Growing your own herbs is satisfying, and there are many varieties to include in the herb garden, whether you grow them for cooking or creating homemade essential oils. However, it’s vital to know when to plant herbs indoors and outside to ensure you get the healthiest herb plants for harvesting.
There is nothing quite like clipping fresh herbs from the garden and adding them to recipes. Drying homegrown herbs keeps your kitchen fully stocked with aromatic and flavorful spices throughout the year. The greatest thing about growing an herb plant is that you don’t need ample space to grow them.
Many herb plants grow in a home garden or in front of a window indoors, from oregano, marjoram, coriander or cilantro, and tarragon to chives, chervil, lemon balm, and chamomile. While they are all relatively simple to plant and care for, knowing when to start them from seed is key to growing productive herbs.
How and When to Plant All Types of Herbs
Herbs like borage, lovage, and fennel are lovely additions to the garden, and pesto is not complete without the Mediterranean herb basil. However, the best time to plant herbs depends on whether you grow them inside on a sunny windowsill or outside in raised beds or a garden.
Learn about the different types of herbs for home gardening and their growing habits. Find out when to plant herb seeds indoors and outside and plant care tips to ensure you can harvest herbs at the end of the season.
When is the Best Time to Plant Herbs?
The best time to plant herbs depends on the type of herbs. Some herbs like perennials are hardier and drought tolerant, while annuals have a shorter growing season and need a head start.
Herbs fall into three categories – annual, biennial, and perennial, and they all provide various health benefits. Annual herbs put all their energy into their growth through the summer and die off at the end of the season. Perennial herbs grow new plants year after year, and biennial plants have a two-year cycle.
Early spring is the ideal time to plant perennials and biennials outdoors. However, it’s safe to plant herbs at any time of the year if the ground is not frozen. On the other hand, annuals are often more tender, and growing herbs from seeds indoors before transplanting them outside is the way to go.
How and When to Plant Herb Seeds Indoors
All herb types are good herbs to grow indoors. However, sowing annual seeds inside while the danger of frost is still present gives you a start on the growing season. Here is how and when to plant herb seeds indoors.
To plant these herbs in late summer or autumn or a different season, fill a seed starting tray with potting soil and perlite and press about five seeds into the dirt. Lightly cover them with moist soil mix and keep them damp during the germination period. If you’re growing more than one herb, write the plant name and seed sowing date on a label and stick it in the dirt near the seed.
Set the tray in a warm, sunny area of your home and cover it with clear plastic to speed up germination. If you don’t have a window with enough sunshine, consider using grow lights.
Once the seedlings emerge, remove the plastic and thin them to make one healthy herb per cell. When the seedlings reach six to eight weeks old, pinch off the top leaves to encourage new leaves and bushier growth and prepare for transplanting them outside when they are ten weeks old.
How and When to Plant Herbs Outside
Once your seedlings begin to emerge, and the last frost is gone, it’s time to move them outdoors. Warm, springtime temperatures are also a great time to sow seeds directly in the outside garden. Discover how to plant seeds and young plants in the herb garden and care for them.
To sow seeds outside, press several seeds into each garden section and space them according to the seed packet instructions. Cover with dirt and water them lightly right after planting. Cilantro and arugula are easy herbs to grow in your backyard and are suited for direct sowing in the early spring, while basil is a warm-season herb that is best sown after the last frost.
To transplant seedlings, take them outside a week before planting to harden them off. Start by setting them in the shade for a couple of hours each day and gradually move them to full sun by the end of the week. Space them according to herb type and perform regular watering to prevent the soil from drying.
Consider spreading mulch in your herb garden to prevent weeds from taking nutrients from your plants. Fertilizer is unnecessary if you enrich the garden with organic matter. For optimal flavor, harvest your herbs in mid to late summer, just before they flower.
For added benefit, plant herbs to repel mosquitoes naturally either in containers or a garden area near your deck or patio. You’ll have fewer insect pests when you sit outside.
Ways to Store Culinary Herbs after Harvesting
Knowing when to plant herb seeds and caring for them as they grow are only the first steps to enjoying culinary herbs in recipes. After you harvest the leaves from your plants, it’s time to store them to keep your herbs as fresh as possible until you’re ready to use them.
Start by washing and drying your garden herbs. To store tender herbs, clip off the bottom stems, remove any wilted leaves, and place them stem side down in a jar with an inch of water.
Then, place them in the fridge and refresh the water every couple of days. To keep hardy herbs fresh, wrap them in a damp paper towel, slip them into a plastic bag, and refrigerate them.
If you cannot eat the herbs before they go bad, consider freezing them. Blend tender herbs with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil, pour them into an ice cube tray to freeze, and transfer them to a freezer bag. Freeze hardy herbs in the same way you refrigerate them, but put them into a freezer bag or airtight container instead.
Growing an herb garden is a fun and rewarding experience, and they are all relatively easy to start from seed. However, some herbs love growing during cool weather, and others are not cold-hardy, and knowing the difference ensures you get the most out of your plants.
We hope you enjoyed learning how and when to plant herbs, and we’d appreciate it if you’d share our herb planting guide and growing tips with your gardening friends and family on Pinterest and Facebook.