Potted herb garden basics

When planted with care, potted herbs will yield an array of homegrown results that are good enough to eat. Just follow these simple steps to get started (no green thumb required).


Most herbs will grow in pots, but avoid ones that overgrow, like lavender and mint (or plant them separately). And only group compatible varieties: Good combinations include sage, rosemary, oregano, and thyme; lemon balm and basil; and parsley and cilantro.


Select a clay, wood, or ceramic pot that can hold several plants; it should have a circumference of about 3 feet and provide good drainage. You also can make use of buckets or crates that are lying around the house and smaller pots for individual herbs. Try using biodegradable starting pots like Dot Pots if you’re starting with seed.


Organic potting soil meant for vegetables and herbs is best; clay soil will cement in a pot. Fill the pot to a couple inches from the top and add compost or a soil that is higher in organic matter at a 1:3 ratio. You may want to use a plant sensor, like Easy Bloom, to determine which plants will grow best in your soil and climate.


Potted plants lose moisture quickly, especially in dry climates. Water young plants in small pots every other day; water plants in large pots less frequently (every three to seven days).


Most herbs need at least six hours of light per day. Place the pots near large south-facing windows or glass doors, or on your deck or patio.

Drying and storage

Dried herbs will last in your pantry for up to a year. Hang bunches upside down in a dry, somewhat cool location, or spread on a sheet of paper in warm, dry air away from direct sunlight. You also can rinse herbs, wrap in a paper towel, and microwave on high for one to four minutes. Crumble or chop, and store in clean, dry, airtight jars in a cool, dark location.

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