Growing Herbs in the Dormitory

Indoor Herb Garden- Day 1 by Talkingsun

TheGardenLady received this question from Alexandra.

I saw your article about growing plants in a dormitory room that you did quite a long time ago (2006!) and I was wondering if you would be okay with answering a kind of similar question.

My roommate and I want to grow lots of plants in our dorm room next semester because it’s so drab in there (white walls, white ceiling, white floor, etc.) and we both have agreed that it would be cool if we could start growing herbs. We both like making tea, and we both think that it would be nice to have plants that would smell good, taste good, or be useful instead of plants that just look good.

We are going to live in a corridor-style dormitory room, and it has one big back wall window. I am not sure if it faces south, or not (new room) but I have stayed in the room style before and I know it lets in a decent amount of light. The dormitory IS air conditioned/heated, so keeping plants warm is not a problem.

What kind of plants would you suggest? And is this a good idea at all?

Good for you to want herbs in your dorm and I am so pleased that you checked out TheGardenLady archives.

You can grow herbs indoors but the crucial item that you will need is light. Herbs come from the Mediterranean where they get lots of sunlight. You need a minimum of 6 hours of sunlight to grow herbs. Rooms, even with windows, generally don’t get enough sunlight for herbs. So the first thing I recommend is getting good growing lights into your room.

One suggestion is to buy a special lamp already created to raise herbs.

Herb Garden – Post-Potting by a crafty vegan

A company called Aero Grow makes one with a planter attached to make it easy – everything you need for your indoor herbs in one compact piece.  See here.   I saw one in my local hardware store. It is not that large, but it would be a start.

If you want something larger, perhaps you and your dorm mates could build a grow light to put over a planter. A friend of mine who loved African violets had her husband build one where she raised show quality African violets that were always in bloom.

You could probably get information on how to build grow lights with a planter at your local lumber yard or Home Depot or Loews. They would also advise you on the best bulbs that are needed. You want a cool bulb so the heat doesn’t get too much for the little plants.  See here.

You can also get directions on how to build grow lights for herbs on YouTube.   Here are two videos worth watching.

Though you can start your herbs by seed, I think it is easier to buy little pots with the plants already started. Get them now before school starts. An excellent source for herbs in pots or seeds is Richters.  Most herbs can be raised indoors, so you can decide what you and your friends want to use when you read the catalog.

Parsley is always easy to raise as is basil. There are many mints and I would definitely recommend your trying to grow them.  See here.  For example there are chocolate mints (they have a hint of chocolate when you taste the leaves), pineapple mint or perhaps marshmallow mint. There are over 70 mints to choose from in the catalog.  See here.

miniature pelargonium by Marlis1

How about raising Pelargonium? Pelargonium is what most people call geraniums. Many of these have scented leaves so not only will you have the leaves which have flavor, such as mint-rose geranium which has a minty rose fragrance (see here) but you will have the pretty flowers to brighten up your room. Remember to check to be certain the plant is truly edible before using it. Richters will tell you if it is.

They also have excellent information on how to raise the herbs plus an online newsletter.  See here.

Let us know of your success.

PS – Here is a recipe for a Rose Geranium Pound Cake.

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