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How to Grow Herbs Indoors

By Joanne Elves

The smell of fresh herbs tickles your olfactory system—which can help boost your productivity. And that’s on top of herbs’ well-known medicinal and meal-enhancing properties. In bright summer months, sunlight-loving herbs thrive in kitchen windows. But in winter, lower light conditions present a test for even the most skilled windowsill gardeners.

Your best bet? Park them beneath a grow light, a specialized bulb that produces higher-intensity, full-spectrum light. “There are plenty of reasonably priced countertop lighting systems available,” says Trudy Watt of Red Deer’s Parkland Nurseries and Garden Centre. “But even a desk lamp fitted with a grow light will work.”

Watt suggests combining plants under the lamp. “You can grow different herbs in the same planter.” Rosemary, thyme and sage work well together. “But be mindful of dill: It grows fast and bushy—and blocks the light from getting to smaller herbs.” 

Make sure your containers have good drainage and use a well-balanced indoor plant soil. The best herbs for indoors include basil, cilantro, chives, mint, oregano, rosemary, parsley, thyme and sage. Cultivate just a few and you’ll be enjoying perfectly flavoured dinners all season long.

1. To grow from seeds, buy them in the fall; most shops take herb seeds off the shelf over winter.

2. Go easy on the fertilizer. Too much will produce large amounts of foliage, but it’ll be less flavourful. 

3. As you would in summer, occasionally pinch back herbs to promote more growth.

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