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Growing herbs indoors without sunlight seems like it should be relatively easy to do. After all, herbs are agreeable plants. Most of the time, when planting them outdoors, all it takes is a sunny location, a pot of soil, and some water. It almost seems a person could simply drop some seeds into a pot, say, “Grow or not, it’s up to you,” and herb seeds would be off and running.
But when plants get moved indoors—and no natural light is available, what then?
Growing herbs indoors, without sunlight, is a whole new game, and the rules change, but the game can still be won. All that’s necessary is for us to understand what the plants will be needing.
Here is what you need to know in order to start growing herbs indoors:
On a humid day, we like to wear clothes that breathe, and let air through to our skin. Herbs are kind of like people in that way. If the place they will be kept is humid, then herbs like for their pot to be made of breathable material. Except, for plants, breathable clothing doesn’t mean cotton. It means a clay or terra cotta pot _without _glaze.
Herbs don’t like standing around in the water. Their roots can rot. So before starting, make sure all planting pots have plenty of drainage holes.
And don’t forget—you will have water leaking out of those drainage holes, so your pots will need drain plates.
Have you ever gone looking for potting soil, and found potting mix? Then wondered why one was a soil and the other a mix? That’s because the mix has added ingredients, intended to make the soil less dense When reading the bag, look for ingredients like perlite, or vermiculite (those words don’t sound like they would lighten anything up, do they?) Herbs that are grown inside don’t like having to push their roots through heavy soil. In fact, they can get pretty grumpy about it and become unhealthy. Buying soil with things mixed in can make things easier.
What to Feed Inside Herbs
Giving herbs too much fertilizer can be worse than none at all. Some fertilizers can build up and leave residue in the soil. A natural fertilizer (like fish and kelp) at half strength once or twice a month is usually sufficient.
Now, for the big question … light.
What Kind of Light Should My Plants Get
Plants need sun.
Well, of course. But what if sun can’t be provided? Then a grow light is best. Herbs are funny little things. They will grow with fluorescent lights because herbs are pretty cooperative. However, you might not be pleased with the result. The plants you put into your food might not taste the way you expect. That’s because the full-spectrum light of the sun—or a grow light—helps the herbs you grow develop their particular flavor and scent.
It’s best, then, to try to give your plants full-spectrum lighting.2
Herbs Known For Being Better Indoor Growers
Alternatively referred to as sweet basil. a favorite on fish, meats, salads and in sauces. a relative of mint.
Relative of garlic and onions, with a much milder flavor. Used in sauces, eggs, sandwiches—anywhere a light onion flavor is desired.
Plant with stiff stalks. often used for tea, in thai cooking, and for aroma therapy.
Used for desserts, drinks, and to aid with medical issues such as indigestion.
Used for sauces and meats. Also known to fight staph infection.
Used often for garnish, but has a soft, peppery flavor that makes it a nice herb to use for flavor.
Used on strong-flavored meats and in sauces.
Used in cooking meats and fish, as well as making sauces.
Used in green salads, spring rolls, potato salads, and curry.
Herbs just require a little extra care when raised inside. If a grow lamp is being used, a bit of an investment will be needed at the beginning. Once things have begun to move along, however, the herbs can thrive as well as they would outside. The beauty and practical uses herbs provide make the initial effort well worth it.
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