Care Instructions for Growing Herbs

Overview

Herbs are sturdy, easy-care plant with a multitude of uses. Culinary herbs can be used to add flavor and zing to salads, soups, casseroles or a cup of hot tea. Many herbs are valued for their medicinal properties or for their soothing aromas. Often herbs are planted solely for their ornamental value. Herbs can be planted in patio containers, in garden plots set aside just for herbs, or tucked in among perennials in a flower bed.

Step 1

Water herbs whenever the top of the soil feels dry to the touch. Although herbs are drought-tolerant, the plants will benefit from regular watering during hot, dry summers. Herbs planted in containers should be checked daily, as containers dry out quickly.

Step 2

Hoe weeds out of your herb garden. Weeds will not only detract from the appearance of your herb garden but will also compete with the plants for nutrients and moisture and, if allowed to grow, will harbor pests and disease.

Step 3

Feed herbs monthly during the growing season, using a general-purpose liquid fertilizer. Containerized herbs should be watered every other week, as containerized plants are unable to draw nutrients from the soil. Apply the fertilizer strictly according to the label directions.

Step 4

Clip herbs for use as desired. Prune the plants with garden shears every month to keep the plants looking neat and tidy and to keep them from going to seed. If you want your herbs to go to seed, leave one plant unpruned.

Step 5

Divide herb plants every one to two years, depending on the size and variety. Dig the plant with a shovel, then pull it apart into two or more sections. Replant the sections, or give them away to gardening friends.

Step 6

Harvest herbs in late autumn by cutting the plants down to about 2 inches. If you live in a cool winter climate, spread 5 to 6 inches of organic mulch, such as straw or bark, over the tops of the plants after the first frost of the season. Leave the mulch in place to insulate the roots until the ground thaws in spring.

Step 7

Bring containerized herbs indoors before the first frost in autumn. Place the herbs in a sunny window, and water when the top of the soil feels dry to the touch.

Things You'll Need

  • Hoe
  • General-purpose liquid fertilizer
  • Garden shears
  • Organic mulch

References

  • Gardening Know How: General Care for Your Herb Garden
  • West Virginia University: Growing Herbs in the Home Garden
  • Purdue University: Growing Herbs
Keywords: plant herbs, herb garden, culinary herbs

About this Author

M.H. Dyer is a long-time writer, editor and proofreader. She has been a contributor to the East-Oregonian Newspaper and See Jane Run magazine, and is author of a memoir, “The Tumbleweed Chronicles, a Sideways Look at Life." She holds an Master of Fine Arts from National University, San Diego.