Add life and beauty to your kitchen with an indoor herb garden you can easily grow in a small space and with common herbs you use every day!
Spring is in the air! Or, at least it’s getting close! Springtime is my favorite time of year. I have always loved the crisp atmosphere of spring, with the air warming up from the chill of winter, but not getting too warm either. Plus, plants are starting to grow again, and I love it. It makes me desperately want to grow my own food. Growing up on a farm with fresh fruit, veggies, and herb gardens may have something to do with it. You just can’t beat the freshness that comes from growing your own stuff.
Now, I totally wish I had the space to grow everything I want, but in all reality, I don’t. So, I settle for my own herb garden. Yep, you read that right. I have my very own herb garden. I am very proud of it, and today, I’m going to give you some ideas on how to add plant decor to your home in the form of an indoor herb garden so you too can have fresh herbs to use in cooking and baking! First, I’m going to start off with how to set up your herb garden, then I’ll move on to what types of herbs are most common, and how to care for them. You ready? Let’s talk herbs!
Via Justin Marantz
When it comes to herbal gardens, there are not too many rules. All you really need are five things: lots of light, lots of water, draining pots, cool air circulation, and good soil. Most herbs like a good 6 hours of sunlight a day. The best place to put your indoor plants is in or near a window, preferably a south-facing one. However, as long as they can get good lighting, either from the sun or from fluorescent bulbs, they will do just fine anywhere.
You can find awesome planters that are made to fit in windowsills or get a bunch of little pots to place in or near a window, whichever works for your space. Hanging planters like the ones above make it easy to hang your plants near a light source without sacrificing a surface area, and they make some awesome plant wall decor. Neat, huh? Plus, you can get one of these puppies at places like Ikea! If you want to check out some other pretty neat space-saving gardens, check out the ones listed here!
One thing to make sure you keep in mind when you buy a planter is that they need to be able to drain. I noticed in the hanging planters above that the plants are removable from the metal pots, so they can be given lots of water and can drain. Your herbs will need water when the top inch of soil is dry (which is often) and if they are in pots that don’t drain, they can develop root rot. Root rot is bad, and your plants will die. So, just be on the safe side and get a well-draining pot for your new herbs, like the one above. Plus, I think it’s super cute that the plants are all in one pot, although you can definitely use as many as you want! I love those labels too, and might have to add something like that to my own pots. They just add to that cute garden decor look, am I right?
Another thing your herbs will need is cool circulating air. Most herbs like temperatures around the 60-70 degrees Fahrenheit range, but can thrive in warmer households as long as they have a vent or a fan blowing on them. The circulation helps keep the plants cool, plus it stimulates growth! The final item your plants will thank you for is good potting soil. You can find brands that are specific for indoor or outdoor potted plants, and some that also contain enough nutrients for up to 6 months. Keep that in mind and make sure you also give your plants new, nutrient-rich soil when they need it, and you will have happy, thriving, healthy herbs!
Alrighty, I think that about covers the basics of herbal gardening. Now, let’s talk about common herbs for cooking and baking!
Rosemary is a very common garden herb used in Italian dishes. It’s very fragrant and grows insanely well indoors. This plant also grows super-fast. It will actually just continue to grow until you cut it back, so you can pretty much have fresh rosemary sprigs year round! This will probably be your fastest growing plant, so let your friends know and share the fresh herbs with them! You can also easily dry this herb by cutting sprigs, wrapping them in twine, and hanging them in a place with moving air. Or, you can dry them out in the oven and save them for a rainy day!
Thyme is also a great herb to have! The old saying though is false: you really can’t have too much thyme on your hands. Get it? Alrighty, bad pun out of the way. Thyme can be used in many different types of dishes including soups, salads, sauces, meat dishes, and even desserts. These plants do not get very tall, but they do create a lot of foliage, making them very pretty, and very green, decorative plants. There are various types of thyme, the most common being lemon and Italian. Both of these varieties work well with all sorts of dishes, though lemon thyme is especially great with fish.
Another great Italian herb! Basil is great in Southeast Asian cuisines including, but not limited to, dishes from Thailand, Taiwan, Vietnam, and Malaysia. There are several strains of basil that are commonly used, which are Thai Basil, Sweet Basil, and Lemon Basil. Basil is one of the main ingredients in Italian pestos, as well as thick Taiwanese soups. Basil is best used fresh, and barely cooked, as cooking it too long makes it lose its flavor. You can also use the flower buds for a more subtle flavor in your cooking. Plus, I had no idea, but you can even use basil in desserts. Pretty awesome for these normally savory small decorative plants, right? The leaves are commonly steeped in milk or cream to create an interesting layer of flavor for ice cream and truffles. I’m so gonna test this out!
I’m sure you’ve noticed a theme. A lot of easy herbs to grow inside your home are also the ones that are common in most Italian dishes. I think the Italians knew something, or maybe it’s just a coincidence. Who knows? But, oregano is another awesome herb. It can be used both fresh and dry, and has a wonderful flavor. However, the dried leaves do have more flavor. Drying herbs is pretty easy, and then you can have your herbs year round! Greek and Italian Oregano are common varieties that are great for culinary use, and can be found at most local garden stores or nurseries.
Via Farm and Dairy
Cilantro (also known as Coriander) is used in a lot of salsas, guacamole, pestos, and sauces, and gives a nice citrusy tone to the dish. It’s also used as a garnish sometimes, but very rarely. Cilantro is a bit finicky. It starts to droop and look sad when it isn’t watered as much as it wants; however, within hours of getting more water, it perks up as if nothing happened. Very dramatic little decor plant. It’s easy to cultivate and grows at a decent rate. You can cut the stems down and they’ll continue to grow after you harvest, so you can keep growing cilantro!
Via Saving Dinner
If you want a hard to kill herb that’s also very useful, go and buy some chive plants. They are super hardy, and chives are used in a lot of dishes. Soups, sandwiches, and French cuisine use this herb a lot. Which is a good thing, because this puppy grows fast! The great thing, though, is you can freeze fresh chives and save them to use at a later date! Chives are perennial plants, meaning they can live for more than two years. They also can have beautiful purple-white flowers, so keep that in mind when picking out what herbs you want to grow!
Via Bonnie Plants
The official name for this herb is Salvia officinalis, otherwise known as common or garden sage. There are hundreds of varieties of sage, but this is the type of sage you’ll find in culinary practices. It isn’t as easy to find as other herbs on my list, but it can be a great addition to your herb garden. I love the smell and taste of sage. It’s a bit peppery, but it relaxes me. Plus, I think the soft green of sage plants make them such beautiful indoor plants, because the color is just so pretty. This herb works well with fish dishes and in Italian cuisine. Burning dried sage has been used for many years to cleanse the mind and soul, as well as the area around you. It is also said that sage can help improve cognitive function, but that hasn't been proven. But hey, something to keep in mind, right?
Mints are awesome indoor decorative plants. There are several great types of mint that are common for household use. Peppermint, Sweet Mint, and Chocolate Mint. Yes, there is a mint plant that smells and embodies the flavor of Thin Mints. How cool is that? I own one of each of these three mint plants. They are good for many things, mainly desserts.
My favorite thing to do is make simple syrup with the leaves. Take equal parts water, white sugar, and mint leaves, put them in a pot, and bring to a boil until the sugar has dissolved. Tada, you now have an instant flavor enhancer! Add to desserts, like in ice cream, or put some in your drinks for some yummy minty goodness. I love to add mint simple syrup to my coffee. Hello, homemade mint mochas, and peppermint mochas too! Sweet mint is the typical minty flavor we all know and love, so I would suggest that one; although, chocolate mint is to die for. Or, you can be like me and get all of the mints. Because, why not? You wanna know a cool thing about mints? They deter bad bugs, making them great house plants. Hooray for a natural insect repellent!
Via Saving Dinner
Lavender is one of my favorite herbs ever. It smells AMAZING and has so many uses. You can steep the flower buds and make a relaxing tea that is even more heavenly with a bit of honey or chamomile. You can make simple syrups with the flowers and use it for flavoring drinks, both virgin and alcoholic. It’s even great in desserts. Lavender cupcakes are fantastic. You can even rub the leaves on your pulse points for a quick, easy, and natural perfume. Seriously, this plant is amazing and perfect for indoor plant decor.
Another cool thing about lavender, and probably my favorite thing about it, is that it deters scorpions. My mother is very allergic to them, and I really don’t want to find out if I am or not. My lavender plant stays by my patio door so those creepy little buggers don’t get in my apartment and come after me. I strongly suggest getting one for your place because I think it’s one of the best herbs to grow. They take a while to flower, but trust me. So worth it. Plus, they just smell really nice.
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There you have it! A couple of ideas on how to set up your very own indoor herb garden, and a ton of great herbs to choose from to make your place not only look awesome, but smell great as well. Share this post with family and friends who would love to have their own herb garden, and don’t forget to comment and share with me what your favorite herb is, especially if it’s one I didn’t mention in this post. Have fun using your own fresh herbs! Stay creative, my friends!
**Featured image via Bob Vila