Planting Potted Herbs

The messy task of potting herbs can be made simple with these three tips.


+ enlarge image When purchasing herbs in six-packsor other nursery pots, transplantthem into roomier pots at home.

Potting herbs takes little time and no special talent. Combining different herbs in one container, however, requires some planning. First, only plant together herbs that share cultural needs or conditions in terms of soil, light, and water. Next, consider your reason for grouping. Show off a collection of thymes or basils, for example, or carry out a theme, such as a Mediterranean garden or plants for first aid. Container plantings offer a convenient way to keep herbs handy -- in or near the kitchen, for instance. Small pots nestle easily on a windowsill.

Click here for the best herbs to plant in your garden.

What You Need:

  • Herbs in nursery pots or seedlings in peat pots or trays (dwarf variegated sage, dwarf English lavender, dwarf sage, winter savory, chocolate mint, savory, thyme, etc.)
  • 6-inch or larger pots: terra-cotta, fiberglass, resin, or wood
  • Packaged potting soil or soilless mix
  • Compost or composted manure
  • Trowel

Instructions:

+ enlarge image Step 1

1. Select a pot. Transplant herbs into individual 6-inch pots, or opt for larger, decorative containers, which can hold several plants. Create a mini herb garden in a container that is at least 12 inches in diameter. Clay pots leach moisture from the soil, so soak them in water before potting. Soil dries faster in porous terra-cotta and clay pots than in other types of containers. However, many herbs, including those with Mediterranean origins, prefer soil that's on the dry side.

+ enlarge image Step 2

2. Prepare to plant. Fill the pot with potting soil or soilless mix, working in compost or composted manure; use about 1 cup of the amendment per 6-inch pot. If you mail-ordered your herb plants, carefully unwrap them. Press the potted herb into the soil to make a planting hole that's just the right size. Gently slip the young plant out of its nursery pot.

+ enlarge image Step 3

3. Plant and water. Gently loosen the roots at the bottom of the soil ball and set it in the planting hole. Set plants in the pot at the same level or slightly deeper than they were growing in their nursery pots. Gently press the soil around each plant. If you fill a larger pot with several plants, repeat the process for each plant. Water the soil thoroughly. If needed, top off the planting with more soil, leaving 1 inch between the top of the soil and the top of the pot (to allow for watering).

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