Is It Better to Grow Herbs Indoors or Outdoors?


You’re thinking of growing a lovely herb garden to beautify your space. Admittedly, you don’t have the greenest thumb. You’re not quite sure if your garden would be better-suited inside where the herbs can stay safe from the weather or if they’d do alright outside, where they have all the sunshine they could ever need. Which is better?

You can grow herbs indoors or outdoors depending on your availability. If herbs have drainable potting soil, temperate weather, and lots of sunlight, then they will thrive. That’s regardless of if you keep the plants on your windowsill or in a garden.

If you’re preparing to plant your first herb garden, then you won’t want to miss this article. In it, we’ll share the benefits of growing herbs as well as talk about which ones do best in an indoor environment versus those that prefer the outdoors.

Let’s get started.

What Are the Benefits of an Herb Garden?

First, we’ll discuss the reasons you might choose an herb garden over growing other plants or even flowers. As it turns out, herbs can provide a multitude of benefits, including the following.

You Get Plenty of Variety

Did you know there’s more to basil than just the sweet kind? A whole, whole lot more. You can grow over 30 varieties, and that’s just basil alone. Think of all the fun types of herbs your garden could sprout. The possibilities are pretty much endless.

Lessening Stress

The Department of Plant and Soil Science at the University of Vermont Extension and many other sources confirm that the act of gardening as well as surrounding yourself with the literal fruits of your labor can cut down on your stress.

Burn Some Calories

Although you might not think of gardening as much of a rigorous activity, you’d be surprised. Once you get down and dirty, you realize it takes a lot of physical strength to pull off basic gardening activities.

According to Gardening Know How, it’s possible to shed 200 calories by doing duties such as weeding, planting, digging, tilling, pruning, and raking. If you use a push mower to tend to the grass around your garden, you could torch 300 calories. That’s just as good as going to the gym for some people.

You Spend Less Money at the Grocery Store

Buying your own herbs from the supermarket? Not you! You can even skip the seasoning since you grow your own right at home. This in turn lowers your grocery bill, putting more money in your pocket.

You Can Enjoy Fresher, Healthier Dinners

If you’re ever preparing a dish that calls for fresh herbs, you’ll know just where to get them: your garden. Your meals will taste healthier and more delicious than ever.

Is It Better to Grow Herbs Indoors or Outdoors?

Okay, so the above benefits definitely convinced you to try your hand at growing an herb garden. Should you limit this hobby to outdoor use or will your herbs survive in your home as well?

As we discussed in the intro, you don’t need to worry about exclusively growing your herbs indoors or outdoors. They can survive in both conditions, provided you give them the basic fundamentals they need. These include either a potting mix or a soil that’s very drainable, keeping them away from temperature extremes, and providing adequate sunlight.

If you do prefer outdoor or indoor gardening, you should know both have their perks. For instance, by choosing an outdoor garden for your herbs, they have more room to grow. They tend to have more flavor and you get a lot more herbs compared to growing them inside.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ever start an indoor herb garden. By doing so, you can grow your herbs and other plants without worrying about freezing winter weather killing them. You also have less weeding work to do. Even better, you can reach your plants anytime.

Which Herbs Should You Grow Inside?

While we still maintain that you have the freedom of growing your herb garden anywhere, there’s no disputing that some varieties of herbs thrive better outside versus inside. In this section and the next, we’ll differentiate between those herbs.

For now, here’s a list of herbs to grow indoors.

Sage

If you have some plant trimmings, then you can sufficiently start growing sage. The key is maintaining the moisture when cutting. Then, within a couple of weeks, the sage will take root and begin taking off from there.

Oregano

This spicy herb also needs cuttings to begin growing. Look for it as summer comes to a close. Dried oregano will have the most obvious taste, while fresh oregano doesn’t have nearly as strong a flavor.

Lemongrass

Found in most grocery stores or greenhouses, lemongrass has a tall and leafy appearance as it begins to grow. As the name tells you, this herb sort of tastes like lemon mixed with citrus.

Thyme

You don’t need a lot of space to grow thyme; a four-inch pot suffices. For that reason, it makes for a great herb to grow indoors. You could even rely on trimmings to start seeing thyme sprout in your garden.

Cilantro

Cilantro admittedly doesn’t live long, but you should have an easier time maintaining it indoors since you can see your herbs everyday. To prevent running out, grow new seedlings every three weeks.

Bay Laurel

The bay leaf or bay laurel gets so large you might question if it’s really an herb. It is, though. By pruning it regularly, you can prevent it from hogging up precious garden space. Just make sure to give it some outdoor time in the summer, since it loves the warmth.

Basil

We talked about basil before, and, as a standout herb, you knew it was bound to come up again. Not every variety of basil grows well inside the house; only the globe ones, which are often smaller in size.

Lemon Balm

If you want the true extent of lemon balm’s flavor, then you must exhibit some patience. It takes a year for this herb to harness its taste potential. You could move it outdoors in the warmer weather if you prefer, but this isn’t necessary.

Which Herbs Should You Grow Outside?

If you prefer doing your gardening outdoors, then stick to these herbs.

Rosemary

Evergreen (which means it maintains its fresh look year round), rosemary has needles instead of leaves. Sometimes this herb even grows flowers in stunning hues like blue, purple, pink, or white. While it’s got a particular taste, rosemary goes great with Yorkshire puddings, stuffing, chicken, and lamb.

Parsley

Parsley season begins in the spring and runs through the summertime. It’s not one of those herbs that dies easily, either, which makes it quite a good option for beginner gardeners. You can use it as a garnish or add it to a stew. It’s also a prime ingredient in pesto.

French Tarragon

Tasting like licorice and smelling like anise, French tarragon will sweeten up any garden. That said, you should get some experience under your belt before adding French tarragon to your garden, as it’s a bit tough to grow. Once you do, it tastes great with chicken.

Fennel

By getting into the habit of growing your fennel annually, you can ensure you have a steady supply. With its taste like aniseed and its lovely fragrance, you’ll quite enjoy this herb. It’s a staple in plenty of foods, too, including some puddings, sauces, soups, and salads.

Dill

With a couple of seeds, you can soon begin growing your dill garden. Once you dry the leaves out, make sure you use them as garnish for a soup, potato dishes, or smoked salmon. The leaves have the best smell when they’re freshly dried.

Coriander

The herb coriander has another nickname, Chinese parsley. With its origins, it appears quite frequently in Thai and Chinese cuisine. The leaves have a bitter taste while the seeds have a flavor more reminiscent of lemon.

Mint

Spearmint or common mint can grow flowers in the summer; these are purple in color. Otherwise, mint lasts all year long. It goes great with ice cream, cakes, candies, and other sweets, but don’t forget to try it with sauces and salads. Also, watch how much mint appears in your garden, because it can try to overgrow everything else.

Chives

Another solid beginner herb since it can withstand a lot, chives do best outside. They have flowers that act as great garnishes. Don’t throw out the leaves or the bulb, either, as these add flavor to omelets, soups, and potato salad.

Conclusion

If you’re contemplating growing an herb garden, you have plenty of versatility in which to do so. These gardens will grow indoors or outdoors, provided you give the herbs sunlight and use drainable soil.

Gardening is good exercise, and with lots of fresh herbs, you’ll buy less at the grocery store, thus saving you money. Why not start your own herb garden today?

Fred Zimmer

I'm a lover of plants, animals, photography, & people, not necessarily in that order. Currently, I'm focused on photographing indoor plants & chachkies. I write & rewrite articles about creating an environment where indoor plants can thrive. I'm good at listening to music but bad at shopping to muzak.

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