The Easiest Herbs to Grow Indoors

Having a little herb garden right in your own kitchen provides a convenient way to spice up your home cooking with some fresh flavors.

Many of the herbs used for cooking come from the Mediterranean region, so they are naturally sun worshipers and require a lot of light.

Speaking to Newsweek, Karen Kennedy, the education coordinator for the Herb Society of America (HSA), explained: "Most culinary herbs are plants that prefer full sun. To grow them well inside, they need the brightest light possible for preferably six to eight hours per day.

"This can be a south-facing window that receives direct sunlight or artificial lights (grow lights) for around 12 hours per day," she added.

Houseplant expert and author Lisa Eldred Steinkopf told Newsweek you should not attempt to grow herbs indoors without electric lights. "Unless you have electric light or a south window, herbs won't last too long in your home."

Kennedy also said herbs grown indoors should be in containers with drain holes. They should not be placed near a forced air heat register (which will cause them to dry out too quickly) or too close to a frosty window.

Herbs should be watered when the soil begins to dry. Some prefer to stay moist but not wet, while others like to dry out an inch or so beneath the soil surface, Kennedy added.

5 of the Easiest Herbs to Grow Indoors

Below are five herbs that are easy to grow indoors, with "enough light, a warm space and attention to watering," according to the HSA's Kennedy.

Basil

This annual herb can be grown from seed sown indoors or from plants bought from shops, the U.K.'s Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) advises.

Once the seeds have been sown, cover your pot with a thin layer of vermiculite (a natural mineral mix), water gently before placing the pot into a propagator (a plastic structure with a vented or unvented lid to provide a humid, slightly warm atmosphere). You could also instead cover the pot with a clear plastic bag secured with an elastic band.

After germination takes place, you can remove the bag or the propagator before setting the pot in a warm, bright area, such as a sunny windowsill. Water it regularly to keep the compost moist, the RHS says.

Fresh basil plants seen in pots.
Fresh basil plants seen in pots. iStock / Getty Images Plus

Thyme

This perennial herb can also be grown from seed or as potted plants. Scatter the seeds on top of the germination mix and cover very lightly with some additional mix. Keep the mix moist until seeds sprout, which can take around two to four weeks, says the nonprofit Kidsgardening.org.

When seedlings (young plants grown from seed) have a couple of sets of leaves, transplant them to small individual pots. These plants grow best in full sun exposure as well as in light, sandy soil with great drainage, advises the nonprofit.

A pot of fresh thyme.
A pot of fresh thyme. iStock/Getty Images Plus

Lemon balm

Lemon balm is a perennial plant that's easy to grow from seed in the spring. Seeds should be sown indoors from March to May, scattering them into a small pot or tray of seed compost, the RHS advises.

Cover the seeds with a thin layer of perlite (a granular material made from expanded volcanic glass that's helpful for improving drainage), vermiculite or finely sieved compost before watering it gently.

Put your pot or tray in a heated propagator or cover it with a clear plastic bag and place in a warm spot. It can take up to three weeks for seedlings to appear. As soon as you spot seedlings, remove the pot from the propagator or remove its cover, the RHS says.

A lemon balm plant in pot.
A close-up view of a lemon balm plant in pot. iStock/Getty Images Plus

Sage

These pungent perennial herbs can be grown from seed in the spring in small pots. They should be covered with a thin layer of perlite and placed in a propagator to germinate. It can take up to three weeks for the seeds to germinate.

They do best in a warm, sunny and sheltered spot and should be watered regularly but without overwatering, as they don't like having wet roots. Their growing containers should be raised in winter to drain excess moisture, the RHS advises.

Sage leaves in a glass pot.
Sage leaves in a glass pot on a table. iStock / Getty Images Plus

Bay Leaf

Bay leaves come from the bay laurel, a hardy, perennial evergreen plant. They can be grown indoors in areas with cold climates, according to an article by plant expert Amanda Shiffler for the Herbs at Home website.

Bay laurel can be grown in a container as a patio plant during the warmer months before being transferred indoors when temperatures drop, Shiffler says.

Young bay plants are best planted in the spring, giving them time to establish before summer. They should be grown in a sheltered spot with full sun exposure, the RHS advises.

Fresh bay leaves in wooden bowl.
Fresh bay leaves in wooden bowl. iStock / Getty Images Plus