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How to Start an Herb Garden

I’m not sure what makes meals better than having freshly chopped herbs atop them. Today, I’m sharing how to start an herb garden so that you can enjoy a variety of fresh herbs in your meals this season.

spring herbs in terra cotta pots on a kitchen counter with a white wall behind

Having my own herb garden has been on my spring to-do list for several years. For some reason, it has always been pushed to the back of the list, behind other more important things. But, this is the year for my herb garden to actually happen and I’m going to share how easy it is to start an herb garden with you!

Nothing enhances meals more than fresh herbs. Dried herbs are fine and helpful, but once you use fresh, you never want to go back to dried herbs.

Fresh herbs can be expensive when bought from the grocery store. That’s why I wanted to establish my own herb garden right here in my back yard. Herbs are easy and there are only a few tips and tricks you need to know to have success. Let’s dive in!

Best Herbs to Grow

As with most plants, there are some finicky herbs and herbs that are easy to grow and maintain. Look at where you plan on putting your herbs (full sun, partial sun, low sun) and plant herbs that will thrive in those conditions.

One thing to consider is which herbs do you currently cook with on a regular basis? Below is a list of easy herbs to grow that are great for your kitchen herb garden, but make sure the herbs you plant are ones you will use and enjoy.

terra cotta pots sitting on a wooden buffet with herbs sitting beside them

Herbs to Grow at Home

These are some of the most hardy and useful herbs to grow for a spring, summer kitchen.

  • Parsley– A little unknown fact is that parsley aides in digestion, but it is also delicious on top of many dishes, including stews and grilled vegetables. Parsley is a nice garnish and has a mild flavor, so be sure to not chop it too small. It does better when coarsely chopped.
  • Cilantro– Spring and summer is the perfect time to make a taco bar or fresh salsa and nothing tastes better in Mexican dishes than fresh cilantro. The flavor profile for cilantro is bright and fresh, so be sure to use it with abandon this summer.
  • Basil– Basil is a wonderful herb that is hardy and easy to grow. There are so many uses for this herb, but one of the most delicious ways is on top of pizza. Layer pizza crust with sauce, tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil to have a memorable pizza. I pizza isn’t your thing, try it on avocado toast for a blast of freshness.
  • Mint– The first time I tried fresh mint was in a cold glass of water on a hot summer day. Ever since then, it has been a summer staple for us. A great way to use mint is in a fresh berry spritzer, smoothies, or even in greek yogurt. Many people prefer to plant mint in pots as it tends to grow and take over a space. Planting in pots is a sure way to keep it in its place.
  • Dill– Parsely and dill are a match made in heaven. One great way to use dill is in a homemade ranch dressing. Chop the dill finely and use with other fresh herbs to create a simple and fresh ranch dressing.
  • Rosemary– Rosemary is potent herb that will be used sparingly. It is great for using on top of meats, potatoes, and carrots. It is also a great herb to use in simmer pots, such as a rosemary and lemon simmer pot, to create a lovely aroma in the home.
  • Thyme– This herb works great in sauces and dressings, or kneaded into savory breads. Thyme is great at adding a depth of flavor to dishes and breads.
  • Lavender– Lavender is a beautiful, flowering herb that can simply be admired afar or used in the kitchen. Many people like to use lavender in tinctures, drinks, or desserts.
  • Chives– Chives have a lovely, mild flavor which makes them a great addition to almost any recipe. These are great in dressings, such as a ranch dressing, but also mashed into things like potatoes.
  • Sage– This strong herb accompanies many holiday dishes, such as stuffing and sage butter atop homemade dinner rolls. You only need a few chopped leaves to do the job when flavoring dishes with sage.
rosemary cilantro parsley in pots on a kitchen counter

Growing Herbs in Pots

An easy way to grow herbs without needing to build anything is with pots. Growing herbs in pots is simple and requires little, to no, planting skills.

What you will need to grow herbs in pots:

  • Pots- make sure the pots have good drainage so the herbs don’t spoil
  • Potting Soil- choose a soil that gives your plants nutrients
  • Herb Plants- look the plants over before purchasing to make sure you are getting healthy plants
  • Water- water your herbs 1-2 times/week, unless you are in drought conditions. Water during the cool hours of the morning to avoid evaporation and soggy roots.

Step-by-Step Video

Different Types of Herb Pots

  • Terra Cotta– Terra Cotta pots come in a variety of colors and will weather as you use them. The traditional terra cotta pots have a charming, European feel to them. You can also get terra cotta that offers a more modern vibe.
  • Concrete planters– Concrete pots add old world charm to a patio, especially when filled with herbs and dainty flowers. These not only add space for you to plant your herbs, but they create a beautiful space, as well.
  • Wooden Planters– Wooden planters come in rectangular and square shapes, in a variety of sizes. Be sure to use a plastic liner of some sort to keep the wood from rotting as you water your plants. These planters can be purchased or made from DIY plans!

How to grow herbs in pots

How to plant Herbs in Pots

Follow these simple instructions for successfully planting herbs in pots.
Prep Time10 mins
Active Time10 mins
Total Time20 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: herb garden, how to plant herbs, kitchen herbs
Yield: 1 herb
Author: Liz Quick
Cost: $5

Equipment

  • potting soil
  • pots

Materials

  • 1 container herb whatever herb you cook with
  • 1 6 to 8 inch terra cotta pot with proper drainage
  • 1 small bag potting soil get the kind with plant feeder already incorporated
  • 1 pitcher of water to give the herb a good drink

Instructions

  • Set up your potting station with the herbs, soil, and pots.
  • Add a small amount of potting soil to the bottom of your container.
  • Gently remove the herbs from their plastic containers and place them in the new terra cotta pot.
  • Fill in the pot with potting soil so that the herb is securely planted. Press down gently to create a compact home for the herb to grow.
  • Water the herb with a good drink of water and set in a warm, sunny place.

Notes

To prevent root rot, be sure to choose pots that have a good drainage hole.
Herbs will need some nutrients to continue to grow throughout the season.  Either choose a nutrient dense potting soil or purchase a separate plant feeder and feed according to the instructions to keep your herbs healthy.
Be sure to choose pots that are big enough for the herbs to grow and thrive.  You don’t want to have to repot your herbs, so make sure they have room to grow.
starting an herb garden indoors on a wooden buffet with terra cotta pots

Other ways to Grow Herbs

  • Herb Garden Planter– This is a great and simple DIY project for a beginner DIYer. There are kits for these or you can customize your own. Most people put these on their patios instead of doing raised beds in their yards. These are also great for yards that have pests that nibble on foliage.
  • Vertical Planter– These planters are great for people who don’t have a lot of space or who want to draw the eye upward. Vertical planters allow you to plant several plants without taking up much room.
  • Raised Herb Garden– This tiered planter is a combination of the herb garden and vertical planter. It is also a space saver and a very attractive away to plant herbs.

Cooking with dried herbs is nice, but cooking with fresh herbs elevates dishes to the next level.

Liz Quick

spring herb container garden that has grown

Herbs that Grow in Shade

Some spaces don’t get much sun, especially patios that are attached to apartments. That doesn’t mean you can’t have an herb garden, too. There are some herbs that thrive in the shade.

Herbs that do well in the shade

  • Parsley
  • Cilantro
  • Tarragon
  • Chives
  • Mint
  • Lemon Balm

Frequently asked questions:

When should I start an herb garden?

If you plan on keeping your herbs indoors, you can start your herbs in the late winter and keep them by a window until all threat of frost is gone. Once it’s warm enough to move them outside, find a sunny place to keep them so they can thrive.

Which herbs are perennials?

Sage, Thyme, Chives, and Mint are repeat herbs that will come back next year. Other herbs will have to be repurchased year after year.

How often do you water an herb garden?

If the weather is mild, you will water your herbs 1-2 times per week. If it is extremely sunny, hot, and dry your herbs will need to be tended to each day. The best time to water is in the morning so that the water won’t evaporate and the soil has time to dry out before the evening hours. Wet roots during the night time can lead to root rot.

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terra cotta pots with herbs planted in them on top of a kitchen counter

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