One of the most blossoming (pun intended) interior design trends is a renewed lust for bringing the outdoors in through lush plants and greenery. With more of us spending time indoors seeking ways to breathe new life and inject some color into our space, perhaps the easiest way to get on board with this trend is by growing herbs. Even if you’re not a green thumb, many herbs are drought resistant with shallow roots making them the ideal plant to grow inside in small easy pots. Here are some top tips for creating your own herb garden at home, which not only look pretty and smell fabulous, but are perfect for cooking and cocktail making.
Garden Variety Design Inspiration
If you need a little design inspo before getting to work, check out these gorgeous creative herb gardens on Instagram or walk among the flowers at a beautiful botanical garden. Many botanical gardens like the stunning New York Botanical Garden even offer classes for beginners, like this one which will give you the low down on light levels, temperatures, and aesthetics of creating an amazing indoor garden.
Growing Herbs in Containers
When growing herbs in containers there are three important things to keep in mind. The first is temperature, like us humans herbs are happiest and healthiest at 60-70 degrees Fahrenheit. However, if you place them up against the window the temperature will fluctuate and in summer or hot climates, it’s even possible for the leaves to burn, especially if they are touching the glass.
The right amount of sunlight is extremely important to the flavor and health of the herbs, to ensure they thrive and survive, herbs need 6-8 hours of sunlight. If your home does not get enough natural sunlight you may need to buy a light source. These brass Grow-Anywhere Growhouse potters feature LED light panels and will make for a stylish design touch.
Choosing the right container comes down to aesthetics and ensuring whatever you go with has adequate drainage. For most herbs, the soil needs to be completely dry between watering, and if they aren’t able to drain properly your plants run the risk of root rot. And it’s worth noting if you plan to plant multiple herbs together be sure they have the same watering requirements. As for the style factor, some great choices are vintage pots, geometric hanging planters, and classic natural terracotta pots. Find inspiration on Pinterest or check out these Instagrammers to spark your kitchen garden creativity.
Herbs That Grow Indoors
There are tons of herbs that grow beautifully indoors, including the popular sage, rosemary, and cilantro so add these to the list below. To help you decide which herbs to pick, consider what you love to cook, and which scents you want to permeate your home. You can also pick up a complete culinary set with seeds for all manner of herbs.
Mint: Grows easily indoors and best to be planted in its own container as it spreads like crazy. Will also give you home that fresh minty scent.
Basil: Perfect for beginner growers, it’s easy to tell when it is not getting enough water or sun (basil like lots of sunlight) and the leaves will become limp.
Thyme: A must for aromatherapy and cooking, place it in an east-facing window, and remember not to water it until the soil is dry. Thyme is also known to keep mosquitos away so if you have an outdoor space considering growing it there during the summer season.
Chives: Also great for beginners, chives will grow anywhere with adequate sunlight. Chives scent also acts as a natural pest repellent so they’re great to grow near other plants.
Parsley: A lover of full sun, as long as it has ample water parsley will thrive. It can be grown in the same pot as other herbs without overtaking them and flat-leaf parsley is a great ingredient or garnishes when cooking.
Oregano: It’s best to get a starter oregano plant rather than seeds, as seedlings can take a long time to produce, so you may assume something is wrong. Keep in mind that fresh oregano is significantly milder than the dried variety you’ll find at the grocery store.
Cooking with Fresh Herbs
Mastering the art of cooking with fresh herbs distinguishes a good chef from a great one. Adding a sprig of fresh thyme to a sauce or sprinkling finely chopped cilantro over your tacos enhances the flavor and presentation. Fear not, cooking with fresh herbs does not have to be intimidating. There are two important things to remember: knowing when to add the herb, you either add it early for a subtle flavor and or to finish and secondly, the fresh herbs are significantly more subtle than dried, so you’ll need to use 2-3 times the quantity.
If you want to evoke the culinary fare of the sunny South of France try making Chicken Provencal a flavorful white wine braised chicken dish with garlic and olives that is just begging for fresh thyme. To harvest thyme, cut off the top 5-6 inches of growth then push through a fine-mesh strainer to remove the leaves from the stem.
Or if you’re dreaming of an escape to the idyllic Greek Islands whip up Chicken Souvlaki, a lemon and garlic chicken dish where that fresh oregano becomes the star. The dish is best served over rice or on a warm fresh pita. Harvest using scissors on a warm morning to preserve maximum flavor.
The mojito is one of our favorite international cocktails to make at home and the most herbaceous thanks to its blend of mint, basil, and cilantro. Just like a great chef, a skilled mixologist will preach the significance of using fresh herbs and ingredients so having these on hand along with rosemary and sage is the key to being your own bartender. As is making your own homemade simple syrup with herbs, which is much easier than you’d imagine. Try your hand at these two of our herbal cocktails and for more inspiration check out The Bartender’s Garden.
Our Favorite Herbal Cocktail: Blackberry Sage Smash
Simple to make and we love how the gin brings out the flavor in the sage. To prepare the sage, cut and rinse the leaves and pat them dry to clean them and then add the leaves slowly as the flavor can get strong quite quickly.
Our Favorite Herbal Cocktail: Rosemary Champagne Cocktail with Blood Orange
The slightly peppery flavor of rosemary pairs beautifully with the sweet blood orange in this champagne cocktail and the key here is the homemade rosemary syrup. The trick here is to trim as much of the rosemary off the top as you can with garden shears.