How to Grow Delicious Herbs in Containers

Reader Contribution by Benedict Vanheems
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Photo by Getty Images/YinYang

Herbs make excellent plants to grow in just about any type of container. You can grow one type alone in a pot or mix and match a few that enjoy the same growing conditions. For instance, drought-tolerant herbs such as rosemary and thyme enjoy full sun and sharp drainage, while parsley and chives grow well together in a shadier spot.

Mint is particularly suited to being grown in its own pot because it is extremely vigorous and will tend to out-compete neighboring plants.

Planting Up a Herb Container

Terra-cotta urns, galvanized tubs, wicker-framed planters — your choice of container can be as traditional or quirky as you like! Just make sure it has drainage holes. If it doesn’t already have them, you’ll need to drill some into the base.

Place a few broken pieces of pot over the drainage holes to prevent the potting soil from being washed out. For best drainage, mix in some handfuls of grit or fine gravel to your potting soil. Add and mix them together in stages as you fill the container.

When the container is nearly full, arrange your herbs, still in their pots, on top. Position trailing herbs or spreading herbs at the front where they can creep over the edge. Taller herbs should go to the back or in the middle, with bushier plants in between. Once you’re happy with the positioning, take the herbs out of their pots and plant them in the container.

Water your herbs well. You may need to add a little more potting soil once you’ve done this, as it will settle and sink. You can finish the display off with a top-dressing of gravel or pebbles. To ensure good drainage, elevate the container off the ground slightly. Large flat pebbles, bricks, or purpose-made pot feet will all do the job.

Caring For Potted Herbs

Herbs are low maintenance, even in pots. Make sure to keep fleshy-leaved herbs like parsley and basil well-watered, but avoid overwatering drought-tolerant aromatic herbs with finer leaves such as rosemary or thyme. Water your herbs with an organic liquid fertilizer every few weeks during the growing season to keep them producing plenty of fresh new shoots. Picking regularly will also encourage herbs to produce lots more new leaves.

In harsh winters, wrap pots in bubble wrap or burlap stuffed with straw or scrunched-up newspaper to help prevent the roots from freezing solid. You could also move containers into a protected environment such as a greenhouse to keep them free of frost and snow.

Learn more about growing herbs in containers in this video.

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