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Herb Garden
Published January 1, 2024 by Nicole Burke

9 Herbs to Start from Seed Indoors in January

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Start Your Own Herbs from Seed Indoors

No matter where you live—even if your street is covered in snow right now—you can start some herbs by seed in January. Everybody should be growing their favorite herbs at home, whether that's in some containers or a larger space, and many herbs can be grown from seed just in time for spring.

Growing herbs is a great way to provide for your kitchen from your garden, and starting your own herbs from seed means you have more options for herb varieties than you would if you waited till spring to source your herb plants from your local nursery.

Many of the herbs in this list take a while to germinate and grow into a plant that's large enough to move into the garden, so it's best to start them now so that you have plenty of time for them to mature indoors. Really, the biggest thing we're working against in the garden is time—making sure we get things started early enough so that we don't find ourselves having to go to the plant store and buy whatever they have left.

herbs to start indoors in winter

Here are the 9 herbs I recommend starting from seed indoors this month:

  • chives
  • cilantro
  • dill
  • parsley
  • basil
  • oregano
  • rosemary
  • sage
  • thyme

Let's look at each of these herbs, and then I'll give you some planting tips to help you get started with your seeds indoors. Get your seed trays ready!

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Herb Seeds from the Onion Family

The 1st Type of Herb Seeds to Start Indoors: Chives

Common chives come from the onion, or Amaryllis, plant family. In my last garden, my chives were one of the first plants to pop back up as soon as the weather warmed a bit, and then they would give me these beautiful purple blossoms in the spring. Since I'm in a new garden, I'm growing a lot of chives from seed so I can have chive plants in the corners of all my raised beds to serve as natural pest deterrents.

That's right! Chives and their cousins in the onion family repel garden pests organically, making them the perfect herb to plant alongside your leafy greens. Even if I couldn't add chives to lots of our dishes as a yummy topping, I would still consider chives a must-have in the garden to protect all my kale and spinach leaves.

Chives are ideal to start indoors and then move outside as soon as your soil can be worked. They're frost tolerant, so they'll be able to thrive early in the season. (Learn more about growing chives.)


Chives Seed Starting Tip:

  • Plant just one chives seed per cell.
seeds to plant in winter include chives

Herb Seeds from the Carrot Family

Three of our favorite herbs to grow in the garden and use in the kitchen come from the carrot family: cilantro, dill, and parsley. These herbs all prefer cooler weather and go to seed pretty quickly when the weather warms. So if you really love dill, cilantro, and parsley and want to have a lot on hand, it's best to start growing them early and to then keep planting them throughout the season.

Starting these herbs in the winter is a great way to get a jump on the season so that you're ready to plant them in the garden as soon as the soil can be worked. Herbs in this family are frost tolerant, so you don't have to wait until after your frost date to move them out into the garden.

starting cilantro seeds for garden

The 2nd Type of Herb Seeds to Start Indoors: Cilantro

I am among the 86 or so percent of the population who doesn't think cilantro tastes like soap, and I love to put cilantro on everything. My plan is to succession plant cilantro outdoors every single week starting in March so I don't run out, but for now, I'll have to be content knowing I have strong plants growing indoors. (Learn more about growing cilantro.)

By the way, I also grow cilantro microgreens during the winter so I always have that zesty flavor to toss on tacos or salads.

Cilantro Seed Starting Tip:

Cilantro seeds (AKA coriander) are the only nice and round seeds you'll find in this entire bunch. That means it'll be easier to separate them out and plant just one in each cell.

seeds to plant now include cilantro

The 3rd Type of Herb Seeds to Start Indoors: Dill

In addition to being a delicious and easy-to-grow herb, dill produces flowers that bring all the bugs to the yard—the good bugs, that is (bees, ladybugs, wasps, butterflies, and the caterpillars that turn into swallowtail butterflies). I cut lots of leaves for myself and then let some plants go to seed so the pollinators can have their little party.

Dill seeds are often among the first to germinate in my herb trays. (Learn more about growing dill.)

Dill Seed Starting Tip:

Though they're not as big or round as cilantro seeds, dill seeds are still easier to plant than the other herbs you'll find mentioned here. Plant one to two dill seeds per cell.

herb seeds that grow fast include dill

The 4th Type of Herb Seeds to Start Indoors: Parsley

I've always been a bigger fan of curly parsley. My husband's grandmother was from Armenia, and she put curly parsley in every single one of her salads and in her amazing tabbouleh. Ever since, I've had a preference, and I've also found that the curled leaves are a bit more frost tolerant than flat leaf parsley. (Learn more about growing parsley.)

Parsley Seed Starting Tip:

Compared to cilantro and dill, parsley seeds are pretty small, but they're light in color like their cousins, so you can see where they landed on the seed starting mix. Try to put just one or two per cell.

parsley seeds for garden

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Herb Seeds from the Mint Family

The 5th Type of Herb Seeds to Start Indoors: Basil

A couple years ago, I grew so much basil that I made wreaths out of it. My goal this year is to grow so much basil again that I can play around with new decor for the fall. Basil seeds are easy to save, so one seed package of each variety you'd like to grow is really all you need to be set for life. I've saved seeds from many of my favorite varieties, but I also like to try new types each year.

Make sure to keep basil indoors until all chance of frost has passed. (Learn more about growing basil.)

Basil Seed Starting Tip:

Basil seeds are teeny tiny. Plant one to two seeds per cell.

basil seeds to plant

The 6th Type of Herb Seeds to Start Indoors: Thyme

Thyme is a great little herb to have on hand for cooking, and it grows prolifically, meaning you'll get so many leaves from each plant. I love the look of thyme draped over the edge of raised bed or container. (Learn more about growing thyme.)

Thyme Seed Starting Tip:

Thyme seeds are about the size of a grain of sand. Slide some onto your fingertips and sprinkle them over the cells.

herb seeds to start indoors include thyme

The 7th Type of Herb Seeds to Start Indoors: Oregano

If you like pizza, pasta, or tacos, you gotta grow oregano. I mean, you can really put oregano on almost everything. And it grows prolifically in the garden with very little tending required. By starting seeds ahead of time, oregano will have plenty of time to grow and be ready to harvest when spring comes. (Learn more about growing oregano.)

Oregano Seed Starting Tip:

You're probably getting the idea by now that seeds for this plant family are small, but seriously—salt is bigger than oregano seeds! Just sprinkle a few seeds over each cell.

seeds to start indoors include oregano

The 8th Type of Herb Seeds to Start Indoors: Rosemary

Rosemary is one of my favorite herbs in the world, mostly due to its heavenly fragrance. You can, of course, also eat it in soups, stews, and roasted dishes. It's a beautiful plant, so I recommend growing it even if you just want to put sprigs in floral arrangements. Rosemary, like oregano and sage, is a perennial that can last for years in the garden.

You'll need to start rosemary from seed pretty soon in order to have a plant ready to go for the spring. Otherwise, it's best to buy a plant from your local nursery so that you can enjoy fresh rosemary for as long as possible. (Learn more about growing rosemary.)

Rosemary Seed Starting Tip:

Rosemary seeds are—you guessed it—tiny. Try to drop just a few in each cell because they can be a pain to thin out later.

herb seeds to start indoors include rosemary

The 9th Type of Herb Seeds to Start Indoors: Sage

Last but certainly not least, we have sage. Sage is another beautiful herb with an incredible scent. Grow it to toss on your dishes or to make sage sticks to burn around your house—whatever strikes your fancy! (Learn more about growing sage.)

Sage Seed Starting Tip:

Sage seeds are like little black pebbles, so they're larger than oregano seeds but still small enough to often come in a little package inside of the larger seed envelope. Do your best to drop just one or two into each cell.

seeds to start indoors include sage

Tips to Start Your Herbs Indoors

If you're new to starting seeds indoors, check out our recommended list of supplies.

Since you probably only need to end up with a couple plants for each of these herbs, you can plant all of them in rows in the same tray and grow them together. Overall, these herbs have similar growing habits. Some might germinate and outgrow the seed tray faster than others, but you can pop out the larger seedlings and pot them up or transplant them to the garden space as needed.

Follow these steps to plant your herb seeds:

  • Moisten your seed starting mix in a bowl so that it's ready to be a good medium for the seeds.
  • Fill up your seed starting tray with the moistened mix.
  • Plant seeds in each row and label the row with the herb name (use plant tags or painter's tape).
  • Return extra seeds to their package and keep handy in case seeds in certain cells don't germinate.
  • Use your fingers to lightly pat down on the cells. Since these seeds are so small, they don't need to be buried. They really just need to have good soil contact in order to germinate.
  • Water the seed trays from the bottom and put under grow lights as soon as you see signs of growth.
  • Keep grow lights on for 14 to 16 hours a day.

Make sure to harden your herb seedlings off once they're ready to move out to the garden.

seed starting supplies

Enjoy Loads of Herbs This Spring!

Now is the time to start all of these herbs from seed (plus whatever other herbs you love... maybe some marjoram, lavender, or winter savory) so that you can fill your garden this spring. In just 4 to 6 weeks, you'll have plants that you can move out to the garden, some even before the threat of frost has passed.

Even if you don't like eating your vegetables, I promise you're going to love all the green things on your plate that you've grown yourself, herbs especially. When you soon find yourself with more fresh herbs than you know what to do with, make sure to dry and save some leaves for next winter.

I hope this inspires you to order your seeds, dust off your seed starting supplies, and get some plants started indoors right away. You'll be so glad you did in a couple months.

Thanks for growing with me!

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9 Herbs to Start from Seed Indoors in January