Windowsill Herb Garden

By Robin Sweetser

Do you enjoy using freshly snipped herbs from the garden as much as I do? Now that summer is winding down it is time to think about bringing some of our favorites indoors.

Everyone has some herbs they can’t do without. I’m a big fan of basil, rosemary, and oregano. What do you use the most? Here are seven herbs that will grow well on your sunniest windowsill or under lights:

  • Greek oregano is a perennial best propagated by root division. If you have an established plant just separate off a chunk and pot it up to bring indoors. New plants can be started from seed but may take a few months to reach a harvestable size.
  • Basil is an annual so it is best to start new plants from seed or take cuttings from an established plant – they will root in water. Small-leaved varieties like dwarf Greek basil or ‘Finissimo Verde’ are best for windowsill culture but I still grow a pot of ‘Genovese’ and keep the size down by cutting it often.
  • Thymes such as caraway, lemon, narrow-leaved French, and English garden thyme are all good culinary types. They are perennials (though some may not be hardy where you live) and new plants can be divided from the parent plant.
  • Parsley is a biennial plant, which means that it goes to seed its second season. If you pot up an existing plant, use a deep container to avoid injuring the tap root. New plants can be started from seed.
  • Sage is a perennial and can be grown from a softwood cutting or by division. If you want a more decorative plant than ordinary garden sage, try a tri-colored or golden one. Their flavor is not as pronounced but they grow better indoors.
  • Rosemary is a tender perennial where I live so I have been growing it in a pot outdoors so I can bring it in when the weather cools down. If you have an established plant outside you can take cuttings. Rosemary can be fussy. It will need bright light, a cool location, lots of air circulation, and frequent misting but the extra pampering is worth the effort, especially if it rewards you with its delicate blue blossoms.
  • Cilantro is best started from seed but it grows fast. Use it before it flowers for the best flavor. Keep starting new plants from seed as needed.

Cut back any plants that you are digging up to bring indoors. They will suffer a bit of shock and may take a while to adjust and start to regrow. Be sure to use a large enough pot to accommodate the rootball and remove as much of the old soil as possible to get rid of any insects or their eggs. Isolate them from your other houseplants for a few weeks and spray them every 3-7 days with a soapy water solution to kill off any hitchhiking pests. To encourage new growth, begin fertilizing the plants once you move them to your sunny windowsill.

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