Herbs are one of the most rewarding container crops. Most are also easy to grow. Still, there are a few things to bear in mind if you want to make sure your potted herbs reach their bushy, lush best. I have also found the combinations of planting herbs together are endless. Here are a few that worked for me. I would love to hear what works for you.
A lot of sunlight and relatively dry, lean soil varieties: Rosemary, sage, thyme, marjoram and lavender all fall into this group. Thyme is a tiny, creeping plant that easily can be kept in the bounds of a pot, and it may be paired with a prostrate rosemary and variegated sage, which grows more slowly than all-green sage.
Moisture-Lovers: Basil, cilantro, tarragon and parsley also like full sun, but these species prefer more moisture in their soil than rosemary, oregano, sage, thyme, marjoram and lavender. Parsley is a biennial, living only two years. So if you plan to keep the herb pot going indefinitely, prepare for the parsley to give out early.
Pot #1-cilantro, sage and chives
The sage is a perennial that may get pretty large, chives are perennial and will develop in clumps low to the ground, cilantro is annual and will grow for a quick season, then either be harvested or left to flower and seed (which is coriander for your spice cabinet!). I like the idea of having short term annual plants (like cilantro) growing and filling some of the space while longer term perennials are still putting on their growth. Eventually the perennials will take over the rest of the space.
Thyme is a low growing perennial that will eventually take up the most space, basil is an annual and will grow for a quick season, tarragon growing and filling some the space while your longer term perennials are still putting on their growth.
Mint and oregano- these herbs are invasive and do not play well with other plants. They will take as much room as allowed. Dill becomes very tall once it sends up a flower stalk. It will also readily self-sow seeds if you let it. Dill is an annual, so it will be harvested as leaves or seeds and then won’t come back again unless re-sown (or left to self-sow when seeds drop).
You are probably thinking, “Great, I know what to plant; but how do I keep it alive? The answer is twofold- one, read this post; and two, follow these quick steps.
Prep the soil – your potting mix should be loose enough for water to drain and for the plant’s roots to grow and pull nutrients from the soil.
Plant seeds- no deeper than a half an inch. The finer the seed, the shallower they lie in soil. Pack them too deep and the spouts do not have energy to burst through the surface.
Water wisely- Herbs will rot and die in soggy dirt. To check if you’re over watering, grab a tiny chunk of soil. If it starts to crumble, water more often. If it’s mushy you’re over doing it, if the soil forms a nice ball of dirt, you got it just right.
Good resource for growing food in containers :
McGee and Stuckey’s Bountiful Container by Maggie Stuckey
The Herbal Kitchen by Kami McBride.