Though most of us love the idea of tending to a garden, we also don’t always have the time or space for one. However, that should not be a deterrent to anyone wanting to grow their own plants. It’s immensely satisfying to plant, care for, and harvest your own food, and totally doable even if all you have is a little bit of kitchen space.
10 Herbs to Plant Indoors
Many of these herbs are hardy and low-maintenance, and will add some pizzazz to all of your dishes. Even if you never cook with them, they brighten up any living space. However, incorporating your home-grown herbs into your cooking is strongly recommended, since they’re both healthy and delicious. To get you started, first read our DIY guide on How to Easily Grow Herbs in Your Kitchen. Next, we’ve listed out some common and easy-to-grow herbs below, along with recipe ideas from our Food Monster App for each. Green thumb not required!
1. Basil[caption id="attachment_1481309788" align="aligncenter" width="1600"] Nate Steiner/Flickr[/caption]
Basil is a must-have for every kitchen. It grows easily and prolifically, its beautiful green leaves brighten up the room, and above all, it’s delicious. Plant basil in well-drained soil, find it a sunny spot, and keep it away from cold temperatures. Water your basil when the soil is dry to the touch.
Once it’s ready to be picked, try making this refreshing Basil Cucumber Salad. Incorporate some basil into Raw Mango Coconut Basil Wraps that you can fill with delicious veggies of your choosing. In the mood for something hearty? Cook yourself up some Polenta Frittata With Mushroom, Tomato, and Basil.
2. Chives[caption id="attachment_1481309789" align="aligncenter" width="1600"] Kate Ter Haar/Flickr[/caption]
Chives are one of the simplest plants you could grow indoors, and they are oh-so-tasty! To grow chives, keep the soil moist by watering it regularly.
With their sharp flavor reminiscent of green onions, chives are tasty when chopped up and sprinkled on, well, pretty much everything. Start your morning right with Grilled Asparagus and Smoked Tofu Benedict, using some of your home-grown chives in the zesty hollandaise sauce. For a healthy and cleansing spread, try this Roasted Garlic, Dill, and Chive Bean Dip.
3. Cilantro[caption id="attachment_1481309790" align="aligncenter" width="1333"] Qfamily/Flickr[/caption]
Cilantro can be a little divisive in that people tend to love it or hate it, but if you love it, then you can easily grow some yourself! Grow cilantro indoors from seedlings or starter plants by planting in a pot with drainage holes. Make sure not to overwater. Only water when the soil is dry to the touch.
Cilantro is probably best-known for its use in Mexican dishes. Its flavor marries well with lime, like in these Cilantro Lime Tacos. Go all-out with your cilantro and make some Smothered Burritos. Cilantro is also featured in some Asian cuisines. If that intrigues you, give this Vietnamese Banh Mi Sandwich or Thai Green Detox Soup with Cilantro Cashew Cream a go. Otherwise, blend some into dips and sauces, like this Cilantro and Turmeric Hummus.
4. Lavender[caption id="attachment_1481309791" align="aligncenter" width="1600"] Ian Sane/Flickr[/caption]
Lavender is known for its amazing and calming aroma. If you don’t end up cooking it, you can also take sprigs of it into your room to cleanse the air. Lavender can be a bit tricky to grow indoors, so if you try it, pick a smaller variety like French lavender and make sure it gets plenty of sunlight. Plant lavender with an inch or so of limestone gravel at the bottom of the pot, and only water when the soil is dry to the touch about an inch deep.
On the light and sweet side, lavender incorporates well into desserts and savory dishes alike. Soothe your soul and your appetite with this Lavender and Lemon Sorbet. These posh Lemon Lavender Truffle Bites are actually fairly easy to make and will always be a hit. For a savory dish, try adding lavender to tasty snacks like these Spring Pea Toasts with Radish and Lavender.
5. Oregano[caption id="attachment_1481309792" align="aligncenter" width="1600"] Timothy Vollmer/Flickr[/caption]
To grow oregano, make sure its container has excellent drainage and keep the plant in bright light. Don’t overwater your oregano plant, and trim it often to encourage new growth.
Oregano is not only delicious, but also healing. It is often featured in Mexican or Mediterranean food. Use some freshly-grown oregano in these simple and delicious Oregano Olive Oil Beet Chips. You can also dry your fresh oregano by tying cut stems in a bundle and hanging them upside down in a warm, dry spot. Once you’ve got dried oregano, add some flair to your burgers with a side of Paprika and Oregano Polenta Fries. With its robust flavor profile, oregano adds the perfect touch to this Vegetable Au Gratin Casserole with Oregano-Bean Puree.
6. Parsley[caption id="attachment_1481309793" align="aligncenter" width="1600"] Nate Steiner/Flickr[/caption]
Parsley’s bright, quintessentially herby flavor makes it a welcome addition to many main courses. It grows best in moist and well-drained soil, with lots of sun exposure.
Sprinkle parsley over baked potatoes or creamy pasta. Parsley brings the finishing touch to this Lemon-Butter Fettuccine with Parsley and Pine Nuts. It makes a delicious garnish on a Chestnut and Roasted Cauliflower Soup with Lemon-Parsley Oil. You may also want to get your fill of this healthy, nutrient-packed herb straight up, in which case you should treat yourself to a Pear and Parsley Smoothie.
7. Peppermint[caption id="attachment_1481309795" align="aligncenter" width="1333"] Anna Gregory/Flickr[/caption]
There’s nothing more soothing than the smell and taste of fresh peppermint. Grow peppermint (or other mint varieties) in moist but well-drained soil and water it regularly. Mint is quite prolific, so trim and prune it regularly to keep it from sprawling too much.
With a strong taste that will instantly remind you of the holidays, peppermint does best in desserts. It is most often featured in chocolatey recipes, such as these Raw Peppermint Chocolate Squares or in this Raw Cacao Mint Cheesecake. You can also add some leaves to hot water for an easy tea that will soothe an upset stomach and aid in digestion. Other mint varieties grow just as well and add a cool, refreshing touch to savory dishes. Try some home-grown mint in this Mint Biryani With Garden Peas or in a Raw Peas, Mint, and Avocado Soup.
8. Rosemary[caption id="attachment_1481309797" align="aligncenter" width="1600"] brx0/Flickr[/caption]
Rosemary has a distinct, slightly sweet flavor, and an unfortunate reputation for being tricky to grow indoors. Make sure rosemary gets plenty of light, sits in a well-drained pot, gets watered when the soil is dry to the touch — but not completely dry. Don’t water your rosemary as much in the winter. To prevent mildew, keep rosemary in a room that gets a lot of air circulation and is dry, rather than humid.
With its strong and unique flavor, rosemary begs to be the star ingredient of your recipes, like in these Rosemary Wild Rice Stuffed Mushrooms. For a fancy addition to soups and salads, make Raw Garlic Rosemary Croutons. Get classy with this Brown Butter Gnocchi With Fresh Herbs, or this Tian of Vegetables with Garlic and Rosemary. On the sweet side, rosemary also does well in desserts, so try out some Rosemary and Thyme Blueberry Popsicles.
9. Sage[caption id="attachment_1481309796" align="aligncenter" width="1877"] Caligula1995/Flickr[/caption]
A beautiful silvery, fuzzy herb, sage adds instant warmth and character to savory dishes. Sage likes its environment to be warm, sunny, and humid, but it can tolerate a wider range of conditions than some other herbs and should not be overwatered.
Though sage is often just a garnish, this Sage Tempura features sage front and center. Get cozy with Autumn Maple Sage Acorn Squash. For some more hearty dishes, make Sweet Potato Gnocchi With Brown Butter Sage Sauce or Sage Polenta and Wild Mushrooms.
10. Thyme[caption id="attachment_1481309798" align="aligncenter" width="1600"] Kalle Scharlund/Flickr[/caption]
Small-leaved and bushy, thyme is just as easy to grow as it is to eat up! Water thyme regularly and let the soil dry a bit between waterings.
Thyme brings life to hearty dishes like this Fettuccine With Oyster Mushrooms and Thyme or Creamy Garlic and Thyme Rigatoni With Roasted Cauliflower. A versatile herb, you can also use it in desserts. Try making Chocolate Almond and Thyme Tarts or Lemon and Thyme Cake With Lemon Curd.
Bonus: Aloe Vera[caption id="attachment_1481309800" align="aligncenter" width="1333"] Tess Watson/Flickr[/caption]
Aloe vera is not technically an herb, but it makes this list anyway because any household would be remiss not to have some. Aloe is a hardy desert plant, which makes it ideal for an indoor setting. Water aloe vera consistently but infrequently, and even less so during winter months. Let the soil dry out completely between waterings.
When you split open a leaf of aloe, you’ll find inside a thick, gooey gel best known for soothing cuts and burns. Its sunburn- and itch-relieving properties alone should be reason enough to grow your own aloe, but did you know you can actually incorporate it into food? It’s true, and these Raw Aloe Vera Brownies prove it.
Need more ideas for what to do with your home-grown herbs? Our Food Monster App is just the thing. The app is available for both Android and iPhone, and can also be found on Instagram and Facebook. The app has more than 10,000 plant-based, allergy-friendly recipes, and subscribers gain access to new recipes every day. Enjoy!
Lead image source: Allispossible/Flickr