How to Keep Herbs Alive Indoors

How to Keep Herbs Alive Indoors

Nov 30, 2023Nate Littlewood

We've all been there before. You've picked up a cute little pot of herbs from the store, brought them home, and placed them above the kitchen sink. You've tried to be a good plant parent and tend to their needs, yet weeks later they're looking decidedly.....dead? And just like that, your dreams for fresh pasta topping end up being thrown in the trash. 

In this blog, we're going to provide a few basic pointers intended to help extend the life of your indoor garden. Let's revive that vision you have of a fresh green garnish, and dive right in.

Water Your Herbs to Keep Them Alive

We all know how important water is to keep your plants - including herbs - alive. How to water your plants depends on many factors, including where you plant them. . Here are some tips on how to water your herbs indoors to keep them alive:

  • Most tap water is okay for plants unless it has salts that can build up in the soil over time. Just make sure the water you use is room temperature. Nothing too warm or too cold. A good trick for using room temperature water is to always fill up your watering can after using it.
  • How much you water your plant depends on what plant it is. If you’re unsure, research what region your plant is from, and what kind of climate it grows in. If you’re looking for recommendations on specific plants, then check out our eBook
  • When you water your plant depends on what plant it is. Same with #2 tip above, the frequency also depends on the type of plant/herb. In general though, you should at least water your indoor herbs at least two or three times per week. 
  • Avoid overwatering. Having a pot with drainage holes is highly recommended. With too much water, and no room for it to go anywhere, your indoor herbs can literally drown. Roots need oxygen in order to survive. We’ll talk about correct potting in more detail below.
  • Use quality soil for better water retention. Just as much as light, water, and correct potting are important to keeping your herbs alive, quality soil can have a great impact as well.

To learn more about how and when to water your plants - whether they’re planted outdoors or indoors, just click here.

Your Herbs Need Light for Them to Stay Alive

The other important factor to keep your herbs alive indoors is of course light. You have two main options here:

  1. Natural Light. You will need at least 4-6 hours of direct (unobstructed) natural light per day in order to grow edible plants - like herbs! indoors. Depending on your location, the intensity of the sun can more than halve during winter. Not only that, but your days are also going to be shorter.
  2. Grow lights. Whilst they obviously come at an additional cost (unlike the sun, which is free!) grow lights do offer a bunch of benefits. They provide almost infinite flexibility, and they remove (or at least reduce) your dependency on the seasons and natural light. 

If you’d like to learn more about grow lights, we recommend checking out ‘Indoor Gardening Intro blog’. 

Put Herbs in The Right-sized Pot to Keep Them Alive Indoors

Potted herbs in the supermarket may look big and beautiful, but the truth is that most of the time they are overcrowded. Single seedlings in tiny pots don’t sell as well, so producers overstuff pots with seedlings to create a “full” look. If you plan on using these herbs for tomorrow’s salad, this won’t make a difference. But if you’re planning on keeping and growing these herbs for longer, there are a few steps you can take.

1. Herbs need to go into the right-sized pot to keep them alive. Too small of a pot and the roots will get crowded. Too large and the soil might not retain the proper dampness, leading to the herb drying out. If you’re growing indoors it also means wasted space. Pot size recommendations are also available in our eBook (download available above). 

2. Put herbs in the right kind of pot. It’s tempting to go the mason jar route and put herbs in a glass. They just look so pretty! But these Pinterest-worthy jars are not the best environment for growing herbs. Proper pots have drainage holes to prevent the soil from becoming too saturated with water.  Your herbs will probably contract rot root and die after a week or so of being in a mason jar. Even if you can drill holes in the jars, don’t! Use a ceramic or plastic pot with drainage holes or a porous cloth pot instead.

3. Set Up Your Pot With Proper Drainage. In addition to having a pot with sufficient drainage, the type of potting mix you use is also important. If you want to know more about which best potting mix to use for your herbs and veggies, then you can take a look and read this articleA good pot is crucial to the survival of your herbs. Soil composition, water, fertilizer, and light are also important, but if you start with the right pot and drainage, you’re already well on your way.

Hopefully this article has included enough pointers to get you started. If you’re wanting to get some more plant-specific guidance on how to care for various types of indoor edible plants, feel free to download a copy of our eBook via the link below.


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