosemary in south-facing windows in my home, or east or west-facing views for herbs like thyme, if I'm running out of space.
We don't keep our house very warm during the day or at night. So it's rather perfect for herbs, as most like daytime temperatures around 70 degrees and about 10 degrees cooler at night.
Be careful not to place herbs near frosty windows or heater vents. Water herbs well when the top inch is dry, but allow good soil drainage to prevent root rot. Misting around the plants weekly increases humidity and mitigates spider mites, whiteflies or aphids. Don't be afraid to give your herbs a bath once in a while.
Keep your plants bushy and strong by pruning off the tips regularly. Cut back to the spot where two leaves meet on the stem, as I'm doing here with this sage.
Use the extra trimmings in your evening casserole, or in your morning scrambled eggs. Once you start growing an indoor winter herb garden, you'll find lots of reasons to add these fresh flavors to your meals. Enjoy!