Kendall here, with another plant-related post (unsurprisingly)! While I’m still waiting for my dream English garden to come to fruition, I’m always surprised at how much joy my little container herb garden brings me each season. Walking outside to clip fresh herbs for a dish I’m making is my version of “living off the land” in the city. 🤣
I recently planted some fresh herbs and thought I’d share the tips I’ve gathered over the years. As temperatures continue to rise and we spend more and more time outside, now is the perfect time to set up your own outside herb garden and add some fresh flavor to your summer meals! Let’s dive in!
Container Herb Garden 101:
Why You Should Plant a Container Herb Garden This Summer
1. Fresh herbs at your fingertips
How many times have you forgotten an herb for a recipe, like the basil for your Caprese salad or cilantro for your guacamole? Or even worse — when the herb you need is sold out at the grocery store?! Plant your favorite herbs now and you won’t be without them all season long!
2. Save money and eliminate waste
Once they’re cut, herbs don’t last very long, which can make it difficult to use up the whole container when you buy at a store. Save money and cut down on waste by growing your own!
3. Add some greenery to your outdoor space
No matter how big or small your outdoor space, it’s easy to get creative with container herb gardens to add greenery decor! Go vertical with a plant wall like this, add dimension with a shelf like this, or simply plant herbs in an array of pots on your patio or old containers on your window sill — it doesn’t have to be fancy! Whichever route you go, the herbs will add a fresh pop of green for you to enjoy!
Herbs to Consider Growing Yourself:
The best herbs to grow are the herbs you like to eat (and smell: looking at you lavender)! Plant the herbs you find yourself needing the most in recipes. Here are some of my favorites:
A fan favorite! I actually have four basil plants because I use so much of it — and I offer some to our neighbors often because people always run out/forget herbs! From homemade pesto, pizza toppings and mixed into salads, fresh basil is a must for summer recipes.
Take your homemade pizza nights to the next level with fresh oregano! You can also use it in salads, marinara sauces, and on top of meat.
A great herb for meat due to its ability to hold up under extreme heat, rosemary can also be added to breads, potatoes, and added to cocktails!
How to make a mojito even better? Add your own fresh mint! Aside from a range of cocktails and other summer drinks, mint is also great for adding to tea, mixing into smoothies, or spicing up yogurt and berries.
I love parsley because it can be added to virtually anything! Throw it on grilled veggies, add to quinoa dishes, pastas and salads, or incorporate into a homemade salad dressing!
From guacamole, salsas and sauces to adding flavor to stir fries, tacos, pasta salads or rice, cilantro is a great herb to have on hand!
Do yourself a favor and pick up some lavender this season! While you might not use it for cooking, it smells amazing in bloom and looks great the rest of the year too! Who doesn’t want a little bit of Provence on their summer patio?
5 Tips to Keep Your Herbs Alive
And lastly, here are my tips for thriving herbs all season long!
1. Always repot your herbs
Make sure to repot your herbs out of their plastic containers right away. If you’re planting each herb in its own container, pots as small as 10-inch diameter work great. If you’re grouping multiple herbs into one pot, opt for an 18-inch diameter pot at minimum. Make sure you’re grouping like herbs together–herbs that prefer more moist soil, and those that prefer drier soil. (See below!)
2. Place in a sunny spot
Most herbs need a lot of sun, which is why you’ll probably find much more success outdoors vs. indoors. Aim for placing your herbs in the sunniest portion of your space — or a spot that gets 6-8 hours of full sun each day. Rotating them in their pots, if you can, will also help them grow more evenly vs. getting more growth to one side (as they tend to grow in the direction of the sun!)
3. Avoid overwatering
How often you should water your herbs really depends on how much sun they’re getting and how they’re potted. Instead of worrying if your plants are getting enough water, aim to avoid overwatering, which is far more dangerous. They will also probably require more water at the beginning when you pot them vs. later on once they’ve become more established. Most herbs also grow best in well-drained soil, so you’ll also want to make sure they’re in a pot that has a hole for drainage!
Generally, you should water herbs when the top 1-2 inches of soil is dry. If leaves begin to yellow, pull back on watering, as you’re probably overdoing it. Water your herbs in the cooler morning hours to allow for deep root soaking and avoid evaporation.
Also, it’s helpful to keep in mind the herbs that like more moisture vs. herbs that thrive with dryer soil. If you think about it, it’s fairly easy to tell which herbs like drier soil by how hardy/tough in texture they are.
- High-moisture soil herbs: Basil, Mint, Dill, Chervil, Cilantro (all fairly delicate)
- Drier soil herbs: Sage, Rosemary, Thyme, Lavender (hardier in texture)
4. Be careful when taking clippings
There is a bit of an art to clipping herbs when it comes time to eat them. Choose a mix of mature and new leaves and move evenly around the plant. This will help the herb grow back faster. (For basil, I like to use my finger and simply “pop” the leaf out from the stem rather than cutting to generate more growth!)
5. Pinch and prune
To keep your herbs blooming and full, encourage new growth by pinching off flowers that might pop up (like on basil) and prune leggy or yellowing stems. This will make the herb stronger and more productive! This helps them avoid outgrowing their space and grow more densely.