Is It Better to Grow Herbs Indoors or Outdoors?


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Parsley Indoors

Growing herbs provides many benefits. Growing herbs not only provides access to fresh additions to food but also amazing scented aromas. The benefits of growing herbs have an ever-growing list, and that has led to many people to decide to take up the art of growing herbs.

Is It Better to Grow Herbs Indoors or Outdoors? The answer depends on the gardener’s preferences and desires, as well as the types of herbs being discussed. Growing herbs indoors is often easier and better for certain people, while some people prefer to grow herbs outdoors. Additionally, some herbs can thrive indoors while others do better outdoors.

Since growing herbs is such a versatile practice, we’ve compiled everything needed to know about growing herbs indoors, outdoors, and pros and cons of both. By the end of this article, you should also be able to decide if growing herbs indoors or outdoors is better for you.

Growing Herbs Indoors and Outdoors: Everything You Need to Know

The question of whether it is better to grow herbs indoors or outdoors is generally determined by the person who wants to grow herbs and the type of herbs that are being grown. Growing herbs indoors versus growing herbs outdoors is very much a preference, although there are some herbs that thrive only in indoor environments or only outdoor environments.

In order to decide between growing herbs indoors or outdoors, it is pretty crucial to know some basic things about growing herbs.

To make sure you have all the information needed to decide which method is better for you and your herbs of choice, let’s take a look at details of each method, herbs that do well in each climate, and the pros and cons of each method.

Growing Herbs Indoors

Herbs Indoors

Growing herbs indoors is an attractive option for those who wish to grow herbs but have limited outdoor space. This method of growing herbs is also ideal for those who have less time to devote to maintaining a larger garden.

When herbs are grown indoors, they are grown in containers rather than in the ground. This is possibly the main difference between the two, aside from the fact that one method is of course indoors while the other is outdoors.

Herbs can be grown indoors year-round. However, indoor herbs will essentially need to grow in the same conditions as most outdoor herbs, which can make growing herbs indoors a bit more challenging.

Herbs grown indoors will need to have access to at least 6 hours of sunlight a day on average. Herbs will need access to grow in a south or west-facing window with much sunlight, and they may also need some artificial light, or “grow lights” to survive and thrive.

Additionally, herbs that are grown indoors will need to be planted in containers that are no smaller than 6 inches in diameter. This will allow them to grow with ample space.

Herbs will also need to be planted in containers with adequate drainage holes or slats in a soilless mixture that allows for good draining. Herbs grown indoors do best when they are located near each other, as they are able to create adequate humidity and air circulation for themselves.

You still may need to increase the humidity and air circulation of the indoor space where herbs are growing by using a humidifier or a fan.

The Basic Necessities for Growing Herbs Indoors

When growing herbs indoors, some key necessities need to be kept in mind. To make sure herbs grown indoors can survive and thrive, at the bottom line, you will need:

  • Containers with drainage holes or slats
  • A location indoors that won’t be damaged by drainage
  • A location with 6-8 hours of sunlight per day
  • Supplemental “grow lights” or artificial lighting if not enough natural sunlight
  • Herbs that grow well inside
  • Organic, well-draining growing medium
  • Water-soluble fertilizer
  • Humidity
  • Temperatures ranging from 55 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit at night and 65 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit during the day
  • Ample time to tend to these herbs

Herbs that Grow Well Indoors

As mentioned previously, some herbs do grow very well indoors. If you think growing herbs indoors may be the route for you, then you will want to look into growing these types of herbs:

  • Basil
  • Mint
  • Oregano
  • Parsley
  • Rosemary
  • Bay laurel
  • Lemongrass
  • Chives
  • Thyme
  • Vietnamese coriander

Tips for Growing Herbs Indoors

Knowing key tips for growing herbs indoors is important as well. Let’s take a look at some!

You Can Plant Some Herbs Together – But Not All of Them

Some people tend to think each herb needs to be planted separately, and that’s actually not the case. Some herbs can be planted together! However, not all herbs can be planted together, and you should avoid putting all your herbs in one container.

Herbs that can be planted together can be determined by the environment, water, and soil they like. For example, Mediterranean herbs like rosemary, oregano, and thyme thrive in lots of sunlight with drier soil. These herbs can be planted together because they like the same environment.

On the flip side, you should avoid planting mint with almost anything other than different types of mint, such as peppermint, spearmint, and catmint. Mint tends to get invasive and branch out and overtake other herbs, so it’s not a great option to plant with other herbs.

We have written an entire article on this topic that you can read for more details and information here – What Herbs Can You Plant Together?

It’s Best Not to Get Herbs That Have Already Been Growing Outside

When purchasing herbs, it’s best not to get herbs for indoor growing that have already been growing outside. The shock of the change of environment can cause trauma to the herbs and affect their production and growth! When looking for herbs to grow indoors, it’s best to purchase either seeds or herbs that have already been growing indoors.

Growing Herbs Indoors: Pros and Cons

To help you really determine if growing herbs indoors is best for you, we have compiled a list of some of the pros and cons of growing herbs indoors.

Pros of Growing Herbs Indoors
  • Access to fresh herbs year-round
  • Herbs will be pesticide free and healthy
  • Herbs are relatively low maintenance
  • Save time and money at the grocery store
  • No going outside to maintain herbs
  • Herbs are close by
  • Herbs are relatively low maintenance
  • Herbs can have pleasing scents
Cons of Growing Herbs Indoors
  • It’s necessary to regulate your indoor temperature for them
  • Supplemental lighting may need to be purchased
  • Pests may hide in herbs
  • Watering can be tricky because of the necessary drainage holes

Growing Herbs Outdoors

Herb Garden

It’s time for the flip side: growing herbs outdoors. Growing herbs outdoors has been a huge activity for an extremely long time, and it’s easy to see why! Growing herbs outdoors has many benefits.

Herbs can be incorporated just about anywhere in any garden; they can thrive in a variety of soil types. Herbs also may have some benefits to other plants and crops! Herbs can actually be planted in gardens as companion plants, meaning they are planted to benefit or help other plants.

For example, rosemary can be planted with beans, cabbage, and carrots. Rosemary helps deter carrot flies, clothes flies, mosquitoes and silverfish. It also wards off bean beetles – keeping the vegetables safer, and therefore healthier. Pretty great, right? Check out our article on garden pests for other ways to control them in your garden – 30 Common Garden Pests (& Tips to Control Them!)

When herbs are grown outdoors, they need to be grown in areas according to the amount of light they need to receive. Herbs love sunlight, but some of them need less of it than others.

To put this into perspective, sage grows best in areas with exposure to full sun, while thyme grows best in areas with exposure to half shade. On the other hand, chervil grows best when it’s in an area with full shade.

Like herbs that are grown indoors, herbs that are grown outdoors do well in soil with good water drainage. Everything necessary to know about planting, transplanting and spacing will be on the seed packet or the original instructions that come with the herbs. However, herbs do have a specific time to be planted into the soil, and that’s generally in the springtime!

Herbs that are grown outdoors are susceptible to winter, and need to be protected. Perennials are especially in danger during winter. We recommend placing mulch at least 4 inches deep at the base of the herb to increase soil temperatures, which helps herbs survive the cold and harsh outdoor temperatures.

The Basic Necessities for Growing Herbs Outdoors

Like growing herbs indoors, you will need some certain components for growing herbs outdoors. To grow herbs outdoors, you’ll need:

  • Space to plant the herbs
  • A location with enough sunlight and/or shade for the herbs being planted
  • Herbs that grow well outside
  • Well-draining, quality soil
  • A water source
  • Water-soluble fertilizer
  • Ample time to tend to these herbs

Herbs that Grow Well Outdoors

Most herbs grow well outdoors, which is great news! If you’re thinking growing herbs outdoors might be the ideal method for you, then you should keep the following herbs in mind:

  • Basil
  • Mint
  • Oregano
  • Parsley
  • Rosemary
  • Bay laurel
  • Lemongrass
  • Chives
  • Thyme
  • Coriander
  • Fennell
  • Dill
  • Lavender
  • Chives
  • Lemongrass
  • Tarragon
  • Catnip

Tips for Growing Herbs Outdoors

To make sure the herbs are staying healthy, consider these tips when growing herbs outdoors.

Be Aware of Your Soil Drainage

Drainage is key when it comes to herbs. Sometimes, this is harder to control outdoors. However, it’s still something that can be fixed! If water is still pooled on top of the soil several hours after a rain, then the soil isn’t draining well enough for the herbs. That’s a red flag!

In this situation, to help fix soil drainage and make sure the herbs and other plants will be okay, we recommend removing the top 12 inches of soil in the area in which the herbs will be planted. Do this prior to planting them in the spring.

Mix compost, peat, or horticultural sand with your soil, backfill it into the area, and level the area out. This should help soil drainage, and in turn, the herbs, immensely.

In subsequent years, here at Do Not Disturb Gardening, we always recommend adding compost to the top of your soil and always keeping the soil covered with mulch. This mimics God’s design in nature and will keep your soil healthy and alive! For more information, you can check out our article How to Know if Your Soil is Healthy: 11 Simple Tests!

You Can Start Growing Herbs Outdoors from Seeds or Transplants

An outdoor herb garden can either be started right from seeds or from transplants that have been growing outside. Unlike with growing herbs indoors, transplanting herbs to an outdoor growing area isn’t a shock or as hard on them.

Remember, when purchasing transplants from a store, make sure to inspect them first to be certain that they are free of disease, insects and other pests. A wide variety of herbs can be found through plant companies rather than garden centers.

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Growing Herbs Outdoors: Pros and Cons

You have already learned a good deal about growing herbs outdoors, but to make sure you know what it entails and to make sure you can decide if it’s the right method of growing herbs for you, let’s examine the pros and cons.

Pros of Growing Herbs Outdoors
  • No need to buy supplemental lighting
  • No need to buy containers
  • Access to fresh herbs year-round
  • Herbs will be pesticide free and healthy
  • Herbs are relatively low maintenance
  • Herbs can benefit other plants and vegetables in the garden
  • Save time and money at the grocery store
  • Outdoor herbs may be easier to water
Cons of Growing Herbs Outdoors
  • Soil can be more difficult to prepare and maintain outdoors
  • Disease and pest control can be more difficult outdoors
  • Herbs are more exposed to insects and other pests outdoors
  • Herbs will need to be protected during the winter and are at higher risk of dying
  • It is necessary to go outside in inclement weather to tend to herbs

How to Start Growing Herbs Indoors: the Basics

To go a little further in-depth on this subject, we will walk you through the step-by-step process of growing herbs indoors. This does not mean that growing herbs indoors is better than growing herbs outdoors; that is all still up to you and the herbs you want to grow!

Since growing herbs indoors may tend to be a little more complicated than growing herbs outdoors in some cases, we will take a look at what you need to do to get started growing herbs indoors.

Obtain the Necessary Materials

First things first, in order to start growing herbs indoors you are going to need to obtain the necessary materials. You will have a pretty good idea of what you need from when we discussed indoor herb growing toward the beginning of this article, but let’s give you a refresher.

To start growing herbs indoors, you will need:

  • The herb seeds or plants
  • Containers with drainage holes or slats
  • A southern or western facing window with ample sunlight – 6 to 8 hours daily
  • Supplemental “grow lights” if not enough natural sunlight
  • A good draining growing media, like a soilless mixture
  • Water-soluble fertilizer
  • Indoor temperatures for herbs to thrive
  • A location that won’t be damaged by water drainage, or something to catch the water that will drain from the herbs’ containers

Plant Your Herbs

Once you have everything necessary, it’s time to plant the herbs! Fill the pots with the growing mixture. Don’t pack it too tightly or smash it down. To add more soil in the containers, douse them with water, let the soil settle, and then add more. Fill the growing mixture in until it’s about an inch below the top of the container.

If you would like some tips on how to create your own potting soil mixture you can check out our article DIY Potting Soil and Seed Starting Mix to Save Money.

Place a paper towel, mesh, or thin rag under the containers to prevent the soil from falling out while doing so.

If you have decided to plant your herbs from seeds, sow your seeds in shallow rows. Additionally, make sure to follow the instructions on the seed packet, as there could be more to do. If you are transplanting herbs, place the roots in the growing medium and cover them back up. Herbs should ideally be planted according to the packet or manufacturer’s instructions.

Watering and Fertilizing Your Herbs

Make sure not to overwater the herbs. The soil should be moist, but not completely wet. Water the herbs regularly and thoroughly with room-temperature water.

Your indoor herbs will definitely need some nutrients in order to grow. You may make your own potting mix as we do and use worm castings or compost to fertilize. You may also purchase your own fertilizer or buy a potting mix that already contains fertilizer. For more information please check out our article Does Potting Soil Need Fertilizer?

While the herbs are growing, you may see the roots of the herbs coming out of the bottom of their containers. That means it is time to re-pot them in a larger container!

Harvesting Your Herbs

Harvesting the herbs is one of the most fun parts of growing them. Leaves can be cut or pinched off from the herbs as needed. Most herbs reach their peak stages right before flowering; that’s a great time to harvest!

A knife or scissors may be necessary when harvesting herbs, and that’s okay. To prevent pulling out the entire plant or damaging it, we recommend using a knife or scissors to cut off the leaves or parts of the herbs to harvest.

Honor the Lord with your wealth,
with the firstfruits of all your crops.

Proverbs 3:9

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Corey Leichty

Hi, I’m Corey and I love using gardening as a way to provide food for my family, learn life lessons alongside my wife, Andrea, and teach life lessons to my two sons. Do you have gardening questions? Not finding what you are looking for? Please feel free to Ask a Question (Click Here!) and I will get back with you as soon as I can!

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