Basics of Indoor Herb Gardening
Many common herbs for culinary, aromatherapy and medicinal purposes can easily be grown indoors year round. Kitchen garden gourmets enjoy the convenience of having fresh herbs available as needed right in their own home. The kitchen or any sunny room is the perfect setting for an indoor herb garden , you can harvest fresh herbs as you go and use them in recipes on demand.
Herbs are generally grown indoors when it's simply too cold outside for them to survive. Indoor herbs have the same needs as outdoor ones, they thrive under the same conditions, temperature, humidity, nutrients, moisture. At night, temperatures near a window will generally plummet ,the same happens in nature. Try to keep the plants from coming in contact the glass to prevent it from becoming overly chilled.
Dry forced air, from heating systems, is hard on any herbs, A misting 2 - 3 times weekly will help.
Indoor herb plants tend to be taller, scrawnier and spindlier than plants grown outdoors, but if properly maintained will still supply ample fresh clippings.
Rooting a Cutting
Herbs such as sage, oregano, thyme, rosemary can all be propagated or cloned for indoor growing from cuttings. Measuring from the tip down, snip off a 4-inch section of the parent plant. Strip off the bottom leaves, and put the stem into a moist, soil-less mix of perlite or vermiculite. If feasible, cover it with glass or a clear plastic dome, be sure to keep the growing medium-moist.
Location, Location, Location
To thrive indoors, herbs need abundant natural light. Grow Lights will also suffice, but naturally are simply not cost effective. Put your potted herbs in a sunny location near a window where they'll get an absolute minimum of 4 hours sunlight daily. A southern exposure is best, unless of course your in Australia , or south of the equator - in which case reverse that.
Water and Drainage for Indoor Herb Containers
Use a high quality potting mix, with vermiculite or perlite . Containers of course should have drainage holes, and a catch basin. The potting mix should be sterile, don't use soil from your yard as organisms, insects, and their eggs and larvae are hidden there and will thrive in a warm indoor environment. A good commercial potting soil is advised, I blend one part potting soil with one part vermiculite and add 1/2 that amount of sand . Bone meal , depending on the plant and pH is also sometimes a good idea.
Moving potted herbs indoors
Instead of traumatizing plants by a sudden change of environment -outdoors to indoors- you should first acclimate them to their winter home. Place them in a well lit, transitional zone, such as an enclosed porch or garage for a few weeks.
Only once they've become accustomed to indoor conditions should you place them in the new winter location. Placing them outside on mild days will also help this process. If you should notice any insects on a plant during the acclimation process, it's best to just leave it outside, or thoroughly bombard it an appropriate organic pesticide before bringing it indoors. Insects indoors, on plants are much more difficult to control than in an outdoor environment.
Herbs, like all plants need adequate water, but overdoing it and poor drainage is just as deadly to the plant life as no water. The quickest way to destroy most herbs is to let them become overly saturated and drown in excessive water. The roots will rot, the plant dies. A saucer, drain pan or some form of liner under the pot to catch water and protect the window sill or furniture is common sense.
Clay pots and saucers that allow moisture to pass through, they are not advisable for indoor scenarios, use plastic, rubber, or glazed ceramic instead. Metal pots sometimes create chemical reactions with soil and moisture that is detrimental to the plant.
Cut back on watering as well as fertilizer in mid winter, but after the winter equinox a dressing of fish emulsion or liquid seaweed is advisable.
Returning Herbs Outdoors
Come the waning days of winter, when spring is on the horizon the days become brighter. By March you may start to notice new buds, by April, it's time to reverse the acclimation process to get the plants ready to go back outside, if that's what you intend. Place them outside on warm days , for gradually longer periods of time, until the warm weather returns and they can be safely left in their summer homes.
** Some of the methods outlined in this article do not pertain to Basil. Basil is an indoor gardeners enigma and is much harder to grown indoors than other herbs. Basil can still thrive indoors, but keep it away from cool windowsills. Basil leaves will droop and fade after a short time in cooler air. It requires persistent indoor temperatures in the 70s both day and night. See Also - Hydroponic Basil