Indoor plants add a touch of green and bring the outdoors in to your home. Although the Dallas/Fort Worth area has a mild climate that promotes almost year-round gardening, growing fresh herbs in or near your kitchen is a great way to have these fragrant plants at your fingertips when you are cooking. Herbs are easy plants to grow indoors in containers.

Where to Put the Herb Garden

First, pick a spot where your plants will get at least six hours of sunlight a day. Just like their outdoor counterparts, indoor plants need heat, water, and sunlight. A window sill in the kitchen or dining room is a great place to put an herb garden. You can even hang them in pots in front of any window in your home. West windows are preferred, but you may get enough sunlight with an east- or south-facing window.

What You Need

After determining the best spot, choose your containers. The key to growing healthy herbs or any indoor plants is to select porous containers that allow plenty of drainage, such clay pots. This prevents the plants from retaining too much water, which can rot the roots. Also, be sure to get a pot that’s big enough. Those cute little planters may look nice, but you want your herbs to have room to grow. Thoroughly wash any container, whether it’s new or repurposed, to kill any bacteria.

Next, select your soil. Get quality organic potting soil with plenty of nutrients. Consider adding bone meal, worm castings, or even compost to your potting soil. Herbs and other indoor plants won’t get the same nutrients that they would outside. If you choose to add plant food to your herbs, be sure it is organic.

Seeds or Seedlings?

You can choose to grow your herbs from plants or from seeds. Watching plants grow from seeds is a fun activity for children. Choose herbs you like to use in cooking. Mint, basil, rosemary, sage, thyme, and chives grow well indoors. Also consider growing lavender, which is being incorporated more and more in desserts. It will give you kitchen a soft, fragrant scent. Cilantro grows indoors easily and is a must for Dallas-area fans of Mexican food. Or try to replicate the marinara of your favorite Metroplex Italian restaurant with your homegrown oregano.

How to Use The Herbs

Once your plants start growing, put them to work in your favorite recipes. Simply pull off some leaves and wash them. Be sure you leave enough foliage for the plant to survive. The leaves produce chlorophyll, which is essential for plants to live and grow. Plucking off too many leaves could interrupt this process.

Add fresh mint or spearmint leaves to iced tea for a refreshing change. Substitute your chopped fresh herbs for ground or dried varieties in any recipe. The conversion rate is one tablespoon of fresh herbs to one teaspoon of dried herbs, or one-quarter to one-half teaspoon of ground herbs.

You’ll like the fresh taste of your indoor garden, and if you are trying to avoid preservatives in other seasonings, you can’t beat just-picked homegrown herbs.