Winter Herb Container Gardening

Indoor Container GardenI will cover herb container gardening, December’s newsletter will have tips and advice for flower container gardening, and January will have vegetable container gardening.

Since winter is here it is time to reconsider your gardening. Outdoor gardens may be hard for some so this season we can begin our journey with container gardening.

This type of gardening allows people with limited time, little or a lot of space, or even limited physical capacities to create a relaxing and inviting garden during all seasons of the year. If you are a cooking-oriented gardener, you will enjoy the benefit of having fresh kitchen herbs close by.

Container herbs need little weeding, shade to keep the plants leafy as long as possible, and at least 6-8 hours of sunlight a day. Growing indoor herbs is a huge advantage; however, don’t expect them to perform as well as they do outside.

Things to consider:
• Don’t give your herbs too much love
• Avoid fertilizer- most herbs will provide a stronger fragrance and flavor if grown in lean soil
• Water wisely- most herbs prefer dry conditions, some need more moisture (consider your herb’s preference)
• Find a container that best suits your herb- not too large, not too small
• Must have good drainage in the container
• Change out soil every season if considering to keep herbs indoors year-round

Best Herbs for Container Gardens

• Basil – grows best in full sun and fertile, moist soil. Once the root system is established, about six weeks after sowing, it tolerates short periods of drought. Basil is a good companion with parsley, thyme, and other herbs when grown in a pot that holds at least 5 gallons of soil. Great for salads, pesto, sauces, and sautés.

• Chives- are grassy, clump-forming perennials with hollow leaves. Essentially tiny onions, chives are grown for their leaves and blooms rather than their bulbs. Their fragrant pink-purple spring flowers are also edible. Plant them in well-drained potting soil that’s rich with organic matter. They can tolerate light shade but do best in full sun. Chives grow well in container gardens.

• Cilantro- can be used for its tangy leaves or its dried, ground seeds. Plant this annual herb in well-drained soil. Cilantro grows best in sun, although it tolerates some shade. Because it has a long taproot, place it in a container garden that is at least 12 inches deep. Consider a larger amount to add to salsa, guacamole, grilled shrimp, and chicken.

• Tarragon- herb with a bold flavor. Plant it in full sun and well-drained potting mix. It tolerates drought well and should not be overwatered. Tarragon grows in partial shade but does best in full sun.

• Lemon balm- is perfect for container gardens so it doesn’t take over the yard. Plant in partial shade or full sun and in moist, rich, well-drained potting mix.

• Marjoram- sweeter, mild flavor. Grow it in full sun and well-drained potting mix. It’s perennial in Zones 8-10, so gardeners in colder areas can grow it in container gardens indoors over winter.

• Mint- is such a vigorous plant that it will become invasive unless it is confined in a pot. Grow it in full sun or partial shade. Mint can grow in many soil types and degrees of sunlight, but it produces the best leaves in rich soil. It’s a perennial, but its hardiness varies by variety, so check which type you are growing.

• Oregano- a shrubby perennial that does best in full sun and well-drained potting mix. The more sun oregano receives, the more pungent the flavor of the leaves. It does not tolerate wet soil.

• Rosemary- likes hot, dry, and sunny spots. Quick-draining soil is the key to good growth. It’s drought-tolerant. Keep the soil moist but never wet when grown indoors.

• Sage- best grown in full sun and moist, well-drained potting mix.

• Thyme- comes in many varieties, but all grow best in full sun and well-drained soil. Thyme does not tolerate wet soil, so avoid over-watering.

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