Herbs To Grow Indoors During Winter
For those of us who live in cold weather climates, we don’t have the same advantages when it comes to our fair weather friends in sunnier environments. We must deal with sleet, snow, clouds, painstaking cold, blizzards, polar vortexes and I wouldn’t change it for the world. However, I wish I could grow more wonderful varieties of plants and herbs in my home.
My lack of outdoor geniality only makes the cause more creative, as I investigate which plants and which herbs are the best to grow indoors, especially during the winter season. We too, want to enjoy the benefits of freshly grown herbs and spices, add some color and spice to my soup du jour and feel like my meals are home grown.
For my climate challenged friends, here is a list of the top 5 herbs that you should be growing indoors during the long winter season.
A Few Tips…
First thing’s first, you still need some sun when growing herbs in the winter. So find a window that is south or southwest facing—you may try your luck with east or west facing windows, however, the north siders just won’t get the job done. If you are stuck with a northern exposure, go ahead and buy some grow lights. They are a wonderful solution to your lack of sun needs and aren’t just used by folks in Humboldt County if you know what I mean.
You’ll also need to get pots with good drainage. If you live in an apartment or home that gets dry during the winter, especially furnace or radiator heat, try a glazed or plastic container as they won’t dry out that quick. Mist them weekly to give them some humidity, and make sure your pots have drainage holes. Also, use a premium potting mix!
Indoor herbs will do great at room temperature, around 65-70 degrees Fahrenheit, so as long as you are comfortable, they are likely to be just as nice. Make sure the plants don’t touch the cold glass as it can ruin all your hard work.
Some Great Indoor Herbs for Winter
Chives are a great indoor option, especially those of us who love to cook. They add spice and everything nice to dishes and can be used medicinally for colds. First signs of sickness, make a chive and ginger broth and drink liberally. It will kick out your bug and help activate your immune system.
Chives need sunlight, so if you have a south facing window, this will be best. If there are no south facing window options, chives also thrive under fluorescent lights, six to 12 inches above the pot. They like humidity so make sure to spray them once in a while and water them when the soil is dry to the touch.
Marjoram is a perennial herb in the oregano family and can often be confused with oregano in the garden or in the market. Great in soups and stews, Marjoram deserves its own praise, and not just be known as the “milder oregano”. Marjoram needs bright light so make sure you either have a bright window with southern exposure or grow lights.
Marjoram needs only occasional watering with liquid fertilizer. Nothing special needed!
Medicinally Marjoram is another digestive aid—2-4 cups of Marjoram tea will help digestion by increasing digestive enzymes and saliva, calms the stomach, improves appetite, relieves nausea, eliminates flatulence, soothes cramps and spasms, and more.
If you don’t want to give up Mojitos for the winter, don’t despair. You can easily grow mint indoors during the winter months. This easy to grow herb is perfect for indoor growing and will overtake your house if you want it. When choosing a place for your invasive mint, find an area where it will receive full sun, and if you don’t have any access to full sun try buying some grow lights.
Use a large and deep pot so your mint can sprawl out and have plenty of room to chill with at least one drainage hole in the bottom. Mint is sensitive to soggy environments so make sure it won’t get wet “feet”. Plastic, wood, metal and terra cotta pots will work great. Keep the soil consistently moist and touch the soil in order to determine when it needs its next watering.
You should fertilize your mint about twice per month with a water-soluble fertilizer. If you begin to notice white deposits on top of the soil it may be due to build up of salts from the water and fertilizer. If this happens, flush the salt out by moving the container outdoors or to a sink and running 8-10 gallons of water through the soil.
Mint isn’t only great for mojitos, but it’s also a great medicinal and often used in Chinese medicine as well as other medical modalities. Use it to treat indigestion, nausea, headaches and cramps in a brewed tea. Peppermint has been shown to restore the functions of the stomach, promote digestion, stop vomiting and cure the hiccups.
Your hippie friend’s favorite spirit mister, Sage has been used for ages in different populations and cultures for a variety of uses. Native to the Mediterranean region, it is considered to have multiple healing properties and is helpful in aiding with digestion of fatty meats and was a part of the Ancient Roman Pharmacopeia. Many people use Sage to “smudge” an area, to create a sacred space, a spiritual cleansing or just get rid of annoying spirits that are haunting your house (do I watch too many ghost hunting shows?).
Sage is another herb that needs a lot of sun every day, around 6-8 hours. A sunny window will be fine or of course, grow lights. Keep the plants in a warm area, away from drafts. Provide it enough humidity by misting the plant and keeping it near other herbs in containers as they help each other create a humid environment.
A classic herb with a wonderful aroma, rosemary is a great option for your indoor herb garden. Drought-tolerant, this herb thrives in bright and sunny windowsills. Bright morning sun is the perfect place to grow your rosemary, or if you don’t have a lot of natural sun in your home, you can use grow lights. Rosemary will more likely be killed by overwatering than underwatering, so chill out and leave it alone.
Medicinally, rosemary has been shown to improve memory, relieve muscle pain and spasms, stimulate hair growth and support the circulatory and nervous systems. Its common use is for indigestion, and when applied topically via essential oils can be used to treat muscle pain and arthritis. You can read my post on lavender which explains how to turn a herb into an essential oil.
Living in winter climates doesn’t mean we are doomed to gross, dry and tasteless herbs and vegetables. We can also enjoy the benefits of growing our own food, and quite easily for that matter. Don’t be deterred if you don’t have south facing windows, and spend the extra $30 dollars or so and invest in some grow lights. These will transform your home and allow you to have a tropical indoor environment!