How to Plant a Herb Pot

You needn't have a huge herb garden to yield a variety of interesting flavours from your plants. A simple herb pot can provide you with lots of exciting plants to spice up your cooking and create a very manageable green space for a kitchen, patio or small garden area.

Steps

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    Select your herbs. When making an Herb pot, it is essential to have a good variety of herbs and companion plants that will assist your culinary pursuits. Some good choices include:
    • Sweet Marjoram
    • Lemon Balm
    • Sage
    • Common Basil
    • Mint
    • Lime Basil
    • Thyme
    • Oregano
    • Strawberries
    • Hot Pepper
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    Prepare the pot.
    • Make sure that your pot has holes in the bottom for good drainage.
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    • Take your gravel or grit, and pour this into the container to about a quarter of the pot's depth. This will help water drain out from the bottom of the soil.
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    Fill. Once the gravel is in place, start to fill the pot with a multi-purpose, or soil-based compost. This should fill approximately three quarters of the pot's remaining depth.
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    Start planting.
    • Place the herb plants into the pot, with about 15 centimeter (5.9 in) between each stem.
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    • Squeeze each herb gently from its temporary pot, and tease the roots from the root ball; this will encourage them to spread out.
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    Place the taller plants in the center of the display, and the trailing ones near the edge. This will help to ensure the best growth. The display may look messy at first, but do not worry, as this will start to fill out and look lush within a few weeks.
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    Fill in around the planted herbs. Once you are happy with the positions, start to fill the gaps between the plants with compost.
    • Firmly push the compost into the gaps by pushing your fingers deep into the soil that you have just added, being careful not to damage any roots.
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    • Add more if necessary. Leave a couple of centimeters between the pot's rim and the soil, so that the pot does not overflow when watered.
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    Top the herbs. Cut the tops off the taller plants, roughly halving them in height. This will encourage each herb plant to bush out and provide more leaves to pick at harvest time.
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    Fertilize. Obtain a controlled release fertilizer.
    • Push 3 - 5 of these into the soil, depending on your pot size. Simply push the controlled release fertiliser deep in with your finger and then re-cover with soil. These slow-release fertilisers should last a whole season, meaning that you needn't feed the pot again.
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    Water. Water thoroughly, until the water starts to drain out of the bottom of the pot. The compost needs to absorb a lot on first watering, so expect to apply four litres or so. Continue to water over the coming months, at least every few days, or when the soil seems dry. Herbs like to dry out between water, and some herbs such as Rosemary can easily be over-watered.
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    Finished.

Tips

  • Herbs prefer well drained soil. Let the soil dry out on top between water and don't leave the pot standing in a tray of water.
  • When new leaves form at fork of older leaves, cut the orders leaves at that point and put them in water until new roots form. When roots form plant them in water and you'll soon have a new plant.
  • Herbs can also be planted outdoors if the weather is warm enough, either in the grounds or in pots of their own. You can get larger harvests this way, and plant larger plants, such as rosemary and lavender.
  • If plants get rotten and old on the top it does not mean that they are totally dead. You can still cut the top off the plants and re plant the roots.
  • If you like scented gardens, make a version with only highly aromatic herbs, such as basil and lemon-scented herbs.
  • Watering adequately involves letting more water seep in deeply but less-often helping promote deeper root growth, instead of just spraying which may only feed the roots near the surface of the soil, so the lower roots would be in real trouble.
  • Basil is an annual in most climates and will grow back if kept outside during frost. During its growing season, pinch off flower heads to encourage growth of leaves and to give the plant a bushier shape.
  • Herb pots make fantastic gifts for people who enjoy cooking, gardening and easy-to-care for plants. Add a large bow around the middle of the pot and present to your recipient with a card.
  • If you have a large windowsill area in your kitchen that receives plenty of sunshine, this can be a great place to keep an Herb pot, as it is always within reach whilst you are cooking.
  • Often if plants look droopy, it's time to water them. Plants are easier to grow if you just keep them watered properly. In hot weather, when temps reach over 80F/27C, some plants (especially outdoors) need to be watered every day (for instance in sandy or other well drained soils).
    • On the other hand, over-watering can cause drooping and even killing some leaves on upper stems -- especially in pots, with poor drainage or with water-holding products. That is because too much water may over-feed the top or increase fungi around the base and lead to "root rot").
    • Under watering may appear as yellowing and dying leaves on lower leaf branches.

Warnings

  • Basil will begin to fail as soon as the weather cools in the fall and winter. Basil is a heat-loving annual plant and is difficult to grow indoors. Requires more than 12 hours of light daily.
  • Mint and lemon balm are vigorous growers that can spread quickly. You may prefer to give them their own pots. Keep them in a pot or plan how you will contain them before you put them outdoors.

Things You'll Need

  • A variety of herbs as listed above
  • A large pot; terracotta or ceramic are good choices
  • Gravel
  • Compost
  • Controlled release fertilizer
  • A watering can

Sources and Citations

  • VideoJug A video of planting an Herb pot; original source of article. Shared with permission and appreciation.

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