Grow: Our Top Five Tips for Growing Herbs in Containers
Fresh basil on homemade pizza, fresh oregano in a pasta sauce, fresh thyme on roasted chicken – when it comes to cooking, fresh herbs are the secret to taking your dish from good to mouthwatering! Luckily, herbs are also one of the easiest things to grow and will thrive in containers, which means that you can blow your dinner guests, or just your family, away with homegrown scents and flavours that totally transform your cooking.
Here are our experts’ five essential tips to growing a vibrant and lush potted herb garden:
1. Grow organic
You may be surprised to learn what a difference this makes, but herbs grown in organic soil and with organic fertilizer have much better flavour and potency. We recommend using a quality organic soil like this one to get the best results. Don’t forget that regular feeding is an important step in caring for any plants, and it’s best to go organic here as well when it comes to growing herbs. During the growing season, feed your herbs with a slow-release organic fertilizer, or a half-strength solution of organic liquid fertilizer such as Sea Magic every three to four weeks.
2. Provide good drainage
Herbs thrive on good drainage, so before you do anything else, make sure that your pot has sufficient drainage holes. Elevating pots on pottery feet, bricks, stones, or even another pot turned upside-down can also help to improve drainage. And it’s not just your container or your pot placement that matters – well-draining soil is KEY! To help you on this front, we’ve created a lightweight and porous ‘Magic Mix’ that is perfect for herbs. The mix combines lava rock with organic soil for optimum drainage. You’ll want to be sure to grab some Magic Mix when you’re picking out your herbs to make sure you get the most out of your herb garden!
3. Plant with the herb varieties’ needs in mind
Chives are perennial and overwinter very well, so they are a great option for planting directly into the ground. Mint is an aggressive plant that will take over an entire area or container, so you’ll want to give it its very own pot. Watering needs will vary according to the variety of herb as well as the pot size and type, where you place the container, and the time of year, so be sure to consider all of these factors when planting.
4. Know when to water, and when to wait
Mediterranean and other drought-tolerant herbs such as rosemary, lavender, thyme, and oregano like soil that is on the dryer side, so let the potting soil dry slightly between waterings. For moisture lovers like basil and chives, keep the mix slightly moist – about as damp as a wrung-out sponge – at all times.
The best way to tell when it’s time to water is to let your finger be your guide. If the soil feels dry 1 to 2 inches below the surface, then it’s probably time to water. Be sure to do so thoroughly until you see water flowing freely from the pot’s drainage holes.
5. Pinch and harvest!
Remember that the more you pinch off and use your herbs, the more they’ll be encouraged to leaf out and produce. The result will be a bushier and more productive plant, so don’t be shy – snip those flavourful sprigs and flowering stems and get cooking! If you really want to get the most out of your herb garden, place your pots in close proximity to your kitchen; you really will use them more often. A wall planter like this one below can be hung in a sunny spot right in your kitchen!
Now that you’re prepped and ready to grow, get started by scrolling through this lovely list of fresh herbs that are popping up weekly in our nursery. Then, browse this helpful collection of specific tips for your favourites. You can make your selections with total abandon, or have fun with a theme like Mexican or Italian – it’s all up to you.
Now… what’s for dinner?!