Growing herbs indoors


In the fertile loamy soil here in southern Delaware, I’m able to grow herbs like chives with very little care. I skip fertilizing but do ensure sufficient water during the drier summer months. Then each fall, I’ll dig up and divide some of the plants. One of the divisions gets potted for indoor use during the winter. When there’s snow on the ground, it’s wonderful to snip off some stems of a chive plant grown indoors to include in a recipe. I especially love fresh chives in a salad. Herbs such as horehound (Marrubium vulgare), winter savory (Satureja montana) and of course, chives (Allium spp.), can be grown indoors year-round.

Choosing a container

Choose a pot with drain holes and saucer. I like plastic planters with deep saucers. Plastic is lightweight, durable and less expensive than ceramic pots. For best drainage, I select a pot twice as tall and two to three times as wide as the root ball of the plant. If in doubt, choose a pot with a height and diameter of at least 6 inches. That way, you can grow the same plant in the same pot for two to three years before replanting.

Preparing the pot for planting

I like to fill a flower pot with a mixture of bagged potting soil and soil from my garden. That’s more for economy since I don’t need to buy as much potting soil. Using potting soil exclusively though is a great way to start gardening indoors.

Planting the herb

If you are bringing an herb indoors from outside or have purchased a potted herb from a garden center, you will have a head start on the growing process. Set the plant in the flower pot to match the level it was planted in the ground or garden center pot. If planting from seed, follow the directions on the seed packet.

This single pot of chives will soon be joined
by many pots of geraniums for the winter.

Growing location

Herbs need sunlight. Choose a south or west window for the flower pot. For me, that means keeping the plants in a bedroom, but so what? House plants can be grown in any room of the house so why not herbs? I created a shelf in front of a window by turning two dining chairs to face one another. (I acquired six wooden dining chairs for free that someone was going to toss out. All they needed was some tightening of the legs and a coat of paint!) I place a board over the back of the chairs. To capture possible overflow of water, which hasn’t occurred yet, I place a recycled plastic cake tray on the board. The tray is the kind you get why purchasing a cake from a bakery. It’s best if the temperature in the room is at least 65 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and no less than 55 degrees at night.


Water the plant when the soil feels dry about 1 inch below the surface. If your house is dry during the winter, mist the plants several times a week to help keep them hydrated. Apply a water soluble fertilizer one to two a months if desired.

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