Container gardening is growing fruits, vegetables, flowers and herbs, in containers such as pots and other planters. Some plants do better in containers than others. Believe it or not, you can grow almost any herb in a container as long as you provide the right growing conditions.
How to Make the Most of Container Gardening with Herbs
It can seem easy to grow plants in containers, and with many plants, it is. However, there is much to take into consideration when container gardening with herbs. I’ve detailed most of these considerations below.
Annuals Versus Perennials
As a general guideline, perennials tend to have deeper roots than annuals. This means that when planting, perennial herbs will need to be planted in larger, deeper containers than in the container you would plant annual herbs.
These long-lived herbs have deeper roots in order to come back year after year. Most perennial herbs need a minimum of 12 inches in depth and 12 inches in width, when considering the size of a pot. They would be much happier in a larger pot though, as many perennial herbs can grow quite large.
What are some great perennials to grow in containers? Rosemary, chives, sage, lavender, mint, savory, bay, marjoram and thyme.
✅ We buy all our seeds, including herbs, from White Harvest Seeds and have LOVED the results!
These short-lived herbs last one season but tend to seed themselves easily to ensure growth the following season. Most annuals don’t require deep containers to grow and can thrive in containers as small as 8 inches in depth. However, annuals will grow large and bushy if allowed more space to grow.
What are some great annuals to grow in containers? Basil, cilantro, parsley, chervil, dill, chamomile and summer savory. Both parsley and dill are actually biennials, which means they live two years, but many times they don't survive through the winter.
Container Gardens and Soil Type
One of the most beneficial aspects of container gardening is being able to grow almost anything because the soil can be amended specifically to each plant. Container gardening with herbs allows you to grow different kinds of herbs in small areas, simply by amending the soil in the pot.
Herbs Requiring Dry Soil
Perennial herbs not only require larger containers to grow, perennials generally require a more specific soil type. Dry-climate herbs tend to be perennials. Some of these hardy perennial herbs include: sage, oregano, rosemary, thyme, echinacea and savory. They are drought tolerant and hardy.
Most of the above mentioned prefer dry, sandy, well-drained soil with water only when soil is completely dry. Many of them prefer full-sun. If you live somewhere with moist, fertile soil these herbs would do better in containers to allow for drought-like soil conditions.
Herbs Requiring Rich and Fertile Soil
Many herbs prefer fertile soil, with plenty of water and compost. They are a combination of both annuals and perennials. The most common herbs that prefer rich soil include: basil, parsley, cilantro, chives, lemongrass, mint, lemon balm and marjoram.
When planting in a container, be sure add in rich compost. Mushroom compost is a great choice and can be made at home.
The Many Benefits to Container Gardening with Herbs
There are so many benefits to container gardening with herbs. Consider what you can get out container gardening and in what ways, growing herbs in pots can be right for you.
Your Plants Are Now Mobile
If you have a hail storm, intense rain shower, or any other unprecedented amount of weather, potted plants can be moved indoors for protection.
Having mobile plants also allows perennials herbs to be moved indoors during the winter to protect them from the cold. Not all perennials can survive harsh winters. For instance. I move my rosemary into the home for the winter. It does not survive Colorado winters and needs to be indoors to make it to spring.
This is also true for harsh summers. Cool weather herbs such as cilantro can be placed in the shade if the weather becomes too hot.
Companion Planting with Ease
With different soil types, it’s not always easy to plant herbs near plants from which they can benefit. A great benefit of container gardening is being able to place plants next to each other that don’t share the same soil type.
For instance, Lavender enjoys dry, drought-like conditions. It also repels harmful insects and attracts pollinators. By planting in a pot, you can benefit from lavender, and place it right next to rich soil loving vegetables.
Small Space Gardening
One of the best aspects of container gardening is that it allows anyone to grow a garden. If you have space in your home, on your balcony, or in your tiny backyard for a pot, you can grow a garden.
Indoor Herb Gardening
Many of these herbs can be kept indoors, allowing their beauty and fragrance to grace your kitchen or windowsill. As long as you have enough light, growing herbs indoors allows for you to enjoy herbs all year long.
Keeps Invasive Plants In Place
Many plants will take over if given the opportunity to grow. Mint is an excellent example. Easy to grow and very adaptive, mint will take over your garden bed if given the opportunity. Growing mint in a container will prevent this herb from crowding and stealing resources from nearby plants.
A Few of the Downfalls
Although I love container gardening, there are a few negative aspects of container gardening that need to be considered.
Water More Frequently
Potted plants tend to dry out more quickly than those planted in a garden bed or right into the ground. This isn’t too much of a problem for drought tolerant herbs. However, those herbs requiring moist soil need moist soil to grow well.
The best way to combat this is to have larger pots with rich soil that holds onto moisture. Also, create a watering schedule to make sure your plants are watered when they need it most.
Pots Can Restrict Plant Growth
Containers only allow growth to a certain size. Although this is a benefit with herbs like mint, it may not be as beneficial for other herbs. As such, it’s important to plant your herbs containers on the larger side. Consider how big you would like your herbs to grow.
Containers Can Get Too Hot
This may sound trivial, but consider the color of your pot. A dark pot or container will absorb the heat from the sun and heat up the soil in the pot. This can potentially kill whatever plant you have inside the pot.
Soil Needs to Be Replenished Often
Because of the small amount of soil inside a container, soil, compost and plant food need to be added frequently to maintain the preferred soil conditions. This is something that needs to be done and can’t be overlooked or your potted plants will have a hard time thriving.
Container gardening with herbs can be rewarding and beneficial. Consider all the pros and cons when planting your herbs in pots. Although there are downfalls, the benefits are great. That’s why so many of my herbs are planted in containers each season.
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