herbs on a plate with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and garlic

Looking for fresh and healthy herbs? Plant your own!

Love fresh herbs, but hate the price? Why not grow your own? It’s a great way to add plants to your living space, and you can eat them! And feel good about eating them because you are in control of what they go into and what goes into them. (Hello, organic!) No windowsill? No counter space? Don’t worry, we’ve brainstormed a list of alternatives for you!

Which herbs to grow

Okay, let’s start with which herbs you want to grow. Think of your favorite recipes. For example, if you love fresh caprese salad—grow some basil to enjoy it all year. Here is a short list of some others for you to consider:

  • Chives
  • Mint
  • Oregano
  • Parsley
  • Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Thyme

Most of these herbs like partial to full-sun, so if your kitchen is on the north side, or doesn’t get natural light (we’re talking about you, apartment galley kitchen!), you will want to find a sunnier spot.

These herbs also like similar conditions for the most part, but you will want to grow them in separate containers anyway, as some tend to spread quickly and will choke out the others. Some friend, huh? We’ll get into containers and contraptions further on, but for now, just remember to find containers with good drainage and some basic potting mix (organic if you can, of course—you will be eating this!)

Basil, oregano, and rosemary like full sun, so feel free to find a southern-facing window for them.

Parsley, thyme, and mint don’t need as much sunlight, but they still need about 6 hours a day.

Chives and mint like to be a bit moister than the other herbs, but don’t overdo it and soak them. Mint also likes a bit of a spritz from time to time as well.

As far as temperature goes, herbs are comfortable in the same range as we are. However, watch out for cold windows and your basil. While most other herbs don’t mind the drop in temperature at night, basil will wilt in a cold draft.

Lastly, find a taller pot for your parsley. It has a longer tap root than the other herbs and needs more room to stretch its legs.

overhead close-up of herb seedlings

An herb garden on the cheap

If the whole point to growing your own fresh herbs is to save money, then it makes sense to buy some seed packets, poke some holes in some found containers (plastic bottles, aluminum cans, etc.), and be done with it. This is the way to go if this is your only reason for starting an herb garden. If another, just as important reason is to have fresh herbs whenever you want them without rushing to the grocery store and hoping they have what you need, then you may want to consider purchasing seedlings from your local greenhouse as well. Growing your herbs from seedlings means fewer weeks waiting for a harvest, and some herbs, like basil and rosemary, are easier to grow if they started their young lives in the ideal conditions provided by a greenhouse.

What to grow herbs in

As far as how to do this, the only limit to the number of ideas is your own brain (or the amount of time you have to spend on Pinterest and/or Instagram). Here are just a few ideas for you—some are really pretty, and some are a bit more, well, functional:

For sunny windowsills

If you have a deeper windowsill in a sunny spot, you have the perfect place for your herb garden. Find some pretty containers and put them down on either one long pebble tray or give each one its own.

Self-watering containers can take some of the work out of maintaining the perfect moisture for you. Cut some plastic bottles in half, fill them with potting mix and your seeds or seedlings, and place them upside down in glasses of water. When the water gets low, refill it. You can even paint the outside of the bottles if you don’t like the clear plastic and stencil the names of the herbs on them.

pots of herbs growing in a window

No windowsill

Use old aluminum cans for containers. You can use a bottle opener to punch holes into the bottom of them for drainage. Then put them on a pebble tray on the counter or your kitchen table. You could paint these little guys black and use chalk to write the names of the herbs on them.

And if you still like that idea of repurposing plastic bottles and having a self-watering system, you can use brackets to mount from above. Stack the plastic bottles upside down starting with a one that is right side up and in tact to catch the water.

How about Mason jars? Install some metal coat hooks on the wall in a sunny spot, wrap the lips of the Mason jars with heavy string or wire and hang from the hooks. Of course, Mason jars don’t have drainage, so you will want to slip a container inside.

And you won’t believe this, but Macramé is back! You can even make plant hangers yourself out of common things like clotheslines! Check out the book section in your favorite thrift store, and you are sure to find a manual. And, shh…one of the giant box hardware stores even has an online tutorial.

And our last re-purposing idea is to get a pallet, sand it down, paint it, and attach pots with worm clamps. Be sure to protect your floor from drainage or move the pots to the sink to water.

Year-round culinary delights

No matter which method you choose for your own indoor herb garden, you won’t regret starting one. You can start small, say with a mint plant next to the stove for tea and cocktails, or go big and install pulleys and boards to hold your appetizing garden . Nothing beats fresh herbs, and with these ideas, you can have them all year long!