Stacey Leasca for Real Simple on tips for growing an indoor herb garden.
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Avoid these common indoor gardening mistakes if you want your herb garden to flourish.
Short on outdoor space but desperate to flex your green thumb? A windowsill herb garden is the easiest way to step up your indoor plant game, plus it’s a genius way to quickly reap all of the edible rewards your plants has to offer. But as low maintenance as an indoor herb garden may seem, there’s a right and a wrong way to go about caring for fresh greens. Help your herb garden flourish by avoiding these seven common indoor planting mistakes the next time you put down roots.
Watering your plants too often (or not enough)
You may be tempted to water your plants each and every day to help them thrive, but most herbs only require a drink when their topsoil feels dry to the touch. Instead of immediately busting out the watering can, literally stay in touch with your plants by feeling the soil on a daily basis. If the topsoil feels slightly dry, give your herbs a drink. If the soil still feels damp, let the plant be.
Forgoing a drainage pot
Choosing the right pot for your plants is yet another key to a successful herb garden. Of course, it’s crucial to purchase a pot that you enjoy looking at, but it’s equally as important to plant your herbs in a pot with ample drainage. So what exactly does that mean? Simply put, drainage means a pot is equipped with teeny, tiny holes at the bottom of its base that allow any excess water to flow through. To properly water your plants, pop them in the sink, wet the dirt, and allow time for the water to drain. This will help provide the entire root system with water and, once again, stop root rot in its tracks due to overwatering.
Not placing them in the right amount of sunlight
Like water, you also need to find the Goldilocks zone of sunlight for your indoor herbs. Some herbs require more light than others, and many varieties need a specific amount of direct or indirect rays. Research and read up on the type of herb you plan to grow, then place each one in an appropriate spot around your home to maximize growth.
Turning up the heat
Give your herbs a home near sun, but away from artificial heat. Heated air from vents, space heaters or radiators is naturally very drying, and a heater’s ability to suck water from a plant’s leaves will quickly eradicate your hard-won herbs.
Forgetting to prune
Just like you require a regular haircut to look your best, your indoor herbs require a regular trim too. Pruning will help your herbs grow both healthier and faster, and by harvesting some of the plants leaves, you’re ultimately helping your herb stay in its growth stage longer, which means more product for you to enjoy. Make the pruning process that much easier with this affordable pair of top-rated shears ($10; amazon.com).
Trying to start from seedlings
You don’t need to start from seed to succeed. During your first attempt at an indoor herb garden, start with a small plant rather than a seedling. That way, you know the plant already has an established root system and you can focus on helping your herbs grow rather than hoping it simply sprouts. Confused on the specific plants you should purchase? As a horticulture pro at your neighborhood nursery for a bit of expert guidance on what herbs may be best suited for you.
Not feeding your new plants enough
Before you can add your herbs to homemade meals, you have to first feed your herbs. Ensure you’re using high-quality organic potting soil to give your plants the best shot at a long and healthy life. Avoid using soil from your yard or outdoor garden, and instead opt for a light, loose potting soil filled with materials like vermiculite and peat moss.