There is no better way to add flavour to your food than cooking with fresh herbs. After all, what can be more rewarding than picking up the herbs from your garden? Obviously, most of us don’t have the space to grow an actual garden. The good news is that most herbs are very adaptable and you can easily grow them in containers.
If you worry about the lack of space, we have some suggestions for you. You will see that you can make room for a container garden even in the smallest of homes. We have also prepared some tips to help you grow your herbs with ease and we’ve put together a list of the best herbs that you can grow in containers.
Follow our simple suggestions, and you will be able to pick fresh herbs from your garden in just a few months.
There are different types of containers that you can use to maximize your space. A good idea is to focus on vertical spaces. For starters, you can try creating a tower of different-sized terracotta pots. You can also use a pallet or a ladder to create shelves on which to place small containers. You can also use hanging baskets and pot holders that you can hang on the balcony railing.
If you have a sunny window you can easily turn it into a vertical garden by mounting some shelves on it. It is best to opt for transparent shelves as well as transparent containers. Opaque shelves and containers will block most of your view. This will also create the impression of a crowded space.
If your window doesn’t get enough sunshine, you can opt for a rope and pulley system. This will allow you to raise or lower the position of your plants outside your window based on the sunlight. If possible, choose your kitchen window for your herb garden. The temperature and humidity in the kitchen create a suitable growing environment for herbs. Moreover, it will be easier for you to water and pick the herbs in the kitchen.
LED Grow Light Garden
Herbs need at least 6 hours of light per day, but most of them will thrive if they have access to 14-16 hours of light. If you don’t have a balcony or a window that gets enough sunlight, you can always supplement with led grow lights.
Tips for Growing Herbs in Containers
- Know the needs of your plants. This is particularly important if you grow several herbs in the same container. Some herbs may have the same sun and water needs, but they still may not be compatible due to their growth rate. For example, mint can be quite invasive and it will suffocate any other plant you pair it with. If you are a beginner gardener, it is better if you start with individual containers. This will help you understand the particular needs of each herb.
- Start with small containers. Herbs are not picky when it comes to containers. But we recommend opting for small containers so you don’t risk drowning or drying your herbs.
- Rotate the plants. Rotate your herbs regularly so that they get optimal sun exposure.
- Feed the plants. When it comes to feeding your herbs, less is more. Overfeeding can cause excess leaf growth and less flavour. Try to only feed your plants if you feel that they grow too slowly and opt for a slow-release organic fertilizer.
- Harvesting. When it comes to herbs, the best way to harvest them is by pinching them back. This means that you have to use your fingernails to pinch stems right above a couple of leaf nodes. This will force the plant to grow two new stems from the pinch point, which will result in a fuller bush.
Best Herbs to Grow in Containers
If you’re planning on growing a container herb garden, you need to start with the herbs that are easy to grow. Initially, you must also consider the ones that you use more frequently. Think about your annual culinary needs and opt for the plants that will serve most of your needs. If you are not sure what herbs to pick, you can simply choose from our list.
This is one of the easiest herbs to grow in containers and it is by far the most popular culinary herb. For an average-sized family, you should opt for 2-3 plants. If you also want to make pesto, we recommend growing about 8 plants. These will be enough for several batches of pesto that you can keep in the freezer.
Growing from seed is the cheapest way to grow basil. It is also relatively easy if you plant it at the right time. You must plant the seeds about a month before the last frost. The seeds will take about 2 weeks to germinate and you should see sprouts in less than a couple of months.
Keep in mind that basil needs plenty of sunshine and heat. A moisture-rich environment like the kitchen is ideal for growing this herb. Use soil with good draining properties and feed it a slow-release organic fertilizer.
Once the plant matures, harvest it regularly to promote heavy growth. Pinch the flowers as well, as they flowering lowers the intensity of the herb flavour. As far as varieties go, we recommend a mixture of Genovese Basil, Lemon Basil, Thai basil, or Spicy Globe. For the pesto, Basil Dolce Fresca is one of the best choices.
If you want to plant Basil in a mixed container, don’t pair it with parsley or cilantro. These plants have different temperature needs. It is also best to keep it away from sage, thyme or rosemary because they have different water needs. It makes a good team with oregano and chives, but it grows best when paired with vegetables.
If you are a fan of Mediterranean cuisine, your herb garden must contain at least one oregano plant. It goes great on grilled foods and it is a great base for pesto. As we already mentioned, it grows well near basil, so you can plant them together.
The right time for planting oregano depends on the local climate. In warm climates, it is best to plant it after winter, whereas in hotter climates you can plant it in winter or even fall.
As far as varieties go, if you plan on growing only one oregano plant, you should choose Greek Oregano. It has a pungent, earthy flavour which goes great with tomato sauces, as well as fish recipes. If you want to experiment with other varieties as well, we recommend Italian Oregano, Syrian oregano, Golden Oregano, or Mexican Oregano.
Once you get used to caring for this plant you can also try to multiply it from cuttings. Spring is the best time to do this. You can plant the cuttings directly in the soil after dipping them in rooting hormone.
Roasted potatoes would make absolutely no sense if it wasn’t for rosemary. The pungent flavour of this aromatic herb is also great for chicken and bread, and it makes for an amazing pesto.
Growing rosemary from seeds is quite tricky. The germination rate is poor and the plant grows very slowly this way. It usually takes several months before it produces any leaves that you can use. If you don’t want to experiment and want a mature rosemary plant it is best to buy one from a nursery. It will save you a lot of trouble.
You should plant your Rosemary in a larger container, preferably one with a 30 cm diameter. It will grow well in a commercial potting mixture. However, you must make sure the container has a good drainage hole. As far as varieties go, Gorizia, Tuscan Blue, and Arp are the most popular ones.
Parley prefers a cooler environment, so it is best not to place it on your sunniest windowsill. It is not very easy to grow from seeds because it has a poor germination rate and slow growth, but it is worth the try.
Soak the seeds overnight and sow them at the beginning of spring. It will take about 3-5 weeks to see baby plants. It is important to remember the fact that parsley needs rich and moist soil.
There are two main varieties: flat-leaf and curly. The flat-leaf variety is more popular because it has a stronger flavour and it is easier to wash. However, the softer flavour of curly parsley is great for salads and garnishes.
Thyme likes plenty of sunshine, so feel free to put it on the same windowsill as basil, oregano, and rosemary. This plant likes the soil to dry out between watering. It thrives on neglect, so feel free to give it as little attention as possible.
You can grow it from seeds, but the process is time-consuming. It is best to buy a baby plant from a nursery. It grows quite quickly, so you will most likely have to repot it every year. When you repot it, you can propagate it through division.
Mint is one of the most versatile herbs in the world. You can use it in tea, cold drinks, desserts, and savoury dishes as well. It is great in lamb and poultry recipes. The best edible varieties are Spearmint and Peppermint. If you want to experiment with other varieties as well, we recommend Apple Mint, Pineapple Mint, Chocolate Mint, and Orange Mint.
Growing mint from seeds is time-consuming and it has a low success rate, so it is better to start with a nursery plant. It is not pretentious when it comes to the soil and it doesn’t need feeding. However, it needs a large container, with 30 cm in diameter because it develops a complex root system. This plant thrives both in full sun and partial shade. Being a rather invasive plant, it is best to avoid pairing it with other plants.
Having a very very versatile flavour, sage goes well with poultry and pork, but also with cheese and beans. It is easy to grow indoors, especially if it has plenty of sunshine. Unlike other herbs, sage is a bit pretentious when it comes to the growing medium. It requires a soil-less potting mix with a loamy texture and good draining properties.
You can propagate sage from seeds, but it is best to start with nursery transplants. If you own a mature plant, you can propagate it through cuttings, division, or layering. You must water young plants frequently, but mature plants prefer a dryer environment. In a mixed pot, you can plant it with rosemary, oregano, and thyme.
Chives have a very mild flavour. As such, you can use them in a wide variety of dishes, from egg dishes to soups, fish, mashed potatoes, and much more.
Chives are easy to grow at home. They can easily adapt to most environments. They thrive in full sunshine, but they can also adapt to partial shade. They prefer fertile, moist but well-drained soil. You can boost their growth with a slow-release organic fertilizer.
You can grow them from seeds, but it is best to start with nursery transplants. You can also start with bulbs that you can plant in early or late spring. Every 2-3 years, you will need to divide the bulbs.
As far as harvesting goes, you can use both the leaves and the flowers. You can use the flowers as garnishes, or you can use them in soups and sauces.
There are many aromatic herbs that you can grow at home, but the ones described above are the ones that will yield the best rewards with the least amount of effort on your part. To grow a successful container garden, simply follow our advice on growing herbs at home. Next thing you know, you’ll be ready to experiment with other herbs as well.
You can expand your indoor garden wherever space allows it. Feel free to make the most of each vertical space that gets natural sunshine. Don’t be afraid to play with artificial grow lights as well.
Are you already growing herbs in containers? Which ones are your favourites?