University of Maryland Extension

Herbs in Containers and Growing Indoors

herbs growing in containers
Herbs growing in containers on a deck

Herbs in Containers

Growing herbs in containers is the perfect solution for the gardener with little space or time to devote to a larger garden. Many herbs are suited to be grown in this manner. Well-draining containers and potting mixture is the key to success. You can make your container garden as simple or as artistic as you like. 

Growing herbs in containers is very similar to growing vegetables in containers. However, the recommended potting media is a commercial soilless mix that drains well and is lightweight. For detailed information see our information on Container Gardening  

Indoor Herb Gardening

Herbs also can be grown indoors for year-round enjoyment. But, growing herbs indoors can be slightly more challenging than growing them outdoors. Indoor plants will need essentially the same conditions as herbs grown outdoors – sunlight (or supplemental fluorescent lights) and a well-drained soil that is not too rich.

Select a south or west window where they will get at least five hours of sun a day. Different herbs have different light requirements but most need a sunny location; in winter, 'grow lights’ or fluorescent lights set to shine 14 to 16 hours a day are necessary to supplement the light the plants receive.

When planting, mix two-parts soilless potting mixture and one-part perlite. Containers need to have adequate drainage holes.

Water regularly and thoroughly with room-temperature water.  Bay, marjoram, oregano, sage, and thyme need to dry out between watering. But, be careful not to overwater any of the containers. Mist indoor herb plants daily or group the plants on a tray of moistened pebbles to increase the humidity around the plants.

Some tender herbs—rosemary, bay, lemon verbena, oregano, marjoram, and scented geraniums do not always survive our Maryland winters (especially in Western Maryland) and can be overwintered indoors. Water them less frequently in cooler weather.

Keep them away from drafts, drying heat vents, and avoid temperature extremes.

Annual herbs like basil can be grown indoors year-round. Perennial herbs, however, will do better if they are moved outdoors during the summer.

To prevent plant damage, bring herbs indoors before a frost. Mint, chives, and tarragon being grown in containers benefit from a light frost before being moved indoors; it tends to induce a rest period and the resulting new growth is firm and fresh.

You can maintain an indoor herb garden by periodic light fertilizing, yearly repotting, replanting of annual herbs, seasonal moves outdoors for perennial herbs, and occasional pruning.

Also see overwintering herbs

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