Whether you’re growing herbs for culinary use or simply want to display your favorite plant, a potted herb garden can add fresh flavor and fragrance to any home.
Herbs should be planted in containers that have good drainage. To help with this, add rocks, gravel or Styrofoam pellets to the bottom of your container before adding potting soil.
Select the Right Containers
Selecting the right containers is an important step in successfully growing a potted herb garden. The right container will help you keep your herbs happy and healthy, while the wrong one may cause them to suffer or die.
Herbs thrive in small containers that give them room to grow and maintain a shallow root system. The best pots have good drainage holes and are made of a natural material like terra cotta or ceramic.
Some containers, such as those made of metal or plastic, can wick up moisture and keep herbs too moist. Herbs are particularly sensitive to moisture loss, so be careful with your choice of container.
Select the Right Herbs
Choosing the right herbs for your potted herb garden is essential. The best herbs for a container herb garden include aromatic and culinary herbs such as basil, dill, oregano, rosemary, sage, thyme, tarragon, and parsley.
For the best results, choose herbs that are suited to your specific growing conditions and weather. For example, lavender and garlic chives are great for dry gardens while oregano is a good choice in a low water region.
It’s also important to select herbs that have adequate sunlight exposure. Most herbs prefer full sun (at least 6 hours of direct sunlight) but some do well in partial shade.
Keep the Soil Moisturized
Keeping the soil moisturized is a basic requirement for any gardener, but it can be especially important when working with potted herbs. If the soil is too dry, it can lead to mildew or fungus problems.
A quick and easy way to test the water content of your potting mix is to insert a finger in it and see if it feels moist. If it does, you can start watering the container right away.
Herbs from the mint family (basil, thyme, lemon balm, marjoram, oregano, rosemary, and summer and winter savory) have shallow roots so can grow in pots only six inches deep. Dill, parsley, chives, and fennel have deeper roots and need a bit more moisture than other herbs.
Trim the Leaves Regularly
When growing herbs indoors, it’s essential to trim them regularly. Herbs prefer a light touch and it helps them to grow more prolifically when you prune them routinely.
Keeping the leaves in check prevents your herb plants from becoming top-heavy and unsightly with leggy stems, which can be a breeding ground for pests like slugs and snails.
Aside from preventing these pests, trimming your herbs will help them retain their potency and flavor for longer periods of time. It will also keep your herb garden looking beautiful and well-balanced.
Herbs that require hard pruning, such as rosemary, lavender, thyme and sage, should be pruned early in the growing season to encourage new tender growth. For these herb plants, it’s important to upgrade your clippers with stronger ones to avoid tearing or stripping the plant’s stems.
Herbs are some of the easiest and most rewarding plants to grow. They thrive in a range of soil conditions and are drought tolerant.
Herbs add delicious flavor to meals and are a natural way to deter pests. They can be harvested for dried herbs or for seeds.
The best time to harvest is early in the morning, right after the dew has dried on the leaves but before the Sun dries them completely. This is when the oils are most concentrated in the leaves, which is when they are most fragrant and flavorful.
Annual herbs can be cut back to about 75% of their current growth, while perennial herbs should never be taken more than a third at a time. This will allow the plant to recover and regenerate foliage.