How to Grow Container Herbs for Market


Put your green thumb to work adding some green to your wallet. Cooking is in vogue these days. Just look at all the cooking magazines, programs and cookbooks. Herbs are part of a well-rounded kitchen pantry. Fresh herbs are tastier than dry. Turn your gardening expertise into cash by growing herbs for market. It takes common sense and a bit of organization to start this home-based business but not much money.

Starting the Business

Step 1

Choose unusual herbs, or varieties of herbs, for your containers. Visit farmer's markets or gourmet grocers to see what's selling. Ordinary herbs like parsley, cilantro and basil are easily found at big box stores or plant nurseries, often at discount prices. Select herbs like lemon thyme, purple or chocolate basil or an intensely spicy oregano like Cretan, as well as the kitchen staples.

Step 2

Decide how you will market your container herbs. Arts and craft shows, farmer's markets, garden or food shows are all good choices. Your local nursery may be willing to add your herbs to their inventory. Shipping herbs is possible, but it's an added expense. In addition, you have to be concerned that the plants arrive in good shape. If they don't, you will most likely have to refund the purchase price.

Step 3

Obtain the necessary licensing. Even if you only plan to sell to friends and neighbors, you will still need a business license and possibly a sales privilege license to collect and remit sales tax. Contact state and city offices to see what's required.

Growing the Herbs

Step 1

Fill the peat pots with fresh potting soil or use sterilized potting soil. Sterilize the soil by placing it on a cookie sheet in an oven set at 200. When the oven reaches that temperature let the soil bake for 20 minutes then turn the oven off. Use the soil when it has cooled to room temperature. Plant four seeds in each pot. Cover with an eighth of an inch of soil. Water until the soil is saturated.

Step 2

Place all the same kind of herb pots on a tray and label the tray. Cover the pots and trays with plastic wrap. In early spring before the weather has warmed up, use black plastic. Black retains the heat. Seeds will germinate faster in warmer soil. The plastic keeps the seeds moist.

Step 3

Remove the plastic as soon as the seeds have sprouted. Thin the seedlings to two to a pot when they have four true leaves. Snip the weaker seedlings with scissors rather than pulling them out.

Step 4

Place seedlings in a sunny spot in the garden. When the seedlings are bigger than their peat pots, transplant to 4-inch pots. Don't remove the plant from the pot. Place the peat pot in the 4-inch pot, making sure the rim is under the soil. The peat pot will disintegrate.

Step 5

Fertilize with quarter strength water soluble plant food every week. In other words, if the package says add two tablespoons to a gallon of water, only add a half of a tablespoon.

Tips and Warnings

  • Mark craft sticks with the type of herb using a permanent marker. You may know what the herbs are just by looking at them, but your customers may not.

Things You'll Need

  • Licenses
  • Peat pots
  • Potting soil
  • Cookie sheet
  • Herb seeds
  • Watering container
  • Tray
  • Labels
  • Plastic wrap
  • Scissors
  • Pots 4 inch
  • Fertilizer
  • Measuring spoon
  • Craft sticks
  • Marker


  • "The Country Garden"; Charlie Ryrie; 2003
  • "The Desert Gardener's Calendar"; George Brookbank; 1999
  • Entrepreneur: Herb Business

Who Can Help

  • Organic Gardening
Keywords: herbs for sale, grow herbs sell, sell container herbs

About this Author

Katie Rosehill holds an MBA from Arizona State University. She began her writing career soon after college and has written website content and e-books. Her articles have appeared on, eHow, and GolfLinks. Favorite topics include personal finance - that MBA does come in handy sometimes - weddings and gardening.