Indoor herbs

Growing herbs on a windowsill or other spot is a fun project. Plus, you can eat the harvest.

We’re still a few weeks away from the time to plant warm-weather herbs outdoors, such as basil. You don’t have to wait to grow herbs indoors.

Growing herbs on a windowsill or other spot is a fun project. Plus, you can eat the harvest.

Our panel of plant experts throughout the Lancaster County region shared their favorite herbs to grow indoors.

Mint

Mint

There are a lot of varieties of mint (Mentha spp.): peppermint, spearmint, apple mint, pineapple mint, ginger mint, chocolate mint, basil mint, orange mint and banana mint. All have culinary uses, can be steeped for teas, and smell incredible, says Jody Davey, manager of conservatory habitats at Hershey Gardens.

Outdoors, mint is an aggressive grower. It self-seeds and spreads through underground runners. Indoors, growing mint in containers will keep this plant from taking over.

One mint to grow outdoors: mountain mint. At Penn State’s Southeast Research and Extension Center near Landisville, mountain mint attracted the most insect diversity in a pollinator garden.

Chives

Chives

Chives outdoors can spread quickly if you don’t remove the flowers or capture the seeds. (The flowers are a great edible garnish.)

This plant can also grow indoors.

Chives (Allium schoenoprasum) are more tolerant of indoor conditions than many herbs, says Kathy Trout, co-owner of Ken’s Gardens. Place them in a sunny windowsill.

Rosemary

Rosemary

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is tender enough not to overwinter in most Lancaster County gardens.

This herb can be brought inside for the cold season. Master Gardener Holly List brings hers inside to winter in a sunny window. It’s low maintenance and doesn’t need much water. Another plant in a north-facing window with less sun is doing just fine as well.

Rosemary topiaries are sold around the holidays but can last well into the new year.

Parlsey

Parsley

Parsley’s another good herb to try to grow indoors, says Jen Hollenbaugh, greenhouse manager for Esbenshade’s Garden Center’s Lititz store.

This herb (Petroselinum crispum) appreciates bright light and a pot with good drainage.

Snipping stalks close to the soil level instead of cutting only the tops off should lead to more foliage.

Parsley’s a biennial plant, meaning it completes its life cycle in two years. If you’ve kept a parsley plant alive into year two, remember that the second-year parsley is bitterer than the previous year’s herbs.

Basil

Basil

Grow basil (ocimum basilicum) from seed for indoors or transplanting outdoors when temperatures warm up in mid-May.

Living basil plants in the produce section can be potted and harvested. Master Gardener Luci Steele’s done this and then planted the basil outdoors.

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