Mother Earth Living

Wiser Living

Finding a natural solution

Add to My MSN

5 Herb Container Garden Favorites

5/31/2012 9:33:35 AM

Tags: Herb Container Garden, Growing Herbs In Pots, Container Gardens, Parsley, Lemon Balm, Peppermint, Basil, Cilantro, Favorites, Lists, Top 5

00 Gina HeadshotIt has been a very busy spring and summer for me so far, but I finally carved time out of my schedule to visit Sunrise Garden Center, a local nursery in Lawrence, Kansas, that offers a large selection of specialty plants (including an endless supply of herbs).

Last year I completely rebooted my backyard patio by planting an abundance of herbs in containers, placing them high enough so as to keep them away from wayward rabbits and my hyperactive dog. I loved growing these herbs just outside my back door, and near my kitchen, for easy harvesting. (I always prefer adding fresh herbs over dried to my cooking.) So I was ecstatic to see a couple of my favorite perennials make a triumphant comeback this year. However, I miss many of the annuals from last year's garden, so I found myself back at the nursery to stock up on more herbs than I will know what to do with. So here you go: my five favorite container herbs for 2012.

Herb Container Garden 5-31-2012
You can grow nearly any herb in a container. Pick your favorites and get growing!
Photo by Brebca/Fotolia

5. Parsley. Many savory recipes call for a sprig of parsley. (Especially one of my all-time favorites from Cooking Light, Cider-Glazed Chicken with Browned Butter-Pecan Rice.) So it just made sense to add this popular garnish to my container garden. This Mediterranean biennial did not grow back after the winter, so I bought a couple curly-leafed varieties at the nursery and replanted them. This herb is easy to grow and especially useful.

4. Lemon Balm. What is there not to love about this European perennial? It's ridiculously easy to grow, attracts pollinators and emits an intoxicating lemony smell. Harvest it for delicious bedtime teas or grow it simply for its lovely aroma. I love showing it off to friends and family members. They're always amazed by how fragrant it is. This shade-loving herb can be particularly invasive, so it makes a great plant for pots. And if your lemon balm is like mine, it will come back year after year.

3. Basil. This herb is a favorite of many, and with good reason. Its flavor complements most any summer dishes, but it especially pairs well with Italian fare. Although there is an abundance of unique basil varieties—more than 60—I am sticking with the traditional 'Genovese' basil. I grew this half-hardy annual in my container garden last year, and enjoyed having it close by for fresh flavor. This year I bought basil at the nursery to plant again, and I am eager to try my favorite basil dish: Cut puff pastries (like the Pepperidge Farm brand that you can find in the frozen food aisle at your local grocery store) into little squares, drizzle with olive oil, garnish with goat cheese, sliced tomato and basil, and bake for 15 minutes in a 400-degree oven. Instant appetizer for large parties!

2. Peppermint. Similarly as invasive as lemon balm, peppermint will take over any garden it can. This perennial returned to my backyard with a vengeance, but I didn't mind. Summer mojitos, here I come. You can also harvest peppermint for tea, salads, fruit salsas and desserts. (Think homemade peppermint patties.) Or, just enjoy sitting outdoors as its fragrant leaves enhance your aroma.

1. Cilantro. This herb is an annual that didn't return in my back garden this year, and I have to say, my feelings are a little hurt. Especially when I list cilantro as my No. 1 container herb. But I'm willing to forgive and forget, as there is nothing I love more than Taco Tuesdays. Fresh cilantro, especially in the summertime, is the greatest thing in the world. Okay, maybe I'm exaggerating a little bit, but I tend to cook Mexican dishes more often during this time of the year than most, and I am a nut for cilantro flavor. (I'm not one of those people who "claim" it tastes horrible.) Whether it be fish tacos, burritos, quesadillas or salsa, I can't get enough of cilantro flavor. Although this plant isn't the easiest herb to grow, as it has never seemed to flourish in my garden quite as well as peppermint or lemon balm, I love its flavor too much to care.

So what about you? What are your favorite herbs to grow this year? Leave me a comment and let me know!

Related Content

Reader Gardening Advice: Growing Thyme

One reader from California asked us about growing thyme. Check out our suggestions for how to get he...

Gardening Rookie: Starting Containers

Don’t have the space (or the nerve) to tackle a full-scale garden? Never fear! This gardening rookie...

3 Tips for Small-Space Gardening

If you're hoping to grow some of your own food but are short on space, use these three tips for smal...

Gardening with a Black Thumb: Lettuce and Herb Container Gardening

Guest blogger Eileen Troemel shares her first attempt at container gardening.

Content Tools

Post a comment below.


6/13/2013 10:49:32 AM

Thanks for sharing! I think I may have abused my lemon balm too much last year; it didn't come back. :(

6/12/2013 11:55:07 AM

Abuse it as I may, my lemon balm comes back year after year! I have a gigantic one in the front garden that won't ever die, a huge pot of it on the back deck that I have not looked after for 4 years - it has weathered storms, frost, snow, extreme heat and no watering, and still comes back, and has even left me lemony reminders of it all over my yard from spreading its seed. My oregano also comes back yearly, as does my sage planted in a pot. I also keep a gigantic pot of pepperment that returns yearly by the front door, so that every time I walk by and brush up against it, I get rewarded with the delicious smell of mint when I walk in or out of the house.

Subscribe today and save 58%

First Name: *
Last Name: *
Address: *
City: *
State/Province: *
Zip/Postal Code:*
(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here

Subscribe to Mother Earth Living!

Welcome to Mother Earth Living, the authority on green lifestyle and design. Each issue of Mother Earth Living features advice to create naturally healthy and nontoxic homes for yourself and your loved ones. With Mother Earth Living by your side, you’ll discover all the best and latest information you want on choosing natural remedies and practicing preventive medicine; cooking with a nutritious and whole-food focus; creating a nontoxic home; and gardening for food, wellness and enjoyment. Subscribe to Mother Earth Living today to get inspired on the art of living wisely and living well.

Save Money & a Few Trees!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. You’ll save an additional $5 and get six issues of Mother Earth Living for just $14.95! (Offer valid only in the U.S.)

Or, choose Bill Me and pay just $19.95.