Herb Gardens 101

by on Apr 7, 2016

It’s the season of gardening! If you haven’t had a chance to start, now’s your chance. Herb gardens are the perfect way to dip your toes into gardening, and enjoy all the rewards that come along from planting and growing your own herbs. It’s easier than you think to do, so if you’re a novice, or just need some help, check out these tips! 

START WITH BASIL – If you’re not truly a novice, go ahead and move ahead to growing more than one herb. Basil is an excellent plant to help you learn how to properly prune, water, and harvest. It’s also a resilient plant that can stand up to a beginner who is still learning their herbing ways. When you pull your first batch of basil, that rewarding feeling will make you want to keep gardening and grow (pun intended) to bigger and better. 

READ THE LABEL CAREFULLY – There are so many types of herbs like Mexican Oregano vs. Mediterranean Oregano. The same thing goes for mint; Spearmint vs. Applemint. Take caution to read the label and know exactly what it is you will be planting. It would be an awful shame to spend all that time caring for and watering your plant, only to find out you bought the wrong one! 

herb gardens 101
Photo: Garden Matter

KEEP IT SIMPLE – Whether you decide to have a row of herbs or a few small planters, start with the basics. A combo of 3-6 herbs is a great way to use the most common herbs for cooking, etc. To save on space, this “vertical garden” above uses a large strawberry pot to grow different herbs like rosemary, basil, oregano, and thyme. 

USE POTTING SOIL – Give your herbs the good stuff by picking a nutrient-packed soil to promote growth and overall plant health. Avoid using soil from your yard (if you have one) as it typically tends to be old, dry, and grey. 

herb gardens 101
Photo: HGTV

START WITH SEEDLINGS – Instead of starting your herb garden with actual seeds, give yourself a headstart by planting seedlings instead. These have already made it through the seed to seedling transition and will be much easier for you to space out when planting or potting than if you were to use actual seeds. These can be found at many big box plant and/or home improvement stores. 


WATER MODERATELY – Instead of giving these plants a once over each week, water them all moderately every day. They’re growing plants (that grow very quickly!), and they need a small amount of water each day to survive. Many new gardeners make a mistake when it comes to watering, so pay attention to the dryness of your soil! 


PRUNE REGULARLY – It may seem like your little plants aren’t ready to be trimmed, but you want to prune often. Pruning encourages and promotes growth and will help your plants reach their full potential. Basil is an excellent example of an herb that needs regular trimming. A general rule of thumb is to cut just above a set of new growing leaves. New stems will grow around the trimmed stems and prevent bushy herbs like basil from growing straight up and becoming top-heavy.


HERBS NEED SUN – Whether you are herbing outdoors or indoors, herbs need a good amount of sun each day, about 6 hours or so. If growing indoors, be sure to place the pots by a sunny window!

PULL LEAVES FROM THE TOP – It may seem counterintuitive to pull the small leaves from the top and leave the big leaves at the bottom alone, but it’s the way to go. The leaves at the base of the plant are the plant’s foundation. They’ll help the herb to grow healthy and full. Pull from the top to enjoy those new and tender herbs, and let those bottom leaves do their thing. 


MOVE THE PLANTS TO A GARDEN – Some plants have a tendency to grow too large to keep in a windowsill and that’s great! Good job getting them to that place! Once they’re too large, consider repotting them to your garden in the ground. Use a pot that can be planted with them to control the root and prevent it from taking over and strangling neighboring plants! 

Herb gardens are a great way to save money and introduce someone to gardening. Anyone can do it, just take the time and pay attention to your plants. Before you know it, you’ll be reaping the flavor-packed rewards! 


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