You’ve always wanted to grow herbs, but you live in a tiny apartment or the heart of the city with no space for gardening. You might as well give up your dreams of harvesting mint for your tea or using fresh basil for your homemade pizza, right? Not so fast.
There are plenty of creative and fun ways to grow herbs indoors or even on your balcony. Even if you only have a windowsill, you can still grow herbs to take advantage of their incredible flavor-enhancing and healing properties.
Best herbs for small-space gardening
The best herbs to grow in a small garden include chives, mint, thyme, rosemary, and oregano. These herbs can be grown indoors or on the balcony in a pot or small container. A great way to maximize your space is by using herbs that grow vertically – like parsley, cilantro, basil, and dill.
9 Ways to grow herbs in small spaces
Grow in containers
One of the simplest (and easiest) ways to grow herbs in a small space is to grow them in pots. Add pots to a sunny windowsill indoors, or arrange them on your outdoor patio or balcony. Select pots with plenty of space for the roots. Most herbs will do best long-term in a container at least a foot deep.
If you decide to grow herbs indoors in pots, you must ensure they get enough sunlight, as many herbs, such as parsley and mint, will get stretched out and leggy if the light is lacking. Consider investing in a simple grow light to help keep your herbs healthy.
Note from the garden: Get creative and add chalk labels to your pots or choose eclectic, unconventional containers to make it more fun.
Grow herbs on shelves
Eventually, you’ll run out of space on your windowsills and surfaces. Shelves create the perfect opportunity to add more herbs to your small space and make it look aesthetically pleasing. Place your herbs on shelves indoors or outdoors to maximize vertical space with minimal effort.
Create an herb spiral
Herb spirals are a great way to grow herbs in small spaces. An herb spiral is a raised bed with a winding path leading up from the base. As herbs are planted along the path, they ascend and fill the entire spiral by reaching for sunlight at different levels.
The main benefit of an herb spiral is that it offers herbs several different niches in which they can thrive. Different herbs prefer different soil types and moisture levels, so growing herbs in a spiral allows you to create individual environments for each herb while keeping them all together.
Try hanging planters
If you’re short on space, why not hang your herbs? Hanging planters are a great way to save space and still enjoy herbs. You can buy simple hanging planters or make your own with reused containers like jars, cans, or bottles and some string.
Hanging herbs keeps them away from pets and pests that might otherwise get into them if they were growing on the ground. Certain trailing herbs, such as mint and creeping thyme, will start to hang over baskets and add a visual appeal to your porch or patio.
Grow herbs in mason jars
Mason jars are a great way to grow herbs in small spaces. You can easily add string to hang them, use them on shelves, or place them on your kitchen windowsill for easy access when cooking. You don’t need a lot of soil to fill the jar, so you can use smaller amounts of potting mix or compost to get started.
To plant herbs in a mason jar, add potting mix, then add herbs and water lightly. Place the herbs in a sunny spot and remember to water regularly – herbs grown in mason jars need extra care as they dry out quickly.
The best herbs to grow in small containers like mason jars include non-woody varieties such as cilantro, marjoram, and parsley.
Try a raised bed
Raised beds are a great way to grow herbs in small spaces. You can build your own or buy raised bed kits that come with everything you need to get started. Raised beds are especially helpful if you’re trying to grow herbs on an uneven surface, or if the soil in your area is poor quality.
They are also a great option if you’re renting a home or apartment and don’t have permission to add a permanent garden. Building a raised bed also means you can take it with you when you leave!
In a raised bed, you can guarantee that your herbs will have great drainage. Plus, herbs planted in a raised bed can be easily accessed when it’s time to harvest.
Use vertical space with an herb tower
Herb towers allow you to grow herbs in small spaces vertically. An herb tower is simply a tall planter that can be used both indoors and outdoors. This type of planter maximizes vertical space and makes herbs easy to access for harvesting.
You can purchase an herb tower or make your own by stacking pots together. My book, The Backyard Harvest, contains detailed instructions for 50 great container projects such as herb towers. For the best results, choose herbs that are suited to growing in a vertical planter, such as basil, oregano, thyme, and chives.
Use a plant stand
A plant stand is a great way to showcase herbs in small spaces. If you have window sills, balconies, or porches with limited space, you can use a plant stand to display herbs and other plants that won’t fit on the ground.
Find premade plant stands at home improvement stores or online. Or, you can build your own with some wood and a few tools.
Try a window box
Window boxes are a great way to add herbs to small spaces. They come in all shapes and sizes, so you can find one that fits your space perfectly. Window boxes provide herbs with the drainage they need and makes them accessible for harvesting.
Window boxes also provide abundant sunlight, so herbs planted in window boxes will surely thrive. Popular herbs for growing in window boxes include basil, rosemary, thyme, and oregano.
Tips for growing herbs:
Pay attention to water needs. Different herbs need different amounts of water, so research the herbs you’re growing and give them the proper amount of moisture.
Bring your pots indoors for the winter. Most herbs are not frost tolerant, so if you live in a cold climate, bring your herbs indoors when the temperatures drop to continue harvesting.
Provide good air circulation. Herbs prefer plenty of air circulation, so make sure your planter is well-ventilated and provide plenty of space between plants.
Don’t plant mint with other herbs. Mint can take over other containers and gardens, so it’s best to keep mint in its own container or planter.
Move pots as needed. Herbs love light. Depending on your situation, you might need to move pots around to help them get enough sun.
Harvest herbs often. Herbs will grow best when clipped regularly, so don’t be afraid to harvest herbs frequently to encourage new growth. Remember, you should never harvest more than 1/3 of the plant at a time.
Grow herbs anywhere: no garden required
You don’t need a massive garden to cultivate a wonderful array of herbs. In fact, all you really need is one pot to get started. With a little creativity, herbs can be grown in almost any space. From hanging herbs to mason jars and raised beds, there are plenty of fun and creative ways to add herbs to your home and garden. So don’t let the lack of outdoor space stop you from experiencing the joys of growing herbs!