Herbs are the perfect plants for container gardening. With a little space and some basic knowledge, you can grow fresh, fragrant herbs right outside your door. In this guide, we'll show you everything you need to know to get started.
Can You Grow Herbs in a Pot?
Yes, you can definitely grow herbs in a pot. Whether you want to fill a window box, place a couple of plants by the back door, or create a beautiful herb garden on your patio or balcony, herbs are perfect for container gardening. They don't require a lot of room, and you can even grow several different herbs together in one pot.
What Herbs Should You Grow?
The best herbs to grow are the ones you love to use and enjoy the most. However, your growing space and the amount of sun or shade it receives will also play a role in your decision.
Highly Scented Herbs: If you're looking for herbs that are fragrant and will fill your outdoor space with their amazing smells, consider planting mint, lavender, lemon balm, catmint, or chamomile.
Herbs for Cooking: If you're looking to improve your cooking, consider growing fresh rosemary, thyme, marjoram, tarragon, oregano, basil, and bay instead of using the dried, brownish leaves from the supermarket.
Herbs for Sun: If you have a sunny spot, consider growing rosemary, sage, thyme, and oregano.
Herbs for Shade: If you have a shady corner, consider growing tender herbs such as coriander, parsley, mint, dill, sorrel, and chives, which prefer moist compost.
When to Plant Herbs in Containers
If you're starting from seed, it's best to start tender herbs indoors or in a greenhouse. Hardier herbs, like thyme and rosemary, can be started indoors or sown straight into pots outdoors after the risk of frost has passed in May. Ready-grown plants, usually available in 1L pots, are best planted in late spring.
How to Plant Your Own Herb Garden
Planting a herb garden in a pot is easy and doesn't require just one type of herb per pot. In fact, planting several different herbs together in one pot can be a beautiful and functional way to grow your herbs. Here are some tips to help you get started:
Choose a Pot: Herbs like to have room to spread their roots, so make sure to choose a generous container that is at least 30cm in diameter for 3 herbs, or at least 40cm in diameter for 5 herbs.
Prepare the Compost: Mix peat-free potting compost with grit, sand, or perlite to ensure good drainage. If you don't have any grit, you can add broken pot shards to the bottom of the pot. Fill the pot with the compost mixture until it's half to two-thirds full, leaving room for your plants.
Plant the Herbs: Remove the herbs from their nursery pots and place them in the pot. Backfill with more compost and firm the plants in place. The surface of the compost should be slightly below the rim of the pot so that water can soak in without spilling over.
Water the Herbs: Give the herbs a good soak with a watering can. If the surface of the compost sinks, add more compost.
Place the Pot in the Right Spot: Move the container to the best spot for your plants, whether they prefer full sun or shade.
How to Care for Potted Herbs
Herbs in pots are easy to maintain with the right care. Here is a simple guide to keep your potted herbs looking fresh and healthy:
Water Properly: Water your herbs when the top 2 cm of soil have dried out. Ensure that the soil remains moist, but not overly saturated.
Fertilize: Add a balanced plant fertilizer to your watering can every now and then to encourage lush, leafy growth.
Replenish the Soil: Some herbs, like mint, prefer to grow freely rather than being confined to a pot. To keep these herbs happy, replant them every two years by removing them from the pot, lifting their roots, and placing them in fresh soil.
Trim Regularly: Trim your herbs once a year to keep their size manageable for life in a pot and to promote a neat, bushy growth habit. This will also prevent them from becoming straggly and overgrown.