How to Plant a Container Herb Garden


No garden is complete without a fresh herb patch, and gardeners who are short on space can grow herbs in containers. Most herbs fare quite well in containers, and varieties that trail can be especially attractive. Container herb gardens require frequent watering and trimming or pinching to keep the plants from sprawling, but a good container garden will reward its tender with bold flavors all year round.

Step 1

Plan what herbs you want to grow. Annual herbs (which include basil, cilantro and catnip) must be grown in separate container from perennial herbs (such as mint, chives, oregano or tarragon).

Step 2

Choose containers for your herb garden based upon the number of plants you wish to grow. Utah State University recommends leaving 1 gallon of potting mix per herb plant, and notes that a 12-inch pot can hold 3-1/2 gallons of potting mix or three to four herbs. Always use containers with drainage holes.

Step 3

Purchase herb starts from your local nursery or garden center.

Step 4

Fill your container 2/3 of the way with a potting mix. Use organic potting mix for herbs since you'll be cooking with them.

Step 5

Remove your herb plant from its container. Squeeze the root ball with your fingers to break it apart.

Step 6

Place the plants in the container so the roots are buried. Cover over the roots with potting media once you've arranged all herb plants in the container.

Step 7

Water the newly planted herbs to compress the potting media. Add water until you see the water flow out the drainage hole. Then place the container in a sunny location.

Step 8

Check the water level by sticking your finger 2 to 3 inches below the soil surface. If the soil feels moist, wait to water. If the soil is dry, water the herbs until water flows out the drainage holes.

Step 9

Cut back the herbs to encourage branching. Use cuttings fresh or dry them.

Step 10

Move the herbs inside when the temperature reaches 40 degrees F and place the container in a sunny location. Continue to water them indoors when the container grows dry, then move them outside again in the spring when the weather warms above 40 degrees F. If you live in a temperate climate, your herbs can remain outdoors year-round.

Things You'll Need

  • Containers
  • Potting media
  • Herb transplants
  • Water
  • Scissors


  • Utah State University: Herb Container Gardens
  • Bellevue Herb Garden: Plan Your Own Herb Garden
Keywords: growing herbs, herb container garden, container garden

About this Author

Based in Northern California, Elton Dunn is a freelance writer and nonprofit consultant with 14 years' experience. Dunn specializes in travel, food, business, gardening, education and the legal fields. His work has appeared in various print and online publications. Dunn holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing and a Bachelor of Arts in English.