How to Grow an Indoor Herb Garden on your Sunny Windowsill


Let’s learn how to grow an indoor herb garden on your sunny windowsill. Nothing beats easy access to aromatic fresh herbs all year long!

parsley thyme and lemon balm indoor herbs planted in a south facing windowsill

Unlike an outdoor garden (for colder climates), an indoor herb garden can be harvested all year long. There are a few simple tips that I have to share with you to help get you on your way to your own beautiful indoor herb garden.

Each year I step up my herb garden game because I am finding that I absolutely love having fresh herbs on hand as much as possible. Now that I have gained more knowledge about growing year round I have decided to share it with you.

The best part about this type of herb garden is that you don’t need a yard to do it! Just find a sunny spot on your windowsill and you’re ready to grow your own aromatic herbs!

Can you successfully grow herbs indoors?

Thankfully yes! Not only is it successful to grow an indoor herb garden, but it is a good idea because then you can have access to fresh herbs all throughout the year. You must have plenty of sunlight for growing indoor herbs successfully.

Sage, Parsley, Lemon balm, thyme, planted in brown pots with snow outside in a south facing windowsill
It’s snowing outside and my indoor herbs are warm and toasty!

This confuses people sometimes. When a plant says that it needs plenty of sunlight or full sun, that means that it needs DIRECT sun. Not just a room that has natural light in it. Many house plants can get away with just a room that receives natural light.

But herbs need the actual rays of sun to hit their leaves. DIRECT SUN. If you can’t provide this, then your herbs won’t thrive. Another important thing is that the plant will put out new growth and you will need to harvest from your herb regularly in order to keep the plant from getting too big.

Unless your windowsill is ginormous, I am guessing that you need your plants to be on the smaller side. Simply harvest often. You can dry your herbs if you are getting more than you know what to do with.

What herbs can be planted indoors

Most herbs can thrive indoors. Some are perennial herbs and some are annual herbs. Check out THIS post to learn more about what perennial and annual herbs are. But to simply define them, an annual herb doesn’t last all year long.

Lemon balm indoor herb growing in a south facing windowsill with snow on the ground outside
Lemon Balm

Annual herbs begin their life cycle when they are planted, grow for their growing season, then they start to go to seed, or bolt. This means that they send out their seeds before they stop growing completely. Herbs like cilantro and basil are like this.

Growing indoors may make their growing season longer, but eventually they will reach the end of their growing season and die. Which is fine! Once you notice that the herb is starting to bolt, then start planting it’s seeds in another pot to get another round growing.

This is called succession planting. Perennial herbs grow year round. They still have peak growing seasons where they grow more bountifully, but they won’t need to be replanted. If a perennial herb plant starts to look sickly, it may need to be re potted. My favorite and easiest herbs to grow indoors are:

  • Basil
  • Lemon Balm
  • Cilantro
  • Oregano
  • Thyme
  • Parsley
  • Sage
  • Mint
  • Rosemary

To know which of these herbs are perennial or annual click HERE.

What can I use my indoor herbs for?

Loose leaf Lemon balm and mint in a tea jar

Herbs not only look pretty growing on your windowsill, but they have many other uses as well. For one, people will use herbs for medicinal uses. I am not well versed in medicinal herbs, but you can dive deeper on that topic on your own.

First of all, I love using my own herbs for cooking. Culinary herbs really take your cooking up a notch. I love adding fresh basil, oregano and sage to my pasta. There’s nothing like fresh cilantro on tacos either.

If you cook from scratch like I do, you can really use herbs in any dish you are making. Soups are great for taking in any herb you throw at it. Not only do they taste good, but your house will smell amazing. Just remember, if a recipe says that you need two tablespoons of rosemary, it is talking about dried herbs.

Dried herbs are less potent, so when you are using fresh herbs, you can use slightly less than the recipe calls for. Growing your own herbs will also be cheaper and better quality herbs than what you would find at the grocery store.

My other favorite way to use herbs for is for making tea. This is especially the case during the winter when I tend to drink more tea. In the winter I also miss traditional outdoor gardening so I really love to ramp up my herb garden for my winter tea making.

My favorite herb for this is lemon balm. It complements any tea really. I have tried it with red raspberry leaf tea, mint tea (another good herb to grow indoors), and chamomile. All good choices in my opinion.

How do you start herbs indoors?

The one tricky thing about starting herb seeds indoors is that most of them are SO TINY! Tiny seeds are more difficult to plant. I will share with you a few methods of how to plant those itty bitty seeds so that they will actually germinate and grow.

Woman's hand holding tiny herb seeds
Herb seeds are so TINY

Paper towel method

This may sound strange but I have found this to be an easy way to get the best results while growing such tiny seeds.

  1. First get a paper towel or napkin and spray it until it is damp. Not soaking wet, but damp.
  2. Take your seed packet and gently sprinkle out 10 or 20 seeds onto the damp paper towel.
  3. Spray the seeds a few more times.
  4. Fold the napkin so that the seeds are completely covered.
  5. Put the seeds in a plastic Ziplock bag and put them in a warm place.
  6. Once the seeds start to sprout, prepare your pot or container by filling with potting mix up to the top of the container.
  7. Spray the soil so that you can transplant your sprouts into wet soil. This will make it easier to put them in place.
  8. Using tweezers, pull out each individual sprout and gently plant it in the moist soil. I usually do every sprout as that will give you more chances for success.
  9. Spray the sprouts again and put in a sunny place.
  10. Keep them consistently watered on a daily basis until they are more established.
  11. If you have too many plants that survive, you will need to pluck out all but one or two so that your pot isn’t over crowded.

Small Seed tray or pot method

  1. Fill your tray or small pot with a seed starting soil mix.
  2. Surface sow your seeds by sprinkling your seeds across the top of the soil.
  3. Sprinkle a small amount of soil over the seeds and gently spread it around.
  4. Spray the soil, do not pour water over it. As a general rule when starting seeds, you will want to have consistent wet soil while you are getting your seeds to germinate or sprout.
  5. You can cover your seed tray or small pot with a plastic bag or cover to keep the soil moist for longer.
  6. Once the seeds start sprouting make sure they are in a warm sunny spot.
  7. After you have established seedling plants, you can go to watering every few days when the soil has become a little dry

How do you grow herbs in a windowsill?

First you will want to make sure that you have a windowsill that gets direct sun. A south facing window is the best for this, but you can observe other windowsill’s that you have. You will need at least 4-5 hours of DIRECT SUN.

woman holding thyme indoor herb plant
Yes, my herbs are growing in my kids bedroom. My only south facing window!

If you get less sun your plants will still grow, but they will grow more slowly. The more sun that you have, the more quickly your plants will grow. You can supplement the amount of light your plant gets with grow lights if you want to.

Make sure to turn the lights off at night as indoor herbs do need some time without light. When selecting your containers for your indoor herbs you will want to make sure they have drainage holes. This will allow excess water to go out of the pot out of the bottom. If you do not have holes in your container, you can add them.

When you don’t have drainage holes your plant will be at risk to root rot as it will be sitting in water for long periods of time. Because your pot has holes and water will come out the bottom, you will want to have something under to catch the excess water so it doesn’t run down your windowsill.

Once you have your perfect place picked out for your indoor herbs and your containers with drainage holes, it is time to follow the seed starting steps I mentioned above. After you have established plants you will want to “feed” your plant as discussed in THIS POST.

Soil eventually runs out of nutrients and you will need to add those into the pot for the plant to continually thrive. When your young plants become older plants (for the perennial herbs mentioned before) you will need a larger pot to give the plant’s roots enough space to thrive.

If your plant gets too large, you may be able to separate your plant into two plants. Harvesting your indoor herbs will also keep your plant a more manageable size.

Give it a try!

Now that you know the easiest way to grow your own indoor herbs save this post and get started today. You really can start this project any time of the year. Comment below about your favorite herbs to cook with. Have you tried to grow them?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *