Fresh herbs can turn simple dishes into something special. And the best part? You don’t need a garden or good weather to grow your own. Some of the tastiest and most frequently used herbs are also some of the easiest to grow indoors. All you need to get started is a sunny window or grow light, some seeds or starter plants, potting soil, and a few, small indoor planters.
Here are our top picks for the best indoor herbs to grow.
Grow Parsley Indoors
Parsley isn’t just for decorating your plate. This herb is surprisingly high in vitamin K, and it contains vitamin C, vitamin A, folate, iron and small amounts of many other nutrients.1 Parsley pairs well with almost any dish, and it’s low-maintenance, which makes this one of the best herbs for your indoor garden.
Add Cilantro to Your Indoor Garden
Cilantro is great with everything from seafood and chicken to guacamole, and of course, your favorite tacos. It’s also rich in vitamin A, vitamin K, folate and potassium.2 Cilantro grows best in a cool environment and needs plenty of sunshine and well-drained soil. Unfortunately, cilantro doesn’t transport well, so be sure to start with seeds or a starter plant rather than a garden transplant.3
Growing Thyme in Your Kitchen
This sun-loving herb looks stunning in an indoor herb garden — just make sure to keep it on a bright windowsill. Mix up the flavor with varieties like lemon thyme. You can add thyme to seafood, poultry, soups and sauces. For a special treat, mix about one teaspoon with eight tablespoons of soft butter to create a thyme butter for seafood, chicken and even mashed potatoes. Thyme is a source of vitamin C, vitamin A, fiber, riboflavin and iron.4 It also contains calcium, magnesium, vitamin B-6, folate, phosphorus, potassium and zinc.4
Growing Rosemary Indoors
Rosemary is a Mediterranean diet staple that pairs wonderfully with lamb, poultry, pork, garlic and olive oil. Plus, its flavor profile is compatible with every other herb on this list! The fragrance of rosemary will keep your kitchen smelling fresh all season, but since rosemary grows best in somewhat dry soil, be careful not to overwater your plant. Rosemary gives your food a boost of vitamin A, thiamin (vitamin B1), magnesium, dietary fiber, vitamin C, vitamin B-6, folate, calcium and iron.5
Grow Basil in Your Windowsill
Basil is a great addition to your indoor herb garden, though it can be a little more finicky than some other herbs. Nutrient-rich, well-drained soil is important for keeping your basil plant healthy. Keep your basil plant in a window that gets a lot of sunlight throughout the day, and be careful about over watering because basil does well in slightly moist (but not soggy) soil. Adding basil to your foods gives you some additional vitamin A, vitamin K, iron, calcium, magnesium, vitamin C and potassium.6
Bonus: Grow Ginger Indoors
It might sound too good to be true, but you can grow your own ginger indoors! Plant ginger root a few inches deep in a mixture of potting soil and compost. Ginger grows best at around 70 degrees with indirect light. Ginger is well-known as a culinary herb, and ginger is an excellent stomach-soother and tonic for your digestive system.
As you can see, herbs add more than just flavor to your foods. With an indoor garden, you’ll always have fresh herbs within reach regardless of the season. While it’s unlikely you’ll meet your daily nutrient needs with herbs alone, an extra dash of vitamins and minerals along with all that flavor is certainly a healthy bonus!
What are your favorite herbs to grow indoors? Tell us below or share pictures of your indoor garden with us on Facebook.
You may also like the following about herbs and your health: Boost Your Meal AND Your Health with These 7 Herbs & Spices and Ginger: Unique Uses, Health Benefits and Fresh Ginger Recipes.
About Lindsey Bristol, MS, RD
Registered Dietitian, Swanson Health Products
Lindsey is a nationally recognized registered dietitian and nutritionist with a soft spot for ice cream. She empowers people to take charge of their health by finding the balance between the pleasure and nourishment in food.
Her philosophy is that you should take care of your body because it’s the only permanent home you have. It’s what inspired her to pursue a career in nutrition and, ultimately, led her to Swanson Health Products.
1 Parsley Nutritional Data: United States Department of Agriculture. https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/3045 (Accessed 11/24/2017)
2 Cilantro Nutritional Data: United States Department of Agriculture. https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/2931 (Accessed 11/24/2017)
3 How to Grow Cilantro Indoors: Gardening Know How https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/edible/herbs/cilantro/how-to-grow-cilantro-indoors.htm (Accessed 11/24/2017)
4 Thyme Nutritional Data: United States Department of Agriculture. https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/298 (Accessed 11/24/2017)
5 Rosemary Nutritional Data: United States Department of Agriculture. https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/305 (Accessed 11/24/2017)
6 Basil Nutritional Data: United States Department of Agriculture. https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/293 (Accessed 11/24/2017)
7 The Easiest Way to Grow Spicy Ginger in Your Own House. Rodale’s Organic Life. https://www.rodalesorganiclife.com/garden/homegrown-ginger-guide (Accessed 11/24/2017)