Did you know that you can grow some of your favorite herbs in water on your own kitchen window sill? No more need to use dried herbs when it is too cold outside to have a viable garden. The best part is that you don't have to mess with soil and watering because you can grow fresh herbs in water! It really is very easy, I started mine about a month ago because I got tired of having to buy fresh herbs and have them spoil, which wastes money, or using dried herbs. I just don't think that dried herbs have the same bright, vibrant flavor as fresh. That is why I decided to try growing my own in water.
Not all herbs can be grown in water. Those that are grown from seeds every year cannot really be grown in water without first rooting in soil, and even then, they many times will not survive the transfer to water. This being the case, it is better not to try to grow dill, mustard plants or cilantro.
It is important that the containers that you use are colored glass or opaque. Herb roots do not like sunlight and do not grow well if placed in sunlight. The easiest way to stop this problem is to put them in a container that blocks direct sunlight. If you don't have any dark containers, you can paint them (outside only) or wrap a piece of paper around them so the light is blocked. The plants themselves need sunlight, so placing the containers in the shade will not work.
The Mason jars below would be perfect containers, all you would need to do is punch an inch wide hole in the lid that would hold up the plant stems.
Another important feature your containers need is the ability to hold your stems upright. You can do this one of two ways, either use a container with a narrow neck, or cover the top with net or chicken wire so that your plants will be held upright. Just make sure you don't use a container with too narrow a neck, as they are hard to clean, and you want to make sure you have enough room it your herb grows prolifically.
The water you use is important. You can use tap water, but you need to let it sit for 24 hours before using it. You can also use bottled water, but I sill recommend that you let it sit out for at least 8 hours before using. If you live in the country and you have access to spring water, you can use that, is it really the best as it may contain trace elements that are good for your plants. The last type of water you can use is rain water. You can use this right away with no wait time.
You can take cutting right off the fresh herbs that you buy in the store. Wash them and cut them to about 6 inches and put them into the water filled containers. Make sure to remove the leaves from any part of the stem that will be under water. If the stems are not 6 inches long to start with, you still need to cut the end off, so that they will start to root. Most herbs will root fairly quickly if you start them this way.
If the herb has a more woody stem, such as rosemary, they are a little more time consuming to start. The water must be changed once a week without removing the plant from the container. It can take as long as six weeks for the roots to start growing. Once they do, the water does not need to be changed that often.
You can help the rooting process by dipping the end of the stem in rooting hormone. This may make the plant grow roots sooner. I use it because I wanted to increase the chances of sucess. I chose Olivia's Cloning Gel because it is made for water growing.
How To Feed Your Herbs
Since water does not have the quantity of minerals and nutrients that soil does, you have to feed your plants all the time. This is easy to do, when you fill the container with water, simply mix it with water soluble fertilizer in the amount of one-quarter the manufacturer’s recommendation. As the water evaporates, and you refill it, the fertilizer will become watered down, so about once a month you will need to replace the water and fertilizer solution from scratch. When you do this, it is very important that you thoroughly rise every part of the plant that is in the water, and you also thoroughly rinse the container interior and any gravel or marbles that you have in the container. You do not want fertilizer to build up on the roots or container/gravel and burn your plants.
This is the fertilizer that I chose. It is expensive, but I use so little that this bag will probably last me for years.
So far my water based herb garden is doing really well. I will keep you posted on how it does as the year goes on.
Have a great weekend!