Herb garden container tips for success out or indoors

Herbs

Try fresh Basil in potato salad or your fave pasta sauce recipe.
Try fresh Basil in potato salad or your fave pasta sauce recipe.
Chives are delicious in scambled eggs.
Chives are delicious in scambled eggs.
French Tarragon (L) or Rosemary (R) will enhance your favourite chicken recipe. They do well together in the same container.
French Tarragon (L) or Rosemary (R) will enhance your favourite chicken recipe. They do well together in the same container.
Lemon Balm (L) is a great addition to pasta salads when combined with Anniversary Oregano (R).
Lemon Balm (L) is a great addition to pasta salads when combined with Anniversary Oregano (R).
Shown here are Spearmint (left) is perfect for Mojitos;Pineapple Mint (foreground) is tasty in salsa;Eau de Cologne Mint  (background) makes salmon sassy)
Shown here are Spearmint (left) is perfect for Mojitos;Pineapple Mint (foreground) is tasty in salsa;Eau de Cologne Mint (background) makes salmon sassy)
Sprinkle fresh Parsley on pasta or potatoes.
Sprinkle fresh Parsley on pasta or potatoes.
Creeping Thyme (foreground) and spice Oregano (background) add zip to pasta sauces.
Creeping Thyme (foreground) and spice Oregano (background) add zip to pasta sauces.

Easy to grow herbs to enjoy year round

Love the flavour and aroma of fresh herbs, but can’t seem to grow them successfully? Or maybe you’ve always wanted an herb garden but don’t know where to begin. Try these tips and hints to grow an abundance of culinary delights.

Favoured and easy-to-grow herbs include annuals such as dill, several varieties of basil, along with perennials like parsley (biennial), sage, rosemary, thyme, French tarragon, chives, an assortment of oregano, lemon balm and mint. A word of caution regarding lemon balm and mint, don’t plant them in or anywhere near garden spots at ground level as they spread prolifically. Mint is the worst as it sends out tendrils that will stop at nothing until they find a place to settle in.

Although many herbs can be started from seed buying small, established plants from a nursery or farmer’s market gives you a head start enabling you to enjoy your culinary crops more quickly.

First of all choose containers with adequate space, at least 10 to 12 inches (25 to 30 cm) deep. However, if you have the space utilize larger pots to produce even bigger crops. Conversely if the plan is to enjoy fresh herbs year round then stick with smaller pots that can be brought indoors for the winter. Dye-hard gardeners prefer clay pots over plastic or ceramic, but if you choose clay, be prepared to water more frequently during hot spells.

Plant herbs in soil that is slightly sandy for best results. It isn’t necessary to enrich soil with manure or compost, in fact to produce more flavourful herbs it’s important to avoid enhancing the soil by overfeeding, a couple of times during the growing season is usually sufficient. The most important thing is good drainage.

The majority of herbs require four to six hours of sunshine a day, so choose the sunniest spot on your balcony, deck or patio. Basil especially requires as much sun as possible, whereas parsley and tarragon will do well in cooler, shadier locations.

Herbs can be planted in groups for specific purposes, an Italian themed pot of oregano, basil and thyme or an aromatic array of thyme, parsley and tarragon for French cuisine. Combinations and choices are endless, however one herb that doesn’t do well mixing with others is chives. They do much better in a pot on their own.

Once your herb garden is established its time to harvest your bounty. Herbs thrive by being pruned frequently, the more you use them when cooking the better crop they provide.

Basil; sweet, Thai or purple grows in sets of two leaves directly opposite each other. When given a closer look you’ll notice that where the leaves spring from the stem there is another set of ‘babies’ growing from the junction where they meet the stem. It’s important when harvesting to carefully pinch off the larger leaves allowing the smaller ones to branch out. Although basil, especially purple basil, produces attractive flowers, pinch them off to prevent stunted growth and a lack-lustre flavour. Growing conditions – annual, full sun, moist yet well drained soil as basil doesn’t take kindly to ‘wet feet’. Basil can be successfully grown indoors as long as it is in a sunny location.

Chives are best harvested by cutting the stems closest to the edge of the container first, about two inches (5cm) above the soil, and working toward the centre. Tender green stocks will grow back rapidly throughout the season. Growing condition – perennial, full sun, well drained soil. Chives will do well indoors with bright light, but not direct sun.

Dark green dill leaves can be harvested at any time, but the tender young ones have the best flavour so should be harvested before the plant flowers. When flower heads have gone to seed tie stem bundles together and hang upside down (place a container underneath to catch the seeds) to dry. Growing conditions – annual, full sun, well drained soil and will tolerate dry soil. To succeed growing dill indoors it will need to be staked and requires a great deal of direct sunlight, perhaps a grow light.

French tarragon can be a pernickety herb to grow, but well worth the effort for its peppery, anise-like taste. When the plant reaches a length of about eight inches (20cm), it tends to grow in a tangled clump; leaves can be harvested in small quantities for immediate use or stems can be snipped off leaving roughly two inches (5cm) of growth behind. As tarragon loses some of its flavour when dried the best way to preserve it is to remove/discard any yellow leaves, wash and pat dry then freeze, stems and all, in bags. Growing conditions – perennial, full sun with well drained soil as tarragon has a tendency to suffer from root rot. Note: tarragon does not winter over well in very cold climates and should be cut down in fall and covered with mulch or brought indoors. Leave the plant outside until the leaves die back, bring indoors (before the first frost) and place in a cool location for three or four days then introduce it to a location where it will benefit from as much sun as possible.

Lemon Balm leaves are harvested simply by picking what you need. As with most herbs flowers should be pinched off as they appear to promote a healthy plant that will provide a good crop, not that lemon balm needs much encouragement. Growing conditions – perennial, not particularly fussy about soil or location, keep moist in hot weather. To bring indoors, prune back to about four inches (10cm), place in a sunny location and be certain the plant doesn’t dry out.

Mint; spearmint, chocolate mint or pineapple mint leaves, like lemon balm, are harvested as needed. This is one herb that can be allowed to flower due to it voracious growing habit. Again, as with lemon balm, little care is required for the plant to grow abundantly. Many gardeners suggest if you plant mint in clay pots and place them beneath the ground the plant can be contained, I have not discovered any mint that abides by this rule. Where there’s a will, there’s a way so my suggestion is to never plant it in-ground unless that’s all you want in your garden. Growing conditions – perennial, will grow in almost any conditions. Prune back four inches (10cm) to bring indoors and place in a sunny location.

Oregano; golden, lemon or Italian plants are best harvested before flowers appear to retain their most intense flavour. They grow quickly and can be cut back to about five inches (12cm) several times throughout the growing season and will come back as strong as ever. The more frequently you harvest the bushier the plant. Growing conditions – perennial, full to part sun, well drained soil. Oregano winters over well and will grow to a substantial size, if you want to bring it indoors separate a small piece of the plant and transplant to a smaller pot and place in a sunny window.

Parsley, whether flat or curly, can be harvested as soon as the plant is established. Snip stems off individually as required and new growth will appear all season. Like parsley snip from the outer edge working towards the centre. Growing conditions – biennial, sun to partial shade, well drained soil. This herb is sometimes fussy to grow even outdoors if the conditions aren’t just right so it might not be one to bring indoors. If you decide to give a whirl it will require anywhere from six to eight hours of bright light daily, yeah, maybe not.

Rosemary is harvested by clipping individual leaves or stems as required. As rosemary grows quite large you can freeze whole stems after harvesting by laying them on a cookie sheet and then stripping the leaves off and placing them back in the freezer in a plastic bag or container. The more you snip the more prolific the plant. Growing conditions – perennial, sun, well drained soil, heat and drought resistant so water as required. In colder climates (30 degrees F or below) rosemary should be brought indoors. A grow light may be necessary, depending on where you live, as this plant also requires six to eight hours of sunlight daily.

Sage can be harvested by pinching off leaves as needed; flower stems should be cut back to promote production. If the plant is very young avoid harvesting in large quantities for the first year. To store sage use the same procedure as with rosemary. Growing conditions - perennial, sun to part shade, not fussy when it comes to soil as long as it’s well drained. Sage will do well indoors in a location where it will receive direct light; it will tolerate dry, indoor air.

Thyme produces tiny pink/lilac coloured flowers that when harvesting en masse can be dried along with the leaves, otherwise, as with most herbs, snip what you need. Thyme is best stored in the freezer after being dried and crumpled. Growing conditions – perennial, thyme is on your side because it tolerates neglect and enjoys being on the dry side, does well in sun to part shade. If the plant has grown quite a bit separate a small piece and transplant it to a pot for bringing indoors to a sunny location.

All herbs should be acclimatized before bringing them indoors. Well before the first frost of the season begin moving pots close to where they will reside to be enjoyed during winter months. Locations range from under a protective area on the patio or deck to a carport or garage to a reasonably warm basement. They should, however, still be exposed to a certain amount of bright light daily. After a week or two introduce them to their new winter home (usually a south facing window). On milder, sunny autumn and winter days herbs can be put outside to enjoy natural light and soak up the sun. Temperatures that suits most herbs ranges from 65 to 70 degrees F during the day and around 50 at night. Save your herbs and conserve energy by turning the thermostat down, it’s a win-win situation all around.

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Comments 52 comments

Bob Ewing profile image

Bob Ewing 7 years ago from New Brunswick

Herbs are vital to good cooking and this hub is good info on growing yout own.


Envoy profile image

Envoy 7 years ago from USA

I love fresh herbs!

Great hub thanks for sharing :)

btw-Lemon Balm smells wonderful


Jerilee Wei profile image

Jerilee Wei 7 years ago from United States

Great overview of growing your own herbs.


Carmen Borthwick profile image

Carmen Borthwick 7 years ago from Maple Ridge, B.C. Author

Thanks Envoy and Jerilee. I know lemon balm smells great and if you haven't tried pineapple mint you really should!


ripplemaker profile image

ripplemaker 7 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

Hi Carmen, such a helpful hub with lots of good information! :) No wonder the Hubnuggets Team nominated your hub! Congratulations! To vote, click here: http://hubpages.com/hubnuggets10/hub/hubnuggets-09...

Enjoy the garden success and the Hubnuggets,

Ripplemaker and the Hubnuggets Team :D


Carmen Borthwick profile image

Carmen Borthwick 7 years ago from Maple Ridge, B.C. Author

Thanks ripplemaker! Do you think you'll ever become wavemaker? LOL So can I vote for myself... I thought you could only do that in politics


ripplemaker profile image

ripplemaker 7 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

Yes you can vote for yourself Carmen! This is the one time you can do so...without feeling guilty. And then you can go and promote your hub to as many people that you know to vote for your hub. Yes, you can! The more votes, the more chances of being on top 5! :D

Hmmm..I wonder if I can be a wavemaker? Hahahah would you like to be one? :D


Zsuzsy Bee profile image

Zsuzsy Bee 7 years ago from Ontario/Canada

There is nothing like fresh home grown herbs.

Congrats on having produced a hubnugget-wanna-be.

Great hub

regards Zsuzsy


Carmen Borthwick profile image

Carmen Borthwick 7 years ago from Maple Ridge, B.C. Author

Thanks ripplemaker, I'll go ahead and do that thang! And Zsuzsy Bee I think we're cut from the same cloth!LOL Pun intended.


Duchess OBlunt 7 years ago

I don't have much of a green thumb, but have always wanted to try my hand at herbs. Fresh herbs for cooking are wonderful! Your hub is chocked full of great inforfmation! Thank you for taking the time to share it.

And congratulations on your Wannabe Nomination.


Carmen Borthwick profile image

Carmen Borthwick 7 years ago from Maple Ridge, B.C. Author

Thanks Duchess, stop by anytime. I'm going over to check out some of your pages.


Catherine R profile image

Catherine R 7 years ago from Melbourne, Australia

Congratulations this hub is full of really good information. I do consider myself to be a gardener but I have got some really useful tips from you - so thanks!


Bard of Ely profile image

Bard of Ely 7 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal

Excellent and informative hub about something I love to do!


Carmen Borthwick profile image

Carmen Borthwick 7 years ago from Maple Ridge, B.C. Author

Glad you liked it Bard, there's nothing better than fresh herbs. Thanks for the comments.


Carmen Borthwick profile image

Carmen Borthwick 7 years ago from Maple Ridge, B.C. Author

Catherine, sorry I missed your comment. My eyes arent' open wide yet. LOL Glad I could be of help. I'm a kinda jill of all trades so if you ever have a question feel free to ask, cause ya never know I might be able to come up with an answer.


DoodleLyn profile image

DoodleLyn 7 years ago from Upstate New York, USA

Carmen - Very nice hub on herb growing. I have tried, but my yard is very shady. My friend grows basil on her windowsill in just water and rocks! Your hub had lots of good tips and ideas. I'm off to read more of yours. Congratulations on your hubnugget nomination!


Carmen Borthwick profile image

Carmen Borthwick 7 years ago from Maple Ridge, B.C. Author

Again, thanks DoodleLyn. I'll have to try your friends method with basil, I grow bamboo that way.


bee lady 7 years ago

Carmen, this is great stuff and I'll be using your tips! As I have had some difficulty with scale on both a bay tree and rosemary, do you know any planter "buddies" for these that would repel scale?


Carmen Borthwick profile image

Carmen Borthwick 7 years ago from Maple Ridge, B.C. Author

I'll definitely find some for you. Thanks for the comments bee lady


WannaB Writer profile image

WannaB Writer 7 years ago from Templeton, CA

Thanks for the helpful information. I love growing herbs because some are very easy to grow. I don't use them as much as I should, but I love the way they grow with so little care and they seem to survive almost anything. Sometimes after almost a year of neglect when I think nothing has survived, I discover the oregano, thyme, and chives are still there. I'm going to bookmark this for future reference.


herb gardening profile image

herb gardening 7 years ago

Wonderful tips. Herbs are amazing in their versatility and ability to adapt to different regions.


Carmen Borthwick profile image

Carmen Borthwick 7 years ago from Maple Ridge, B.C. Author

Hey WannaB Writer... I know what you mean, I thought for sure I had lost my oregano and thyme because of a harsh winter, but they came back stronger than ever, as you can see in the photo. I'm lucky, I can keep all my herbs close to the kitchen door, easy to remember to use them more often. I must admit, though, I don't harvest enough of them for winter.


Satish K Bhandari profile image

Satish K Bhandari 7 years ago from Dehra Dun, Uttarakhand, INDIA

I am a gardener and a Consultant to Agriculturists, Horticultrists and Floriculturists. Your article is excellent. I have a website dedicated to all thr growers - http://www.bagbani.yolasite.com

Can I uses your article on my site.

Regards and happy growing mouth watering herbs.


Carmen Borthwick profile image

Carmen Borthwick 7 years ago from Maple Ridge, B.C. Author

Hello Satish. Thank you so much for your comment,coming from an expert it means a lo I love to garden almost as much as I love to write. I visited your site, by all means you can use my article. All I ask is that you include my name as the author. I'll become a frequent visitor!


E. A. Wright profile image

E. A. Wright 7 years ago from New York City

Nice article. I love the smell of rosemary, but it sounds like it wouldn't grow too well on the sill of a north-facing window.


Carmen Borthwick profile image

Carmen Borthwick 7 years ago from Maple Ridge, B.C. Author

Not really, but a northeast or west window [with a large sill] might be adequate... again it depends on where you live and the amount of light available each day. I've grown rosemary in my kitchen with northeast light,with indirect light/slight exposure to full sun, and it has done reasonably well.


ChloeAliceWilson profile image

ChloeAliceWilson 7 years ago from Spain

I love cooking with fresh herbs but have never had much luck (or patience maybe!) with growing them. I've grown a bit of coriander but find it goes to seed a bit quickly, and my basil just grows up not out - is that normal? I think maybe it's a bit hot here in Spain or maybe I just forget to water the plants often enough!


Carmen Borthwick profile image

Carmen Borthwick 7 years ago from Maple Ridge, B.C. Author

Hi Chloe, thanks for reading my hub. Basil loves the sun and as long as the soil is moist it will do well. When basil grows up pinch off the tallest stems just above where two new leaves are sprouting. This will encourage the plant to become more full. Keep trying, don't give up!


prasetio30 profile image

prasetio30 7 years ago from malang-indonesia

nice tips. Those plant is very useful . and we don't buy in the market. Because it available in our home. thanks for share.


flighty02 profile image

flighty02 7 years ago

Great hub for anyone wanting to grow their own herbs. Herbs are just about the only thing I can grow with any success and I would encourage anyone to have a go, you can't beat the flavour of fresh herbs in your cooking. I have a half barrel on the patio with an assortment of herbs and a separate trough containing 3 varieties of mint, chocolate, ginger and peppermint... as you quite rightly point out they need to be in a container because they are very invasive.


AllMomNeeds2know profile image

AllMomNeeds2know 7 years ago

Great information. I love herbs and tried growing them this year. The problem is I often forget to water them. Thanks for the hub!


Carmen Borthwick profile image

Carmen Borthwick 7 years ago from Maple Ridge, B.C. Author

Thanks for taking the time to read the herb hub! Flighty02, I've never heard of ginger mint, I'll have to track some down. My fave is pineapple mint.

And AllMom, yeah forgetting to water them, not so good! I'll send some info on a new product that should be available in the spring.


Lady_E profile image

Lady_E 7 years ago from London, UK

What a lovely Hub. I would love to grow my own Herbs. Nice and Fresh. I have bookmarked this Hub, to refer to again - when I get round to starting to grow them. Thanks. :)


Carmen Borthwick profile image

Carmen Borthwick 7 years ago from Maple Ridge, B.C. Author

I'm glad you enjoyed it, thanks for the visit.


Patti Ann profile image

Patti Ann 7 years ago from Florida

Great information! I have been thinking about starting an herb garden and now you have inspired me to finally start one. Thanks!


Carmen Borthwick profile image

Carmen Borthwick 7 years ago from Maple Ridge, B.C. Author

I'm always happy when I inspire someone, you're welcome and thanks for coming to visit.


habee profile image

habee 7 years ago from Georgia

Love this! I grow herbs and a few veggies on my deck. Now I'm inspired to try some new ones next Spring. Thanks!


Carmen Borthwick profile image

Carmen Borthwick 7 years ago from Maple Ridge, B.C. Author

I'm glad you were inspired... spring seems so far off!


BkCreative profile image

BkCreative 6 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

I was thrilled to have a pot of mint growing - I had mint tea (and mint in a refreshing glass of water) for months - this is so healthy, tasty and cost effective.

I'll certainly bookmark your herb hub and try a lot more!

Many thanks!


Carmen Borthwick profile image

Carmen Borthwick 6 years ago from Maple Ridge, B.C. Author

You're very welcome. The mint in my garden is trying to persevere the cold weather, but its days are numbered until spring. I brought my tarragon, rosemary and thyme in for the winter and they are thriving. Thanks for the visit.


Smireles profile image

Smireles 6 years ago from Texas

I love herbs and enjoyed your hub. The winter has been colder than usual here in Texas and while many of my plants did poorly my Rosemary flourished. Thanks for the information.


Dawn 6 years ago

I just love my fresh herbs to go out on the balcony and pick them fresh and use them straight away.

great to know that Oregano will grow in a small pot, this is something i will try soon

many thanks


kims3003 5 years ago

very well thought out and well written hub - great information. enjoy your writing style too


Pollyannalana profile image

Pollyannalana 5 years ago from US

Wow I love this, I am an herbaholic! I will copy this I don't want it lost or forgotten, thank you!

Polly


Carmen Borthwick profile image

Carmen Borthwick 5 years ago from Maple Ridge, B.C. Author

Hey Polly, I love herbs as well. I can hardly wait for spring.


ChristineVianello profile image

ChristineVianello 5 years ago from Philadelphia

I am going to be getting a home soon, can not wait to plant some plants! heh... Very informative hub, are those your plants, they are lovely.


Carmen Borthwick profile image

Carmen Borthwick 5 years ago from Maple Ridge, B.C. Author

Thanks for the read, yes they are my plants. We've had some unusually harsh weather and a late frost so I hope they survive to be enjoyed again this summer.


cclitgirl profile image

cclitgirl 4 years ago from Western NC

Great hub! I'm actually going to link to it in one of my hubs - I love the pictures and information you present here. Voted up.


Carmen Borthwick profile image

Carmen Borthwick 4 years ago from Maple Ridge, B.C. Author

Thanks cclitgirl for the vote and the visit.


johnr54 profile image

johnr54 3 years ago from Texas

Loved your accompanying pictures. I'm a big herb garden girl myself!


RTalloni profile image

RTalloni 3 years ago from the short journey

Thanks for this look at growing herbs successfully. I hope to enlarge my herb collection this year and this is a helpful resource for their maintenance.


Carmen Borthwick profile image

Carmen Borthwick 3 years ago from Maple Ridge, B.C. Author

thanks for taking time to read my hub.

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