Herbs are a delicious addition to any garden or patio and can be grown indoors as well. However, there are a few mistakes people tend to make when it comes to growing herbs.
Choosing the right soil, watering regularly, feeding properly and harvesting frequently are all important for successful herb gardening. To help you avoid these common mishaps, we’ve rounded up some of the best tips from expert gardeners!
1. Choose the Right Soil
Choosing the right soil is an essential step for growing herbs. Most herbs need a healthy soil with good drainage, a pH of between 6 and 7, and plenty of organic matter.
Soil can vary in acidity from sphagnum moss peat (3.5) to alkaline fine loam (8.5). Herbs are very sensitive to the pH of the soil so it is vital to test it before planting.
Most herb gardens require regular watering to keep the soil moist. Mulching will also help to reduce moisture loss through evaporation.
2. Water Regularly
There is no one watering schedule that applies to all herbs, but a few guidelines can help you keep your garden hydrated.
Watering regularly can help prevent root rot and other problems that stem from overwatering, so water your plants as needed to ensure they have enough to thrive.
To determine if your herb needs water, test the soil near the roots. Stick your finger into the top inch or so of the soil and feel it to see if it is dry.
If it is dry to the touch, it is time to water. Indoor potted herbs should be watered every 5-7 days to make sure the soil is evenly moist but not saturated.
3. Fertilize Regularly
The herbs you grow will require fertilizer to help them thrive. Fertilizers work best if they contain the proper nutrients and are used according to their packaging.
Herbs grown in containers need to be fertilized more often than those in the ground because nutrients are flushed out of the pot every time you water. It’s best to use a slow-release or half-strength organic fertilizer.
For potted herbs, it’s recommended to fertilize once a month, from spring through fall. In the summer, herb plants consume more nutrients so they can develop faster.
For herbs in the ground, it’s best to fertilize once or twice a year. In winter, herb plants are dormant and can be fertilized at that time to ensure they’re receiving all of the nutrients they need to grow.
Herbs need to be pruned regularly to maintain their shape and to boost future harvests. This is especially important for leafy herbs, like basil and mint, that grow many sets of leaves.
Herbaceous herbs, like cilantro, oregano, chives, mint, sweet basil, and tarragon, should be trimmed weekly as soon as they’ve grown three or four sets of leaves. This will spur new growth and improve the plants’ shape, increasing their ability to produce a large and plentiful crop for you.
Woody stemmed herbs, like rosemary and thyme, should not be pruned frequently since they grow much more slowly. However, pruning in the fall or winter will help to spur new growth while your plant is dormant.
Herbs should be pruned in the morning, when their aroma and flavor are at peak. This will allow the essential oils to reach their maximum potential.
Fresh herbs are some of the easiest and most rewarding plants to grow. They tolerate a wide range of soil conditions, are drought-tolerant and can be grown in both the garden and containers.
They produce leaves, flowers, and seeds which can be used in cooking, savories, and homemade gifts. You can harvest them year-round by snipping off individual leaves, sprigs, or stems as needed for your recipes.
When cutting, use sharp and clean scissors or clippers. Do not remove more than one-third of the herb at any time so it has the energy it needs to grow.