Thursday, April 13, 2017

How NOT to Plant an Herb Garden!

We've all seen them.  The adorable herbs tucked into almost any container.  Terracotta strawberry pots.  Small pots stacked on top of larger pots.  Even herbs in flatware caddies and shoes are making the rounds.  Look adorable... at first.  But, healthy herbs need proper care, not "cuteness!"

I think what got me started on this was a customer wanting help in building an "herb wall."  She had a Pinterest photo of a frame growing with lush herbs, designed to hang on a kitchen wall.

1) culinary herbs are most often Mediterranean, meaning they prosper in dry, sunny locations, even thriving in gravel.  NOT a kitchen wall, even in a sunny location!  Not to mention the problems with air conditioning and heating indoors.
2) herbs are plants, and plants grow!  They don't just stay hanging vertically in nice little shapely forms.

Falling for the "do-it-yourself herb in a shoe caddy" fad, you rush out and buy this:

catmint (catnip)
orange mint
 You can't resist all the tiny little containers, so you buy:

pineapple sage and lemon thyme
After all, you have eight holes in  that strawberry planter.  Or, according to that fabulous tutorial online, a ceramic pot that can easily hold 10-12 small herb plants!  No problem!  They did it, so can you!


THIS is a sage plant!

THIS is a rosemary (the low growing variety)!

THIS is oregano!  This is the new growth today, it will be 12" to 18" by August. 

THIS is golden oregano!  This too will grow taller, about 6" and began as a tiny 2" plant. 

THIS is mint!

Orange mint taking over a planting bed - new spring growth, it will be up to 2' tall.  It spreads by underground runners.  I mistakenly put a single dying stem in this bed last summer.

Pineapple mint - contained to a ceramic pot.
Even chives readily self-seed and spread. 

I LOVE herbs!

I love them in my herb garden.

I love them in pots.

French lavender and French tarragon

 I love them in the landscaping.

Golden oregano, Tuscan blue rosemary, and Munstead lavender (along with two rock roses)
I am buying more next week!

I am ordering some hard to find ones from The Growers Exchange.  (

Horehound... Mountain Mint... Rue... Chamomile...  so many herbs...

Don't get me wrong, herbs like to be a little bit mistreated!  Rich potting soil or fancy fertilizer may make for a nice looking plant, but the taste won't be there.  Remember they originated in areas of hot dry weather and rocky soil.  For best taste don't pamper, but DO give them a bit of leg room!  (Mints are the exception to this "rule," they have different needs.  Chives too, although mine loves sharing its space with the  Mediterranean herbs.)

Just don't plant them in a tea cup and expect them to thrive.                                           

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