How to Grow Delicious Herbs in Pots

, written by Benedict Vanheems gb flag

Herbs in a terracotta pot

Garden-grown herbs can really transform your cooking. They’re very low maintenance and contribute bags of flavour. Evergreen types such as sage will continue to provide leaves even in the winter in many areas, making them a must for any cook. If you’d like to grow more herbs, read on or watch our video below because we’re going to show you how to choose, arrange and plant up a beautiful herb container.

Herbs for Containers

Many herbs make excellent container plants. Growing them in pots means the potting soil can be tailored to suit each type of herb. Pots are easy to move around the garden to create attractive edible displays, or you can group them close to the house for easy access.

Containers can be as conventional or quirky as you dare. Sun-loving herbs originally from the Mediterranean look the part in terracotta pots and urns. Galvanised tubs lend themselves to an eruption of luxurious foliage, while wicker-framed planters add a rustic touch. Grow a single herb or type of herbs in a container, or group them together in a large planter.

Most herbs will grow in containers. Mint is especially suited to its own pot because of its vigorous habit and tendency to spread and overwhelm neighbouring plants.

Remember to match herbs that like the same growing conditions: for instance drought-tolerant herbs such as rosemary, lavender and thyme prefer full sun and well-drained potting soil, while chives and parsley make good companions in a shadier spot.

Herbs in a container

How to Plant Up a Herb Container

Containers need drainage holes to allow excess water to escape, so if your chosen container doesn’t already have them, you’ll need to drill some into the base.

Start by placing some broken pieces of pot over the drainage holes to prevent the compost from washing out. For a free-draining compost, mix multipurpose or soil-based compost with a few generous handfuls of grit, adding and mixing together in stages as you fill the container.

Before planting your herbs, arrange them on top of the compost to see how they’ll look. Consider each plant’s growing habit. Set creeping or trailing herbs to the front and taller herbs to the back or in the middle, with bushier plants in between. Once you’re happy with the arrangement, remove the herbs from their pots and place them back onto the compost. Fill in around the rootballs with more compost, firming it in as you fill.

Thoroughly water the herbs to settle them into position. The level of the compost will sink once you’ve done this, so you may need to add a little more compost. Leave the planted tub as it is, or finish the display off with a mulch of gravel, pebbles or shells. To ensure good drainage, raise the container off the ground by placing it onto some large stones, bricks, or purpose-made pot feet.

Herbs in a pot

Looking After Your Potted Herbs

Herbs are pretty low maintenance, but a few simple tips will keep them in the best condition and provide you with plenty of pickings.

First, water according to the needs of each herb – more for fleshy-leaved herbs like parsley and basil, less often for more aromatic herbs with smaller leaves such as rosemary or thyme. During the growing season, water your herbs with an organic liquid fertiliser every few weeks to help them produce plenty of leaves.

If winters are harsh where you live, protect the pots from severe cold by wrapping them in bubblewrap, hessian or burlap, stuffed with scrunched-up newspaper or straw. This will help prevent the roots from freezing solid. You could also move containers under cover, for example into a greenhouse.

Above all remember to pick and enjoy your herbs regularly. Herbs actually benefit from regular picking and will produce lots more shoots in response. It’s a win-win situation!

Having herbs on hand is just brilliant – and they look fantastic too! Please share your tips for growing herbs below. Perhaps you’ve a favorite combination or a particular variety you’d recommend. If so, let us know about it!

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