Growing Herbs in Pots

Grow your own Container Herb Garden

What’s so great about a container herb garden?

Just about everything for lovers of easy-to-grow potted gardens filled with aromatic texture-rich foliage.

Planting a container herb garden has never been easier and it’s a great way to get to know your herbs better.

Whether your potted herb garden is grown from indoor herb garden kits, or it’s grown in a pot just outside your kitchen door, culinary inspiration comes naturally.

Follow these tips to get flowerpots full of fresh fragrant herbs to perk up your outdoor decor and your menu.

What herbs work well in containers?

I think herbs in pots are a part of the whole garden experience. They’re sculptural elements that look pretty next to a fountain on a pedestal or along a garden wall.

One advantage of planting herbs in containers is that it extends your garden to places where you don’t have any soil like in a window box, on a balcony, or on the kitchen steps.

Parsley, basil, thyme, sage and lots of other herbs easily thrive in pots.

And once the herbs are selected and planted in well-drained soil, the hard work is over.

Potted herbs that live outdoors don’t need much attention aside from watering and pinching back to encourage lush growth.

And one way to grow herbs indoors is starting with aerogarden seeds and using grow lights to simulate outdoor light.

Which herbs should I plant together?

If you plan to have more than one plant in a pot, choose herbs that thrive in the same conditions; thyme, oregano and sage for example all tolerate drought and grow well together.

Basil and parsley on the other hand are moisture-loving herbs.

Rosemary and lavender are vigorous growers and can fill a pot all on their own.

Because of its reputation as an aggressive spreader, mint is another great choice for a pot. In a container its vigor is an advantage because a pot full of mint always looks plush and recovers quickly if harvested heavily.

Whether planted in pots or in the ground, herbs need plenty of sunlight.

What are the advantages of a container herb garden?

Another advantage of container herb gardening is that you can move the pots around as the sunlight changes in your garden over the course of a season.

In the hottest part of summer for example afternoon sun may be too harsh even for sun-loving herbs and moving the pots to a slightly more protected spot for a few weeks will help you keep the plants growing until temperatures fall.

And experimenting with herbs in the garden and in the kitchen is half the fun of growing them. Parsley is a must-have as are fennel, tarragon, chives, and all kinds of basil.

They all make an appetizing addition.

How to grow a container herb garden.

Good drainage is essential for herbs whether you grow them in the ground or in a pot.

A number of herbs do well when planted individually in small pots. But your options for mixing and matching improve when you beef up the size of the container.

An 18-inch pot is big enough for half a dozen or more plants — easily enough to harvest from all season.

Step 1 – Drainage

Cover the drainage holes at the bottom of the pot with pot shards or pebbles to prevent the potting soil from washing through the holes while allowing water to drain.

Step 2 – Potting medium

Use fresh potting soil amended with worm castings which you can get at garden shops.

Step 3 – Planting

Start with herbs in 4-inch pots and choose herbs that grow well together.

Plant the herbs that grow the tallest in the center and those that grow shorter around the sides of the pot.

Step 4 – Water

Water well to settle the plants in and get them off to a good start.

Step 5 – Sunlight

A container herb garden needs plenty of sunshine so put the pots in a place that gets at least six hours of sunlight.

If you are planting your herbs indoors, put them in a sunny window that gets at least six hours of sunlight each day.

If this isn’t possible, consider using grow lights to give your indoor garden the best possible chance of thriving.

What types of containers other than clay pots might be used for herbs set out on the terrace or sun deck?

Wooden tubs of various descriptions are used: an old butter tub, if you can get one, various types of redwood tubs or square containers. Plastic pots do not break and do not get disfigured outside with chemical deposits or plant growth and they stay moist longer than clay pots. Buckets: old wooden sap buckets have special appeal.

Should I leave my potted herbs out on the terrace over winter? (New York.)

No. Replant them in the open ground over winter, and possibly give them some winter protection with a good mulch.

Is there any special soil treatment for the growing of herbs in containers?

For drainage place a layer of cinders, gravel, or pieces of broken clay pots on the bottom. Use light, well-drained sandy soil with a little humus added. Only a very small amount of dried manure or bone meal should be added to the mixture, for these plants should not be forced into over-vigorous growth. It is not advisable to leave plants in pots or tubs over winter in the North. Rather take them out of the containers and plant in the ground over winter.

What are a few herbs for growing in pots?

Lavender, dill, sage, basil, santolina, the artemisias, and fragrant-leaved geraniums. These might be clipped once or twice a season to keep them looking well.