Why Do My Indoor Herb Plants Die?

herbs growing indoors in potsI’ve had a number of recent emails from herb growers who have tried to grow their herbs indoors but have found that instead of getting a regular supply of fresh herbs they end up with a lot of dead herb plants after just a few weeks. So why do indoor herb plants die?

First of all I would like to assure you that herbs can be grown successfully indoors. They adapt well to being treated as houseplants. However, indoor herb plants die more often than not because they have not been provided with the right mix of light, moisture and soil conditions. If you don’t get this mix right, your indoor herbs will struggle to survive.

In this article I’ll provide some tips to help you develop your indoor herb garden.

What Herbs to Grow Indoors

There are eight herb plants that can be grown successfully indoors:

  • Lavender
  • Scented Geranium
  • Chives
  • Mint
  • Thyme
  • Chamomile
  • Rosemary
  • Lemon Balm

Indoor Herb Growing Kit


I haven’t included basil, because it can’t be grown successfully indoors without a Herb Growing Kit like the one shown in the diagram.

A kit like this will provide long periods of artificial light and a tray to enable moist soil conditions to be maintained.  

If you don’t use a piece of equipment like this you’re going to find it very hard to grow basil plants successfully.  

Conditions for Indoor Herb Growing

As I mentioned above indoor herb plants die, more often that not because the conditions in which they are grown are incorrect.

These conditions include:

  • Soil
  • Moisture
  • Light

Lets discuss each of these in turn.


Plant your herbs in 3 to 4 inch pots containing an Making an appropriate soil mix. Ideally stand the pots on a tray of gravel. The gravel will help to keep them cool and moist.

I plant my indoor herbs in brightly coloured enamel pots. These enhance the display of herbs, making a visual contribution to the wonderful aromatic smell of the herbs


Be careful not to overwater your herbs. Too much water is as likely to kill your herbs as too little. From time to time when you’re watering your herbs add some liquid fertiliser to the water to encourage plant growth. There are lots of suitable liquid fertilizers available. Before you start using one read the instructions on use provided.  


Find a place with lots of light. An enclosed indoor patio area is ideal, but if you haven’t got a space like this find a south-facing window that gets lots of sunlight. Avoid rooms where the temperature fluctuates widely (e.g. the kitchen). Extremes of temperature will stress the plants and affect their growth.

Harvesting the Herbs

Once your indoor herbs are well-established you can begin harvesting them, but be careful not to overdo it. If you take off too many leaves your herb plants will not be able to absorb sufficient light energy to flourish.

If you’ve had bad luck with your indoor herb growing before, and found that your herb plants die rather than thrive, try and identify where you have made mistakes before and try again.

Once you get the hang of growing herbs indoors you’ll be able to use fresh herbs in your recipes and herbal concoctions the whole year round.

Happy herb growing,

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