Holyoke, MA

Grow fresh herbs year-round

Jayne B. Stearns

There’s nothing like fresh herbs from the garden to make your meals taste better and give them that added flavorful oomph. But you don’t have to wait for warmer weather to have fresh herbs all year round. You don’t need soil, and you don’t need lots of space. All you really need to grow herbs hydroponically is water, a few glass containers, and light.

Most herbs are happy to be grown in water, and you’ll be satisfied too because herbs grown hydroponically do not attract garden pests that can destroy them before they’re ready for harvest. And there’s less mess compared to outdoor growing. So, why not grow them in water and keep them close at hand on your windowsill or counter? You’ll never have to worry about changing seasons and regular watering. And it makes life easier, especially for many in Holyoke who don't have access to garden space.


Use fresh spring water, bottled water, or filtered tap water because unfiltered chlorinated water is not a healthy medium for growing herbs. Springwater or well water is best because they contain dissolved minerals that are a source of nutrition for your plants.


Your containers should be aesthetically pleasing as well as functional. Roots grow better in darkness, and although you can purchase clear, decorative glass bottles almost anywhere, dark colors such as amber and cobalt are best for rooting. If you use a clear container, wrap some paper around its base to keep the roots in darkness.

It’s better to use narrow-mouthed containers to give the roots some support and keep them nearly upright. However, you don’t want the stalks crowded. The roots need room to breathe, so the mouth should be large enough to allow free air movement. Wide-mouthed containers like mason jars are best if some wire or netting is placed across the mouth to offer some stabilization to the cuttings.

The cuttings

Expect to see 30-50% faster growth with hydroponic cuttings. Annuals that need replanting each year do not do well in a hydroponic environment, but the following perennial herbs adjust well to the absence of soil:

  • anise
  • basil
  • catnip
  • chamomile
  • chervil
  • chives
  • cilantro
  • coriander
  • dill
  • fennel
  • lavender
  • marjoram
  • mint
  • oregano
  • parsley
  • rosemary
  • sage
  • tarragon
  • thyme.

You may use cuttings from herbs already grown in your garden and then transfer them to water, or you can purchase them from your local grocery store. Then, wash them in water before using them. Those grown organically are the healthiest choice.

Snip off 6 inches from the growing tip, then remove the lower leaves, revealing more of the stem. When you place the cuttings in water, the leaves should not touch the water where they will quickly rot and spoil as they do in flower vases.

Change the water once a week without disturbing the cuttings. The roots should start growing between 2-6 weeks, and then the water will not need to be changed. If you use woody herbs such as rosemary, it will take longer for them to root, so be patient. Then, sit back and watch your herbs grow!


1. How to Grow a Year-Round Hydroponic Garden


2. Growing Culinary Herbs Indoors


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Jayne is a freelance writer, poet, and award-winning playwright specializing in writing human interest stories and anything else that satisfies a multitude of curiosities. Jayne is also a passionate advocate for recovery. You can email Jayne here: JayneBStearns@gmail.com

Holyoke, MA

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