By William “Bill” Varney
A great advantage of herbs is that regardless of your limited space, almost all herbs can be successfully grown in containers and small spaces. In fact, potted herbs will make a garden where nothing else will.
Virgil the Roman poet said it best: “Admire a large estate, but work a small one.”
- No place is too small for a garden of potted herbs, and there is always a place in any type of garden for decorative containers of herbs.
- Any container from one gallon to forty is usable. However, it is advisable to plant only hardy perennials in your largest containers. If five-gallon containers are used for tender perennials or annuals, keep them near your front or back door, then when a freeze is predicted, moving them indoors is easier.
- Be creative in choosing your containers: Horse troughs, iron kettles, old watering cans, cinder blocks, pallets, unusual old tins, the list is endless. Of course, the traditional clay pots, redwood, and cedar containers are the old mainstay. Other alternatives are hanging baskets and containers.
- Requirements for any container include good drainage and a depth of at least six inches is essential, regardless if the container is plastic, clay, or unusual material. There must be room for a root system to draw sufficient moisture and food to keep the plant growing and healthy.
- Grow plants together in a large container. A whiskey or wine barrel, for example. Strawberry pots are perfect for many smaller growing herbs, such as thyme, parley, marjoram, and chives.
- A slightly richer soil is suggested for potted herbs, especially mint, parsley, chives, and chervil, than those in the garden.
- Additionally, potted herbs should have four to five hours of sun. If placed in full sun, recognize that they will dry out very quickly during the summer.
If you live in a warmer part of the country, fall is a great time to bring your herbs a little closer to your kitchen by planting them in pots. If you live in a colder climate, start making notes about planting some of your herbs in pots next spring.