Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >
Apr 13, 2003 12:53 PM

growing herbs in a Manhattan studio

  • c


Thinking about growing some herbs in my studio...perhaps mint, rosemary, and maybe cilantro. Tried this last year with bad success so am looking for some tips as I try again this year. Also, is it too late to plant the seeds or should I just buy the herb plants at this time of year?

Anybody grown cilantro before?

Also, is it best to place them on the window near direct sunlight or in a shade on the balcony?

I'd appreciate any tips you may have to offer.



  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Cilantro is really easy to grow from seed, and it's the perfect time to start it. The plant runs to seed quickly, though, which means you get less edible leaf, so you should stagger plantings. Plant some now and then plant some more in another three weeks and three weeks after that. Basil is another that's easy from seed. Pinch off the flowers to promote more leaf.

    Mint easy too and is very invasive, so keep it in a separate pot. For rosemary, your best bet is to buy a plant. It's much harder to start from seed, as are thyme and bay.

    If you have a good sunny spot, they should all be fine, or you can get a grow light.

    3 Replies
    1. re: lucia


      Thanks for the response. I am totally new to this so bare with my silly questions please.

      What do you mean by staggering for cilantro? Do you mean three weeks later put the seeds in the same pot or in a different pot? I only have the regular round plant pots and not the oblong ones, which would be better?

      Also, where can you get a 'grow light' from?



      1. re: charlie

        Hi charlie,

        You stagger the plants by planting the seeds in separate containers a few weeks apart. Try using two pots and three week intervals. When the first goes to seed, chuck it and plant some more in that pot. Cilantro does grow fast and self seeds (ie., the seeds fall and germinate on their own) in an outdoor garden, so it's virtually self-staggering, but indoors you need to do it yourself.

        BTW chives which last forever are really beautiful when they're in flower.

        You won't need a grow light unless you don't have a sunny spot. They can be pretty expensive. Just google "grow light" and see what's there. At this time of year, just to start seeds indoors, I use a high-wattage regular light in a reflecting shade and move the seedlings outside on warm days.

        1. re: lucia

          The growlights that I am currently using for my tomato plants are simply fluorescent lights in a white industrial reflector. If you buy it made up from a garden supply center, it will be expensive. If you are handy, you can get the reflector from an industrial lighting store and make it yourself. The only thing to think aboutis how to make its height variable, and this is probably only important if you are going to grow something like tomatoes.

          Pat G.

    2. As mentioned in the other reply, cilantro goes to seed quickly. Actually I have found growing it in northern climes is not easy and have been told that's the reason it goes to seed. If grown in warmer areas, this does not happen. I found that aspect of it to much of a hassle to deal with even though I really like the flavour and fresh smell of this herb.

      Re the Rosemary I keep mine in a pot and start putting it out on the warm spring days and taking it in during the cool evenings that part of the year. As the summer warms up you can keep it outside all the time. In the fall do the same thing, bringing it inside in the evening then as even the days get too cool, keep it in the pot on a windowsill where it can get continuous sunlight. Water it every few days and the plant should hang in there for several years.

      If you want some herbs that can stay outside year round, (I'm in the Clevland, Ohio area) and come back in the spring plant sage, thyme, tarragon, chives, mint and oregano. Again as asdvised previously both mint and oregano need to be in a separate container all by themselves since they are both basically weeds and will take over anything you plant them closely to.

      With the sage, thyme and tarragon I trim them back in the spring and they will also stay with you for several seasons.

      For some fun try a little garlic. Just plant some cloves in the fall and you can harvest them very late in the following summer. Hang on to some cloves from the first harvest for replanting, now you have some that don't have the preservatives that are in the cloves you got from the supermarket for your first planting.

      Good Luck

      4 Replies
      1. re: Jambalaya

        I have trouble with rosemary plants. They're fine for a while, but then turn black & die. I'm ready to buy another for this Spring - what am I doing wrong?

        1. re: Taralli

          Overwatering and poor air circulation are problems for rosemary. The plant needs to be watered, but not left sitting in a full saucer. Sometimes it also develops powdery mildew. For that, I whip up a batch of organic summer oil and spray occasionally.

          1. re: pat goldberg

            Recipe for "summer oil"? TIA.

            1. re: Taralli

              I'll post the recipe next week when I have it at hand, unless someone posts before then. But the major ingredients are small amounts of vegetable oil and dish (not dishwasher) detergent mixed with water.

              Pat G.