Essential Guide to Growing Herbs – Indoors and Outdoors | Gilmour

Growing herbs can be fun, easy and low maintenance. You don’t need a lot of time or knowhow to have a successful and rewarding herb garden that will brighten both your yard and your culinary masterpieces. Read on to learn more about how to grow herbs and which are the easy herbs to grow, even for beginning gardeners.

  • How Much Sunlight Do Herbs Need?
  • What Type of Soil Do Herbs Grow Best In?
  • How Often Should I Water Herbs?
  • Do Herbs Grow Better Inside or Outside?
  • Which Herbs Can Be Planted Together?
  • List of Easy-to-Grow Herbs

How Much Sunlight Do Herbs Need?

Most herbs need a fair amount of sunlight. As long as an herb is growing in a space where it gets at least 4 hours of sunlight a day, it will most likely do well. Most can tolerate much more sunlight, though, with herbs like rosemary, lavender and basil thriving in full sun (6 – 8 hours a day). Looking for herbs to plant in either a partially shaded area or one that receives filtered light? Try planting chervil or parsley.

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What Type of Soil Do Herbs Grow Best In?

Different herbs may need to be planted in different soil types, but grouping herbs that have similar needs is easy to do, once you learn what those are. Most herbs need rich, moist soil that’s well-drained and moderately fertile. Keeping soil healthy is imperative regardless of what type of herb you will grow. Testing pH levels is important any time you are growing herbs, and for the most part, they need a pH somewhere between 6 and 7. Herbs will do best in loose soil that allows roots to take hold. If needed, adding a liquid micronutrient fertilizer can offer mineral-deficient plants the balance they need to thrive.

How Often Should I Water Herbs?

All plants need regular watering, although certain herbs need more water than others. The majority of herbs need water when the soil feels dry to the touch. Take the time to find out what each individual herb needs in terms of moisture, and remember to group like-minded plants together when planting. For example, basil likes more water than lavender, which likes to have completely dry soil in between watering, so do not plant these two herbs together. A good rule of thumb for most herbs is to water about once per week. During extreme heat or drought conditions, sometimes twice per week will be needed. Water in the cooler hours of the morning, between 6 – 10 am, to avoid evaporation and allow for deep root soaking.

Do Herbs Grow Better Inside or Outside?

There are benefits to growing herbs both indoors and outdoors. Growing them outdoors can be beneficial as they will produce a much larger yield when planted in a larger space. You can also choose an ideal location with optimal lighting and drainage. That said, growing them indoors means less garden care in general and the possibility of year-round herbs.

Which Herbs Can Be Planted Together?

Planting certain herbs together can be a win-win for you and your plants. Some herbs will thrive when they are planted as companions, as growing herbs together can promote and encourage overall health and growth in a garden. It is also potentially easier on the gardener to have herbs planted together, since watering, harvesting and pruning are more convenient.

List of Easy-to-Grow Herbs

Basil

Basil is a sweet, fragrant herb that is often used in Mediterranean, Italian and Thai dishes as an accent flavor. It’s synonymous with summer and pairs extremely well with off-the-vine tomatoes and fresh mozzarella, as well as in a variety of other dishes. There are a multitude of basil varieties, all with slight variations of scent and flavor, including cinnamon basil, lemon basil and Thai or purple basil, which is sweet.

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Indoor Planting Date (Weeks before last spring frost): 6 – 8 weeks

Outdoor Planting Date (Weeks before/after last spring frost): Anytime after

Planting Zone: Zones 10 and above

Soil Type: Rich, moist

Sunlight Preference: Full sun

Height / Spacing (in.): 12 – 24” / 12”

Time to Harvest: 70 – 75 days

Growth Type: Annual

Oregano

Oregano has a strong, almost robust scent and its flavor matches. It is an easy-to-grow herb that does well in containers. It blooms small, white flowers in the late summer and needs ample sun and heat to thrive.

Indoor Planting Date (Weeks before last spring frost): 6 – 10 weeks

Outdoor Planting Date (Weeks before/after last spring frost): Anytime after

Planting Zone: Zones 5 – 10

Soil Type: Poor

Sunlight Preference: Full sun

Height / Spacing (in.): 12 – 24” / 18”

Time to Harvest: 60 days

Growth Type: Hardy perennial

Rosemary

Rosemary is a native Mediterranean herb that is used in everything from soaps and lotions to soups and marinades. It is strong in fragrance and has needle-like leaves and pink, purple, white or blue flowers. Rosemary is used a lot in Italian and Mediterranean cuisine like pastas, vegetables and soups.

Indoor Planting Date (Weeks before last spring frost): 6 – 10

Outdoor Planting Date (Weeks before/after last spring frost): 1 – 2 before

Planting Zone: Zones 6 – 9

Soil Type: Not too acidic, loamy, sandy

Sunlight Preference: Full sun

Height / Spacing (in.): 48 – 72” / 48”

Time to Harvest: 40 – 42 days

Growth Type: Tender perennial

Chives

A close relative to shallots, leaks, scallions and garlic, chives are a drought tolerant perennial that grow to be about 1 foot tall. They are dark green and grow in clumps, producing thin, round, hollow strands that resemble a tiny green onion. Their oniony flavor is a wonderful addition to a large variety of foods as a garnish.

Indoor Planting Date (Weeks before last spring frost): 8 – 10

Outdoor Planting Date (Weeks before/after last spring frost): 3 – 4 before

Planting Zone: Zones 3 – 10

Soil Type: Rich, moist

Sunlight Preference: Full sun

Height / Spacing (in.): 12 – 18” / 18”

Time to Harvest: 30 days

Growth Type: Perennial

Mint

Mint is a very distinct, well-known flavored plant that is fast growing and used in a variety of culinary dishes from sweet to savory. It is hardy and aggressive and will take over if not contained. It does well in pots and likes moist growing conditions.

Indoor Planting Date (Weeks before last spring frost): 6 – 10

Outdoor Planting Date (Weeks before/after last spring frost): Anytime after the last frost

Planting Zone: Zones 4 – 9

Soil Type: Loamy or sandy

Sunlight Preference: Full sun

Height / Spacing (in.): 12 – 24” / 18”

Time to Harvest: 90 days

Growth Type: Perennial

Sage

Sage has silvery, soft greyish green leaves and grows delicate pink, purple, white or blue flowers in the spring. While not all varieties of sage are edible, the ones that are for culinary use are often used to flavor meats and soups. Sage is a hardy plant and thrives in full sun. Plant sage as a perennial border for a unique touch to the garden area.

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Indoor Planting Date (Weeks before last spring frost): 6 – 10

Outdoor Planting Date (Weeks before/after last spring frost): 1 – 2 before

Planting Zone: Zones 5 – 9

Soil Type: Loamy, sandy

Sunlight Preference: Full sun

Height / Spacing (in.): 12 – 49” / 30”

Time to Harvest: 75 days

Growth Type: Perennial

Cilantro

Cilantro is an herb widely used in both Mexican and Middle Eastern cuisine. It has bright green leaves and grows best in full sun to partial shade. If growing to harvest the leaves, be careful not to let cilantro bolt (or go to flower) as the flavor of the herb will change, often giving somewhat of a soapy flavor to it. If wanting to harvest coriander seeds, after the plant goes to flower, seeds will appear along the stem in clusters.

Indoor Planting Date (Weeks before last spring frost): Not recommended

Outdoor Planting Date (Weeks before/after last spring frost): Anytime after

Planting Zone: Zones 3 – 11

Soil Type: Light, loamy or sandy

Sunlight Preference: Full sun to partial shade

Height / Spacing (in.): 12 – 36” / 12”

Time to Harvest: 21 – 28 days

Growth Type: Annual

Thyme

Thyme has delicate-looking, tiny green leaves and grows well in very dry, hot conditions. Native to the Mediterranean, thyme adds flavor to many dishes and can be versatile in the kitchen. It makes a lovely ground cover in the yard if allowed to go wild, and it does very well when left alone.

Indoor Planting Date (Weeks before last spring frost): 6 – 10

Outdoor Planting Date (Weeks before/after last spring frost): 2 – 3 before

Planting Zone: Zones 5 – 9

Soil Type: Fertile, well drained

Sunlight Preference: Full sun to partial shade

Height / Spacing (in.): 6 – 24” / 10”

Time to Harvest: 14 – 28 days

Growth Type: Perennial

Growing herbs is easy and well worth the little time it takes. Whether you’re trying to learn more about growing herbs in pots or just looking to find the best herbs to grow in general, the abundance of color and flavor they add to your yard and cuisine make them the golden child of the garden. [external_footer]