Herbs look good, smell good and are good for you. So why wouldn’t you want to keep them close at hand to enjoy at your convenience? You don’t need a large garden to have access to fresh herbs; simply plant herbs in pots for a fragrant — and functional — addition to your home and garden. Imagine a summer morning: You walk right outside your kitchen door to a sunny patio full of containers, snip a few sprigs of flat-leaf parsley and return to the kitchen to flavor your scrambled eggs. Scroll through my tips for growing delicious herbs in your garden, and take a look at some herb container recipes below.
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Grow herbs in pots outdoors
Growing herbs in containers really is a no-brainer. Most herbs can flourish on your deck, patio, balcony or windowsill. All they require is a sunny spot and containers large enough for the plants to grow.
Herbs for shadier spots
And if you don’t have a sunny spot, these herbs grow best in partial sun:
Check out these 5 easy-to-grow herbs
Herb container tips
- Keep in mind, the smaller the container, the quicker the soil will dry out. Be sure to use a high-quality potting mix made from composted bark, peat moss and other ingredients that do not include soil dug from the ground.
- Mix in an all-natural organic fertilizer prior to planting or apply a liquid fish or kelp fertilizer at half strength every few weeks (because container-grown herbs require additional nutrients to thrive).
- Tender herbs, such as basil, dill, cilantro and tarragon, can be overwintered indoors and moved back outside once the temperatures warm up in spring.
See our vegetable garden plan with curb appeal
Sage, basil & spearmint herb container
A) Sage (Salvia officinalis and S. officinalis ‘Berggarten Variegated’)
Type Perennial Foliage Textured strongly aromatic leaves used fresh and dried as a culinary seasoning Light Full sun Size 24 to 30 in. tall and wide Hardiness Cold-hardy in USDA zones 4 to 8
B) Basil (Ocimum basilicum)
Type Tender perennial (usually grown as an annual) Foliage Aromatic leaves used fresh or dried to flavor foods Light Full sun Size 18 to 24 in. tall and wide Hardiness Cold-hardy in USDA zones 10 to 11
C) Spearmint (Mentha spicata)
Type Perennial Foliage Dark green leaves have strong peppermint fragrance and taste Light Full sun Size 1 to 2 ft. tall and wide Hardiness Cold-hardy in USDA zones 5 to 9
- Left on its own, mint will quickly spread by creeping stems, rooting as it goes. That’s why growing it in a container is such a good idea.
- If you plant it in the ground, place a bottomless bucket or metal edging around the plant. The barrier should extend 8 to 10 in. deep and a couple inches high to successfully prevent spreading.
Basil, sage, oregano, kale & rosemary herb container
A) Basil (Ocimum basilicum ‘Heirloom Salad Leaf’)
Type Tender perennial (usually grown as an annual) Foliage Aromatic, crinkled 4-in. leaves used fresh or dried to flavor foods Light Full sun Size 12 to 18 in. tall, 10 to 16 in. wide Hardiness Cold-hardy in USDA zones 10 to 11
B) Sage (Salvia officinalis)
Type Perennial Foliage Textured gray-green leaves are strongly aromatic and used fresh or dried in cooking as a seasoning Light Full sun Size 24 to 30 in. tall and wide Hardiness Cold-hardy in USDA zones 4 to 8
C) Greek oregano (Origanum vulgare hirtum)
Type Perennial Foliage Aromatic rounded leaves used fresh or dried in many dishes Light Full sun Size 6 to 9 in. tall, 12 to 18 in. wide Hardiness Cold-hardy in USDA zones 4 to 9
D) Ornamental kale (Brassica oleracea)
Type Annual Foliage Grown for attractive foliage, not as a vegetable Light Full sun Size 12 to 18 in. tall and wide Hardiness Cold-hardy in USDA zones 10 to 11
E) Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)
Type Perennial Foliage Evergreen shrub with intensely fragrant gray-green needlelike leaves used in toiletries and sachets and for flavoring foods Light Full sun Size 2 to 6 ft. tall, 2 to 4 ft. wide Hardiness Cold-hardy in USDA zones 8 to 10
- Freezing temperatures can kill basil. The first sign of cold damage is usually wilting or leaves that begin to curl and dry around the edges. Plants may survive a light freeze; just give them time to grow new foliage, then remove the wilted and damaged leaves.
- If a hard freeze is in the forecast, go ahead and harvest all of the leaves for a batch of pesto!
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