Windowsill Herb Garden

Make a little herb garden and grow fresh herbs on the windowsill through the winter or all year-long.  It’s easy to get started. A sunny windowsill is all you need to bring fresh basil, dill, rosemary, thyme and other herbs to your table.   Keep them happy all season so you can use them for cocktails, cooking, baking and more.  Have an herb garden outside? Move them inside but remember they will be in shock at the move and need to adjust. Move first to part shade. Then inside. Start new plants from plants, cuttings, or seed. Choose your small pots and start them on your window sill.  Individual pots with drainage and a saucer allow you to give the plant individual care. If you want a longer tray, try to use plants with similar growth needs.



Aromatic, Culinary, Food, Fresh, Freshness, Green




Consider the plants’ light needs


Lush greenery is good for the soul. Plants are calming, vibrantly colorful, and fragrant enough to infuse stale air with a breath of life. Let’s consider the plants needs like light. A south or southwest window would be perfect if it gets at least 6 hours of sun per day and is away from drafts.  If your windows don’t bring a lot of light in during the winter, I suggest using lights to help them flourish.  The kitchen below is larger than even my dreams, but I love the potted herbs under lights on the table. Sigh. Remember lack of light will leave you with spindly, stressed plants, with little flavor.  Fluorescent lights can be used and are inexpensive. They will need to be placed close to the plants (within 18 inches) and kept on for about 10 hours/day, to make up for their lack of intensity.







Room for plants to grow


Next consider how much room you have.  Those little herbs probably won’t stay tiny long. Do you have room for a larger pot?  If you can find a place and have light, you can be cutting herbs throughout winter. Choose plants that will not outgrow your space.  For example, use the smaller globe types of basil for indoor growing. Many of the larger types are too large and will cause space problems.  Don’t allow your plant leaves to touch the cold window to keep it healthy.  Pinch back branching plants, such as basil, to keep them shrubby rather than leggy.



Peppermint, Medicinal Plant, Medicinal Herbs, Mint





What herbs grow well inside?


What herbs grow well inside and are easier to maintain?  Good choices for a windowsill herb garden include basil, cilantro, dill, oregano, rosemary, sage. and thyme. You can start herbs from seed or purchase small plants. Annual herbs are especially easy to start from seed; most perennial herbs take longer to germinate and grow so it’s easier to start with plants.  Snip and use your plants often to encourage them to grow full. Once the plants are at least 6 inches tall, don’t be afraid to use your herbs. The more you snip, the bushier they’ll become.   Whether you’re more rosemary than basil or more sage than thyme, there are tons of options to customize your at-home herb garden.







Growing mint indoors may be the best plan for most of us. Using containers keeps mint from growing all over the yard and garden. All varieties are suitable for indoors. Both spearmint and peppermint grow like weeds but it takes a lot of spearmint to get the minty effect of peppermint. Stick with peppermint indoors. Start your peppermint plant with seeds—not root or leaf cuttings—in a small pot full of potting soil. Peppermint will thrive in shade, but make sure it’s in a spot where it gets at least a little bit of light each day.



Mint, Peppermint, Leaves, Green, Herb





Start from cuttings


There are quite a few herbs that can be grown from cuttings in water. If you have an herb garden outside, take cuttings before frost. To make cuttings, remove healthy, pest and disease-free shoot tips that are about 10 cm (4 “) long. Remove the lower leaves. Clip off the leaves on the lower half of the shoot so you have a bare stem.  Place each stem in a jar or bottle of water to root. Put the bottles in the window. Change the water daily.  After a few weeks, you will have fine roots developing.   Once it has a nice root system (about 2 to 3” long) you can plant them in good potting soil in a pot with good drainage.  Keep the soil moist but not soggy as the plants adapt to soil.







Oregano is easy to propagate from cuttings or by division of existing plants. Take a few cuttings at the end of summer and root out in a cup of water. Fresh oregano is much milder than dried. Use it at the end of the cooking process so that its flavor is not lost. See Info on Growing Oregano Indoors for specific plant needs.









I have to admit basil is my favorite herb. I can use it for so many dishes and it grows well in my kitchen window.








Also if my basil starts getting too big for the window, I start several new cuttings from it.   See Tips on Growing Basil Inside for more specific plant needs.







Although some experts say rosemary can be started in water, I have not been successful using water. I was very successful with a cutting in potting soil after using rooting hormone. My little shoot grew happily in a pot, then a larger pot, and then in the garden. Rosemary starts well inside but by spring it will be happier outside. In zone 8 and farther south, rosemary makes a good evergreen hedge.  For colder climates, keep your bush potted and bring it in during the winter. You can even train rosemary into topiary shapes. They are tolerant of salt spray, making them a good choice for pots on the beach.  Since I’m in zone 9B, my rosemary bush was put in the garden. My friend has an old beautiful bush that each spring is covered in tiny flowers – so fragrant too! For more information on growing rosemary, see Bonnie Plants post.





Herb, Pot, Plant, Planting, Garden, Centre, Food





Maintain your garden


Start seeds or cuttings for new plants to replace the ones you are using. No plant lives forever and many herbs, like basil and dill, are actually annual plants that will try to go to seed within 4 – 6 months. Don’t fight it, just replace them with new, vigorous plants, the way you would in an outdoor garden.  Remember that winter is a natural resting phase for plants, so it’s unrealistic to expect abundant growth. Try minimal watering and let them do their thing. Clipping them regularly will promote further growth so clip away—remember, you’re growing them to use!







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I was raised in Tennessee but have lived in Florida for many years. Love my small home in the Tampa Bay area and its developing garden. My decorating style is eclectic - some vintage, some cottage, all with a modern flair. Pursuing a healthier lifestyle. Spent many years in social services but am happily retired.

7 thoughts to “Windowsill Herb Garden”

  1. All good tips. The one that gets me every time is the first — the lighting. I have such horrible natural light inside my house, just about every plant I bring in dies by Christmas. I will try again though! Love these posts, Carol!

    1. I think you need to add a lamp to the plants. A small thing that can make a huge difference. Thanks so much for the encouragement. I really need that today.

  2. Hi Carol, I do love my fresh herbs and had no idea you could grow basil from cuttings. I am quite lucky that most are happy outside during the winter with the exception (for me) being basil, which is also my favourite herb. I still have several basil plants doing well in the garden, so I’m going to try and get some cuttings going to keep indoors for winter…. I thought my peppermint had died, it was really dry and brown. It’s a good job I never put it onto the compost heap as there are loads of new shoots coming up through the soil!


    1. Many of my herbs could stay outside during the winter and be brought in when our temps drop. I just found many plants I start in the window don’t do well outside when I move them. Of course I was writing for the general audience who have a cold climate winter. Peppermint is alive – yeah! I love the smell.

  3. Hi! Visiting from the Happiness is Homemade party. This is a great idea – I’ve not only pinned but printed to get started!

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