Tips for Growing Container Herbs

March 8th, 2024

For fresh flavor in cooking and aromatherapy between


container herbs

Keep your favorite herbs within easy reach for cooking and seasoning by growing them in containers. A few pots of container herbs set by your door and grill or on the patio, deck or balcony make it easy to include some homegrown flavor.

Start by growing herbs you like to use for seasoning food and beverages, making pesto or preserving. Include some with fragrance for a bit of aromatherapy.


Windowsill herb gardens – the best herbs to use


Make sure the plants you select will thrive in the amount of sunlight in the growing space. Most herbs prefer full sun, but some like mint, thyme, chives, parsley and lemon balm will tolerate some shade. A bit of afternoon shade is welcome to many sun-loving plants growing in hotter regions. Check the plant tag or seed packet for detailed planting information.

You can grow individual plants in their own container. Or mix several different herbs in one larger container to create an herb garden. Make sure all the herbs will thrive in the same soil moisture and sunlight.


Tips for cooking with herbs


In general, place three or four plants in a 10- to 12-inch pot, four to six in a 14- to 16-inch container, and six to eight in a 16- to 20-inch planter. Adjust this number based on the mature size and growth habit of the herb selected.

Use a container with holes to provide proper drainage and reduce the risk of root rot. Terra cotta pots dry quickly and are a good choice for those gardening in wetter regions or who tend to overwater. Plastic, fiberglass and glazed pots don’t dry out as quickly. Self-watering pots have water reservoirs to extend the time between watering.

Leave a space of about half an inch in small planters and an inch or more between the top of the pot and potting mix in larger containers.

Water new plantings and seedlings often enough to keep the soil slightly moist. Gradually reduce frequency and water thoroughly when the top inch of soil is crumbly and dry. Check containers once a day and more often in extremely hot weather.

Reduce watering and increase success by incorporating Wild Valley Farms’ wool pellets (wildvalleyfarms.com) into the planting mix. This sustainable soil amendment reduces watering by up to 25% and adds air space for better plant growth.

Harvest a few leaves and stems as needed throughout the growing season. Regular harvesting encourages more growth for future harvests. Herbs have the most intense flavor when harvested just before flowering. Cut annual herbs back by 50 to 75% and perennial herbs by one-third at one time. The plants will recover for future harvests.


Melinda Myers has written more than 20 gardening books, including “The Midwest Gardener’s Handbook” and “Small Space Gardening.” She hosts the Great Courses’ “How to Grow Anything” DVD series and the syndicated “Melinda’s Garden Moment” program on TV and radio.

©2024 StarTribune. Visit at startribune.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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