How do you keep indoor herbs alive?

One of my biggest regrets is that I did not inherit my Grandma's incredible green thumb. Her apartment flourishes with indoor plants, many of them culinary (oregano, basil). She has given me cuttings several times and they all end up dead :( What, if any, is the secret to keeping indoor herbs alive? I don't have a lot of light in my apartment. Maybe that's the problem.

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sdebrango
sdebrango November 21, 2011

As a fellow indoor plant killer I sympathize. This is what I have been told, light is key, the herbs need to be where there is direct sunlight in order to live (they need at least 2 hours of sunlight daily), don't underwater or overwater, compost is important (you mix with the soil) there needs to be air circulation (I guess they mean fresh air. I have successfully killed every indoor plant I have ever owned. The advise is from people who are successful but for some reason I fail to be able to do it.

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Voted the Best Reply!

beyondcelery
beyondcelery November 21, 2011

Get a full-spectrum light bulb ("grow bulb"), install it in a small desk lap with a snakey arm, and aim the light on your plants at least a couple hours a day. Get it really down close if they're baby plant cuttings--nearly touching. Also keep them by a window. If they're cuttings, you can try a mini-greenhouse effect with plastic wrap held up with skewers or sticks. Mist them, talk to them, and tell them all about the wonderful foods you're going to put their leaves into! (Yes, I'm kind of a crazy plant lady, but hey it works.) Also, especially in the middle of the dark winter, it's a good idea to feed them plant food/vitamins in their water. I live in Seattle and keeping anything alive in the middle of our dark winter is nearly impossible without some sort of plant food. Oh, and mix a small amount of used coffee grounds into your potting soil when you first set it up. It'll raise the acidity levels of your soil and the herbs I grow seem to enjoy it. (Thyme, rosemary, spearmint, peppermint, fennel, sage.)

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SKK
SKK November 22, 2011

Thank you, Syronai!

AntoniaJames
AntoniaJames November 22, 2011

Great info about the coffee grounds . . . I use them routinely on my blueberries, Meyer lemon, azaleas and rhodies, but have been wondering about whether my herbs would like them too. Thanks so much! ;o)

boulangere
boulangere November 21, 2011

Light. I'm blessed with a south-facing kitchen with a bay window. I'm not blessed with a green thumb. I move my potted herbs from the back deck to the kitchen around Labor Day. I water them, I fertilize them, I snip them, and beyond that they're on their own. So far, they haven't failed me yet. They tend to get tired around the time to sprout new seedlings in the early spring.

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kimfriday
kimfriday November 22, 2011

I can't keep herbs in a pot alive to save my life so I've done two things.
1. I bought an herb keeper at Bed, Bath & Beyond. It works beautifully and keeps my herbs fresh for up to two weeks.
2. While there are mixed reviews on this method, if it's good enough for Mark Bittman it's good enough for me -- freeze them. I bought a baby food holder that replicates an ice cube tray (only bigger dishes). I chop or peel the herbs and place them in the trays and they last for several months. Obviously not as good as fresh but far superior to dried.

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