I have heard it's almost impossible to grow basil and parsley indoors. Is this true?
I am planning to grow some herbs indoor. Tell me some herbs that are easy to grow inside and which don't need much attention...thanks
To quote an old gardening friend from years ago:
'God didn't make houses, so he didn't need to make plants to grow inside them'.
Very few plants of any kind will be entirely happy indoors, and all will need a holiday outside from time to time to get rid of diseases and bugs, and to give them some REAL sunshine.
There are many reasons NOT to have plants indoors. In no particular order, these are:
difficulty in providing adequate drainage
difficulty in providing real sunlight (not filtered through glass)
difficulty in providing naturally-occurring temperature fluctuations
difficulty in avoiding dust and greasy residues on plants
lack of predator bugs to get rid of indoor bugs
difficulty in providing adequate-sized pots and places to put them - plants get much bigger than most people realise, and a kitchen window-sill is usually MILES too small!
But, you can grow herbs indoors - IF you're prepared to accept poor quality, stunted plants, and to replace them frequently.
Any potted plant is much higher maintenance than one planted in the garden. It'll need frequent watering and feeding and repotting and wiping of leaves. A potted plant hasn't got access to renewable resources, and (like a bird in a tiny cage) can't spread as it wants to nor attain its full potential in size or quality.
I suggest browsing through earlier threads in this forum by using the Search facility. Plenty has been said on the subject. You also need to learn about the plants you hope to grow - their different requirements re water, fertiliser, light, drainage, and in particular their optimum size!
Amen Daisy !
I think you can have small herb pots near a south facing window (in North hemispher, not in Australia, e.g. !!?), for a couple of months, if you are an apartment dweller and a gourme cook.
It's not that basil and parsley are IMPOSSIBLE to grow indoors. In fact they grow just fine, it's that they require different care and set-up than most herbs. For basil, you have a space issue; they can get up to two feet tall, so it doesn't lend itself to the traditional herb window box format. But I love basil so I just use it as a decorative houseplant in my living room. As for parsley, the issue goes the other direction. Parsley has what is called a "taproot", which means for you that it will need a deeper pot than your other herbs. Both parsley and basil, probably for the aforementioned reasons, do need to be watered more often (every two to three days).
As for other good indoor herbs:
With all these though, you want to try to find the smaller varieties of the plant. Otherwise you can end up with the same size issue as the Basil.
Your basil gets only to 2ft tall?? Gee, I regard that as a baby. Mine get to double that and more in both height and width. Clearly NOT a window-sill herb!
It's the parsley that gets to 2ft tall - and wide.
Unhelpful to the original poster and degrading to someone who's trying to help. Super!
thanks bigdoug thats a great list..I appreciate it
Thanks to all other for quality information :)
I tend to think puny basil is better than no basil. It is really nice to be able to put a leaf or two in a salad without spending $4 for a bunch that goes bad before the week is out. I have been very happy with my 4 small basil plants this winter. Also, growing basil outdoors in my zone is difficult at best. Nighttime temps tend to be cool all summer. So I will never have 2 or 4 foot plants.
And while we're on the subject of things that don't grow indoors, last week I planted sprouted garlic because I heard the leaves can be used in cooking just like the garlic. I know it will never bulb, but it's green and the cat doesn't eat it.
Our rosemary goes outdoors in the summer and comes in for the winter. I brought two parsley and one oregano plants in from the garden this fall. One parsley plant did fairly well, the other bolted. But still we get a few sprigs every week. The oregano is holding its own. The leaves have gotten smaller in the past 3 months. I had no luck bringing some of the mint in. Maybe I'll figure it out for next year. I also tried arugula in a window box in the south facing windowsill. We get a few leaves everyday to spice up otherwise boring salads. These plants all seem to need more water than I would have thought reasonable. But we live in a very dry area. For me, having a few herbs in the window works. We have a very long winter and anything that brightens my day is worth it.
I have read some of the other posts on this subject and feel that sometimes people need to lighten up. I love GW and the vast info and experience offered by very generous members. And I appreciate help when I make mistakes. I am not trying to supplement my grocery bills with windowsill gardening. Even if I was, it's my windowsill. But for me, basil gives more joy than another spider plant. I don't need to feel guilty that it won't ever reach it's full potential.
PLEASE! understand that there are some people who live in climates where it never gets cold enough to freeze; winter is 50Âº F, therefore plants get huge without much effort.
Having lived many places in the USA far colder than California I understand the growing conditions, size and indoor growing necessity. Having lived in CA these last 15 years I find that one forgets that the rest of the country is buried up to eyeballs in snow, and that the Apricots, Plums and Peaches aren't blooming in February anywhere but the Central Valley of CA.
Daisy is an expert on herbs and is a great resource to this forum. Just understand that she lives in one of the warmer parts of Australia.
Please be as understanding of her as you would wish her to be of you.
Point well taken, westelle. I'm sorry for being grumpy (jealous?). The knowledge and sharing here is awesome even if it's not what I want to hear at the time. Looking back over the thread, I realize I over-reacted. The tips I was looking for were given. Thank you.
Chives work fairly well indoors too. Don't let them get too hot in direct sunshine but give them as much light as possible. I also agree with kathy645 about puny basil being better than no basil. I have to grow it in a greenhouse even in summer to get a reasonable crop and it never tops 1ft. But on the bright side I seldom ever need to water the garden and I have a 15 year old rosemary. So every climate has its pros and cons.
hmm, I started some indoor herbs in my hydro setup. Which I plan on moving into partial shade as the weather improves. Plan was the key word. hahaha The high desert heat tends to hurt some plants more than others.
Thanks all for the vast information and for sharing your experiences.. :)
Expecting more from this wonderful garden community in future :)
Most of my basils won't have a chance to grow near and beyond 2 ft.Because I pick and use them fresh , in cooking, freezing, give away. Sure, if you dont harvest thay can keep growing tall. Mine grow more bushy because the way I harvest.
Having said these, I cannot see a basil plant indoors, in your kitchen, sunroom.. can get that big, if you really harvest and use it continually.
Also bear in mind that basil is a Mediterranean herb, meaning it LOVES light & heat. Often even a south-facing a winter windowsill fails to provide much light (short days, screens, curtains) and at night windows transmit a LOT of cold! Second thing to remember is that basil is an ANNUAL--all it wants is to bloom and set seed, and then die, its life cycle completed. So its days are numbered no matter where it is growing.
You would do well to consider the dwarf varieties of basil if you are determined to have it indoors --spicy globe, for example. The best (IMHO) basil, Genovese, will not be happy for long in an indoors environment.
Parsley, if you can accommodate its taproot, probably would do OK since it is tolerant of some shade and definitely is OK with cooler temperatures.
A set of inexpensive fluorescent shop lights (Gro-lights are not necessary) would help things along. For a number of years I successfully have wintered over several rosemary plants and a fairly large sweet marjoram plant indoors under lights. Basil seems prone to dropping its leaves, whitefly, and mites, so after trying a couple of times I gave that up. I make a large supply of pesto (using just olive oil & basil, adding pine nuts & garlic when ready to use) that I freeze in ice cube trays or as patties on cookie sheets for the winter. Also I have found that Red Rubin basil is one cultivar that will retain its flavor for a couple of years at least when dried. Since it already is dark, unlike the green basils that darken unappetizingly when dried, it looks fine and is great in winter tomato sauces, chili, etc.
Daisy sent me a link to a photo of her monster Basil and asked me to try to post it since she wasn't having much luck:
Here is a link that might be useful:
Thank you Westelle! That is actually HALF the basil - the rest is lying on the ground behind what you see. We've had lots of rain here recently, and if I don't trim the basil back, the rain makes it very top-heavy. In this instance (not unusual) it managed to break off a huge chunk of the plant. Not to worry - it will grow back in no time flat. That plant was given a short-back-and-sides hair-cut only 3 weeks earlier.
This is one of the benefits of living in the subtropics!
Following up to a really old post - hopefully that's okay.
It looks like your basil plant is flowering (bolting) in this picture, yet there are quite a few leaves as well. Is that the case?
If so, is there anything you can do about this?