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Since ancient times, herbs have been appreciated and used not only for their medicinal value, but also for their many uses in the kitchen. They’re popular ingredients in healthy concoctions and fresh, delicious salads.
While many people consider growing their own herbs at home, most don’t go through with it due to lack of space. However, the good news is that you don’t need an outdoor garden or lots of space to start growing herbs. In fact, you can grow your favorite herbs indoors or on your balcony quite easily!
In this article, we’ve listed some of the best and easiest herbs to grow indoors or on your balcony. Let’s go ahead and take a look!
Other than its many uses in cuisine as a spice, Mint is also a known herbal remedy for headaches and digestion problems. It also has the ability to act as a natural air freshener in your home with its sweet mint-scented foliage and flowers.
Min can be grown from stem cuttings or through root division. It requires moist, well-draining soil and bright sunlight. Water if the container feels light and the soil is dry to the touch. Use a liquid organic fertilizer every three weeks from mid-spring to late summer.
Thyme (Thymus vulgaris)
Thyme leaves, blooms, and oil are often added to roasted or braised meat and vegetable dishes to elevate their flavor. They hold several antioxidant components and can be used to treat several medical conditions such as hair loss, cough, or bacterial and fungal infections.
Thyme doesn’t like soggy environments, so plant it in a clay pot with drainage holes to prevent waterlogging. For potting soil, mix together some rich soil, sand, peat moss and perlite. Thyme needs at least 6 hours of daylight and should be watered only when the soil is completely dry. Fertilize your thyme every two weeks with a light solvent of liquid seaweed or fish emulsion.
Sage (Salvia officinalis)
While fresh sage leaves are added to many herbal drinks and cocktails, fried and crushed sage are an excellent seasoning for bread, meat marinades, and pastries. Sage can be used to treat diarrhea, stomach pain, loss of appetite, bloating, and even memory loss.
Sage prefers full sun so place it on a sunny window sill or a balcony. If you don’t have a balcony or window-sill that’s exposed to direct sunlight, you can also use a grow light. You can use an average potting mix, but it does require good drainage so you might have to add some coconut coir to the mix to improve it. Like thyme, water sage only when the soil is dry. For fertilizing, add some compost or compost tea now and then.
Chives (Allium schoenoprasum)
Finely chopped or sliced chive is a popular ingredient in omelets, soups, seafood dishes and dips. When ingested medicinally, this herb can expel parasitic worms in humans and it also contains sulfur that can minimize the risk of cancer.
Chives can be grown from seeds or young plants. Plant them in an all-purpose potting mix in the late summer to early fall to get them ready in time for winter. They need at least 4-6 hours of sunlight and they also require some extra watering. Feed the plants with some diluted fish emulsion and compost in the growing season.
Basil (Ocimum basilicum)
Basil is one of the most popular herbs used for various culinary purposes. Some examples include:
- a topping for pizzas, pastas, and even ice cream
- a puree for soups
- an ingredient in sauces, appetizers and salads
- as a garnish for toast
Basil is also used to relieve intestinal gas, fluid retention, kidney conditions, stomach spasms, and head colds.
Grow basil in well-draining and nutrient-rich soil with a pH level of 6.0-7.5. Water it just enough to keep the soil moist, but not too wet as it can lead to root rot. Basil needs at least 6 hours of sunlight in the day and if grown under fluorescent lights, it needs about 10 hours of light for healthy growth. Organic and general houseplant fertilizer is ideal for basil.
Cilantro (Coriandrum sativum)
Cilantro, or coriander, is a commonly found ingredient in many Asian and Mexican kitchens. It also has various health benefits and can even be used to flush out toxic metals from the body. It’s also a good remedy for toothache and measles.
Coriander seeds can be planted in a mixture of potting soil and sand that has good drainage. Use a container made of porous material such as terra cotta for better moisture and aeration. Make sure it gets at least 5 hours of sunlight per day and water whenever the soil is dry. Use a well-balanced chemical formulation or liquid fish emulsion fertilizer to feed the plants.
With its strong aroma and citrusy flavor, lemongrass is especially popular in Asian cuisine. Its woody stalks and leaves are often used as a spice to add fragrance and taste to dishes. Lemongrass also has various health benefits such as reducing the risk of high blood pressure, body ache, vomiting, and convulsions.
Lemongrass can be propagated in water and after developing roots, it can be planted in pots. Place the pots in an area that’s exposed to bright sunlight. Water your lemongrass just enough to keep the soil moist, but not wet. Add some organic mulch and fertilizer with nitrogen in the growing season.
Parsley (petroselinum crispum)
Almost every part of this herb has medicinal components that are useful in treating kidney stones, constipation, bladder infections, and skin conditions. The plant itself is used for garnishing and in various dishes, while the oil that’s made from the seeds is valued for its light and fresh scent.
Plant parsley seeds in a mixture of quality potting soil and sand. Sow them directly on the soil surface and cover them with a soil layer of ¼ inches (6 mm) thick. Your herbs will need enough water, bright light, and fertilizing once every two weeks. You can use a half-strength liquid fertilizer or fish emulsion.
Oregano (Origanum vulgare)
Oregano is an essential ingredient in many cuisines, especially in tomato and olive oil-based Italian dishes. Oregano oil is known to have strong antioxidant properties, natural antibiotics, and anti-inflammatory components.
You can plant your oregano in a container that’s about 6 inches in size. Place the pots in a sunny spot and water them just enough to keep the soil moist. Fertilize every now and then with organic compost or supplemental liquid fertilizer.
Bay Leaf (Laurus nobilis)
Also known as “Bay laurel”, the bay leaf is another classic herb in Italian and French cuisines. The clove-like taste and fragrance of this herb are ideal to cure bad breath and can also be used to treat skin rashes and achy joints.
Plant your bay laurel in a container that’s twice as big as the root ball. Use fertile, well-draining potting mix and water whenever the soil is completely dry. You can grow this herb on your balcony in normal weather conditions, but remember to take it indoors in the winter. Add a balanced organic fertilizer in the spring and summer.
Rosemary (Rosemarinus officinalis)
When added to casseroles, stews, soups, as well as various meat and fish dishes rosemary works as a great seasoning ingredient. You can also combine it with potatoes and mushrooms to make delicious salads.
Rosemary can be used in the prevention of dry scalp and dandruff. It can also improve hair growth.
These herbs need 6-8 hours of bright sunlight per day and thrive well in loamy, well-draining soil types. Make sure to water them to keep the soil moist, but watch out for overwatering. Use liquid fertilizer at the beginning of the growing season and then add compost for additional feeding.
Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla)
Chamomile tea is a popular beverage among many for its herbal value and the essential oils are a commonly used product in cosmetics as well as aromatherapy.
The flowers are used to flavor candies, sweet creams, jams, and ice creams. These herbs can treat insomnia, hemorrhoids, menstrual disorders, and ulcers.
Though chamomile plants prefer direct sunlight they also grow well in partial sunlight. Sow the seeds in rich, organic soil with a neutral pH level of 5.6 – 7.5. Water well to keep the plants cool, but don’t let the pots get waterlogged. Add a fertilizer that’s high in nitrogen and you can also use organic compost during the growing season.
Dill (Anethum graveolens)
Dill leaves and seeds have a unique fresh grass-like scent and a citrus flavor. These herbs have a long history of being used to treat numerous digestive and stomach illnesses.
Plant dill seeds about ¼ to 1/8 inches deep in rich, loose soil. They need full sun throughout the day and water whenever the top inch of soil is dry. In the blooming season, cut back the dried-up flowers to boost flowering. When grown in rich soil, these herbs don’t need any supplemental fertilizing except for an occasional side dressing of compost.
Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis)
The foliage of the lemon balm tree is a great substitute for common lemon peel due to its citrus taste. It’s often added to cookies, sauces, vinegar, seafood, and soups. Lemon balm has a calming and sedative effect, so it’s also sometimes used to reduce anxiety, insomnia, and the growth of viruses and bacteria.
Lemon balm requires a soil pH level of neutral to acidic and place them in a spot that gets direct sun throughout the day. Water regularly and use a light liquid fertilizer to feed them once every few weeks.
Chervil (Anthriscus cerefolium)
Chervil is chopped and used as a garnish in French cuisine. It’s also used in many other baked dishes as a taste enhancer and for making spices. Chervil is also known as a skin freshener and a digestive aid that’s good for eczema and kidney stones.
These plants have long tap roots so you’ll need a big container that’s at least a foot wide and deep. Fill the container with potting soil and add some peat moss to retain the moisture longer. Chervil grows well in indirect sunlight, needs deep watering, and regular fertilizing.
Growing herbs inside your home and on your balcony are one of the most productive ways you can do indoor gardening. Not only will these herbs act as natural air fresheners and decorations to better your indoor living environment, but will also provide you with a fresh supply of herbs and spices.