Herbs are powerhouse plants: Not only do they smell and taste great, but they also carry several potential health benefits that can improve your life.
Instead of buying herbs that may have been covered in pesticides, you can go natural and grow them in your home. They take a little work and nurturing, but what you receive in exchange is priceless. Here’s a look at some of the best herbs to use in your kitchen, and how to grow them successfully.
How to choose your herbs
In addition to adding tremendous flavor to your food, these hard-working herbs have the following potential benefits:
• Basil. Great for pasta sauces and salads, this herb carries both anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties and is used to alleviate digestive disorders and help prevent osteoarthritis.
• Dill weed. With an earthy flavor perfect for vegetable and fish dishes, dill may also help reduce menstrual cramps and depression, as well as lower cholesterol.
• Mint. Add mint to desserts or cocktails, and use it to freshen your breath. It’s also been shown to help calm digestive issues and keep insects away.
• Oregano. Sprinkle oregano on salads, pizza and in sauces. It has anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties, and it’s rich in antioxidants.
• Rosemary. This woody herb provides flavor as well as fragrance. It has been shown to promote healthy digestion.
• Thyme. Used for soups, stews and Italian dishes, thyme has thymol, an antioxidant.
How to grow your herbs
Growing herbs inside means you don’t have to worry about where you live or what time of year it is. You can take advantage of their benefits all year round, anywhere the sun shines. Here are some tips for successful growing.
The window is where it’s at. Read the planting instructions for each herb you plant, but most indoor herbs need at least four hours of sun every day to survive and thrive. Place them near a window or on a window sill in an area of your home that gets a lot of sunshine, and be sure to open your window blinds for maximum exposure. Windows that are facing south or southwest are the best, while windows facing east and west are not as suitable. North-facing windows likely won’t give your herbs enough sun.
Some herbs, like mint, can do well in a shady place. If you’re placing these herbs on the windowsill, you can close window blinds for part of the day without stunting their growth.
Most herbs will thrive in indoor temperatures that people are comfortable with, ranging from 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Keep in mind that basil may droop if it gets colder than 70 degrees or so inside your home.
Keep soil moist but drained. Plant your herbs in separate containers with a high-quality potting mix. (If herbs sit too long in water they can rot at the roots, so if you’re using jars or a holder that does not drain, put stones on the bottom before you add the soil.) Monitor the moisture of the soil, and water the herbs when they start to dry out (could be a few days or up to a week). If the leaves are yellow, it means you are over-watering them.
Trim them back. For most herbal plants, you can use your fingers to pinch off the leaves and stems, or you can use scissors. Prune your plants often to promote growth, but don’t cut back more than one-third of the plant.
Once you’ve selected the herbs that will greenify your indoor garden, there’s only one thing left to do: Add them to your favorite recipes, and enjoy the flavors and health benefits they offer.
About the Author
Katie Laird is the Director of Social Marketing for Blinds.com and a passionate home decorator for her family with a love of all things Mid-Century Modern and blue. To learn more about the wide selection of window blinds to help create the perfect year-round indoor herb garden, check out the Blinds.com website.