Herbs for Container Gardens – List of Most Popular Herbs for Medicinal, Cosmetic and Gourmet Purposes
With the growing interest in herbs for container gardens, more and more nurseries are carrying a wide array of both herb plants and seeds for container gardens. Because of the expense of buying herb plants, it is often much more affordable to grow your herbs from seeds. Many annuals are easily grown from seed in a sunny window or under lights in the house.
If you are new to starting plants from seed, check here for a great site for obtaining information and supplies on starting herbs for container gardens from seed. I’ve assembled a listing of the most popular and easy to grow herbs for container gardens. In this listing, I’ll mention which herbs are easy and more affordable to grow from seed.
Below is a listing of the most popular herbs for the kitchen container garden:
Best Climate and Site: Zones 4-9; Full sun
Growth Pattern: Annual upright tending toward sprawl, Height 24-36″
Growing Guidelines: Sow seeds outdoors where plants will grow or sow several seeds in pots several months before the last frost. Remove entire potting from pot and plant clump after last frost. Does not transplant well. Stake plants to prevent sprawling.
Comments: Sweet licorice-mint flavored leaves and flowers can be used for salads, teas and garnishes
Best Climate and Site: Zones 4-10; Thrives on heat and full sun.
Growth Pattern: Annual bush; Height 1-2′ 18″ spread
Growing Guidelines: Can be grown from seed. Sow seed outdoors after danger of frost has passed. May be started indoors six weeks before last frost. Transplant plants after danger of last frost.
Comments: One of the most popular herb plants. Used as flavoring in many dishes, as garnish, and most popular when made into pesto.
Best Climate and Site: Zones 8-9; Needs shelter in colder areas. Full sun to partial shade
Growth Pattern: Evergreen tree able to grow to 60′. Can easily be kept to desired size by pruning
Growing Guidelines: Can be grown from cuttings taken in the fall. Survives light frost. In the North, move plants indoors over the winter.
Comments: Leaves are used for flavor in soups and stews. Used for their aroma in potpourris. Don’t fertilize your bay (or any other herb) too much. It will lose its aroma and the leaves will change their shape
Best Climate and Site: Zones 4-10; Full sun to partial shade
Growth Pattern: Perennial bush; Height 36″
Growing Guidelines: Can be grown from seed sown indoors. Transplant outside after last frost had passed.
Comments: Although not used as a seasoning, Bergamot has many uses. Teas can be made to aid digestion and induce sleep. Also used to ease bronchial problems and ease colds. Along with these benefits, it adds great color to your herbs for container gardens.
Best Climate and Site: Zones 4-10; Full sun
Growth Pattern: Annual bush; Height 18″-36″
Growing Guidelines: Can be sown outside after danger of frost has passed. Can be grown from seed sown indoors. Transplant outside after last frost had passed.
Comments: Leaves have the mild taste of cucumber flavor. Used to flavor drinks, as a garnish, or used in salads. Goes well in potato salads
Best Climate and Site: Zones 3-7; Partial shade
Growth Pattern: A ferny annual growing 1-2′ in height
Growing Guidelines: Chervil can be sown directly outside in early spring or fall. This herb trasplants poorly. This herb self sows if left alone and the flowers are left to mature on the plant.
Comments: Chervil grows best in cool seasons. Does not dry well. Best used fresh and at the end of the cooking process as the flavor deteriorates quickly in heat.
Best Climate and Site: Zones 3-9; Full sun
Growth Pattern: Perennial Bulb – Spreading Tubular Clumps over the Years – Height 6-12″
Growing Guidelines: Sow indoors or out during the spring. When clumps become unwieldy, they are easily divided during early spring.
Comments: Chives make great companion plants. Check out Companion Planting for more info. Best used fresh but can be frozen in ice cubes for use in soups and stews during the winter months. Easily grown indoors and is a favorite in indoor herb gardens.
Best Climate and Site: Zones 3-9; Full Sun
Growth Pattern: Bushy annual; 12-18″ high
Growing Guidelines: Sow directly into ground after danger of frost is past. Maybe started indoors six weeks before last frost.
Comments: One of the most popular fresh herbs in the US today. Leaves are called Cilantro and seeds are called Coriander. Most popular in Mexican and Asian cooking.
Best Climate and Site: Zones 2-9; Full sun
Growth Pattern: Annual Upright stalks; height 2-3″; Often self sows if left alone.
Growing Guidelines: Dill may be started from seed after danger of frost is past. May also be started indoors and transplanted after frost danger.
Comments: Select varieties according to how you are going to use the herb. Some varieties “head up” earlier and produce seeds more abundantly. These varieties are best for making dill pickles if you use the heads. Others have foliage that is very flavorful and better for culinary use. A new variety, Fernleaf, is a base branching dwarf dill that is great for container gardening. This is an AAS (All American Selection) winner.
Best Climate and Site: Zones 6-9; Full sun
Growth Pattern: Semi-hardy perennial, often grown as an annual; height 24-36″
Growing Guidelines: Can be sown directly after danger of frost is past. May be sown indoors and transplanted after last frost date.
Comments: Leaf fennel which is non-bulbing, is not to be confused with fennel bulbs. Feathery, licorice-scented leaves are used in salads, cole slaw, and dressings. Seeds are used in baking. Maybe over-wintered indoors to protect plants.
Best Climate and Site: Zones 4-9; Full sun/partial shade. Easy to grow in moist, well-drained soil.
Growth Pattern: Bushy perennial; height 1-2′
Growing Guidelines: Sow in the spring or transplant after danger of frost is past. May be grown from cuttings. Divide older plants in spring or fall. Readily self sows.
Comments: Leaves have a distinct lemon scent and flavor. A favorite herb for salads and herb teas. Also used in potpourris.
Best Climate and Site: Zones 9-11; Full sun/partial shade
Growth Pattern: Tender perennial; 18-48″
Growing Guidelines: Transplant young plants. Older plants may be divided.
Comments: Aromatic grass from India. Use shorter plants for containers. Popular at this time for use in Thai and Asian cooking.
Best Climate and Site: Zones 4-8; Full sun/partial shade
Growth Pattern: Perennial; height 4-6′
Growing Guidelines: Sow indoors. Transplant after last frost date. Although plants are perennials, they do better if replaced every 4-5 years.
Comments: Useful herb and easy to grow substitute for celery. The leaves, stems and seeds are all edible. Used in salads, and poultry and potato dishes. Although tall for a container plant, does well when used as a background in large planters.