In order to design an herb container garden that fits your needs and lifestyle it takes some advance planning. You first should decide what you want to do with the herbs you are growing. The majority of gardeners grow herbs for use in the kitchen. The use of fresh herbs to flavor dishes has grown immensely in the past few years as evidenced by the presence of more and more fresh herbs in the produce aisles of most grocery stores.
Other gardeners grow herbs for teas, another area that is growing rapidly as the healthful benefits of tea drinking are brought to our awareness.
There are even more uses for herbs:
- The traditional use of herbs is in the medicinal field. Many people have an interest in using herbs to treat minor health issues using salves, tinctures, infusions, etc.
- Aromatherapy is another way people enjoy using herbs from their garden.
- Some enjoy producing beauty products such as face and hand creams, astringents and skin fresheners with thier herbs.
- Herbs are used in many crafts such as floral wreaths and potpourris.
As you can see, there are many ways to design an herb container garden to suit various needs and lifestyles. Once you’ve decided the type of herbs you’d like to grow in your container garden, you can of course grow each plant in it’s own container. Often however, you may want to grow several herbs in a container because of space limitations or just for aesthetic reasons.
When you design an herb garden container, match the number of plants to the size of the container. A general rule of thumb is one gallon of potting soil per plant. A 12″ pot holds 3 1/2 gallon of soil, so it can hold 3-4 plants. A 20″ pot holds 6 1/2 gallons of potting soil, so you can safely plant 6-7 plants in this container.
Design an Herb Container Garden by Compatibility
Plant containers according to plant compatibility. Consider various needs such as light, watering needs, and temperature preferences.
Below are listed various ways to design an herb container garden with plants that are compatible in either use or growing conditions:
Basil, marjoram, oregano, thyme, along with rosemary, sage and savory thrive in the heat of summer and prefer full sun. This would be a good planting for a kitchen garden.
In cool weather parsley, fennel, dill, along with chives, cilanto and chervil make a good planting for your herb container.
Thyme, rosemary, and sage prefer dry conditions.
Basil and parsley prefer more moist conditions.
A Special Hint on Growing Mint in Containers
Mint is a rampant spreader. When planting it in containers, cut the bottom off a plastic coffee can (the size can depends on the root system of your plant). Plant the mint in the can and plant the entire planting into your container. This will give your mint room to grow, but restrict its natural spreading growth pattern.
Mint prefers a slightly damp, semi-shaded area. It will struggle to grow in full sun.
Design an Herb Container Garden by Use
Plant a container for your salad greens. Spinach, lettuce, arugula, and chard prefer cool temperatures. Plant a container in early spring and then another in the fall. To continue enjoying your salad greens, bring the container indoors and enjoy fresh greens all winter. Add some parsley and chives to your container for seasoning your salads.
If you would like to plant a container of herbs for making teas, a grouping of lemon balm, one or two mints such as peppermint, spearmint and perhaps a sage, would make an aromatic planting along with a selection of material for making various teas.
A grouping of bergamot, chamomile, lemom balm, and lemon verbena will give you enough plants to make a variety of sleep inducing teas.
If you enjoy making flavored vinegars for your kitchen, here are the 10 most popular herbs for making herb vinegar:
If aromatherapy is your interest, a useful herb planting would be; basil, bergamot, chamomile, lavender, lemongrass, marjoram and sage.
Think of Shape When You Design an Herb Container Garden
As you plan and plant your herb container, remember to keep the shape in mind. Plant your largest, tallest plants in the center or a round container, or in the back of a horizontal planter that will be viewed from the front.
Surround this with your medium-sized plants and have your trailing plants at the edges of the container. If you have a lot of open space, plant some ground cover, such as creeping lemon thyme, at the base to keep the soil from drying out.
By planting in this manner, your herb container garden will not only be aromatic and useful, but it will also be a joy to look at all season long.