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Indoor herbs versus outdoor herbs

Thinking of herb gardening and to grow your own?

The next step is deciding where to grow them and which kind of herbs suited to your situation.

Indoors or outdoors, greenhouse or containers, there will be a herb to satisfy your keen green fingers.

There's a large overlap between herbs that do well in an outdoor garden versus those that thrive inside. Many will perform equally well in either setting, provided they're cared for properly.

Fortunately, herbs are just about the easiest possible plant to tend. Once planted in the proper soil, they'll do well with almost no care. They perform well in earth that would be considered poor for other plants. They rarely require fertilizer of any kind, are drought tolerant and most will come back year after year.

That makes the choice easy for picking some to go out in the sunshine or into a pot for the house or deck.

Bay Laurel is a Mediterranean native so it likes lots of sunshine and dry conditions. But it can be planted indoors or out. Just make sure the container has good drainage if you want this herb in a pot. Allow it to get plenty of sun if it's in or near the house.

Fill a pot with pre-dampened potting soil, and make sure the container is large enough to prevent the Bay Laurel from becoming root bound. Then place the herb where it will get 6 hours per day or more of sun and watch it outgrow your container in a year.

Chives can thrive in a pot, but they really excel in a garden. They soak up the heat and sprout up to a foot or more, producing beautiful purple flowers. They do well bunched together and can last years, wintering over well in cold climates. Clip the leaves near the base, rather than further up.

Parsley is an excellent choice for an indoor herb. Even though it will grow well outside, it will probably only last one season. Keep it in a pot and you can sustain it year after year. Easier to grow from plants than seeds, it will be easy to tend for.

New leaves grow from the center, so trim the outer ones first in order to keep the plant healthy. They love sun, so put them on a sill in a window with southern exposure (in the Northern Hemisphere) where they can soak up the rays.

Let that Lavender stay outside until you're ready to prepare it for potpourri or a perfume sachet. It makes great ground cover and gives a garden a lovely smell to complement the beautiful pinkish-purple flowers.

Lavender requires very little care, just make sure the soil drains so it isn't excessively wet. They're bug-resistant and the deer don't care for the blossoms so you won't have to take special precautions. No need to fertilize or prune either.

Most herbs will winter well, and many will do just fine in a container or a basket. Just keep the soil a mixture of clay and sandy loam to ensure some water retention, but not too much. Indoors or out you'll find they are lovely, aromatic and many make for great seasonings when harvested.

Greenhouse herbs

Most herbs are very hardy, surviving winter well and thriving in relatively poor soil. But people and plants may find it more comfortable to carry out their actions inside the greenhouse. Fortunately, there are several herbs that take to that environment readily.


A variety of Chamomile called Roman Chamomile is an excellent choice. With its apple scented leaves and delicate flowers, it can be used as part of a potpourri or make a wonderful tea. Growing it inside the greenhouse in a large container is easy. Just make sure the soil drains well and that it gets plenty of sunshine. Before long you'll have a plant 2-3 feet high.


Chives are another perennial that do extremely well in a greenhouse setting. It comes in many varieties, all of which do well in the same conditions. The ordinary or Common Chive has a mild onion flavor that is perfect for soups or salads. The Curly type looks great in a greenhouse rock garden, but it's not good for cooking. The Garlic style makes for a perfect seasoning, though, where it gives a tangy garlic-onion tone.


Ordinary, everyday Parsley is a great greenhouse herb. It can grow well in partial shade, but also thrives in full sunshine. Plant some seeds in a healthy soil and watch the thick green foliage sprout up. Take care not to water excessively. Most herbs prefer a slightly dryer soil.


Basil is another common herb, and for good reason - it adds a great flavor to all those Italian dishes you want to try. Enjoying full sun several hours per day, it will grow in winter too. Just make sure the soil drains well and you'll have stems that reach 5-7 inches in no time. Once they flower, dry the stems well after harvesting and you'll have an intense Basil to add to your recipe.


Another common perennial, this time one that your cat will enjoy. The Common variety does indeed make them a little woozy, but it also makes for an interesting tea for humans. The Greek variety has a smaller, more gray-green colored leaf. Sometimes called Catmint, it resists insects well and makes for a fine greenhouse addition.


This herb is the base for Cilantro, where it has been used in cooking and medicines from Mexico to Southeast Asia. The tangy taste from its seeds is perfect in curry, too. The Vietnamese variety is a perennial, while the common type is annual.


Commonly thought of as a simple flowering plant, it is sometimes classified as an herb. In some technical dictionaries, an herb is a plant whose stems are non-woody, and decay with the coming of winter. Perennial varieties will regrow the stem every year. The dried leaves and flowers are perfect for a sachet or potpourri, thanks to the delicate scent.

There are two dozen or more varieties. The Apricot has a pungent scent and produces lovely light pink flowers, while the Chocolate Mint type has a flavor that matches its name. The French Vanilla has a wonderful vanilla scent that is perfect for potpourri.

Let your herbs in the greenhouse sit around the edge or in the center, wherever they'll get lots of heat and sunshine. Keep the soil moist but not wet and go easy on the fertilizer. Then sit down and enjoy the many wonderful aromas from these perfect greenhouse plants.