Even if you have very limited space, such as a patio or a balcony, you can grow some of the best medicinal herbs yourself. I like to have some of my favorite herbs in a sunny windowsill indoors, where I can have fresh herbs for a cup of tea, or to use in cooking. With a little extra thought and planning, there are many that will do well in a pot indoors.
Most herbs thrive in the same temperatures and humidity that we humans do. Temperatures should be around 65-70 degrees Fahrenheit, and will especially need some protection so they don’t get too dry in the winter from the dry furnace heat.
For growing healing herbs indoors, use a good quality potting soil to for your herb plants, and feed them an organic fertilizer. Use a potting soil with a material such as vermiculite added to allow the soil to drain well Don’t use garden soil for your indoor herb garden, as it is generally too heavy and likely contains critters you don’t want anywhere near your plants.
I like to use a liquid one that I can mix into the water. In winter when the sun is low and the days are short, plants will grow more slowly or even go dormant, so I don’t fertilize my indoor plants in the winter. However, I would ask your local nursery where you get your plants for the best advice for growing plants in your area.
The plants should never be kept soggy with water, and should be in a clay or plastic pot that has drain holes. The pot should have some small stones, pottery chips or gravel at the bottom for good drainage. There should be a saucer or dish under the pot; you should water the plant by watering in the saucer rather than directly on the soil in the pot, so the roots will uptake water from the saucer. I use filtered water, so there is not a build-up of chemicals and mineral salts in the soil.
You can grow several herbs together in a large container. For a large pot, you can use a caster to allow it to be easily moved around. Your winter indoor container can also be put outside during the warm months and brought back inside during the winter.
Most herbs like a sunny but slightly dry environment. If your climate is very humid, put small pebbles on top of the soil to keep the dampness from affecting your plants, keeping the top of the soil dry and allowing for good air circulation. Most herbs will do best when you allow the surface of the soil to slightly dry out, and water your plant when you put your finger down into the soil an inch or so and it feels dry.
Most herbs prefer a sunny location, so choose a south windowsill; an east or west window that gets the morning or afternoon sun will suit all but the most light-loving plants. If you see the plants getting leggy, they need more light and you would want to either move them to a sunnier location, or enhance their environment with a grow light. Most herbs don’t mind very cool temperatures near a window in winter, but some of the more sensitive herbs such as basil may not thrive right by the window if the window leaks cold air.
My favorite herbs for stress relief and tension are lemon balm, rosemary, mints and sweet basil. These can all be grown together in a large container if you wish, and you can also add in your favorite classic culinary herbs such as parsley, oregano, thyme, marjoram, cilantro and chives.
Lemon balm has the ability to calm frazzled nerves and relieve anxiety or mild depression. It has been used as a headache remedy, and to help bring relaxing sleep. It is antiviral and is used by herbalists as a remedy for a number of ailments.
Rosemary tea helps to uplift your mood, and is best when mixed with any of the mints or with lemon.
Peppermint or spearmint will help relieve a tension headache, muscle tension or to calm an upset stomach. Hot mint tea is also a good choice for when colds and flu strike, as a relief for symptoms such as congestion, headaches and muscle aches.
Sweet Basil has many wonderful varieties, including flavors of lemon, anise or licorice. It is a member of the mint family and is often combined with peppermint or spearmint for a relaxing tea. It makes a soothing tea that is used as a remedy for nervous tension, depression and to help encourage sleep.
Two herbs that are easy to grow indoors and which come in handy as first aid for minor complaints are sage and aloe.
Sage is given its botanical name, Salvia, meaning “to heal”; for its long history as a medicinal plant even before its use as a culinary herb. To the fresh or dried leaves, steep in hot water and add lemon juice for a delicious hot tea for winter. It is antibacterial and a strong tea is used as a relief for the symptoms of colds and fevers, or as a gargle for sore throat or gingivitis. It helps to increase memory and concentration, and is a good women’s herb as a relief for hot flashes.
Aloe leaves have a juice that is a great home remedy for minor burns and irritation from insect bites. When used topically, the juice has antibacterial, antifungal and antifungal qualities that make it a valuable herb for healing minor wounds and skin irritations.
Have you tried growing and using your own healthy herbs? I would love to hear from you, please contribute your thoughts in the Comments section below.
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