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Growing Herbs in Pots for Beginners

9:44 AM

Learn about container gardening with herbs to grow fresh herbs on your patio or deck.  Grow herbs in pots outside to save space, even if you live in an apartment or don't have a lot of yard space, you can still grow herbs in pots for fresh herbs all summer and dried herbs all winter.


I have a large garden, but I prefer to grow herbs in pots.  Part of the reason is that my garden isn't close to the house.  


It's about a 5 minute walk to get to the garden.  I can't just pop out and grab some parsley or chives while I'm making dinner.





We also have a lot of deer, rabbits, and other wildlife.  If we aren't careful, they turn the garden into an all you can eat buffet.  


They do get to my vegetable plants sometimes, but they seem to really like my herbs.  So it's just easier to grow herbs in containers on my patio.


Growing Herbs in Pots for Beginners


I've been planting herbs in pots on my patio for about eight years now.  I was using cute little pots that I picked up at the garden store.


This year, I switched to a vertical herb garden.  I think it's going to look pretty in the flower bed.  It will also take up some room and help me fill in some space.  


If you're new to gardening check out my gardening hacks and frugal gardening tips for more information.


Not sure if you are ready to for growing herbs for beginners?  If you want high quality herbs without growing them, then I recommend Mountain Rose Herbs.


If you want to learn about using herbs for teas, food, and wellness, I highly recommend The Herbal Academy's  Introductory Herbal Course.


What Herbs Grow Well in Pots?


Most herbs grow are fine for container gardening with herbs.  Just make sure you keep in mind how big the plant will be and how big the root system will grow.


If you are planting herbs in pots, these are the best to grow:


  • Basil
  • Rosemary
  • Oregano
  • Mint
  • Thyme
  • Lemon Balm
  • Parsley


I've also grown chamomile, catnip, and even stevia in pots on my patio.  Nearly all herbs can be used for container gardening with herbs.





Is it Better to Grow Herbs in Pots or Ground?


In an ideal world, planting herbs in the ground would be best.  They will have plenty of room to spread and grow more.


However, you can learn how to grow herbs in pots so you can still grow herbs even if you don't have a garden area.


Planting herbs in pots is perfectly fine if you don't have a backyard garden or just don't want to till a garden.  


Choosing Pots to Grow Herbs in Pots


Learning how to grow herbs in pots is fairly easy, but it is important to choose the right size container.  Choosing the right sized flower pot is important for container gardening with herbs.


If the container is too small, your plants won't grow as big as they should.  If it's too big, you're just washing space.


  • Use a 6 inch pot for herbs with shallow roots like basil or thyme.  
  • Use an 8 to 10 inch pot for almost any herb.  This is the ideal size, and you should plan to buy this size if possible.
  • You can also choose a 12 to 18 inch pot and plant more than one herb in the pot.  Parsley and lemongrass both have longer root systems that like larger pots.


Learn the easiest herbs to grow at home.


Potting Soil


Once you choose your pots to grow herbs in containers, you need to find potting soil for container gardening with herbs.  You might be tempted to get dirt from your garden or your yard, but please don't do this.


Soil naturally has bacteria and fungus in it.  An older plant may be resistant, but seeds and small plants might get sick from the microbes.


Look for a soil that keeps the plant moist yet drains well.  I know that seems counterintuitive, but you want the plant in moist soil without sitting in standing water.


I like Burpee Organic Premium Potting Mix. It has Burpee plant food that provides nutrients up to three months.  


It also has coconut coir, which helps the soil retain moisture.  You can water less, and I find that when I use this to grow herbs in containers, I get a better yield.





Draining for Containers for Herbs


It's important to have good drainage when you grow herbs in pots outside.  If there's a heavy rain, the water will sit in the pot and can harm the plant.  


I use a good soil to help my herbs drain.  However, the pot you use to grow herbs in pots should have drainage holes.


I've had plastic or metal containers that didn't have drainage holes.  I use a drill to add my own.  


The type of container you use for container gardening doesn't matter.  You can use plastic, metal, or ceramic.  Just keep in mind that heavy containers will be hard to move and hard to drill a hole in if needed.


When I grow herbs in containers outside, I set the pots in my flower bed.  I don't worry about water spilling over.  If you set them on your deck, you might want to put a drainage tray under the containers.


What Herbs Can Be Planted Together?


If you use larger pots, you can generally plant different types of herbs together in one pot.  When planting herbs in pots, group them together by growing conditions.


For example, group herbs that like the same amount of sun and water levels together.  Also keep note of their size.  


Mint will quickly take over all available space, so it should be planted alone.  Chamomile grows tall, so it can create shade for smaller plants.


Learn more about companion planting with herbs.





What Herbs Should Not Be Planted Together?


Basil generally doesn't get along well with other herbs, so don't plant it with other herbs.  Mint tends to grow and spread quickly.


When you grow herbs in containers, put these plants in their own containers.


Do Potted Herbs Need Full Sun?


Learn how to grow herbs in pots for beginners can be tricky with sunlight.  Pay attention to how much sunlight different areas of your patio get.


Most herbs will need 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight per day.  The house, garage, or trees can shade the area for parts of the day.


There are some herbs that can grow with less sun, so place those in an appropriate location.


How Often Should I Water Herbs in Pots?


Generally, when you grow herbs in pots they will need an inch of water per week.  If it rains, you can supplement with extra water.


Herbs need more water for the first two weeks while their roots are still growing.


I water my herbs every day, especially when it's hot.  I use a watering can with a rain spout so I don't displace the soil.


When you are container herb gardening for beginners, water the base of the plant.  Avoid getting water on the plant itself.


Water in the morning or evening and avoid watering during the hottest part of the day.  The water will evaporate before it can soak into the soil.





When Should You Start an Herb Garden?


You should plant your herbs in the spring to grow herbs in pots outside.  Generally, you want to wait until the danger of frost is gone.  


However, planting herbs in pots makes them quite portable, so you can move them inside if it will frost.


You can start your herbs from seeds or young starts when you grow herbs in containers.  Learn how to make a mini greenhouse to start seeds inside.


How do You Take Care of Herbs in Pots?


Container herb gardening for beginners is fairly easy.  After you plant, you'll just need to make sure they get enough water and sun.


When you grow herbs in pots outside, water them daily if it didn't rain.  Don't overwater though; they can drown.


When you grow herbs in pots outside, it's important to harvest them regularly.  This will encourage them to grow more for you to harvest later.


Don't take off more than 1/3 of the plant with each harvest.  


Planting herbs in pots is fairly easy, even for beginners.


Why Do My Herbs Keep Dying?


Container herb gardening for beginners can be frustrating if your plants look like they are dying.  Here are some common problems and how to fix them.


  • Not enough sun. Most herbs need 6 to 8 hours of full sun per day.
  • Not watering enough.  If you grow herbs in containers, plan to water daily to keep the soil moist.
  • Harvest your plant often.  If it looks full, prune off no more than 1/3 of the plant and enjoy it for dinner or let it dry for later.
  • Always pick from the top.  When you grow herbs in pots, always harvest from the top so the bottom can keep growing.
  • Let it drain.  You need to water often, but don't let water stand in the pot.  If your pot doesn't have drainage, drill holes in the bottom before planting.
  • Soil.  Use a good potting soil with nutrients and good drainage.


Now you know how to grow herbs in pots!  I hope these tips help you create a beautiful herb garden on your patio this year.


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Cari Dunn
Cari Dunn

Cari lives on a small farm in Ohio with her husband, three kids, two dogs, two cats, five goats, and several chickens. She loves Gilmore Girls, glitter, coffee, and her kids. But not in that order.

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