Mistakes to Avoid When Growing Your Own Herbs

Herbs are very popular in today’s cooking. Fresh herbs can be expensive, though, and they don’t last long once you get them home from the grocery store or farmer’s market. Growing your own herbs is a great way to save money, have fresh herbs on hand year-round, and even make gardening part of your kitchen routine!

green plant in clear glass vase

Like with most things that are worth doing, there are mistakes you could make that will hurt your chances of success. Here are some common pitfalls to avoid when choosing and growing your own herbs indoors.

Treating All Herbs the Same

Different herbs need different care. For instance, you shouldn’t leave rosemary out of the sun—it needs direct sunlight to grow healthy and happy plants. Basil plants should be placed near a north-facing window; they like cool temperatures and will turn brown and die if exposed to too much light or heat. You should know when to start harvesting your dill or pruning your herbs. Not giving your herb plant the right amount of sun is another common mistake made by new gardeners.

When your herbs are getting too little, or too much, light their leaves will change color. If they are turning brown or becoming yellowish-green you can either move them to a place with less sunlight or provide more shade for them if they are getting too much light. Growing herbs indoors is like growing any other type of plant or garden – you need to research specific requirements for the types of plants that interest you.

Not Allowing Enough Sunlight

Herbs are sun-lovers! They need enough hours of direct sunlight a day to grow, bloom, and produce the best quality leaves. While some herbs can be moved outdoors for the summer if you live in a warmer climate, most types don’t enjoy being moved around very much. Herbs that aren’t given enough light indoors usually end up growing tall, spindly stems with no leaves, or they may even wither away altogether. If you want to use natural sunlight for your herbs then either putting them in front of a south-facing window or purchasing grow lights are both great options. If you don’t have access to any natural sunlight then a grow light is the best option for you.

Pruning Your Herbs Incorrectly

If you aren’t pruning your herbs correctly, they might not produce the best leaves. Herbs should be pruned throughout their active growing season. There are two types of pruning – pinching off flower buds and deadheading herbs. Deadheading herbs means cutting off faded flowers and trimmed leaves, and it helps the plant stay healthy and gives you more overall growth.  Pinching is when two new leaves or branches emerge; pinch these out to encourage the plant’s energy to go into leaf production instead of growing woody stems that don’t produce as many leaves.

Don’t cut your herbs back too hard or they will quickly flower and then go to seed. It is recommended that you prune each plant once a month with something like scissors; be very gentle with the leaves when you are doing this. Growing fresh herbs indoors requires thoughtful care, but if done right, it can save you money and make Pinching off flower buds encourages your plants to focus on growing larger rather than flowering, increasing their yield while also producing more foliage for you to use.

Not Providing Drainage

Planting herbs in soil without drainage is a problem that most new gardeners encounter at one time or another. It is important to make sure that there are plenty of holes in the bottom of your planter box so the water can drain away from the roots and out of the pot. If you don’t provide enough drainage for your plants, they will end up rotting and dying, or they may begin to show signs of mold. Soil that is too moist can cause herbs to become diseased; they’ll also start growing bacteria in their roots and stems. 

When you transplant your planter box make sure there are holes in the bottom of the container and lines in the soil for proper drainage. If you’re not sure whether your soil will drain properly, dig down into the container and check the depth of the soil. 

If it is about one inch or less then more drainage holes are needed. You can use a knife to create them yourself or buy another pot that already has the holes (just make sure there are enough). If the roots are exposed at any point just put some soil on them and keep adding more until you’ve filled the pot.

Not Watering Properly

Although most indoor plants need just misting to stay hydrated, your herbs need deep watering once or twice a week in order to properly drink up all of their water. When you water them make sure to soak the soil; measure how much water you put in so you know exactly how much to use next time. Giving your plants too little or too much water at a time can cause them to die, grow mold, or become diseased. If your container dries out completely then it is not properly hydrated, so if this happens you should water it immediately.

The most important thing to remember is that your herbs need time and space to grow. You should make sure you have enough sunlight, water, and nutrients for them to thrive.

Krystal | Sunny Sweet Days
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