Earlier today I was presenting to a group about growing plants in containers and one of the things I mentioned was growing herbs in containers. That gave me the perfect article idea and on the drive back I began to think about all the potential there is for growing herbs in containers.
For me one of my staple herbs to grow is basil, it's one of the simplest and easiest herbs to grow. It starts readily from seed and can easily be grown in a container. If you want to try growing herbs for the first time, I highly recommend trying basil because it is so easy and fast growing and very versatile for using in cooking. When deciding what herbs to grow, make sure to choose ones that you are going to use.
Growing herbs in a container is a great if you have limited space to plant in the ground or maybe the garden isn't going to get enough such and you can use containers as a way to better situate your herbs to get the amount of light they need. Chose a location where your herbs will receive at least 4 and 6 hours of sunlight per day.
If you decide to grow herbs in containers, the first step is choosing a suitable size container that has drainage holes as well as making sure to use a good quality potting mix. For example don't try growing basil in a small 3 inch pot as it will quickly outgrow the container. You don't need excessively large containers to grow herbs, but chose pots at least 6 inches or bigger to accommodate their growth throughout the summer months.
Nearly any herb is suitable for growing in containers. The ones that I have successfully grown in containers with the right size container include: basil, rosemary, parsley, lemongrass, thyme, lavender, sage and marjoram. If you wish to over winter the perennial herbs like lavender or thyme, place them in a protected area or sink the pots into the ground for insulation and protection or bring them indoors for winter making sure to provide adequate supplemental lighting to account for shorter days.
When it comes to harvesting, those that are annuals can often take a bigger harvest, but make sure that they have established before harvesting too much at one time. With annual herbs such as basil harvest leaves as needed and once established you can pinch out and remove stems for a bushier and bigger plant. With perennial herbs, make sure to prune only as needed and remove no more then 1/3 of the plant at a time and then allow it time to produce more growth. Allowing time for regrowth is necessary for both perennial and annual herbs.
Consider adding herbs to your flowering containers is also another option when creating ornamental containers and it turns them into multi-purpose container gardens!