7 Tips From Experts On Windowsill Herb Garden – What Herbs Should Beginners Grow

Windowsill herb garden is a trend that is favored by many gardeners. We asked our gardening experts for some helpful tips to share with you.

A few highlights of the experts’ answers include:

  1. For starters, you should grow from plants rather than seeds
  2. Mint, Rosemary, and Basil are the top 3 plants recommended by experts the most
  3. Only water your herbs when the soil is dry

Alex Burgoyne from ToolDigest.com

Getting Started

You’ll learn far more by doing (and sometimes failing) than you will from reading – so buy a small windowsill pot and saucer, and the seeds of your favorite herb and jump right in!

You can make life a lot simpler for yourself by choosing to purchase starter plants, instead of seeds. These often cost about the same amount, and you don’t have to worry about germinating them – you can get to the fun of harvesting much faster!

Buying a Kit

If you want to make the process as easy as possible, then consider buying a DIY indoor garden variety kit or pot planter set.

7 Tips From Experts On Windowsill Herb Garden - What Herbs Should Beginners Grow

With these, you don’t have to worry about choosing the right pot size or having to buy each herb separately. Instead, you can focus your time on the fun parts: trimming, picking, and cooking!

Plus, you can buy kits that are curated for specific interests or tastes; for instance, you can purchase herbal tea garden kits that allow you to grow your own lavender, chamomile, and peppermint brews.

Choosing Herbs

My top 3 beginner suggestions are mint, rosemary, and basil. All of them have wonderfully strong scents that will brighten your home, and they each have fairly simple, but different, care requirements.

For example, rosemary only requires a small volume of water and does best in direct, full sunlight. Mint on the other hand thrives best in partial shade and requires more regular watering.

7 Tips From Experts On Windowsill Herb Garden - What Herbs Should Beginners Grow

But don’t feel that you need to stick to the ‘easiest’ herbs. If there’s a specific herb that you have a particular love for, don’t be afraid to get a little more adventurous!

Even if a little more challenging, the immediate joy of being able to top your homemade dishes with your own favorite herbs will keep you motivated to hone your craft and further improve your skills!

Timing Tips

While timing is important and definitely make-or-break for several herbs, there are plenty that can be grown year-round (like basil, chives, and oregano).

These varieties are hardy enough to withstand changes in climate, and this makes them perfect for beginners as they’ll be able to withstand the occasional slip-up, like under/over-watering, or planting with sub-optimal growing space.

Also consider what time you harvest your herbs: herbs harvested in the morning will be more flavorful, as will herbs harvested right before the plants flower and bloom.

Tending Tips

Effective tending requires a fine balance. Regular trimming of your plants helps to encourage further growth, but if you overdo it, you’ll put your herbs under stress, which has the opposite effect.

7 Tips From Experts On Windowsill Herb Garden - What Herbs Should Beginners Grow

Never remove more than a fourth of a plant during a tending session; for beginners, a fifth is a better guideline to work with.

Watering Tips

Many people are so concerned that their herbs will suffer from a lack of water that they overdo it and end up with the opposite problem. So at the first sign of yellow leaves, scale back your watering.

A good rule of thumb is to only water when the soil is dry to the touch. And unless you want to spend your weekend free time wiping down your windowsill, make sure your pots have something to sit in.

A saucer is ideal but there’s no reason you can’t make a simple DIY version from plastic.

Gena Lorainne from Fantastic Services

How to start a windowsill herb garden.

Windowsill gardens are not only a great atmosphere booster, but also pretty easy to maintain. Here is how you can easily start your herb garden by following these tips:

Start off by choosing the right position for your garden. It should be in a spot that gets at least 6 hours of sunlight.

A simple way to check how much sun your windowsill is getting is turning off the electricity and checking how much sun your windowsill gets. Apart from sunlight, your herbs will need water so consider pots with good drainage.

Alternatively, you can use any pot you would like, and make holes at the bottom manually. Your herbs will need to be watered regularly, especially during the hot summer months.

7 Tips From Experts On Windowsill Herb Garden - What Herbs Should Beginners Grow

To check whether your herb needs water, stick your finger into the soil, if it feels dry, it is time to treat them to a drink.

Should you be placing the pots on a wooden windowsill it is best to use a liner or saucer to catch any excess water and prevent it from damaging the wood.

What herbs to plant on your windowsill.

You are spoilt for choice here, you can choose something you already use for cooking or why not explore something completely new. These herbs are known to thrive on windowsills provided you give them the appropriate care:

  • Basil
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme
  • Oregano
  • Chives
  • Mint
  • Parsley
  • Coriander
  • Chervil
  • Tarragon.

Although all of the mentioned above will be easy to take care of, some are trickier to grow. If you are growing your garden from seeds, consider that some are slow-growing or will take a long time to germinate.

Such seeds are Rosemary, Thyme, Bay, and Oregano, if you want them on your windowsill, but mind the waiting time, it is a good idea to buy a young plant from the garden centre and grow it at home.

Harvesting your herbs

Trimming your herbs will stimulate their growth and provide you with home-made fresh leaves, win-win! Wait for your herbs to get bushy and start picking a handful of leaves.

7 Tips From Experts On Windowsill Herb Garden - What Herbs Should Beginners Grow

Make sure you leave plenty of stems intact, don’t chop everything off as you will kill the plant.

  • Herbs with leaves growing in clumps like Coriander, Chives, Parsley – start picking the outer leaves first, working your way towards the centre of the plant.
  • Herbs with upright stems – basil, oregano, rosemary, mint – cut of single stems then pick the leaves off. Start from the stems that are furthest away from the centre.

Susan Brandt from Blooming Secrets

If you are going to start a windowsill herb garden, it is good to grow herbs that are going to be used regularly.

Start out small with a few herbs, so you experience success on a small scale. You don’t have to have a beautiful garden outdoors to have one year-round in your home.

You can start a windowsill herb garden anytime but winter is a nice time to do it if you are a gardener and can’t get outdoors and garden because of the weather. Growing herbs will allow you to continue gardening.

It also is a good time to grow indoors because you might be craving some fresh flavors. Growing plants indoors does away with weeds too. With a windowsill garden, you are not taking up floor space, which is another plus.

You will also need to determine if you want to purchase starter plants or grow your herbs from seeds. Having starter plants will allow you to have herbs faster.

7 Tips From Experts On Windowsill Herb Garden - What Herbs Should Beginners Grow

Starter plants are the best way to go, but you might not be able to find them in the produce area of your supermarket or at a garden center. If that is the case you might be forced to grow them from seeds.

If you grow herbs outdoors it is usually not a good idea to bring them indoors. You might bring in some unwanted pests. Start out with new plants.

Most herbs need 6-8 hours of sun, so it is important to determine the light exposure your windowsill has in order to figure out which herbs to grow.

Southern exposure is best as this means you will have sun throughout the day. An eastern or western exposure provides you with a block of light for a period of time, so they are good also.

If you have northern exposure you will need to get a grow light in order to have enough light to grow herbs.

Some great herbs to grow indoors that do alright with low light are: Parsley, Chives, Mint. These herbs need a lot of light: Rosemary, Basil, Thyme, Oregano.

Signs that your herbs are not getting enough light is the plant gets leggy (the stems get very long) and the leaves turn yellow.

When planting your herbs use organic potting soil mix, not soil from outdoors. Pack the potting mix around the root ball when growing starter plants to make sure you remove all of the air pockets.

7 Tips From Experts On Windowsill Herb Garden - What Herbs Should Beginners Grow

You want them to look skimpy in the pot in the beginning so they have room to grow. Don’t put the soil to the top of the container because when you water you don’t want the container to overflow. If you grow your herbs from seeds use a seed starting soil.

Make sure the containers you use have a drainage hole, so the plant does not sit in excess water. The container should also have a plant underneath it to catch the excess water and also protect your windowsill from getting damaged by any water.

Some other tips that are important are important to consider are:

Temperature

Herbs are happy to be at the same temperature we live at, so they are happy to be indoors.

Herbs can tolerate being closer to the window compared to most houseplants. When they are on the windowsill, do not let them touch the window as it will cool the plant off faster, which is not good.

Watering

This will differ if you grow your plants from seeds vs buying starter plants.

If you grow your herbs from seeds you will need to check them every day. You don’t want to get the seeds too wet so use a spray bottle to water them.

7 Tips From Experts On Windowsill Herb Garden - What Herbs Should Beginners Grow

With most herbs, they like to be lightly moistened, never soggy, and never dried out. There are other conditions you might have to consider, if you are in a humid environment you would water them less.

Also, if your herbs are planted in terracotta planters, they tend to dry out faster.

Fertilizer

Use fertilizer every 2 weeks. You can use houseplant food and just follow the directions on the package.

If it says to put 2 tablespoons per one gallon of water and you will not use it all, you can cut the amount in half. So adjust the formula as needed.

Pruning

The whole point of growing your herbs is to prune and use them, so you should be doing this fairly regularly.

Airflow

Be careful putting many plants together and not giving them enough space. This could cause an airflow issue.

7 Tips From Experts On Windowsill Herb Garden - What Herbs Should Beginners Grow

If your plants do not have enough airflow they could get mildew. This will not happen to every herb but it does happen to Oregano and some others. Make sure you space your plants apart.

Gina Harper from Harper’s Nurseries

First, you need to decide the area where to place it. For me, I chose the kitchen, as it’s been the typical thing. But other windows at home should be fine.

Next is to pick your herb plants. Thyme, oregano, rosemary, and mint are the ones I had so far – and the easiest to grow. But there are many other perennial herbs.

Then the lighting – natural light is ideal but grow lights are also okay for most of these plants to thrive.

In terms of watering, it’s not as often as we think it should be, at least for the first 3 herbs I mentioned earlier. For mint, it’s just a little different. It must be constantly moist.

Jordan Collins from Two Lions 11

Tips on how to start a windowsill herbs garden

Beginners may find starting a windowsill herbs garden a real challenge but in reality, this is such a joyful and fun activity. Plus, you get to enjoy your homemade herbs!

For starters, make sure you’ve selected a window that receives bright and direct sunlight. Choose your herbs and choose containers for them.

7 Tips From Experts On Windowsill Herb Garden - What Herbs Should Beginners Grow

Make sure the containers are large and sufficient enough to host your herbs as they get bigger. Choose one that is at least 6-12 inches deep.

Next, choose a quality potting mix that is well-draining and light. Add about a 2-3 inch layer of potting mix and put in your chosen herb plant by delicately loosening the roots before placing them in the new container.

Keep in mind that you can also grow your herbs from seeds.

Timing, tending, and watering tips

It’s best to start the seeds indoors about a month and a half or 2 months before the last frost. Make sure they have enough space and avoid overwatering to avoid damaging the roots.

Only water when the soil is dry. Ensure the temperatures are between 60-70 degrees Fahrenheit. Also, it’s best to get rid of fertilizer salt buildup by flushing the pots with water.

Bri Bell from Frugal Minimalist Kitchen

By far the easiest herb to grow in the windowsill are scallions. You can regrow them from the bunch you buy at the store! They grow extremely fast and you don’t even need a pot of soil.

Simply leave at least 1 inch of root at the end and place the root end in a glass with water. Place in a sunny windowsill and keep the water fresh. You’ll have enough scallion greens to harvest in about 1-2 weeks!

7 Tips From Experts On Windowsill Herb Garden - What Herbs Should Beginners Grow

To harvest them, simply snip off what you need with a pair of clean scissors and continue growing. You should get a couple small harvests off the root ends you might otherwise have thrown away!

If you’d like to extend the life of the scallion beyond a couple harvests, plant the root ends in soil in a sunny windowsill. Keep the soil moist but not wet.

Jen Stark from Happy DIY Home

Sage

This is a very popular herb in Italian cooking, and it likes drier soil over wet. Plant it in a well-draining soil with plenty of sunshine and water it sparingly.

The soil should have loam and clay mixed in, and it does best in a South-facing window. Harvest the leaves regularly and dry them to use. This will encourage the plant to produce more.

Basil

This is an extremely versatile herb that does well in a huge range of dishes, and you should sow the seeds in early March in compost on your windowsill.

7 Tips From Experts On Windowsill Herb Garden - What Herbs Should Beginners Grow

They need a west or south-facing window with full sun, and the soil should be loamy. Water it moderately and allow the top inch of soil to dry out between watering sessions.

Rosemary

This is a fragrant that is wonderful in Mediterranea-style herb gardens and cooking. You can pick the leaves all year-round.

Plant it in an area that gets full sun for at least 6 to 8 hours a day, and plant it in moist but well-drained soil. You can add chalk or sand to the soil to encourage drainage.

Conclusion

Starting and taking care of a windowsill herb garden is not as difficult as you think. Quickly choose for yourself a favorite plant, a light-filled window corner and experience this new trend.

With the tips from our experts, we believe that you can do it! See you in our next articles.

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Jill Sandy

Jill Sandy

Jill is a sustainable focus gardener. She loves decorating her home backyard with beautiful landscape design and creative garden care techniques she develops herself. You can reach her at jill.sandy@constantdelights.com

Chanh Ho (MD, MPH)

Chanh Ho (MD, MPH)

Chanh is our Head of Medical Review. He is a research physician at Oxford University Clinical Research Unit. After accomplishing the program of level 1 sub-specialty in Pediatrics, he was awarded the Chevening Scholarship for his Master’s degree of Public Health in the University of Edinburgh in 2019

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