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How to Grow a DIY Indoor Herb Garden – 11 Mistakes to Avoid

Woman Cutting Fresh Homegrown Thyme on Windowsill

Indoor herb gardens are becoming increasingly popular these days, with so many people having a little extra time on their hands and looking to save a few bucks. 

Growing herbs indoors doesn’t require too many supplies. All you need is a mason jar or herb pot or two, some potting soil, and herb seeds or cuttings. You can grow them right in your kitchen window, where you’ll always have fresh leaves and beautiful decor.

Unfortunately, many people are unaware of what it takes to grow and maintain these little guys and make some critical mistakes that destroy their gardens. In this article, we cover eleven gardening mistakes that are easy to avoid.

11 Mistakes to Avoid When Growing a DIY Indoor Herb Garden

Indoor herb gardens are fabulous for so many reasons, especially if you live in a small space or out in the country where wild animals love to take advantage of all your hard work. They are also great because they are so easy to grow and care for.

Just because herbs are simple to maintain (for the most part) doesn’t mean they don’t require work. There are still many things to consider when growing a DIY indoor herb garden that will have huge effects on its chances of survival. 

Here are 11 of the most frequent mistakes people make that can slow down the growth of indoor herb gardens or even stop growth altogether. 

1. Watering Too Much

We know that water is an important component of growing healthy, lush plants. But after the seed and seedling period, you don’t have to water herbs every day. These fragrant, aromatic greens only require hydration once a week.

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If you are unsure whether or not you should water your garden, check the soil. If it is dry more than an inch or so down, you can give it a drink.

2. Planters Without Drainage Holes

There are tons of great planters available in stores and online these days with a wide variety of designs, colors, and shapes. Unfortunately, many of them do not come with drainage holes, or if they do, the holes are not big enough.

If your planters do not have good drainage, your plant is doomed from the start. These holes provide a place for water to seep out so as not to drown the roots. They also allow for proper aeration, giving the plant roots plenty of oxygen to grow. 

3. Not Enough Lighting

The majority of herb plants require about 6-8 hours of direct sunlight each day. Placing herb gardens on kitchen shelves or countertops will not provide the amount of natural light they need to thrive. 

If you cannot put your planters next to a window or somewhere sunlight is available, you will want to purchase a grow light that can take the place of the sun.

4. Cranking the Heat

Depending on your location, winters can get very cold, and many of us like cranking up the heat to keep ourselves warm. Unfortunately, turning up the heat in your house can eliminate much-needed humidity in the air and can dry the moisture out of the soil quickly.

5. Starting Seeds Incorrectly

All too often, people jump into growing gardens too fast and don’t take the time to learn the proper ways to grow plants, especially starting from seeds.

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Not all seeds are alike, and you need to plant each in its own way. Some require direct sunlight to sprout, while others need to be pushed deeper into the soil.

6. Not Pruning or Not Pruning Enough

There are many benefits to pruning your herbs, aside from easy access to your favorite flavors and tastes. Pruning your herbs encourages healthy and abundant growth.

Pruning your herbs also keeps them under control and forms a nice shape. 

7. Scorching the Leaves

Sunlight is one of the most important parts of growing healthy, strong herb plants. However, on very hot days, plants are at risk of being scorched if left for too long without some shade.

Another way people scorch leaves without even realizing it is watering their flowers or spritzing them while the sun is hot. The sun will heat the water and scorch the leaves if you are not careful. Be careful when watering your windowsill herb garden, especially on hot days.

8. Mixing and Matching Incorrectly

Unfortunately, not all herb species play nice, and many of them will not grow if planted with another plant they are not compatible with. It is always best to read the information on each herb and the specific care each requires, then plant them accordingly. 

9. Choosing Difficult Herbs

If you are just starting out or your thumb isn’t quite green, there are some herbs you should stay away from until you have a better understanding of the gardening process. Some herbs that tend to be a little harder to grow than the rest include:

  • Lavender 
  • Mint
  • Basil
  • Dill
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10. Attempting Too Big Too Soon

It is common for people to become over-excited and start an indoor garden with their favorite herbs. It may not seem like a big deal to some, but those who know what it takes to maintain a garden know it is a task.

Start your indoor garden off small with a few plants, then add to it once you get the hang of things and are okay with adding a little extra work.

11. Not Maintaining Your Plants

Although most fresh herb plants are fairly hardy once they have matured, they still require proper hydration, lighting, nutrition, etc. Without regularly maintaining your garden, you will not have the benefits that come with these little plants.

If you are going on vacation, ask someone to care for your garden or purchase a self-watering system.

Summing Things Up

The best way to successfully grow a healthy, durable, and lush indoor herb garden is simply by doing a little homework and understanding the essential needs of the plants you are attempting to grow, whether it’s thyme, parsley, basil, or any of your favorite herbs.