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How to Grow Herbs in Small Spaces – A Primer

Avatar for Jodie Weston Jodie Weston  |  Updated: May 24, 2021
How to Grow Herbs in Small Spaces – A Primer

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Growing your own food is an empowering experience. You nurture a seed or small starter plant into a tasty meal. You remove a bit of your dependence on grocery stores while enjoying a fresh harvest free of pesticides.

Many people dream about growing their own food, but few turn it into a reality. Anyone can grow food with the right supplies and knowledge. Even if you live in a small space, you can always grow herbs!

Herbs are a great choice for starting your garden (or adding to your garden). They take up less space than fruits and vegetables. They can be pretty hardy and easy to grow. Plus there are many uses for them, from adding to drinks to spicing up a dish.

If you live in a small house or apartment, it is easy to buy the myth that you cannot grow your own food. Growing herbs in a small place is entirely possible with a bit of creativity!

Herb Container IdeasGrowing Herbs Indoors

Sure, indoor gardens are not ideal. But they are not impossible either! The main requirement for plant growing is access to adequate sunlight. Try to place plants in a window facing east or south or set up a grow light.

Once you find a sunny spot, you can create a number of different indoor garden options.

A Herb Wall

Take a free standing pallet and make it into a garden. A herb wall is built to be tall, not wide. You can set it up on top of a kitchen counter without needing to sacrifice significant surface area.

A herb wall adds a bit of a rustic touch and vibrant green coloring to your kitchen. It doubles as a decoration tool.

A Tall Piece of Wood

Similar to a herb wall, a plank of wood takes up vertical space rather than horizontal space. This helps you take advantage of limited surface space in your kitchen.

For this project, you will attach the plants’ pots to a tall block of wood. You can use mason jars, miniature pots, or other types of small containers to grow the herbs in.

A Fridge Magnet

The space directly in front of your fridge’s walls is space just waiting to be used! Round up some metallic cans and attach them to your fridge with magnets.

A Hanging Planter

Hanging planters allow you to utilize efficiently the empty space underneath your ceiling. You can plant your herbs in them before hanging them from your ceiling.

You can seek out creative or beautiful hanging planters or decorate them on your own for an artistic project. These can also serve as interior decoration to add some color or style to your kitchen area.

Growing Herbs Indoors

Herbs can be surprisingly durable, making them a good fit for indoor growing. If you pick the right container, the herbs can double as a decorative piece in your room too! Choose the best growing option for your unique budget, space constraints, and style.

Growing Herbs Outdoors

Apartment dwellers are often out of luck here. But if you live in a house with a yard, you can take advantage of different outdoor garden strategies.

Garden Tower

The Garden Tower is an easy to use small ecosystem. The tower is constructed vertically, allowing you to grow up to 50 plants in the area of around 4 square feet.

The tower is designed to use composting to grow your plants. Toss scraps from dinner or fertilizer into the tower to help your herbs grow.

The design of the tower allows you to adjust its height, rotate it around, and set it up anywhere you like. This works great if you are serious about growing a large number of plants.

Special Note: You can pick up a bulk starter kit here.

Use a Window Sill

If you got a kitchen window, you got a potential garden. It is easy to make a simple window box for your herbs to grow in. It will be easy to open up your window in a hot spring or summer’s day, harvest your herbs, then get right back to cooking your dish.

Just make sure the window is at a part of your house where the plants get access to enough sunlight.

Hanging Baskets

Hanging baskets allow you to utilize your balcony for herb growing. Hang them from your balcony or your roof to take advantage of that empty space. Double check that the roof does not block the sunlight from your plants.


Herbs can be darling little additions to your landscaping. Place them along the footpath leading visitors to your front door. Scatter them throughout an already existing garden. Grow them in an old dry fountain you picked up at a thrift store. Use your imagination to craft eye catching herb gardens in your front or back yard.

Picking Your Herbs

Most herbs can easily be planted in small spaces. Keep in mind, you will enjoy better success rates using starter plants over using seeds. But you can use either for small space herb gardens.

When choosing your herbs, think first about what ones you want to use most. Do you cook often with cilantro? Do you dream of homemade mojitos with freshly grown mint? If you do not love the herb, it will be more of an annoyance tending to it.

Beginner gardens can do well choosing some (or all) of the following herbs.


Basil is easy to grow and provides a strong pleasant aroma (it is like a natural air freshener).

You will need around two feet of space per plant. It does not need a super warm atmosphere or super wet soil.


Chives can grow in a variety of temperatures, even in winter.

You will need one foot of space per plant. They can grow with only four hours of sunlight, but they tend to require more frequent watering.


Cilantro can be easily grown from seeds.

You will need one foot of space per plant.


Peppermint is easy to grow and tends to spread out.

You will need three feet of space per plant. It can grow with less sunlight, but it does need to be watered often.


Oregano grows really well.

You will need three feet of space per plant.


Thyme is great to grow because it works well with other plants in the same pot (if you are really trying to conserve space).

You will need two feet of space per plant. Thyme requires less frequent watering. With thyme, you really should grow it from a plant rather than a seed.

Planting the Herbs

Once you identified your garden approach and the herbs you want to grow, it is time to plant away!

The Herb Container

Herbs can grow in a number of container types, such as pots, cans, and boxes. The amount of available space, your growing approach, and your budget will dictate the type of container you use.

Keep in mind, the size of your planting container will affect the eventual amount of herb harvest. A bigger container allows for more growing room, letting your herbs get larger. Use the biggest container you can for your given space to maximize your harvest.

Drainage is a crucial component of herb growing. Containers that lack adequate drainage will lead to your plants wilting, losing their color, and possibly dying.

Make sure the container drains well. Some containers come with holes in the bottom already. If yours does not come with them, you can simply drill a few holes. You can also add pebbles at the bottom of the pot to further assist with the drainage.

All this water will need to go somewhere of course. If you are using a pot, for example, you can set it on top of a tray. This will catch all the water to prevent water damage. Empty the tray every so often to get rid of the water.

The Soil

For soil, you will want to choose a fast-draining potting mix. Ideally, it will consist of ingredients like perlite to help facilitate draining.

Some herbs can be finicky about soil (like rosemary, which wants drier soil). A quick internet search will show you the ideal soil type for your intended herbs.

Fertilizer is also an important part of the growing process. Herbs growing in fertilizer will simply do better than those growing without it. Fertilizer helps maximize your herbs, making them healthier, less likely to succumb to disease, and even result in larger harvests.

The Herb Plants

If you can, it is best to plant a starter herb. These allow you to start further along in the growing process and increase your chances of success.

Look for herb plants with vibrant colors reflecting a healthy growth. If you spot any bugs like aphids on it, walk away. Choose only the healthiest plants you can find.

Right after you plant the herb, make sure to water it.

Growing the Herbs

Once you planted the herbs, it is time to tend to your garden. Different herbs will require different amounts of watering. A general rule is to place your finger into the soil. When it seems dry, add some more water. Remember though, over-watering can be just as damaging as under-watering.

When it comes to harvesting, different herbs can also have different approaches. Generally though, you only want to harvest about a third of it at one time. Always start by harvesting off the top first.

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