Photo by Justin Q. Taylor.
I hope that you, dear reader, are enjoying the slow, sweet beginnings of spring. It is lovely to listen to the rain while warm and dry inside and to follow the millimeters of growth in the neighborhood’s emerging bulbs. Besides the sweetness and slowness, however, there are also days splattered with cold and shades of grey. It makes you long for green—the light new kind that will soon overwhelm our landscape. While we don’t have much of that springing chartreuse yet, we can find it by growing seedlings or potted plants in our kitchen windows.
Indoor gardening is a thing of joy and complexity. Aside from bringing the beauty of living plants into your home, windowsill flowers (and cacti, trees, vines, ferns, and more!) can help purify the air and add new textures to your décor. And, depending on what you plant, your little garden can also fill your teapot!
Rosemary bonsai courtesy of Justin Q. Taylor.
If you’re interested in growing plants inside it is essential to pay attention to their light requirements. Just as you would with an outdoor garden, observe your space intimately before choosing what plants to grow or sow. If you live in a dark basement apartment unfortunately you won’t be able to grow passionflower, though if you’re interested you might be able to rig up a lighting system fancy enough to make it work. Do your homework and you’ll reap the rewards.
I also recommend a visit to your favorite garden center. Because indoor plants are restricted to container life, a setting that is so different from the earthen soil, it helps to speak with a professional about feeding, watering, and general nurturing. The internet, of course, is very helpful as well, and the links below will provide a good basis for beginning your living room garden.
Before revealing the best herbs for growing indoors I’ll mention that I’ve discovered that these plants thrive when there’s a young kid in the house. From one friend’s 7-month old who is enamored of the family rosemary to another toddler that’s kindred to a basil, little children enjoy the sensual delights that come from knowing a plant. They delight in the reward—the immediate and satisfying release of aromatics—that comes from touching an herb. Of course, kids will also put things in their mouth—as will your pets—so make sure that anything at kid or pet height is non-toxic.
And so, without further ado, here are my top twelve herbs for Indoor Growing (as of this writing!).
Aloe (Aloe vera)
Sweet Basil (Ocimum basilicum)
Catnip (Nepeta cataria)
Houseleek (Sempervivum tectorum)
Mint (Mentha, spp.)
Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata)
Hot peppers (See link for best varieties)
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)
Sage (Salvia officinalis)
Mad-dog Skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora) (Treat this like its cousin, mint.)
Thyme (Thymus vulgaris)
Valerian (Valeriana officinalis)
As always, please feel welcome to leave comments about your own experience with growing herbs, especially if you’ve worked with herbs not profiled in this article. Let’s work together to make this a great resource for interior gardeners!