A windowsill herb garden is a great way to give you fresh herbs all year round, no matter where you live. Herbs grown inside will not have the same vigor as those grown outside, but with five to six hours of sunlight, a small windowsill herb garden will provide a cheap and convenient source of herbs well worth the trouble. Virtually all herbs can be grown in a windowsill herb garden, but mint, chives, lemon balm and parsley are great choices because they require less light than most herbs. Rosemary, oregano, sage, basil and thyme might produce spindly growth, but, with a little extra effort put into pruning, should do fine.
Things You Will NeedSmall herbs
A window with 5 to 6 daily hours of sun
Step 1Start with small herbs from a garden center. You can also root cuttings from your outdoor herb garden in the fall. Snip a few small pieces from outdoor herbs and place them in a glass of water for about a week until roots appear.
Step 2Plant purchased herbs or rooted herb cuttings in 6-inch clay pots. Plastic pots will also work just fine, but herbs like the good drainage a porous material such as clay provides. Clay also has a classic, charming quality which befits a windowsill herb garden.
Step 3Use good quality soilless potting mix purchased from a garden center. It is also a good idea to mix two parts potting mix with one part sand to aid drainage.
Step 4Place the windowsill herb garden in a south, east or west window. The more light you can give the herbs the better, so if your sunniest window is somewhere other than your kitchen, consider placing the windowsill herb garden in that window anyway. Generally, south windows provide the most light. East and west windows are both good, but east is a little better because morning light is cooler than the blistering afternoon sun.
Step 5Water the windowsill herb garden when the top third of the potting mix feel dry to the touch. Depending on how much sun the herbs receive, this will probably happen every five or six days. You can also use a sharpened dowel to test soil moisture. Stick the dowel into the soil and if it comes out dry, the soil is dry.
Step 6Prune the herbs frequently. Herbs in a windowsill herb garden will occasionally get spindly. This is easily fixed by snipping the herbs back. Just be sure when pruning the herbs to leave several leaves on each stem. Other than that, go ahead and give them a good haircut. You can use the herbs you cut in cooking, or dry them for use later.
Step 7Repot as necessary. If you want to keep your windowsill herb garden going for years, you will either need to repot the herbs into the next size larger pot or start with new herbs. To see if your herbs need repotting, pull the plant out of the pot (don't worry, this isn't harmful). If the roots are tightly wound around the bottom of the rootball, it's time to repot.
Tips & WarningsBasil and parsley start from seed quite well. Start the seeds outside in the spring, summer of early fall and move inside to your windowsill herb garden when they reach about 2 inches tall.
Never use garden soil when potting a windowsill herb garden. Garden soil lacks the necessary nutrients and does not provide adequate drainage.