How To Grow Herbs In Pots, Planters And Containers
Growing Herbs in Containers Outdoors
Scroll down for tips on growing herbs indoors in containers. 

Many herbs can be grown successfully in containers on a patio, balcony or terrace. There are many reasons why you may want to grow herbs in containers rather than in the garden. 

  1. First, many herbs are small and tend to get lost in a landscape; growing them in containers brings them closer to the viewer. This is especially true of ornamental herbs that have unique qualities that should be viewed up close. 

  2. Container growing is especially recommended for herbs that need good drainage and tend to rot in overly wet garden soils.

  3. Containers are easily transported and can be arranged in attractive groupings with containers of flowering plants. Too, tender herbs growing in containers can be overwintered indoors. 

Choosing a Container
Any container is suitable for growing herbs as long as it has a drainage hole. Clay pots are often preferred because they are more porous than plastic. Other containers that work well include window boxes, strawberry jars, and hanging baskets.

The soil you use should be loose and well-drained. A recommended mix for container grown plants can be made by mixing equal parts of potting soil, peat moss, and perlite (or vermiculite), or just use a light, premium potting mix. Since most herbs aren't heavy feeders, potting mixes containing fertilizer are not recommended.

Choosing Plants
Small and slow-growing herbs look best in containers. Some examples are variegated sage, purple sage, golden sage, parsley, Greek oregano, rosemary, prostrate rosemary, marjoram, bush basil, thyme, chives, and summer savory. Window boxes, strawberry jars, and large pots can accommodate a combination of several herbs and flowers.

Step-By-Step Planting Instructions

Before filling your container with the soil mix, we recommend lining the bottom with shade cloth or a porous landscape fabric. This will keep the drain holes from becoming stopped up with soil. 

Use a high-quality premium potting mix to fill container to a level that will allow your plant to sit with the top edge of its root ball approximately 1/2 to 1" below top rim of the container. 

Carefully remove you plant(s) from the nursery container. If the plant is stuck in the pot use snips to cut the container away. Gently scratch root ball to loosen feeder roots.

Set your herb plant(s) in container and make necessary adjustments to insure that the top edge of the root ball will sit 1/2 to 1" below the rim of the container. Backfill with potting mix around rootball, tamping as you go, until the the level of potting mix is even with the top edge of root ball.

Water thoroughly and add more potting mix if settling occurs during watering.

STEP 6 (Optional)
Apply a thin layer of wood chips or sphagnum moss to soil surface.

Care Tips for Outdoor Container Herbs

Though herbs are very easy to grow, perhaps the the most difficult part of growing them in containers outdoors is watering. Plants growing in containers dry out faster than in the ground. On a hot, sunny day, a container may require water once or twice daily. Of course, the water requirements vary from plant to plant. When the top inch or so of the soil feels dry, apply enough water to allow a small amount to come out the drainage holes in the bottom of the container.

Feeding Herbs
Since most herbs do not require high fertility, you should not need to fertilize them as much as you would other container-grown plants such as flowers or houseplants. Small dosages of a slow release organic fertilizer should work fine. 

Pruning Herbs
Pruning should be done during spring and summer; avoid excessively cutting the plants back in the fall. The growth serves to catch leaves that help insulate the plants. During the growing season, pinch the plants back to keep them bushy and compact and remove any dead or diseased leaves to keep them healthy.

Tender herbs growing outdoors in containers containers can be moved indoors for the winter. Before doing so, the plants should be acclimatized in early fall. Gradually move them indoors a few hours at a time over the period of several days so they get adjusted to the differences in temperature and light. 

Growing Herbs Indoors in Containers

Herbs can be grown indoors year around. They can be grown indoors in pots on sunny windowsills and in sun rooms. Herbs growing outdoors in containers can be easily moved indoors for the winter. Before doing so, the plants should be acclimatized in early Fall. Gradually move them indoors a few hours at a time over the period of several days so they can adjust to the differences in temperature and light.

Though the planting method is the same, herbs growing indoors should be treated differently than those out-of-doors. Here are some basic guidelines you will need to follow:

Soil Requirements
When growing herbs indoors, plant them in a light, well-drained premium potting mix. Potting mixes that contain fertilizer are not recommended as herbs are very light feeders.

Fertilize container herbs at time of planting with a slow-release plant food, or every two weeks or so with a water soluble fertilizer at 1/4 the recommended strength.

Light Requirements
Most herbs like lots of sunshine. So, one of the biggest problems growing herbs indoors is providing sufficient light to keep the plants from getting spindly. Grow them in the sunniest location you have or under fluorescent lights if necessary.

Water Requirements
Since the plants will not be using as much water as they do outdoors, water only when the top 1-inc h of the soil is dry; apply enough water so that some drains out the bottom of the pot. Avoid overwatering which will cause the roots to rot.

Insect Control
Check the plants frequently for aphids, spider mites, and whiteflies which are common pests on herbs grown indoors. Pick the insects off, or spray plants with a mild solution of insecticidal soap.