Container Herb Gardening: The Ultimate How-To Guide

Container herb gardening is a great way to grow fresh herbs at home, no matter how much space you have. Whether you live in an apartment or have a large backyard, you can easily create a thriving herb garden in containers. Not only will you have access to fresh herbs for cooking and medicinal purposes, but you’ll also enjoy the beauty and fragrance of these plants.

In this ultimate guide, we’ll show you how to get started with container herb gardening. We’ll cover everything from choosing the right container and soil to selecting the best herbs for your garden. You’ll learn how to care for your plants, including watering, fertilizing, and harvesting. With our tips and tricks, you’ll be on your way to growing a successful herb garden in no time.

Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced gardener, this guide has everything you need to know about container herb gardening. With a little bit of planning and care, you can enjoy fresh herbs all year round, right from your own home.

Table of Contents

Choosing the Right Container

When it comes to container herb gardening, choosing the right container is crucial for the success of your plants. Here are some factors to consider when selecting a container:


The size of the container will depend on the herbs you want to grow. Some herbs, such as chives, have shallow roots and can thrive in smaller containers. Other herbs, such as rosemary and sage, have deep roots and require larger containers. As a general rule, choose a container that is at least 6-8 inches deep.

Depending on your herbs, you should also choose a herb container that is 8- or 10-inches in diameter. Choose 12- to 18- inch pots or larger for herb plants that have grown large, or if you are grouping more than one plant together.


The material of the container can affect the growth of your herbs. Terracotta pots are a popular choice because they are porous and allow for good airflow, but they can also dry out quickly. Plastic containers are lightweight and retain moisture well, but they may not be as durable as other materials. Consider the pros and cons of each material before making your choice.


Proper drainage is essential for the health of your plants. Make sure your container has drainage holes to allow excess water to escape. It is a good idea to select containers that have a bottom tray, use planter trays, or old plates. These are important to catch water that drains through the bottom of your containers.


While the style of the container may not affect the growth of your herbs, it can add aesthetic appeal to your garden. Choose a container that fits your personal style and complements your outdoor space.

By considering these factors, you can choose the right container for your herb garden and set your plants up for success.

Selecting the Right Soil

Choosing the right soil is crucial for the success of your container herb garden. The soil in your container should provide enough nutrients, drainage, and aeration to support the growth of your herbs. Here are some tips for selecting the right soil:

  • Use a high-quality potting mix that is specifically formulated for container gardening. These mixes are designed to provide the right balance of nutrients, drainage, and aeration that your herbs need.
  • Avoid using garden soil or topsoil in your containers, as they can be too heavy and may contain weed seeds or pests.
  • Consider adding organic matter, such as compost or aged manure, to your potting mix to improve soil structure and fertility.
  • Make sure your potting mix is well-draining, as herbs do not like to sit in waterlogged soil. You can add perlite or coarse sand to your mix to improve drainage.

It’s important to note that different herbs have different soil requirements. For example, herbs like rosemary and lavender prefer a well-draining soil mix with a higher sand content, while herbs like basil and parsley prefer a richer soil mix with more organic matter. Be sure to research the specific soil needs of the herbs you plan to grow in your container garden.

Selecting the Right Herbs

Choosing the right herbs for your container herb garden is crucial to its success. Not all herbs thrive in containers, so it’s important to select the right ones that will grow well in your environment. Here are some herbs that are ideal for container gardening:

HerbLight RequirementsSoil RequirementsWatering Needs
BasilFull SunWell-draining, fertile soilRegular watering
ChivesFull Sun to Partial ShadeWell-draining soilRegular watering
CilantroPartial Shade to Full SunWell-draining soilRegular watering
MintPartial Shade to Full SunWell-draining soilRegular watering
OreganoFull Sun to Partial ShadeWell-draining soilInfrequent watering
ParsleyPartial Shade to Full SunWell-draining soilRegular watering
RosemaryFull SunWell-draining soilInfrequent watering
SageFull SunWell-draining soilInfrequent watering
ThymeFull SunWell-draining soilInfrequent watering

It’s important to note that some herbs, such as basil and parsley, have extensive root systems and require deep pots. Make sure to choose containers that are at least 18 inches deep for these herbs. Additionally, some herbs, like mint, can be invasive and should be grown in separate containers to prevent them from taking over the garden.

Consider the climate in your area when selecting herbs. Some herbs, like rosemary and thyme, prefer hot and dry conditions, while others, like cilantro and parsley, thrive in cooler temperatures. Choose herbs that are well-suited to your climate to ensure they grow well in your container garden.

Finally, choose herbs that you will actually use in your cooking. There’s no point in growing herbs that you won’t use, so select ones that you enjoy cooking with and that will complement the dishes you make.

Planting Your Container Herb Garden

Now that you’ve selected your container, soil, and herbs, it’s time to start planting your container herb garden. Here are some tips to help you get started:

Step 1: Add Soil to Your Container

Fill your container with soil, leaving about an inch of space at the top. Make sure the soil is loose and well-draining to prevent water from pooling at the bottom of the container.

Step 2: Arrange Your Herbs

Arrange your herbs in the container, taking care to leave enough space between each plant for them to grow. If you’re planting multiple herbs in the same container, consider grouping herbs with similar watering needs together.

Here are some popular combinations:

HerbsWatering Needs
Basil, oregano, thymeMedium
Mint, parsley, chivesHigh
Rosemary, sage, lavenderLow

Step 3: Plant Your Herbs

Remove your herbs from their containers and gently loosen any tangled roots. Place each herb in the container, making sure the soil level is even with the top of the root ball. Gently press the soil around the base of the plant to secure it in place.

Step 4: Water Your Herbs

Water your herbs thoroughly after planting, making sure the soil is evenly moist. Avoid overwatering, as this can lead to root rot. Check the soil moisture regularly and water when the top inch of soil feels dry to the touch.

With these tips, you’ll be on your way to a thriving container herb garden in no time!

Caring for Your Plants

Once you have planted your herbs in containers, it is important to take care of them properly to ensure they grow healthy and strong. Here are some tips for caring for your plants:

  • Water your plants regularly: Most herbs require consistent moisture to grow well, so make sure to water them regularly. However, be careful not to overwater them, as this can lead to root rot.
  • Fertilize your plants: Herbs in containers need regular fertilization to thrive. You can use a slow-release fertilizer or a liquid fertilizer every few weeks.
  • Prune your plants: Regular pruning helps keep your herbs bushy and healthy. Remove any dead or yellowing leaves, as well as any stems that are growing too tall or leggy.
  • Check for pests: Keep an eye out for pests like aphids, spider mites, and whiteflies. If you notice any, treat your plants with an organic pest control solution.

By following these simple steps, you can help your container herb garden thrive and produce an abundance of fresh herbs for all your culinary needs.

Harvesting Your Herbs

Harvesting your herbs is a crucial part of maintaining your container herb garden. Here are some tips to help you harvest your herbs correctly:

  • Harvest in the morning when the oils in the leaves are at their strongest.
  • Use sharp scissors or pruning shears to avoid damaging the plant.
  • Only harvest up to one-third of the plant at a time to avoid stunting growth.
  • Remove any dead or yellowing leaves to encourage new growth.
  • Harvest regularly to keep the plant from becoming too woody or leggy.

Here are some specific tips for harvesting different types of herbs:


Harvest basil leaves from the top of the plant, pinching off the stem just above a pair of leaves. This will encourage the plant to grow bushier and produce more leaves.


Harvest mint by cutting the stems just above a pair of leaves. This will encourage the plant to branch out and produce more leaves.


Harvest parsley by cutting the outer leaves first, leaving the inner leaves to continue growing. This will encourage the plant to produce more leaves over time.

By following these tips, you can ensure that your container herb garden stays healthy and productive all season long. Happy harvesting!