How to Make the Best Soilless Potting Mix for African Violets

How to Make the Best Soilless Potting Mix for African Violets

best soilless potting mix for African VioletsWhy Use Soilless Potting Mix for African Violets?

You may well ask why you should use a soilless potting mixture for African violets. It is favoured over soil for the following reasons:

  1. It is challenging to find good topsoil that has no contamination and also has a good supply of all the necessary nutrients.
  2. Topsoil, once taken from the garden, does not retain its drainage because it is no longer part of the ground drainage system. Once it is in a pot, it packs and becomes water-logged.
  3. The most significant advantage of a soilless potting mix is its uniformity and your ability to predict how fertiliser will react.
  4. The components of a soilless potting mix are usually sterilised, and the mix doesn’t have to be pasteurised (a very smelly, messy business) to eliminate any bugs which abound in garden soil and are harmful to African violets.
  5. Soilless components are abundant and easy to find locally in small quantities.

What to look for in a Soilless Potting Mix for African Violets

Your African violets depend upon you to provide them with a satisfactory environment in which to grow. There are numerous variations in potting mixtures which have been used successfully in growing African violets, but all these mixes have the following characteristics:

  • Must be light, porous and drain well
  • Does not compact easily
  • holds moisture and soluble plant nutrients
  • provides organic matter for soil bacteria to feed on
  • have slow release plant nutrients
  • does not require sterilization or pasteurization
  • plant roots can penetrate mix easily
  • have a pH between 6.4 to 6.9

The essential characteristic of potting mix is good drainage. It is too late to correct drainage after a plant is potted. Lack of proper drainage is probably the most common reason for poor root growth, root and stem rot, slow leaf growth, and little or no flowering. If your mix doesn’t drain well and isn’t porous, there will be few spaces between particles of the blend for water and air. If spaces fill with water, the mix becomes water-logged and not enough air is supplied to the roots. The plant will begin to die if this condition is not soon corrected. When the mix dries out, spaces fill with air, and the plant lacks water to dissolve and transport soluble nutrients throughout its structure.

how to make soilless potting mix

The Best Soilless Potting Mix for African Violets

A basic soilless potting mix formula (1-1-1) is one part each of sphagnum peat moss, horticultural vermiculite, and perlite. Another popular mix is (3- 2-1) and there are many more.

Peat moss is recommended because it is coarse, an excellent source of organic matter, decomposes slowly, serves as a reservoir for both water and nutrients, and resists compaction.

Vermiculite and perlite are both coarse, bulky materials that resist compaction and keep the mix loose and well aerated. Vermiculite provides water and nutrient holding capacity and has a high buffering capacity which slows changes in pH. It also permits higher fertilization rates and contains potassium, calcium, and magnesium. Its scaly structure is more easily broken in handling. This can cause compaction and waterlogging.

Perlite doesn’t break up easily but has little capacity to hold nutrients or to buffer pH and has no nutrient value. Perlite is better for aeration. Both vermiculite and perlite are manufactured by heat processes which sterilize them, and they are available in sealed packages that keep them sterile.

Sphagnum peat moss is superior to other types of peat moss which are too fine, compact easily, and get soggy quickly. It is dry, sterile, and packaged to prevent contamination. Peat moss is the mix component which generally contributes most to acidity and has pH varying from 3.5 to 5.5.

Peat moss should be thoroughly wet before being added to the potting mix. This may take several days. If this is not done correctly before potting, the peat moss will be too dry. It is nearly impossible to add enough water to keep it moist and function properly once combined in the potting mix.

When a plant is potted in a mix with peat moss which has not been properly moistened, too much water passes rapidly through the mix and out the bottom of the pot without doing the plant any good. The mix is as dry after watering the plant as before, and the value of fertilizer in the water will be reduced.

To induce peat moss to absorb water, use a neutral wetting agent (surfactant) such as Aqua Soak at a rate of 2 Tbsp. per gallon of hot water. Aqua Soak is neutral (pH 7.0) and is not harmful to plants. Peat moss is placed in a container, Aqua Soak in solution added and peat moss stirred to expedite uptake of water. This process of wetting takes several days and should be completed before peat moss is used in a potting mixture.

If possible test the pH of the sphagnum peat moss before using. This will indicate how much calcium (lime) may have to be added to the potting mixture to raise the pH to between 6.4 and 6.9. Calcium should be in soluble form and finely ground. The finer it is, the better and is quick acting. Use dolomite lime which has magnesium in addition to calcium. Ground limestone (agricultural grade for lawn and gardens) is finely ground and disperses well throughout the mix. Whiting (used in whitewash), and coarse ground eggshells (slow acting) are some examples of calcium.

If the peat moss is too acid — say pH 3.5 – it is challenging to raise the pH to 6.5. Try a different source of peat moss that is not so acid. It took 1 Tbsp. of ground limestone (pH 8.8) to raise 1 cup of peat moss (pH 4.8) to pH 6.3. This reaction was tested with an electronic meter about 15 minutes after being mixed. If this mix with ground limestone added had been allowed to stand for 24 hours before checking, the results would have been better. The pH meter only measures free ions available in solution thus more time would allow the release of more calcium ions to neutralize the acid peat moss ions.

It is recommended a potting mix be allowed to stand for one week before testing and using as more accurate results would be obtained. Usually, one teaspoon of ground limestone per pint of mix should raise the pH to 6.4 to 6.9 if the peat moss is not too acid. Maximum lime should not exceed 1 Tbsp. per gallon of mix, as too much calcium is undesirable.

Use 2 cups of mix (1 pint) when adding lime, to see how much is needed starting with 1/2 teaspoon added to mix when testing for pH. Keep a record of the pH for each increment of lime added thus you can determine how much total lime is needed to raise the pH to the desired level for 1 pint of mix. Then measure the quantity of mix to be treated and figure how much lime has to be added to raise pH to the desired level.

I use Black Magic Potting Mix (pH 6.4) and also Mica Peat (pH 6.2) as the peat moss component in my mix since it requires less lime (calcium) to raise pH to 6.8. Thus a 1-1-1 potting mixture of Black Magic, vermiculite, and perlite would have a pH of about 6.4 without adding any lime.

Charcoal is neutral (pH 7.0) and is added to the mix to neutralize acidity developed later from fertilizer used in watering African violets. To keep the mix from becoming more acid as the peat moss decomposes, water plants twice a month with 1 Tbsp. of dolomite lime per gallon of warm water in place of regular watering. If one tablespoon of dolomite lime is added to the above 1-1-1 potting mixture plus three tablespoons of granular, not powdered, charcoal (when one mix unit is one quart of each component) the pH will be about 6.8.

When you use various components in your potting mixture keep in mind what the component pHs will do to the overall mix pH. Here is a guideline to use but the pH of a material may vary:

  • Black Magic (6.4)
  • Mica Peat (6.2)
  • Redi Earth (4.4)
  • Daisy Prep (4.9)
  • Coles (6.4)
  • Envee (6.8)
  • Algit (Norwegian Seaweed 5.0)
  • Raw Bonemeal (6.8)
  • crushed or ground eggshells (8.6)
  • Greensand (potash 3.1)
  • Dolomite Lime (8.8)
  • Ground limestone (8.8)

Rock Phosphate (9.1) is not recommended as it may cause fluoride toxicity and damage your plants. A good starter mix for African violet leaves or small plantlets is 1 c. Vermiculite, 1 c. Perlite, 2 Tbsp. Charcoal and 1 Tbsp. Dolomite lime.

Emory Bronner’s potting mix is: one 4 qt. bag Black Magic African violet potting mix, one 4 qt. bag Envee African Violet potting soil, 2c. fine charcoal, 1c. bone meal, 1c. dolomite lime, 1c. ground eggshells, 2c. Perlite.

My potting mix is: 3 qts. Black Magic AV Potting Soil (pH 6.4), 2 qts. Mica Peat (pH 6.2), 1 qt. Vermiculite (medium, pH 7), 1 qt. perlite (pH 7) 1/2 cups charcoal (pH 7) 1 cup ground eggshells (pH 8.6), 2 Tbsp. raw bonemeal (pH 6.8), 1 Tbsp. greensand (potash – pH 3.1), 1 Tbsp. Algit (Norwegian Seaweed pH 5.0), 1/8 tsp. FTE (Fritted Trace Elements). The overall pH of my mix is 6.8.

A soilless potting mix can have slow release plant nutrients added to it. These components are raw bonemeal, greensand, Algit, and 3M Precise timed-release AV food 8-11-5. The above can be used in tiny quantities in potting mix in addition to a regular fertilizer program combined with watering. African violets are light feeders – don’t overdo it and spoil or kill your plants.

Keep your potting mix stored in plastic or metal containers which will keep the mix moist and prevent drying out. Most Club potting mix samples received for testing are much too dried out to be satisfactory for potting an African violet. Potting mix must be moist without being overly wet for best results. Beneficial bacteria in the peat moss need moist conditions in which to work and release nutrients or reduce fertilizer nutrient elements to soluble ions for plant use.

A pH testing kit is convenient for a preliminary check of your mix pH and also after lime has been added to raise pH. If the pH should be on alkaline side (above pH 7.2), you can either add more peat moss or finely ground sulphur.

Our Guide to Starting Broccoli Indoors

Our Guide to Starting Broccoli Indoors

Among the many vegetables you can start from seed, consider starting broccoli indoors. You will not only love the delicious taste of fresh, homegrown broccoli but also benefit from its super health-promoting qualities.

For beginners, starting broccoli indoors might sound like a challenging task. However, the whole process is quite manageable and enjoyable when you have the right guidance. This step-by-step guide contains all the information you need to start broccoli indoors.

Best Broccoli Varieties to Start Indoors

Broccoli is from the family Brassica oleracea
Broccoli is from the family Brassica oleracea

As a brassica, broccoli is a member of the cabbage plant family. A few of the broccoli varieties for indoor starting include Waltham 29, Green Goliath, Calabrese, and Di Cicco. Notably, different broccoli varieties require varying lengths of time to grow. Starting broccoli indoors can be super fun, especially if you have kids around.

How to Start Broccoli Indoors

STEP ONE: SOW YOUR SEEDS

Prepare your pot

For convenience, start your broccoli in pots that can accommodate your plants right from sowing to transplanting.

Your pot (or any other container like disposable cups) should measure three inches in depth to allow ample room for root growth. Punch holes in the bottom of your pot for easy drainage. Remember, allowing water to collect around the roots will ultimately kill the plants.

If you opt to reuse old pots, remember to clean and rinse them using a mixture of water and bleach. This will help to kill any disease-carrying organisms.

Prepare a soilless potting mix

A soilless potting mix is weed-free. It promotes fast growth due to its fluffy and light texture. Put the mix in a container, and add water to make the mix damp (not soggy).

Transfer the mix into your pot, filling it to 1.25 cm (half an inch) from the top. Gently tap the pot to firm your mix.

Make a furrow using a pencil

In each make pot, the furrow should measure half an inch deep and an inch long. Sow between four and five seeds in each furrow.

Cover the seeds with the remaining mix and gently press down.

Label each pot with the sowing date and broccoli variety sowed in it.

Arrange your pots in a tray

Cover your pots loosely using a transparent plastic wrap. Covering helps retain moisture. Place the tray of pots in a warm location to promote fast germination.

STEP TWO: EXPOSE THE SEEDLINGS TO BRIGHT LIGHT

Broccoli Starr 070906-8900
The moment you spot green leaves sprouting from the pots, uncover the tray by removing the plastic wrap. Expose the seedlings to a source of bright light. Adequate light makes the seedlings strong. Note that the first leaves will start forming between four and eight days after planting.

If you live in a sunny climate, place your tray on a windowsill facing the south. Give the tray a quarter-turn each day for even light exposure.

In darker climates expose your seedlings to an LED grow light. Optimal exposure lasts fourteen hours daily.

STEP THREE: CARE FOR YOUR SEEDLINGS

Avoid exposing your seedlings to high temperatures as too much heat makes them lush and soft. Therefore, a relatively cool daytime environment (between 60-65oF or 15.5-18oC) is recommended. At night, the temperature should be reduced by 10oF. You may opt to rely on ventilation systems. However, you must block any cold drafts from hitting the seedlings.

When watering, do it gently to avoid root disturbance. Use a watering can that provide thin streams. Alternatively, you can rest the pots in a tray with water, so it soaks into the pot from the drainage holes below.

Introduce a 5-10-5 liquid fertiliser once every week. The fertiliser must be diluted to half its strength.

Gradually thin your seedling. To do this, use a small pair of scissors to remove weaker seedlings. Ensure when the plants are almost 5 cm (two inches) tall, there is only one seedling remaining in each pot.

STEP FOUR: HARDEN YOUR SEEDLINGS

Brokolice 1
If you suddenly relocate your seedlings from their cosy indoor settings to harsh outdoor conditions, you will shock to your young broccoli seedlings. This will decrease your final yield and slow down the seedlings growth. Therefore, when you harden off your plants, you force them to toughen up to survive and grow under the bright sun, chilly wind, and cooler temperatures of your early-spring garden.

Hardening off means you stop applying fertiliser two weeks before you transplant your seedlings. Water after a day or two to discourage wilting.

A week before the hardening process, your seedlings should be in a cold and well-ventilated frame. The seedlings should be shaded to protect them from the scorching effect of the afternoon sun. At night, cover them from frost, or bring them indoors.

Gradually increase the amount of cold and heat (sunlight) to which you expose the seedlings every day. Water the seedlings only when the soil surface starts feeling dry. When your seedlings have grown 10-15 cm (4-6 inches) tall, they can are ready to be transplanted to the garden.

12 Best Edible Plants to Grow Indoors

12 Best Edible Plants to Grow Indoors

Changes in seasonal weather conditions affect how you grow your plants. This is especially the case with edible plants. However, growing plants indoors allows you to cultivate your favourite seasonal vegetables year-round without worrying about unfavourable conditions that could destroy your plants. While the list of plants for indoors can be long, we have narrowed down our search to edibles only. This will not only ensure you cut down on food waste but will also give you year-long access to your favourite fresh-from-the-garden vegetables.

Whether you are a farmer or a semi-experienced gardener with little or no indoor cultivation experience, you will see how easy these plants are to maintain. From aromatic scallions to zesty peppers, read on to discover our top picks for the best plants for indoors.

A Few Tips for Growing Edible Plants Indoors

  • Be sure your plants have good drainage. You can pile stones at the bottom of your pots before adding your soil mix, or use pots with holes.
  • Prepare or purchase a potting soil mix appropriate for indoor edible plant cultivation.
  • Provide your plants with the right amount of exposure to light. LED grow lights are a reliable alternative to natural sunlight. These artificial lights are preferred since they provide optimal temperature and light for your plants regardless of the indoor or outdoor weather conditions. This article has a great round-up of grow lights available on the market and how to choose the best one for your growing situation.
  • If you need more tips for starting seeds indoors check out our full article on the topic.

1. Tomatoes

grow tomatoes indoors

Tomatoes are among the best plants to grow indoors. These should be placed in the sunniest or brightest part of your indoor garden. Sow the seeds deep within the soil mix in the seed tray. Transplant the seedlings into a larger pot the moment they develop their first four true leaves. You may grow your plants upside down if you do not want to stake them. Remember to pinch the small branch tips so as to induce flowering. You may also need to provide additional artificial lighting to boost growth and productivity. It is worth noting cherry tomatoes yield better under indoor conditions than larger tomato varieties.

2. Radishes

grow radishes indoors

Among the top plants for indoors, growing radishes indoors is easy and rewarding, especially during winter. Within 25 days, the radishes will have developed into table-worthy tubers with a steady weekly back to back batch supply. They have a slightly spicy flavour that complements winter dishes.

Radish seeds need to be sowed 5” deep in your potting mix. Cover with plastic foil until the seedlings sprout. When the cotyledons appear, you can move your plants to a spot where they can access light. Thin the plants when they develop between three and five true leaves.

3. Bell Peppers

grow peppers indoors

Bell peppers perform well under adequate lighting conditions. Their yields increase if they are cultivated in a rich potting mix with sufficient drainage. Trigger bushy growth can by pinching the growing tips. This later translates into good fruit sets.

4. Peas and Beans

grow peas indoors

Consider cultivating peas and beans if your indoor conditions have ample light. The pod yield will be good if you plant bush beans which do not require any staking or support. Harvesting peas and beans is considerably easy.

5. Potatoes

grow potatoes indoors

Growing potatoes indoors requires large plastic bags. The bags must be filled with the right potting mix before you can plant your potatoes in them. Ensure your plants get a minimum of 5 hours of exposure to light each day for satisfactory yields. Baby spuds from your plants can be cooked as you anticipate tuber maturation.

You will need to plant several plants if you want to harvest enough for a dish. Choose potato varieties known for high yields.

6. Carrots

grow carrots indoors

Plant your carrots in deep pots with good drainage and loose soil. In addition to giving you a steady supply of food, the fern-like, feathery greens are delightful interior decorations for your home. Provide 4-5 hours of grow light or sunlight to ensure a good harvest. However, if you compromise the quality and quantity of light, your plant roots will develop for longer.

For indoor cultivation, select round carrot varieties and plant the seeds with considerable distance from each other to allow adequate room for root development. Cooler spots will give you sweet-tasting carrots. Carrots are ready for harvest the moment you see their tops above the potting mix.

7. Spinach

grow spinach indoors

Just like in outdoor cultivation, spinach grown indoors does well under partial shade. Be sure to replicate this shade in indoor cultivation for a continuous leaf supply. Expose your spinach plants to sunlight or a LED grow light setup for a maximum of 4 hours on a daily basis. You should grow spinach in a cool area to avoid bolting.

8. Lettuce

grow lettuce indoors

While many different lettuce varieties do well grown indoors, the loose leaf varieties are our recommendation. All lettuces require optimal exposure to dappled light for 3 to 4 hours. For a continuous harvest, pick only the outer leaves. Lettuce needs to remain moist so be sure to water frequently.

9. Swiss chard

grow chard indoors

Expose your Swiss chard plants to light for 4 to 5 hours a day to develop long rainbow-colored stalks. While indoor cultivation will give you smaller plants, your stir fries and salads will be bold and beautiful with these plants growing through the dark winter. You will also love the colourful ambience they add to your home.

10. Arugula

grow arugula indoors

As a salad green with a sharp taste, Arugula’s yield is better when cultivated indoors. This plant grows more when you cut it, giving you a continuous leaf supply. Avoid warm spots, so this cool-season plant offers an extended harvest with little bolting. Unlike lettuce, arugula doesn’t like to be over-watered.

11. Scallions

grow scallions indoors

Scallions are part of the bunching onions family, grown for their leaves. When cultivated indoors, their greens can be snipped off for use. Scallions can be planted from in-season sets or seeds. You can also use the small scallion bulbs available in shops to develop new plants. Ensure your pot is wide and deep since your onions will grow deep roots as their clump sizes increase quickly. Further, you should be sure to use a potting mix with good drainage. Water your plants frequently for maximum yields.

12. Mushrooms

grow mushrooms indoors

Mushrooms are exciting to grow indoors. Use ready-made kits for simple oyster or button mushroom cultivation. Water the growing medium as instructed and keep your plant in cool and dark conditions for the best development.

Have you learned any indoor growing tips? We would love to know your favourite vegetables to grow indoors. Feel free to share in the comments section below.

6 Tips for Growing Seeds Indoors

6 Tips for Growing Seeds Indoors

After years of year-round growing, I have a wealth of experience on how to starts seeds indoors; I also have sad memories of my initial failed attempts. Over time, I have learned that planting seeds indoors is easy; keeping them alive is a challenge. Equally, growing seeds indoors helps you save money, but you only gain the benefits when the seedlings live and develop into healthy plants.

Starting seeds indoors is a practical approach to getting a jump on your gardening activity early in the season. Planting seeds indoors implies controlled growth conditions, the absence of aggravation from unfavorable weather or weeds, and an early start to the gardening season. Whatever your ultimate goals are, whether it is to grow lettuce during early fall, squash in summer, or onions as winter closes, developing the right skills on how to start seeds indoors is necessary.

A general pointer is to start off small and keep it simple. Every plant has unique requirements in starting its seed. Don’t start with too many different varieties. My favorite seedlings to start indoors for beginners are:

  • Marigold
  • Tomato
  • Nasturtium
  • Coleus
  • Zinnia

Equally, ensure your timing is right. The objective of growing seeds indoors is to transplant the seedlings from indoor pots to outdoor gardens the moment the weather is favorable. With these pointers, you are ready for our 6 tips for growing seeds indoors. Let’s go!

1. Choose the Right Container

20070212 tomato seedlings

Starting seeds does not require special containers. In fact, anything that measures two to three inches deep with drainage holes is appropriate. If you firmly believe in DIY techniques, then you will find paper cups, milk cartons, and yogurt cups perfect for upcycling.

However, individual trays designed for seed starting are highly convenient. These trays are easy to fill, and they ensure consistent moisture due to their watering system. They can also be moved around more easily.

Sow your small seeds into shallow seed trays, bigger seeds in a modular plug tray where each seed has its module, and large seeds into 9cm diameter pots.

2. Prepare your Compost or Potting Soil

Rich compost is perfect for seed starting indoors
Rich compost is perfect for seed starting

Your potting soil will determine your success in planting seeds indoors. It is advisable to use standard and proprietary soil-less or soil-based seed compost when sowing your seeds indoors. The compost should contain few nutrients and be finely milled to minimize seed damage. Fill your container with the compost. Firm gently, level, and water the container accordingly.

Avoid reuse of previous houseplant pots as well as soil from the garden. I recommend a fresh and sterile mix for disease-free and healthy seedlings. Use a tub or a bucket to moisten your potting mix. Avoid making the mix gloppy and sopping wet.

3. Sow Your Seeds

Determine the form of sowing treatment appropriate for your seeds. This could be scarification through nicking or scratching their seed coats, or light exclusion. Each seed packet includes planting instructions.

Scatter-sow small seeds over the compost surface. If your seeds are tiny, you can mix them with sand before scatter-sowing to ensure that they are evenly distributed. Then, sift a compost layer over your seeds.

Station-sow larger seeds by pressing individual seeds into the compost surface while placing them one inch apart in your seed tray. Or, sow each seed in a separate plug if you decide to use a modular plug tray. You can opt to plant two seeds in every plug and discard the weaker seedling upon germination.

Label each tray, water lightly, and cover the compost with plastic domes or wraps. You can also place your tray in a heated propagator designed with a lid. A constant temperature of about 64F (18C) should be maintained unless stated otherwise on the seed packet. Covering and providing heat triggers germination through keeping the seeds moist.

Check to see if your seedlings have emerged on a daily basis. Once germinated, enhance ventilation by removing the propagator lid or plastic wrap. Ensure the compost is moist throughout to promote steady growth before the seedlings are ready for transplanting into bigger pots.

4. Water and Feed your Seedlings

While your seedlings are growing, keep the compost moist with a small watering can. The soil should be allowed to dry before you water again. You may use a fan to promote good air circulation and plant health. If you use grow lights, plug your fan into the same timer. You also need to feed your hungry seedlings with liquid fertilizer regularly. Use mixture ratios suggested on the seed packet.

5. Provide Adequate Light

Seedlings require a lot of light to avoid being weak and leggy. For natural sunlight, southern windows are the best. Remember to rotate your pots regularly, so the plants do not lean into the direction of light. You can also use grow lights which are easily adjustable for sufficient and consistent light. Place the lights a few inches above your seedlings and illuminate for fifteen hours on a daily basis. You should then turn off the lights to give your plants darkness during which they can rest. Raise the grow light higher as the plants grow taller.

6. Transplant your Seedlings Gradually

how to start seeds indoors
transplant your seedlings when the true leaves begin to show

Prick out your seedlings by loosening the compost around the roots. Lift each seedling by individually holding its true leaves. Ensure you retain as much compost on the roots as possible. Use a dibber to prepare a hole for your seedlings in their new compost pots. The seedlings should be transferred into 3.5-inch diameter pots.

Keep watering the plants gently, so you do not damage them. As the plants grow large, try flooding while watering, so the entire compost depth is soaked. Liquid fertilizer should be applied every two weeks to a month, although weekly application is recommended for larger plants.

Encourage branching in thin ornamental seedlings by pinching out their shoot tips. Avoid overly warm and bright conditions to discourage plants from growing leggy.

When the plants are ready following weeks of care, you may proceed to the hardening off stage. A week before their final outdoor planting, nurture your plants in a protected outdoor spot. Expose your plants to gradual sunlight over seven days. Consider hardening your plants off in a cold frame.

Harvest your new crops!
Harvest your new crops!

Things to Watch Out For

  • If your seedlings rot, it could be a sign of overwatering
  • Fertilizer and water shortages trigger plant stress
  • Lack of feed triggers pale, lower leaves
  • drought stress triggers dull foliage

However, if you follow the above tips, chances are you will get healthy and vigorous plants from your seeds.

10 Best Herbs to Grow Indoors and How to Grow Them

10 Best Herbs to Grow Indoors and How to Grow Them

Picture this – beautiful and aromatic mounds of kitchen herbs lining the sills of your sunny windows just waiting to be picked. Would you love to make this a reality? If yes, we are here to offer a helping hand. We will walk you through how to grow herbs indoors and the best herbs to choose for your indoor garden.

With this guide, you can keep a steady supply of fresh herbs in your kitchen throughout the year. What’s more, we’ll provide tips on planting herbs indoors to ensure you understand which herb varieties thrive on your window sill or under your indoor grow lights.

For the best results, we suggest you plant each herb variety in its own pot for customized care and ample room for growth. The following are our picks for the best herbs to grow indoors.

1. Lemongrass

grow lemongrass indoors

Technically, you don’t even have to plant lemongrass as it doesn’t require potting mix, making this herb incredibly easy to cultivate indoors. Simply identify a stalk with plenty of stem at your local market. Ensure your stalk of choice has an intact base. You need to trim its top before you dip it into a couple of inches of water. The stalk will develop roots and subsequently give you dozens of new lemongrass shoots.

2. Chives

grow chives indoors

Chives are among the best herbs to grow indoors as they don’t require a lot of light to thrive. You will ultimately love this herb’s prolific production. For ease of cultivation, start your chives from a mature plant. Just pull up a bunch of chives with their roots from an already-established plant and start them in a half-full pot. Ensure you cover the roots with rich organic soil to the crowns. To stimulate growth, cut off about a third of the upper part of your plant.

3. Mint

grow mint indoors

Peppermint and spearmint grow like weeds. In fact, they are highly invasive and tend to choke out other plants, making them perfect candidates for a container garden. We recommend you settle for peppermint if you do not have a lot of cultivation space. Start your mint plant with seeds as opposed to the leaf or root cuttings. Plant your seeds directly into a small pot full of moist potting soil. While mint thrives well in the shade, ensure your plant is exposed to moderate light on a daily basis. Keep your mint well away from your other herb pots, or you may find an invader in your indoor garden.

4. Parsley

grow parsley indoors

As a commonly used and easy herb to cultivate indoors, parsley takes a prime spot in our guide to planting herbs indoors. You should note parsley seeds are difficult to germinate and you might need to give them up to two weeks for noticeable results. This is compensated with the ease of maintenance once they germinate. Parsley requires moderate light to thrive. Due to its slow growth rate, initial clippings might not give you the desired harvest. While the plant might require frequent watering, you should ensure the soil surface is dry before watering again to avoid wilting. Also, use rich organic soil for the best results.

5. Oregano

grow oregano indoors

While there are many different types of oregano, the Greek variety is the best for indoor cultivation. However, all varieties thrive well when exposed to light for six to eight hours. Consider artificial lighting or placement near your southwest window for moderate illumination. Water the plants the moment the soil surface dries. The soil should never dry out completely.

6. Thyme

grow thyme indoors

Just like oregano, thyme thrives when exposed to light for six to eight hours on a daily basis. When extra light is provided, the results are even better. Replace regular thyme with lemon for an unusual citrus-like flavour that is great in seafood dishes.

Cultivate your thyme in a fast-draining potting mix and place your pot in a warm and bright location. Water the plants the only when the soil surface dries, but be keen to avoid wilting.

7. Rosemary

grow rosemary indoors

If you are planting herbs indoors, do not rosemary. You do not have to worry about watering it very often or getting a rich potting mix. It comes in numerous varieties; while some develop as creeping plants, others are bush-like. We recommend upright varieties such as Blue Spire or Tuscan Blue which are known to retain their compact nature making them appropriate for indoor cultivation.

You must provide strong light in winter so your plants can do well under cool temperate ranges (between 40 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit). However, the plant can tolerate the hot, sunny, and dry weather during summer.

8. Chervil

grow chervil indoors

You will need chervil to prepare your traditional blend of fines herbes. Chervil is known for its anise-parsley flavour. Start your chervil seeds in a moist potting mix. Ensure you use deep pots to enable the development of the plant’s taproot system. Upon sprouting, provide cool temperature conditions between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit with moderate light. For a continuous supply, replant chervil every few weeks.

9. Basil

grow basil indoors

Planting basil indoors can be rewarding, particularly if you choose the African Blue or Spicy Globe varieties. African Blue does not yield wide and bright-green leaves like traditional basil but has bluish-purple stalks and narrower leaves, similar to a Thai basil.

Basil loves bright light and heat. Therefore, indoor grow lights, or a western or southern window will enhance its growth. Avoid drafty and cool spots during winter. Since basil is not a long term herb, you can only use and keep it for a few weeks before the stems grow woody. Planting new seed batches every few weeks can ensure you have a steady basil herb supply.

10. Bay Laurel

grow bay indoors

Bay Laurel is a Mediterranean shrub with thick flavoured leaves that are an essential stew and soup ingredient. For the strongest flavour, pick the oldest leaves from your plants. This herb grows well when planted in a fast-draining potting mix. Expose your plants to moderate to strong light daily. Ensure the plants have good air circulation which is essential to keeping them healthy and disease-free. Use neem oil to prevent disease outbreaks.

Enjoy planting your favourite herbs from our list indoors all year round. If you have to purchase herbs to cultivate indoors, ensure you get those that have previously been grown indoors. Plant each herb in its own pot. Remember to use a rich organic potting mix with good drainage. Planting herbs indoors has never been this easy and enjoyable. Try it out today!