Grow fresh herbs in a sunny window

I miss my fresh herbs from the summer garden. The fresh herbs from the store are very expensive this time of year. Do you have suggestions on how I can grow my own fresh herbs?

Yes it is quite easy to grow fresh herbs in a sunny window. You can often root the fresh herbs from the store to start plants. Simply place them in a glass of water and cover with a plastic bag to maintain humidity. Give them strong indirect light such as next to a sunny window. As soon as they root, plant into pots with indoor planting soil.

I also start herb seeds inside in a sunny, south-facing window. I fill 4 to 6 inch pots with indoor planting soil and moisten with warm water so it settles to a half inch or so below the rim. Then I space several seeds of my favorite herbs such as oregano, globe basil, chives, thyme, sage, parsley, and cilantro on top of the soil and push them in up to a quarter inch. Larger seeds need to be planted deeper. Rewatering covers seeds and firms the soil.

Then I cover each pot with a clear plastic bag and put a rubber band around the pot for a tight seal. The plastic traps moisture inside so that I seldom need to water again until seeds start to sprout. I place pots in a warm location such as near a furnace outlet or on top of the refrigerator. Pots need indirect light until seeds start to germinate. As soon as several seeds have sprouted, I remove the plastic and place the pots into direct sunlight. I water lightly to keep the top of the soil constantly moist until seedlings have 2 to 4 leaves. Then I start watering enough to wet the entire soil when it becomes dry on top.

When the stems get 3 to 4 inches tall I begin snipping the tops. This encourages branching so plants become fuller and thicker.

I can begin snipping fresh leaves for recipes in about 3 to 5 weeks from rooted cuttings and 6 to 8 weeks from plants started from seeds. Then when weather warms enough I will plant them outside.

Most herbs except basil and cilantro can be planted outside in early May, since they will not be damaged by light frost. Basil is tender and should be treated like tomatoes. I usually start some large leaf Italian basil about the same time as tomatoes for outside planting. The dwarfer, globe basil grows better inside.


Allen Wilson

Allen has been writing about gardening for over 30 years. He is a retired professor of Horticulture.

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