Last Updated on March 15, 2022 by Admin
Learn how to grow herbs in pots so you don’t have to worry whether or not you have enough space in the backyard. This is also perfect if you live in a condo or apartment where you don’t have a lot of space.
How to Grow Herbs in Containers
Container gardening is a great way to grow herbs. For one, it lets you enjoy them all year round, be it indoors and outside.
This is especially convenient if where you live experiences harsh winters.
Instead of worrying whether your plants survive the cold, you can easily bring them inside without having to dig each one out.
The same goes for when spring comes around and you take them back outside.
In addition to that, containers also offer other benefits.
- They save space making them perfect if you don’t have a lot of extra room
- They’re a good option if the soil in your property isn’t well suited for gardening
- You can easily grow plants with different requirements together
- The pots and containers are decorative as well
- Arranging and rearranging take minutes. And, you can keep doing it as often as you want.
- They give you better control
- Containers allow you to experiment with different locations. This makes them perfect for beginners who are getting the hang of balancing sunlight, shade, humidity, temperature, wet and dry.
How to Choose the Perfect Container for Your Herbs
How do you choose a container for your herbs?
Honestly, anything can work as a container. As long as it can hold the plant, right?
But, there are a few things you’ll want that container to have or consider before growing your herbs in it. They are:
- Size. For herbs. 8-10 inch pots work well. That is 8-10 inches in diameter on the lip of a circular pot. You can do the math with the volume if you want to use a square or other shaped container. Round ones work well because they allow the roots to extend evenly on all sides. If you want to grow 3-4 herbs in one container then going with 16-18 inch containers is a better option. In addition to housing the plant, the size also determines how much soil in can hold. As a result, it affects how often you water. The smaller the container, the more often you’ll need to water.
Here’s a plant pot container size conversion chart in case you need one. It shows different pot sizes, the gallon and liter equivalent.
It also increase how many cubic feet of dry soil you’ll need to fill the pot.
- Drainage. Make sure that the container you get allows for drainage. Often, this comes in the form of holes in the bottom of pots. Additionally, make sure that you don’t block or clog that hole with something. Anything that prevents water from dripping out impedes drainage. This increases the risk of rotting due to too much moisture.
- Weight. If you don’t plan on moving your pots, then its weight isn’t much of a concern. But, if you do, be it during winter or for decorative purposes, then getting a lighter container makes it easier to move.
- How Porous It Is. Containers that are made from porous materials allow air and moisture to get through them. As such, things like wood and clay pots offer more air circulation and drainage. In contrast, non-porous materials like plastic and metal don’t allow anything to get through. The difference means that you’ll need to water more frequently with porous materials and watch for over moisture in non-porous ones.
- Material. Both weight and porosity are in large part determined by the type of material the container is made from. Here are some common materials that are used for pots and containers.
- Terra cotta or clay pots
- Fiberglass and polypropylene
- Self-watering containers
- Design. Of course, let’s not forget how the container looks as well. After all, plants (and the pots they come in) are often used as decorative pieces. At the very least, they’re there to enhance the visual appeal of a room, home or office among other things.
Below is a chart of the different herbs and how big you can expect them to get when they mature including the height and spread.
This way you can plant out where to put them eventually when they get bigger.
- How to Harvest, Dry, Freeze and Store Herbs
- How to Propagate Herbs
- Indoor and Outdoor Herb Gardening for Beginners
- Overwintering Herbs – Growing Herbs Indoors in Winter
- What are Herbs & What is Herb Gardening
- Herb Garden Planning and Layout for Beginners
Soil, Water and Fertilizer
Okay, now that you’ve got your container, it’s time to get down to work.
Like all plants, it all comes down to light, soil, water and fertilizer.
Since lighting doesn’t change, we won’t discuss that in this section. Instead, let’s focus on the other three.
Potting Mixes / Potting Soil
When it comes to growing plants in containers, the soil is where the biggest change happens.
Outside, you’ll be using garden soil. The only reason not to is if the soil in your area isn’t well suited for growing plants.
But, for container gardening as well as houseplants, potting soil is the way to go.
By now, you already know that potting soil isn’t actually soil. Instead, it’s a mixture of synthetic matter that’s well suited as a growing medium for plants.
Also, it’s been sterilized so that it’s free of pests and disease.
So why not just scoop up soil from the garden and use it for your containers?
- It’s heavy. This makes it difficult to carry or move your plant, especially when water is added.
- Garden soil can get compact. When it does, it prevents water and air from getting into the soil. Thus, making it hard for the plant’s roots to absorb them. Also, compact soil makes it hard for the roots to penetrate in order to grow properly.
- It can contain diseases as well as weed seeds. This sabotages your plant before you even begin.
So what should you look for in potting soil? Go for:
- A high-quality mix
- Light in weight
- Loose enough to allow air circulate
- Well-draining so it doesn’t hold too much water
- Retains water and nutrients
Yes, the last two contradict one another. As such, a better way to put it is potting soil that offers a balance between retaining water and drainage.
How does that work?
It’s actually easy. All you need to do is look for potting soil that contains the right ingredients. Here are some clues.
Potting Soil Ingredients that Hold Water Well
- Water-retaining polymer
- Sphagnum peat
Potting Soil Ingredients that Allow Drainage
The chart below shows each herb’s ideal soil and soil temperature to grow. The chart also includes what kind of light each herb needs.
The funny thing about humans is we tend to overthink things. This happens a lot when it comes to watering. That’s why:
- Outdoor container plants dry out. You remember it just rained. And, the sun isn’t too bright today. So, it probably doesn’t need as much watering. After all, too much water is what kills plants, right? Soon enough, you find the soil getting too dry.
- Indoor container plants are overwatered. It’s just sitting there, maybe it isn’t getting enough water. Or, it’s not growing as it should, so I should water it more. Also, take into consideration the indoor temperature, sunlight and other factors.
Unfortunately, many things affect when you should water your container plants. These include:
- The temperature
- How much sun they receive?
- How much water the plant wants?
- The size of the container. The smaller the container, the more often you need to water.
- The kind of soil you’re using
- If they’re outside, how much rain it receives.
As such, the best way to gauge it is just to stick your finger into the soil. As you get better, you’ll be able to eyeball it, much like how experienced chefs add ingredients without measuring.
Here’s how estimate when to water your plants using your finger.
- Stick your finger into the soil till the last knuckle (the one closest to your palm).
- This should get you about 2 inches or so into the soil.
- If the tip of your finger feels dry, it’s time to add water.
Going deep is key because sometimes the top of the soil can look dry but there’s actually still moisture down below. As such, adding more moisture increases the risk of overwatering.
As with water, herbs aren’t fans of too much fertilizer. That said, it’s important to note that potting mixes only come with an “initial dose” of fertilizer. Even with slow-release formulation, the nutrients quickly dry up in 3-4 weeks.
As such, your container herbs need fertilizer.
Here’s a chart that shows the different nutrients plants including herbs need.
It divides the nutrients into macronutrients (nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus) and micronutrients. Keep it mind that the micronutrients are very important.
Many beginner growers omit the micronutrients and just focus on the macronutrients which can cause deficiencies and abnormalities in the plant later on.
How to Plant Herbs in Pots
Below is a chart showing how to plant herbs in pots including planting depth, days to maturity, the kind of soil to use and ideal growing temperature.