Eight of the best herbs for containers

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Herbs are wonderful for containers.

Few crops give you so much from so little space. Often just a few leaves can transform a dish.

Many also have flowers that attract beneficial insects – bees love chive flowers for example and hoverflies love coriander flowers.If you like herbs and have space for a pot to two, do try growing a few.

They are amongst the easiest in containers. And many like mint, chives, thyme and rosemary will return year after year, so you don’t even have to sow them every year, either. All in all, a real winner in small spaces.

You may also find that once you start growing them on your doorstep, you’ll starting eating them differently, too. I used to just eat herbs occasionally but now they’re in easy reach, we use them in nearly every meal. It’s transformed how we eat.

In this video, Lorraine, who grows over 15o different herbs at the fantastic herb farm, Herbal Haven (do check it out ), shares her tips on how to grow eight  of the best herbs for containers:-

 

When I asked her about the secret of her lush, vibrant looking herbs in pots Lorraine recommends weekly feeding (during the growing season) with liquid seaweed fertiliser.

You’ll find more videos with Lorraine on herb growing, as well as many more container growing tips, in the Vertical Veg Club.

Your Turn

What is your favourite herb to grow in containers at home? I’d love to hear in the comments.

27 comments… add one

  • Hello Mark.
    My favourite and most used herb is lovage. It is a huge plant and takes a big pot but is best grown in the ground. Throughout the summer I harvest the stocks and leaves to freeze and dry for use throughout the winter. You could toss a rock into a pot of water and add a few stocks of lovage and it would taste like beef soup! Next on the list , parsley, chives, sage and rosemary. A few times during the growing season, I spray the herbs with a weak fertilizer to which spirulina is added. No disease, no bugs. I also use dried seaweed available at grocery stores which is much cheaper than the garden centres offer. It is easily ground up for foliar feeding or weekly watering.
    Thanks Mark for your great posts.

    Reply
    • Super tips, thank you Rosemary. I’m a fan of lovage, too – brilliant for making stocks for soups and risottos. I also like a LITTLE in salads, chopped small – although I find the taste in salads divides opinion, some love it, some don’t!
      I’ve not heard of using spirulina in the way you describe, very interesting.
      Mark

      Reply
  • Great video thanks. Does anyone know where I can find out yields of herb plants grown in containers? I don’t imagine it’s an area that been researched much because commercial growers would be growing them in the fields.

    I’d be interested to hear what growers tend to get on average, and which herbs seem to be most abundant/ fast growing?
    Ed

    Reply
    • Interesting question Ed. I haven’t seen any research on this but would also be most interested to. You could try contacting Lorraine (featured in the video) at Herbal Haven through their website or FB page – she might have heard if someone has.

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  • Mark — I did so want to know what the mass of gorgeous purple blooming plants were in the video. Was that information given and I missed it?
    I live in Mexico on lake Chapala and have planted all sorts of herbs this last spring and all are doing well. Now am looking for ways to use them in cooking.
    I saw your article in the Guardian a while back about growing vegetables in containers in small spaces and found it very inspiring. That’s my next project. Do you have any advice on getting rid of squirrels, short of poisoning them?
    I love your way of contributing to people’s lives.
    Que te vaya bonito.
    z

    Reply
  • any chance of a transcript of this video?
    found it very difficult to hear what was said

    thanks

    Reply
    • Sorry you can’t hear it, Rob – is it the sound quality that is an issue? No plans for transcripts but I may be able to do something about the sound.

      Reply
  • Hi
    I’ve found the this video about herbs and the one about tomatoes sooo useful! I’ve been looking in vain for decent gardening courses, and I know there are tons of books. But there’s nothing like seeing and hearing someone with knowledge talk in clear terms about ‘how to’. I’m going to cut back the thyme after it flowers this year, & next year’s tomatoes will be grown in containers punched with lots of drainage holes. Best wishes Val

    Reply
    • Hi Val
      So glad you enjoyed the video with Lorraine and Nick – I learnt loads from the, too. Do check out the Vertical Veg Club (http://www.theverticalvegclub.com/) if you’re interested in seeing more videos with them, and other expert growers, too.
      Mark

      Reply
  • Mark

    One place you can grow chives very well is under apple and pear trees (if you have them). Apparently, they also do the fruit tree good. I’ve done it for 3 years and it hasn’t done them any harm is all I can say.

    Herbs will also grow quite happily right next to the bricks of your outside walls: my Chamomile regrows each year right in front of the house and so does the oregano. The latter needs pruning each year to stop it taking over the garden.

    Basil I find easy to grow in pots and it also does happily in your tomato pots (I put marigolds in a few and basil in others).

    This winter I am going to try growing some garlics in pots – they grow quite happily in the ground over winter, but I’d like to see if you get bigger bulbs using pure compost in a pot.

    Reply
  • I started my balcony with herbs and grow chives, parsley, sage, marjoram, oregano, rosemary, mint, thyme, basil, rocket and for the first time coriander and lavender this year. We’re very enthusiastic about salad with fresh rocket, and we’ll sow another pot when it flowers. I collect its seeds from my own plants.
    I had given up on coriander because it bolted as soon as it was big enough to pick a few leaves. But I’ll give it another try.
    Last year I sowed parsley but it came late and stayed small, as if to justify the saying, ‘Parsley goes to hell and back seven times till it comes out’. So I rather buy the plant now. Chives also were small but came back much bigger.
    This is the first year that my rosemary survived, at a window in the staircase. And especially mint came back gloriously, leaving no space for anything else in the pot. Now I can make mint chutney.

    Reply
  • My favourite herb to grow in containers is coriander. I always have the seeds to hand as I use them a lot in cooking, and no matter where or how I plant them, or how I treat them, they always germinate and always produce a great a crop and I always use all of it. Coriander’s the best.

    Reply
  • nice video my favorite herb i have basil . mint . rosemary . sage . oregano . marjoram and thyme

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  • Thank you for the very informative video .I have just started growing herbs this year.Last year grew basil and made the best ever pesto sauce,I recommend grinding with pestal and mortar for best result.

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  • The watering, cutting back, feeding and dividing tips are very helpful. If I get nothing else done in my plot today, I shall divide and repot my mints.

    Reply
    • So glad you found it useful, Rae. I followed Lorraine’s advice and divided my mints last weekend – it may be time to give a few away!

      Reply
  • my best herb seems to be mint, but after browsing lorraines website maybe its time to be more adventurous with different herbs.

    keep on potting an planting

    hank

    Reply
    • Mint is a fabulous herb for containers, I fully agree – grows so well and so many uses. It’s also great to discover new ones – it can sometimes take a bit of time to work out how to use them in your cooking but is usually more than worth the effort. Lorraine’s website has a fabulous selection!

      Reply
  • I have often wondered about the feeding, because my sage is looking very tired at the moment. We are entering the South African Winter, but with a Med climate, so no frost. Do you feed your lavender as well?

    Reply
    • Hi Colleen, I asked Lorraine about that and she says she feeds all her herbs – she uses liquid seaweed which contains lots of micronutrients (vitamins for plants!) but isn’t too rich or strong. I recently started feeding my sage more and it made a significant difference. Hope it works for you, too.

      Reply
  • I have a nice little collection of herbs that I grow in cut off drain pipes that look a bit like organ pipes to raise them up higher than the larger herbs that are grown around the pipes in the ground, I have sowed a lot of herb seeds in terracota pots ready to take with us when we move, some are now up. Very interesting video thanks for sharing.

    Reply
    • Love the idea with the pipes, very creative Dawn. I’ve never seen that before.

      Reply
    • To a Dawn: We recently moved and drain pipes were accidentally packed from our old home and moved with us. I was going to throw them out but now your fantastic idea has inspired me! Thanks!

      Reply
  • Dear Mark,
    Here in Keyport New Jersey..I am happy to report that the Chives survived our endless winter as did Taragon and of course…a Mint (pineapple) all in containers.Garlic took forever to show up but is looking fine now ..having just had a foliar feeding of Kelp. This is all a front yard garden… and not actually “Legal” in this small town.. but the tulips and daffidils moderate the overall look. ( Not a single blade of grass evident)

    Reply
    • Hi JoEllen, love the sound of front yard garden and your camouflage techniques with the tulips and daffodils. How bonkers that its not legal! Have you been in touch with Roger Doiron and Kitchen Gardeners International at all? They’ve run some very good campaigns to help get daft laws like this changed. Might be worth getting in touch with him. Glad to hear your taragon made it through – that can be a tricky one sometimes.

      Reply
    • my chives survived our harsh winter in a pot i never brought in. already aver 12 inches high.

      Reply
      • Chives are such faithful friends – wonderful how they return each year. 12 inches high is big!

        Reply

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