Growing herbs indoors
Well, it’s December and the outdoor planting season is, essentially, over for the year but that doesn’t mean that you can’t still indulge your green thumb. If you can’t plant anything outside, you can still plant and grow something worthwhile inside — herbs.
People living in the rest of the country often try to grow herbs in a pot on the windowsill and while you can certainly try this system in a south or southwest-facing window, winter light alone can be insufficient for optimum growth and our heat and the intense sun may create scorching issues in the summer.
Another choice is using a system of grow lights. Specialized, full-spectrum, T5 fluorescent bulbs give your plants the light they need without throwing off a lot of heat. Position the lights 3-4 inches away from your herbs and keep them on for 14-16 hours a day. These lights can be set up in your kitchen, garage or in a closet on trays or on shelves.
Some of the herbs that will grow well in an indoor setting are: basil, chives, dill, marjoram, oregano, parsley and sage. Obviously, these are all culinary herbs so, if you plant them, not only will you have something lovely and green to look at but your cooking will benefit as well.
While all herbs need well-drained soil and good air circulation, Basil needs full sun and daytime temperatures around 70°F with nighttime temps around 60°F but can tolerate temperatures as low as 50°F degrees. Water whenever the soil surface begins to dry out and harvest your basil by pinching off growing tips.
Oregano, marjoram, sage and chives also need daytime temperatures around 70°F and nighttime temps around 60°F but can tolerate temperatures as low as 40°F. They all need full sun. Majoram, sage and basil can be watered when they’re a little on the dry side but chives need a bit more water. Harvest the first three by cutting them back frequently, while chives should be harvested by cutting individual leaves down to one inch from the soil in the pot.
Parsley is a bit different from the others. It needs full or partial sun and the soil should be kept uniformly moist (but not wet). It can grow well in temperatures that range from 60° to 65°F with occasional lows in the 40s. You should harvest parsley by cutting only the outer leaves so that the center can create new growth.
Dill grows well in daytime temperatures around 60°F and nighttime temps around 50°F but can tolerate temperatures as low as 40°F. Dill needs full sun and should be watered whenever the soil surface begins to dry out. Harvest dill by cutting off the lower leaves once the plant reaches about 12 inches tall.
Have other gardening questions? You can email or call the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension’s Master Gardener Help Desk at 702-257-5555 Monday-Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Pat Warren is a certified Master Gardener with Cooperative Extension. She started her training because of the frustration she felt trying to get something, anything, to grow in Nevada.