Ten Top Tips for Growing Herbs in Containers

April 24, 2008

Following on from my post about the advantages of growing herbs in containers, here are some tips to help you have a beautiful and thriving herb container garden.

1.  Choose an appropriate container and compost i.e. A heavy stone trough wouldn’t be a good idea for a balcony garden and a heavy soil based compost wouldn’t be suitable for a hanging basket or windowbox unless the fittings are very secure.

2.  Make sure you can lift the container if you are planting frost tender herbs in it because you will need to place it in a frost free place for the winter if you want them to survive until the following year.

3.  Use a good quality potting compost mixed with coarse sand to help with drainage, plus a 2 to 5cm deep layer of gravel/crocks at the base of the pot.

4.  If you are using metal containers don’t place them in full sun; the herb’s roots will shrivel!

5.  If you want a low maintenance container garden or don’t want to use liquid feeds, you can add a slow release fertiliser into the compost.

6.  If you want to minimise the amount of watering you need to do, consider adding water-retaining gel or granules into the compost.  I have seen people add cut up bath sponges which I guess would have a similar effect although I’m not sure if any chemicals would leach into the soil?

7.  As soon as you see roots starting to grow out of the base of the pot, you know you need to re-pot the plant into the next largest size container.

8.  Check the moisture levels of the container soil daily during warm spells.

9.  Try not to cram too many herbs into one pot; they need plenty of light and space to avoid them growing too tall and spindly.  A group of containers with one herb per pot can look stunning.

10.  Trim/harvest your herbs regularly to promote fresh bushy growth.

Oh, I thought of some more, here’s a few of them…….

11.  Place your containers where they will get plenty of light especially in the morning.

12.  Place containers away from strong and persistent winds; it stresses your herbs out!  This is especially important if you are growing taller herbs in a container; the stems may break.  Wind tends to dry out the soil and can also blow away the top soil if there is not mulch on it.

13.  For established herbs in containers, mulch in the Spring by removing the top 2 to 5 cm of soil and replacing with a mulch of fresh compost.

14.  Plant herbs that like similar soil conditions in the same container. i.e lavender and mint wouldn’t be a good combination.

If you have any tips or herb container gardening questions, feel free to leave a comment below.

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