Gardening Articles: Edibles :: Herbs

Best Herbs for Indoor Growing

by Conrad Richter

In recent years, many new varieties of herbs have been introduced, some of which do better indoors than the traditional varieties. Here are 10 herbs notable for their consistent, compact growth habit and strong flavor.

'Grolau' chives (Allium schoenoprasum): Strong flavor and thick, dark green leaves. Developed for forcing, 8 to 12 inches tall. Seeds germinate in 10 to 14 days at 60° to 68° F.

'Fernleaf' dill (Anethum graveolens): Dwarf form of dill only 18 inches tall. Ideal for dill weed indoors. Standard varieties grow too tall and bolt too soon. Easy from seeds, germinating in 7 to 14 days at 60° to 68° F.

'English' mint (Mentha spicata): Perhaps the best-behaved spearmint variety (not as invasive as others, and the leaves are broader and deeper green). Excellent for cooking and tea. Easy to propagate from cuttings.

'Spicy Globe' basil (Ocimum basilicum minimum): Dense, compact form of basil, 8 to 10 inches tall. Good flavor. Grow from seed; germinates in 6 to 12 days at 68° to 77° F.

Greek oregano (Origanum vulgare hirtum): The true oregano for Mediterranean cooking, with excellent flavor and white flowers. Watch out for the impostor (called wild marjoram) with pink flowers and no flavor. Greek oregano grows well in pots, reaching 8 to 12 inches. Grows easily from seed in 7 to 21 days at 65° to 77° F.

Broadleaf thyme (Plectranthus amboinicus or Coleus amboinicus): Also known as Spanish thyme and Cuban oregano, this plant has broad, fleshy leaves unlike those of ordinary thyme. Wonderful, spicy thyme-oregano flavor and useful in many of the same recipes as ordinary thyme. Never goes dormant. Grows from cuttings only, and reaches 10 to 12 inches tall.

Vietnamese coriander (Polygonum odoratum): Not true coriander, but a good substitute. Regrows after cutting, unlike true coriander, which must be reseeded after harvest. Grows 4 to 8 inches tall. Propagate from cuttings.

'Blue Boy' rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis): More compact and diminutive than regular rosemary, reaching only 24 inches. Flowers freely and has excellent flavor. Propagated by cuttings only.

Dwarf garden sage (Salvia officinalis 'Compacta'): Smaller leaves and more compact habit than regular sage, growing only 10 inches high. Same sage flavor. Propagated by cuttings only; seeds are unavailable.

Creeping savory (Satureja repandra or S. spicigera): Flavor identical to that of winter savory, but easier and faster to grow indoors. Reaches only 2-4 inches in height, but fills the pot with a dense mat of foliage. Difficult to find seeds, but grows readily from cuttings.

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