Herbs are grown to add flavor and interest to food, as well as for their medicinal value. Those chosen for indoor growing, have also been selected for their culinary and visual appeal. As sun-lovers, they will do best on a bright windowsill — ideally in the kitchen so that they are handy when needed — or perhaps in a well-lit living room or sunroom.
Individual pots may be grouped together to maintain humidity (important for soft-leaved herbs, such as basil), or planted in groups in larger containers. The herbs listed all have similar cultivation requirements.
A slow-growing, woody plant, which originally comes from the Mediterranean, bay may grow to a 30 ft. (9 m) tree, but often stays short and stubby.
It responds well to clipping to shape and grows well in a tub. The aromatic, oval leaves are a glossy midgreen and clusters of small yellow flowers often appear in spring.
Originally from southern and central Europe, many varieties of spearmint or garden mint can be grown indoors. Try also peppermint, M. x piperata, or apple mint, M. suaveolens, which has a pale green and cream variegated form.
Outdoors, these hardy perennials grow up to 2 ft. (60 cm) high arid become invasive. Indoor plants will quickly fill a small pot, so prepare new plants by rooting cuttings.
Originally from India, basil grows to about 20 in. (50 cm) high and has bright green, soft leaves and spikes of small white or purple-tinged flowers in summer — prick these out to encourage a bushier plant. O.b. ‘Dark Opal’ is purple-leaved.
A hardy biennial, parsley should be treated as an annual indoors to maintain a fresh supply of its crinkled, fresh, green leaves. In its second year, it produces a tall flowering stem up to 3 ft. (90 cm) high.
A twiggy, upright shrub, lemon thyme forms a compact cushion of masses of oval leaves and pale purple flowers up to 30cm (12in) high. When crushed, the leaves give off a sharp lemon scent and have a warming flavor.
Size: Given under individual species.
Light: At least six hours of direct sunlight every day.
Temperature: Warm room; 60—70°F (15—21°C).
Moisture: Keep moist at all times.
Feeding: Use standard liquid fertilizer every two weeks in spring, once a month in summer.
Propagation: Sow basil and parsley; take cuttings of bay and mint; sow, divide roots, or layer thyme.
Special needs: Basil arid thyme enjoy lots of direct sunlight, while chives and parsley like a bright position but a cooler atmosphere of about 60°F (15°C). Mint does not like hot sun at noon, and needs cool, moist soil. Turn the plants daily indoors to prevent them from becoming one-sided. These herbs enjoy fresh air, but should be kept out of drafts.