Winter usually marks the end of fresh local produce (especially if you live in the Northern hemisphere). But what if you could grow some plants indoors without the hassle of mud and planters?
Well, fortunately for you, the answer to that question is yes. There are over 10 herbs you can grow indoors all winter long, and even without mud (how cool is that?). As a bonus, they make as an attractive addition to any windowsill or desk.
Herbs that root in water and grow throughout winter are perennial herbs. Annual herbs typically only grow one season, produce seeds, and then die (1). Perennials will keep coming back, as long as you pinch off the older leaves as they grow to full size.
Growing Herbs Indoors
Growing herbs indoors isn’t as difficult as when you’re trying to grow vegetables or fruit indoors.
Unless otherwise noted, full plants can be rooted from whole leaves with the base intact or from trimmed stems. You can start with herb plants from your garden, or even perennial herbs from the grocery store. Make sure the stems are 6 inches long, and remove the leaves from the bottom 4 inches of the stems. If using herbs from the grocery store, cut the very bottom of each stem to allow them to absorb more water.
Place the herb stems in glass jars (opaque is best) filled with water (not distilled) and place them in a spot where they get bright direct light for at least 6 hours each day.
Clip each leaf as it grows to full size to encourage the stem to produce more leaves at the top. This will also allow the stem to grow for months at a time.
The Best Herbs to Grow Indoors
Whether you want to start a kitchen herb garden as a hobby, or simply want to save money, there are plenty of herbs that you can start with. Fresh herbs make everything taste better. From fresh salads to soups and stews, herbs will bring everything to a whole other level.
There is nothing better than an attractive row of fresh herb vases along the windowsill (especially in the dead of winter).
Some of the easiest and most popular herbs grown in water are:
Basil makes a great pain-relieving supplement, moderates blood sugar levels, and is a potent antibiotic, antiviral and anti-fungal (2). It is great for relieving coughs, and symptoms of bronchitis.
This popular Italian herb can be used on pizza, in pasta sauces, salads and even pesto! While basil does improve the taste of your tomatoes when companion planted, it doesn’t mean you can’t also have it on your windowsill!
Basil is very easy to grow in water, when following the basic instructions above. You can use any variety of basil, too. My favourite is large leaf Italian sweet basil. (buy online)
2. Culinary Sage
Sage is great at inhibiting the inflammatory response in the body (3). For this reason, sage can help remediate symptoms that come with ailments like arthritis, bronchial asthma and atherosclerosis.
Take a few sprigs in the spring (or end of season) from an outdoor plant and place in shallow water. It will quickly sprout roots! Sage does not like to be crowded, and likes plenty of air space for prevention of mildew. Leaves should not touch the water.
You can add fresh sage to your salads, in gravies and sauces, or you can steep it fresh in a tea to help soothe irritated lungs. (buy online)
Peppermint is wonderful for relieving digestive upset and can soothe irritable bowel syndrome quite fast (4). It helps relieve stress, nausea, inflammatory conditions, and is known for its incredible ability to get rid of headaches – fast!
Peppermint can be made into a tea, or you can blend it up with medjool dates and some warm water to make a delicious, frothy peppermint drink (or dessert) that you can sip on throughout the day. It is a great addition to almost any chocolate recipe, like chocolate cake, muffins or even cookies!
Peppermint Grows quickly and easily. Just trim off some peppermint from a fresh plant, trim off the bottom leaves, stick into water and off they go! (buy online)
Spearmint contains anti-androgenic properties that helps improve individuals’ suffering from polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) (5).
Since spearmint and peppermint possess quite similar properties, the spearmint is also great for treating digestive upsets, as well as nasty headaches. It can be made into a tea, or you can even add it to fresh ice cream recipes (chocolate mint, anyone?). If you’re anything like me, then you’ll love the taste. It is a tad sweeter than peppermint, and not as much as a shock when you eat it.
Just like peppermint, spearmint grows quickly. (buy online)
Oregano has been found to be superior to prescription antibiotics, working as an effective antibacterial, antiviral, anti-fungal, and antioxidant.
Some test-tube studies have shown that oregano and its components may help kill cancer cells (6).
This lovely herb can be used in pasta dishes, sauces, stews, soups, or even made into a tea to heal your lungs from symptoms of cough, asthma, bronchitis, and other infections.
Oregano grows similar to basil in that in order for it to grow, you should pinch off top maturing leaves to stimulate new growth. (buy online)
6. Lemon Balm
Lemon balm is a wonderful smelling herb that helps repel mosquitoes, heal cold sores and aids digestion. It is also one of the best for repairing a tired and worn out nervous system. It has even been found to help reduce chronic stress and anxiety (7)!
A great way to prepare this herb is plucking off some leaves and steeping them in warm water to make a tea. You can even make a bug spray with the leaves of the plant by soaking 1/2 cup of them in 1 cup of witch hazel for about 1 week. Strain, and pour into a spray bottle.
Follow the directions above to start your lemon balm in a small vase of water. Also, be sure to change the water of this plant once a week to prevent root rot. (buy online)
Thymol found in thyme, is known to kill cancer cells, as well as lower blood pressure, prevent tooth decay, ease stomach disorders and kill bacteria and fungi (8, 9). It is also a powerful anti-viral. The essential oil of thyme has been successfully used in keeping mold levels down in the air, particularly when diffused.
Thyme is great in salads, but it really makes an impression in soups. For some reason, I’ve found that thyme gives an almost chicken-like flavor to soup, but without having to use chicken broth (good for people like me who are plant-based!). It also works wonderfully in stews and sauces.
Keep this plant moist by giving it a spritz of water every once in awhile (otherwise it’ll dry out). (buy online)
This popular natural sweetener is best grown at home to avoid genetically modified organisms and pesticides. Stevia helps reduce the desire for nicotine (to help stop smoking), because there is a link between sugar and nicotine cravings.
Stevia has also been researched for its ability to kill lyme disease co-infections. It does so by targeting the tough biofilms that protect the bacteria from our immune system.
Be sure to keep this plant in a warm area as it does not like the cold. (buy online)
Rosemary has a sharper taste fresh than dried, and is known to improve memory and cognitive function, stimulate hair growth and prevent inflammation (10).
Rosemary can be enjoyed in soups, stews, and sauces. It is also suggested to add rosemary to any potato dish you add to the oven. Rosemary can help reduce the amount of cancer-causing acrylamide that is created as a by-product of roasting potatoes!
This plant has thick stems, so it takes a while to grow roots. But once it gets going, it takes very well. Rosemary loves warmth, so make sure to place it against a south-facing window. (buy online)
Tarragon is a great herb to help moderate blood sugar and treat metabolic syndrome. It also acts as a strong antibacterial agent (11). Tarragon may also help relieve pain associated with conditions like osteoarthritis.
Tarragon is a very potent herb, so you only have to use it sparingly. It makes a great salad dressing when combined with vinegar and works well with tomatoes and carrots. Try sprinkling some over grilled summer vegetables or a green salad.
Tarragon likes warm, sunny spots to grow in, so make sure they’re next to a south-facing window. (buy online)