Planting Herbs in Pots
By Jodi Torpey
If I could grow only one culinary herb in my garden each year, it would have to be basil. Not only is it easy to grow, but it’s one of the most versatile herbs for use in the kitchen. A packet of seeds produces enough fresh basil to keep my creative juices flowing all summer long.
One of the best methods I’ve found for planting basil is to grow it in containers on my patio. Basil can grow with just a few hours of morning sun each day. I simply sprinkle the seeds on top of a container of potting soil, cover seeds with a thin layer of soil and then keep the seeds moist.
Basil will sprout and grow quickly. You’ll be able to start clipping basil to use fresh when plants have three to five sets of leaves. Once plants get growing, you can cut them back to encourage healthy new growth and branching. Pruning also keeps the plants from flowering, although the flowers are delicious, too!
Of course, there are many other culinary herbs that you can grow in a container garden and containers of herbs can be as beautiful as they are useful. Just make sure your container is large enough to keep plants from quickly drying out and there are drainage holes in the bottom to avoid soggy roots.
The key to creating an attractive herb container is to use the same principle as planting a container of flowers: select thrillers, fillers, and spillers.
Start with a tall “thriller” plant, like upright rosemary. It’s a thriller in more ways than one with its tall form and narrow, aromatic leaves. Flat-leaf parsley, tarragon, French lavender, chives, and other herbs that have an upright habit will look good planted in either the center or toward the back of the container.
Fillers are planted next. These are the herbs that will complement the taller plants. Parsley with curly or ruffled leaves makes an especially eye-catching filler. Sage, sweet basil, and chervil are also flavorful fillers.
Add the spillers last. These are the plants that will cascade over the edge of the planter or basket. Thyme and oregano are two good spillers because of their creeping habit.
You could also choose to plant a container that features one kind of culinary collection, like different colors and flavors of basil or mint. Another idea is to fill the container with plants that all have lemon in their names like lemon verbena, lemon thyme, and lemon balm.
What are your favorite herbs for a container garden?