3 Tips for First-Time Windowsill Gardeners

It’s basically impossible to walk into a grocery store right now without seeing live basil for sale. In the past, I’ve brought home herb plants and attempted to start a windowsill garden…only to kill them off in a few weeks (whoops). But I’m happy to say that, after being given mint and rosemary plants for my birthday in March, I have managed to keep them alive! And I even added a basil plant to the mix since then. Take a look:

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Now, I’ll admit: I had a scare along the way. When I went to actually use some of my herbs, I wasn’t sure which mint leaves I should trim off—or if I should cut away an entire rosemary stem (as opposed to just the top portion of one). After some inconclusive Googling (different sites said different things), I decided to just pluck off the leaves I wanted to use—which were the biggest mint leaves at the bottom of the plant and an entire rosemary stem. Yeah, that was a mistake. Nothing grew back out of the tiny nubbin I left on the rosemary stem, and while the small mint leaves left on top got larger, I was left with bare stalks underneath those guys.

I went back to the plant store with the intention of buying new mint and rosemary plants, but I wasn’t the only one with herbs on the mind that weekend. There was only one herb plant left in the entire store when I got there, and it was a sad basil plant that an employee said I could have for free because it was kind of wilted. While I was there, though, I decided to tap the workers’ expertise—and here’s what I learned:

Trim From the Top
Don’t make the same mistake I did! Trim all herbs from the top, and don’t cut any more than one-third of the height off at any given time. Otherwise, the herbs won’t regrow properly. However, if you do make the mistake of plucking off mint leaves from the bottom, you may be able to salvage the plant since it’s such an aggressive grower. Do your best to tuck the bare stalk downward without snapping it, then bury it in potting soil. That’s what I did, and I was able to get my plant back into normal-looking shape (see above). And now it grows better than it did before!

Repot the Plants
When I got my herbs, the little containers they came in fit perfectly into the pots I was also given for my birthday. So I just slid the containers into the pots and put them in the windowsill. When I went back to the plant store, however, one of the employees suggested that I buy this potting and plant mix and use it to repot the plants (she recommended I put them in a significantly larger pot, too, for maximum growth—but in my tiny apartment that wasn’t an option). I’ve noticed significantly speedier growth since I did this—and many people on Amazon seem to agree that this mix helps keep plants healthier.

Water Up to Twice a Day
At first, I was really worried about over-watering the herbs. But then, when I went back to the store, I was told that in tiny pots the soil can dry out really quickly. So now I make sure to check that it’s always damp. I water them at least once a day and sometimes twice (the soil you use can also determine how often you need to water).

Of course, it’s also helpful to put plants in a spot where they’ll get plenty of sunlight. As you may have noticed from the pictures above, I’m lucky enough to have huge windows—so that isn’t really a problem for me. I can’t wait to use my herbs in tons of recipes in the coming months!

If you have an indoor herb garden, I’d love to know if there are any helpful hints I missed. Please share any tips you have in the comments below!

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2 thoughts on “3 Tips for First-Time Windowsill Gardeners

  1. I have always wanted an herb garden but I’m the furthest thing from a green thumb! You make me feel like it’s possible ☺️ Thanks so much fir sharing your tips.

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