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In the case of herbs, besides using grow lights, which most studio apartments don't have space for, your best bet may be to try herbs that are suitable for shade. Most herbs need full sun for best growth, but a few will grow in partial shade, although their vigor will be compromised. You could try angelica, sweet woodruff, sweet flag, goldenseal, sweet cicely, lungwort, lady's mantle, mint and bee balm all tolerate partial shade. Unfortunately, the culinary properties of these herbs are limited.
There are several houseplants that tolerate low light. Here are some ideas: Arrowhead vine (Syngonium podophyllum), Cast-iron plant (Aspidistra elatior), Chinese evergreen (Aglaonema commutatum), Corn plant (Dracaena frangrans 'Massangeana'), Golden pothos (Epipremnum aureum), Grape ivy (Cissus rhombifolia), Heart-leaf philodendron (Philodendron scandens), Japanese aucuba (Aucuba japoncia), Japanese holly fern (Cyrtomium falcatum), Kangaroo vine (Cissus antarctica), Parlor pine (Chamaedorea elegans), Peace lily (Spathiphyllum wallisii), Snake plant (Sanservieria trifasciata), Spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum), Table fern (Pteris cretica).
Here is some good general information.
Here's another article with general information.
If you don't have much sunlight you probably will need a growlight to get a healthy crop of herbs.
We posted this to the HappyGarden Discussion list.
Grow lamps were suggested by Gloriamarie. And Linne suggested this:
"I'd hang up a Shop Light,the bulbs are cheap & provide Plenty of light.Put
the plant stand under it.It might light up the whole room for very little
A shop light is a great idea.... Grow lights are also available in the form of an ordinary light bulb. I once found one at Walmart for under $5.00. Any sort of full spectrum light might work since they are designed to mimick daylight. I used florescent lights for over 15 years, and had very healthy plants.
I can't remember the name of it, but there is a fairly new plant light that sells for about $120 that you use to grow your herbs and whatever in the house. Has anyone tried it, and is it really worth that much money? Thank you.
Hardiness Zone: 7a
By Pam Strunk from Wichita, KS
I don't think you need the $120 light....just buy a cheap flourescent shop light at Lowes or Home Depot. set your herbs on a table, and hang the light so that it is only a few inches above your plants. As they grow, you can raise the light. This set up will take a little time and ingenuity to put together, but it will save you about $100.
Harlean from Arkansas
I have been gardening with lights for about 30 years. I used to use a flourescent light bulb (long tube) suspended from the ceiling on chains. You could lengthen or shorten the chains to fit.
I think you might be wondering about the Aero Garden, for which there's an ad popping up on this page even as I type :)
I read a number of consumer reviews of this product and was scared off by the fact that people said the pump which runs water all the time is very noisy. I think there were some other issues as well. I'd go with a thriftier option like the suggestions above.
I would probably choose a flourescent bulb specially designed for plants. I don't think they cost any more than a regular bulb.
For $120 it had better chop, cook and do the dishes after cooking! I spent $5 on a plant light bulb and put it in a lamp that points downward.
I live in a apartment with few windows and I get morning light and that's it. It's colder, how can I grow herbs in my home?
Frazia from Hopkinsville, KY
Go to any plant nursery & buy yourself a little grow bulb. They come in either florescent or in regular bulbs for a small lamp. Put this light on to your herbs for most of the day (They can be found for under $10). You should turn the grow-light off at night when you are sleeping. I had a large florescent grow-light (about 5 feet long). I hung it above my houseplants back in the 1970's & BOY-OH-BOY did they ever grow like the wind! ...Try to find a bulb that's in the right spectrum, but if you can't find a "real" grow-light in your area, any lightbulb will do, in fact you can even buy a swirled compact florescent bulb that's called a "daylight" bulb at any store that sells lightbulbs. These are made have real daylight-like spectrum, but a real grow-light would be best if you have a plant store, hardware store or even better, a plant nursery close by.
Hardiness Zone: 6b
Dorothy from Northville, MI
When it comes to growing them indoors, not all herbs are created equal. Scented geranium, mint, rosemary, parsley, bay leaf, thyme, chives, garlic and oregano are all considered easy to grow. If you have a south-facing window that gets at least 6 hours of direct sunlight, you should have few problems (mint, parsley and rosemary can tolerate somewhat less light).
Others, like basil, need longer light conditions when grown indoors (16 hours per day) than can usually be obtained during a Midwest winter. They also like temperatures around 65ºF to 75ºF degrees. Grow lights can easily compensate for this if you have the space to set them up. You don't need special plant grow lights for this. You can use standard fluorescent tubes designed for room or shop lighting. Don't use regular incandescent lighting-the color spectrum isn't right. When your herbs are seedlings, keep the lights as close as you can to them without touching them. Watch them closely and raise the lights as they grow and turn the seedlings every other day to ensure even growth. Plan on replacing the lights when they reach 70% of their stated service life. By that time, they'll be delivering as much as 15% less light than when they are new.
I grow herbs (basil, rosemary, oregano, marjoram) in boxes in my kitchen year around. (My rosemary is actually in a spare bedroom in a huge pot, and it's grown so much I think I will have to replant it.) Now, I do live in FL, so I have an excellent source of light coming in my windows. If you live in a part of the country where your sunlight isn't strong in the winter, you might want to add growlights. I would also be sure to keep them warm. Also, every so often my basil tries to go to seed, so I have to remove the flowers. (Once they go to seed, the plant will die, so it's important not to let them flower). Also I feed them with Miracle grow every so often which they appreciate.
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Thanks for the help.
Hardiness Zone: 8a
Jeggie from Elberton, GA
I admit I'm a gardener geared toward instant gratification, so I always start out with purchased seedlings when growing herbs-especially perennial herbs.
Some fast-growing annual herbs, like basil, dill and cilantro work well when started from seed. You can also buy packaged seeds or obtain them cheap or free through an online seed exchanges.
To start them, push them gently into the surface of moist potting soil. Your bottle will work fine, just don't forget drainage holes. Cover them with clean plastic and put them in a warm dark place until you see them sprout. Remove the plastic and put them in a sunny window. Make sure they get plenty of air circulation and don't keep the soil too wet. Give them a half-strength fertilizer every two weeks during the active growing period. Most herbs prefer full sun and temperatures of 60-70 degrees. Turn the pots daily to insure seedlings get even exposure to light. Certain herbs like lavender, thyme, sage and rosemary grow more slowly, so you might consider buying young plants.
To start Aloe, simply ask around to see if any of your friends, family or co-workers has an offshoot they would be willing to give you. Place it in a windowsill with full sun in a pot filled with porous potting mix. In the summer, water as soon as the soil becomes fairly dry. From fall until spring, keep the soil moderately dry. A dilute fertilizer
solution may be used during the summer.
Yes, you can grow basil and parsley inside. You could start them from seed but personally I have had better luck with plants. Try your local nursery or garden center. Good luck! (09/03/2005)
I have had good luck growing basil from seed. I started it indoors, put it outside during the summer, and will bring it back indoors as soon as winter hits. (09/05/2005)
I have been reading so much about herbs. Our growing season is over in NY. Where would I find plants to grow in the house during the winter? Or something to start from seed? Could I grow basil and parsley?
There are plenty of herbs that can be successfully grown indoors. Bay, Chervil, Chives, Lavender, Lemon Verbena, Marjoram, Mint, Rosemary, Sage, Tarragon and Thyme are all good bets. You can start them from seed, or simple bring them in from the outdoors. If you choose to bring in herbs already growing outdoors, place them in pots and bring them inside before the first frost.
To increase their chances of success, use reverse "hardening off" over a 5-7 day period. Start by moving them to an area outside with less light. This helps get them accustomed to the lower light conditions they'll face indoors. Then slowly bring them in for short periods each day until they are acclimatized.
Herbs need at least 14-16 hours of light per day-6 of them filled with sun. You can use a grow light or fluorescent shop light to supplement natural light if necessary. If you're growing them in a south-facing windowsill, provide them with a bit of shade in mid-afternoon. Turn them each day to ensure even growth and treat them to an occasional dose of fresh moving air (can use a fan). Feed them a small amount of organic fertilizer every few weeks and avoid overly dry air by occasionally misting their leaves.
Ellen Brown (09/16/2005)
Ellen Brown is our Green Living and Gardening Expert. Click here to ask Ellen a question! Ellen Brown is an environmental writer and photographer and the owner of Sustainable Media, an environmental media company that specializes in helping businesses and organizations promote eco-friendly products and services. Contact her on the web at http://www.sustainable-media.com