Herbs are prized for their wide variety of flavors and fragrances. The advantage of growing potted herbs is that fresh herbs have an intense, lively flavor not present in their dried form. Growing herbs in pots is not difficult. Choose hardy, reliable herbs such as marjoram, thyme, oregano and chives. Place the pots in a sunny location, perform simple maintenance tasks and you will be rewarded with fresh herbs all year round.
Plant your herbs in a mixture of two parts sterilized potting soil to one part perlite. The addition of perlite helps make the soil porous and well draining. Herbs hate to have their roots waterlogged and soggy. Water the herbs well after planting.
Place the pots on a shallow tray filled with pebbles. Fill the tray with water. This helps provide the herbs with the moisture and humidity they require. Make sure the pots sit above the water so the plant roots don't get soggy.
Place your pots near a south- or west-facing window where they will receive at least four hours of sun daily. Turn the plants one-quarter turn each week to provide them with even light conditions.
Water the plants when the soil is dry to the touch. Place the pots in a sink and water until moisture comes out through the drainage hole. Use room-temperature water. Cold water shocks the plants. Herbs do better when allowed to dry out a bit than they do when they are overwatered.
Dilute the fish emulsion fertilizer to half strength. Fertilize lightly once a week. Reduce feedings to once a month during the winter.
Harvest your herbs often. Snip or pinch the desired leaves with your fingers to encourage vigorous plant growth. Don't remove more than one-quarter of the plant at any one time. Removing more can shock and weaken the plant.
Check for pests regularly. Herbs are reliably hardy but do occasionally suffer insect damage from aphids, whiteflies, mealy bugs and thrips. If insects are detected, spray the herb with an organic insecticidal soap. Wet the stems and foliage thoroughly, paying special attention to the undersides of the leaves, where insects hide and lay their eggs.
Wash leaves thoroughly before adding to recipes.