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Watering & Irrigation

How Often Should You Water Herbs Indoors?

How often should you water herbs indoors? The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind.

How often should you water herbs indoors? There is a little more to the answer than just the wind, but that does play a part. Or more accurately, the weather and climate in general impact how much water your indoor herbs will need. So does the type of soil you use, where in your house you’ve placed them, and how much light they get. 

Fortunately, herbs are pretty forgiving when they aren’t happy. Basil is a good example. When the soil gets dry, basil wilts and withers, but as soon as you water it, the plant perks right up. 

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How often should you water herbs indoors? That depends.

How often should you water herbs indoors? We have to go back in time to answer this. Why? While many herbs are perfectly happy indoors, some are more inclined to a life outdoors. Dill, for instance, is too large to live life as a houseplant. Bay laurel, on the other hand, is a slow-growing tree that’s well-suited to growing in a container. Just be warned, these aromatic trees can grow to be 50-feet tall! Basil can also grow pretty well indoors, I actually keep a plant all winter long because I use it so much. Thyme, on the other hand, prefers the outdoors to roam.

Back to the question at hand, though.  When you plant herbs indoors, it’s important to consider the soil. Plants like rosemary that are native to Mediterranean climates like well-drained, loamy soil. Mint, which I swear could grow on Mars, likes moist, rich soil. Incidentally, this is your first clue in determining how often to water your herbs. 

Now let’s talk about light. Most herbs enjoy as much sunlight as they can get. There are some exceptions, though. Chervil and parsley prefer light shade. Chives do appreciate full sun, but they can also grow well in a shady spot. Light will also impact how frequently you water your herbs. More direct sunlight will dry out the soil more quickly. 

That also takes us back to the wind – or any kind of breeze, whether that’s from an open window or your trusty old box fan. A little wind will actually help your herbs grow stronger, as it helps strengthen the stem. However, wind can also contribute to drying out the soil, especially if it’s from an air conditioner or heating vent. 

So how often should you water herbs indoors? Stick with me. We’re almost there. And all of these other factors – light, soil, the herbs you’re growing – play a part in the answer. There are just a few more things to consider. 

The herb container you use can make a big difference. For one thing, you don’t want your herbs sitting in a pool of water, so make sure to use a container that will allow water to drain. That said, small containers will tend to dry out more quickly than larger ones. And porous materials, like terra cotta, will soak up some of the water in the soil. 

The climate in which you live will also impact how your indoor herbs grow. Even though your herbs are inside, and aren’t subject to extremely hot or cold temperatures, you can’t escape science. More northern regions get less sunlight in winter months, and the heating system in your home will dry out the air. The hot, direct sunlight in southern summers might be too much for more delicate herbs, even when they’re hanging out in the cool AC of your kitchen. 

And now the moment you’ve been waiting for: How often should you water herbs indoors? Taking all this information into consideration, I’m sorry to say there is no single answer. Most experienced gardeners will tell you to check on your herbs daily. If the soil is dry, they need water. 

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When you water your herbs, give them enough so that water comes out of the drainage hole in your container. This may be every day in the summer, and perhaps as little as once a week in the winter, but the only way to be sure is to touch the soil. Talking to your plants might keep them alive, but they can’t tell you the answer.

What do you look for to determine how often to water your indoor herbs? I’d love to read your tips in the comments below. 

By Amanda MacArthur

Amanda MacArthur is Senior Editor & Producer for Food Gardening Network, where she is responsible for generating all Daily content and managing distribution across all web, email, and social media platforms. In her producer role, she is responsible for planning, editing, and deploying all video content for collections, magazine issues, and daily tips. Amanda manages a large food and herb garden at her home in western Massachusetts. As a best-selling cookbook author, Amanda cooks using ingredients from her outdoor gardens in the summer and from her indoor hydroponic garden in the winter.

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