The first frost may signify that winter is coming, but don't let plummeting temperatures put the kibosh on your planting plans. Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme aren't just lyrics to a Simon & Garfunkel song -- they also happen to be some of the herbs best-suited to a curated indoor environment. Senior garden editor Todd Carr reveals which herbs can thrive indoors, and how to treat them with proper TLC.
An adaptable perennial beloved for its fresh fragrance and cool flavor, mint is a perfect candidate for indoor growth due to its hardiness. The herb should be kept consistently damp, but be careful: Drowning the plant in excess moisture will hasten its decomposition.
Furthermore, Carr advises, mint requires substantial sunlight to thrive. "Most plants demand full sunlight. If they do not receive adequate light, their growth can be stunted and they can succumb to disease."
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Parsley presents an excellent opportunity for windowsill cultivation and is most prolific when exposed to sunlight and sufficient periodic hydration. Much like mint, parsley needs sunlight at least several hours per day. "If you do not have an east- or south-facing window for sunlight, install a grow light," Carr advises. "Grow lights use a photosynthesis-optimizing light spectrum that plants need."
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Whether sauteed with brown butter and drizzled over a dish or swirled into a sweet cocktail, sage is a key ingredient in any chef's culinary arsenal. When placed on a sunny perch, sage perennials can grow in an indoor environment.
"Try to position each plant to receive as much full sun as possible and turn the pots in the windowsill," Carr recommends. Rotating your herbs will ensure that the plant's entirety gains sufficient sunlight for photosynthesis without overexposing a single side and thus fostering unbalanced growth or premature peaking.
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Carr cautions that rosemary can be a temperamental plant, but attentive care can yield great growth. "Don't overwater your herbs, as mildew can occur," Carr says. Insects are also a concern for sensitive plants like rosemary. "Periodically check for pests, and use an organic pesticide if you find an infestation such as aphids or mealworms."
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A distant relative of mint, oregano blossoms in temperate, sunny climes. While the herb responds well to periodic watering, overhydrating the plant constantly can be enormously detrimental to its growth, Carr counsels gardeners. As with cilantro and parsley, oregano will flourish when clipped on a consistent basis.
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An herbaceous addition to pestos, salads, and meat marinades alike, cilantro grows rapidly after its initial planting and wilts relatively quickly thereafter. However, its short life span can be reasonably protracted with several hours of direct sunlight per day and moderate heat below 70 degrees, a temperature range to which many indoor herbs respond well.