Container herb gardens not only allow a variety of herbs to grow in a limited space, but allow the herb gardener to place plants in a convenient location and move them as needed. Herb planters can be brought indoors during the harsh winter months for a continuous supply of fresh culinary components or simply to serve the purpose of an aromatic houseplant.
Caring for the herb plant will differ slightly depending on the planter material chosen. A clay container will absorb moisture, adding to the weight of the planter and changing watering needs. Sphagnum moss not only helps to keep herbs in place in baskets and metal frames, but helps to retain moisture. A less expensive foam planter is light enough for portability and additional drainage holes can easily be added.
Plastic and wood herb planters are attractive as well practical. Placement of these planters may determine the materials chosen. Use lighter materials for hanging baskets and window boxes, and heavier materials when the planter will have a permanent location on a porch or near the kitchen door. None of these materials will harm tender herb plants.
Herbs come in all different sizes. The root structure is usually the same size as the above ground foliage, so the proper size container is important so that the roots have enough room to grow. As a general rule, a mature herb plant will need about a gallon of potting soil, according to Utah State University Extension (USUE).
Choose larger planters for tall herbs like fennel and dill to keep the planter from toppling over and so the herb display does not look top heavy, advises USUE. Trailing herbs draped over the edge of a planter can help balance the look of large planters.
Place herbs with the same soil and watering requirements in the same container, advises Purdue University Extension. Smaller containers of herbs can be placed into a larger planter if feeding and requirements differ.
Unusual Planter Ideas
Introduce a bit of whimsy into the herb garden with imaginative uses for unused everyday materials. Herbs can be planted in an old shoe, using both the foot opening and a cut-out toe for the plants. A child's wagon or old cart used as a raised herb planter can easily be moved if extreme weather presents itself. Place small containers of tea herbs into tea cups or teapots for an attractive indoor herb garden display. With proper drainage, herb containers are limited only to the gardener's imagination.