Herb container gardening is one of the best things about summer! I’ve been planting and clipping and enjoying herbs grown in all kinds of containers for years and years. Herbs are easy to grow and have so many uses. Today I’m sharing a huge guide with everything you will need to know about herbs in containers!
This post contains affiliate links. That means when you click on some of the links in this post and you make a purchase I earn a small commission at no cost to you. All my opinions are my own.
You don’t need a garden to grow herbs. And even when I had a big garden I still grew pots of herbs near my back door so I could easily go out and snip them for recipes and bouquets and so many other uses.
BASICS ABOUT AN HERB CONTAINER GARDEN
Growing herbs in a container is quite easy and herbs are not demanding plants. The payoff is a container filled with pretty aromatic plants that can be snipped often and used in the kitchen and more!
Here are some things that will help your have a healthy herb garden!
- Use the proper container. Basically, make sure there is enough room in a container for each plant to grow.
- The container should have drainage holes. I sometimes don’t follow this rule, but then I have to be very meticulous about watering the herbs!
- Plant herbs that like the same conditions together. Sometimes I plant a lot of different plants in a pot and see how they do. They are very forgiving! And often thrive in not optional conditions. Do as I say, not as I do!
- Transplant herbs when they get overcrowded. Easy-peasy!
- Because I often plant a lot of herbs together in one pot, my watering rule of thumb is to give them a good soaking and let them get just a little dry before watering them again. But no droopy plants! That’s a sign your herb might need water.
- Feed herbs every month. Here is the HERB FOOD I am using.
- Most herbs are sun lovers. So put a container garden in a sunny location.
- Snip and pinch and pick often! The more cut an herb the more it grows.
- Many herbs can “winter over” if left in their pots.
- Annuals can be companion planted alongside herbs in a container. Just make sure the needs of the flower you are considering are compatible with the herbs. I love the look of sweet alyssum mixed with herbs!
Most herbs are easy to grow and love being potted. Here are the 7 best and easiest herbs to grow in a container.
One big tip, buy herbs that have not been treated with pesticides if you are going to eat them.
MINT IS MY FAVORITE CONTAINER GARDEN HERB
One of my fondest childhood memories is a fence lined portion of my grandmother’s yard full of mint. The whole area smelled heavenly!
Mint is a must have in a pot during the summer months! I use it to make mint tea and so so much more!
Tuck it in a bouquet of garden flowers for a lovely fresh minty scent!
Although mint is easy, actually super easy, to grow in containers you should know a few things about this versatile plant…
- Grow mint in its own pot. It is so invasive. It does not play well with other herbs. Its roots will take over the entire container.
- You need to keep a bit of an eye on mint because you will want to snip back the ends of the plant to encourage growth.
- Mint is really a perennial. Don’t throw it away. It may come back in the pot next year!
Mint love sun but it can thrive in partial sun too. It is a thirsty plant and does like the soil to be a bit damp.
This year I am growing peppermint and spearmint.
BASIL, THE MOST DELICIOUS SUMMER HERB
Basil is my go-to summer herb! Its iconic aroma reminds me of summer! And it is the perfect container garden herb! Believe it or not, basil is a member of the mint family!
We love pesto! We make big batches of this basil recipe and freeze it in ice cubes trays. Then we can eat garden pesto all winter long! I could eat it by the spoonfuls!
I plant basil in its own pot, not because it does not get along with other herbs. No, it’s a happy fellow. I plant lots of basil! And a basil plant given the chance can grow quite large! So it is best growing by itself.
Here are some things to know about basil…
- Basil needs heat to grow and it does not like the cold. So don’t rush to plant it in the spring. Wait until around Memorial Day.
- Basil likes sun. Keep it in a sunny location with at least 6 hours of sun a day and it will repay you with lots of gorgeous, aromatic leaves!
- Don’t let basil dry out. Keep the soil just damp to the touch.
- Pinch off the center shoots of the plant (and use them) so the plant doesn’t flower and get bitter.
I plant sweet basil and a miniature dwarf Greek basil variety that can be trained into a topiary. But there are so many different kinds of basil to explore!
There are lots of pesto recipes but this is THE BEST! No hyperbole or bragging, just the truth…
And here is my favorite summer salad using basil…
Thyme is such a friendly herb! It plays so well with other herbs in and out of the garden. Mint must have a large family because thyme is a member!
It is the perfect container garden herb! It’s pretty and fluffy and loves to be pinched back!
I cook with thyme and use it as a garnish and it looks so so attractive in a garden flower bouquet.
Here’s some interesting things about thyme…
- Thyme is a low growing perennial
- There are over 50 varieties of thyme
- Don’t water thyme too often. It is drought tolerant.
- Thyme loves full sun and dry feet (roots)
Water plants deeply and then let them dry out! So plant them with other plants that like to be on the dryer side.
Thyme is a must-have in your container garden.
I love to add whole mature thyme shoots (they are a bit more woody) to sauces, soups, stews, and stock while I am cooking. Tender shoots and leaves are better to finish a dish.
MAKE ROOM FOR ROSEMARY
Rosemary is a pungent, aromatic, evergreen herb. It too is a member of the mint family! It has needle-like leaves and soft woody stems.
In the kitchen, rosemary works well with meats. I often add it to butter or oil cooking in a pan so the rosemary can infuse the fat. Oh, yum!
Rosemary is a very hearty culinary herb! It can grow into huge bushes and in more temperate climates it will live from year to year.
One of my favorite uses for a mature rosemary stem is to treat it like a skewer for barbecuing meat.
Here are some things to know about wonderful, piney rosemary…
- Rosemary like at least 6 hours of sunshine a day. Especially morning sun!
- It like water but does not like to be soggy!
- Keep cutting rosemary so it does not take over the container garden.
Rosemary like good air circulation so don’t plant other tall plants around it. Opt for planting thyme or oregano next to it!
PARSLEY IS A CONTAINER GARDEN MUST-HAVE
Parsley has a special place in my heart! Although my people originate from about 10 different countries, my Hungarian/Polish roots grow deep.
And parsley is a major player when I cook! My grandmother taught me the preciousness of having a bag of homegrown parsley in the freezer to use in cooking all winter long!
Parsley goes into almost any savory thing I cook. And it finishes a dish with a bright distinct flavor!
One little plant does not go far, so plant several in a container garden! As you use it replace it with another plant.
Here are some things to know about parsley…
- Parsley likes some sun. Just not sun all day. Like many of these herbs, parsley can handle partial sun.
- Water is a friend to parsley! Keep the ground around it barely moist and never dried out.
- Cut parsley back to encourage new growth.
There are three types of parsley but only two are well known. Curly and flat-leaf or Italian parsley. Try planting a couple of both!
Another fresh herb sauce I am obsessed with is Chimichurri sauce. It’s the perfect sauce to make with parsley and other herb container garden plants. If you have never made it you should! It’s a mix of herbs, garlic, and oil that is blended up into a perfect “green” sauce for meats!
PLANT FRESH OREGANO
As container garden herbs go, you can’t beat oregano. It is a hardy plant and a prolific grower. It has a robust flavor and I use it in marinades and Italian dishes!
Oregano needs to be pinched back so it does not flowers. But to tell the truth, I often let some of my thyme go to flower because the pink flowers are so so pretty and they are edible. They have a more delicate flavor than oregano leaves and are so pretty as a garnish!
Here are some things to know about oregano…
- They live well besides other plants
- Water them and then let the soil get a bit dry. So plant them next to other herbs like rosemary that like dryer soil
- Pinch this plant back often so it does not get leggy
In the kitchen, fresh oregano can hold up to long simmering times Making it perfect for Marinara sauces and other Italian dishes. I like to add a crushed garlic clove and fresh oregano to jarred spaghetti sauce, it gives it a fresh taste!
Oregano is an herb that dries well. When it is dried, the flavor intensifies.
When you are cutting a garden bouquet remember to add a few sprigs of oregano. It’s such a pretty herb!
ADD SAGE TO YOUR CONTAINER GARDEN
I think sage is often forgotten in container gardens. It’s so pretty! And it’s long and often variegated leaves add such an interesting element to any pot!
Sage is a perennial and is a wonderful addition to many meat and stew dishes.
Like rosemary and oregano it can withstand long cooking times and helps a stew, marinade or sauce develop a complex and delicious flavor!
It is best know for the flavoring in Thanksgiving stuffing and scrumptious breakfast sausage. But don’t stop there.
Let the warmth of sage flavor brown butters, bean dishes, egg dishes, tomato sauce, bread and it is a must in a bouquet garni!
Here are some things to know about sage…
- Sage is a sturdy, prolific plant!
- It likes medium sun. So morning sun and filtered sun in the afternoon is perfect!
- To harvest sage, clip it just above where a pair of leaves meet.
To get the most essential oils, that give sage flavor, harvest in the morning just after the dew has gone.
And at the midpoint of the growing season, clip the plant back (and dry those leaves) to promote robust growth for the rest of the season.
Here are other herbs to consider growing this summer…
- catnip (plant is separate container, it’s like mint)
- dill (best planted in late spring)
- lemon balm
If this is the first time you are planting an herb container garden or the one hundredth, there is always something new to learn, some magical gift herbs give you and something to share from your labors with others.
Herbs are the most useful and giving plants! Tending an herb garden is sheer pleasure!
You might also like these other posts about herbs.