The Pot Spot: Container Herb Gardening

| August/September 2003

  • Photo by Jill martin courtesy of

  • Photo by Jill martin courtesy of

Sidebar: Homemade Hypertufa Pots 

Container herb gardening is satisfying whether you keep them on the patio, indoors under lights or on a windowsill, or in the garden to complement the landscape. There’s always a spot for another pot.

Containers are such an easy way to garden, and many herbs lend themselves to life in a pot. Whether you’re living in a space that doesn’t allow a garden, you’re concerned about your water bill, you want to trial plants before you give them space in the garden, or you like maneuverability and easy maintenance (and no weeds!), containers may be the answer for your herb habit — or at least part of the answer.

Let’s start with the pot — why not? The type of pot you choose to use may be determined by your climate, the needs of the plant, aesthetic concerns or what’s on hand at the time a plant needs repotting. Almost any kind of container will work — whether it’s an old red wagon or half a whisky barrel — as long as it has adequate drainage and enough space for roots.

If a container is nonporous and doesn’t have drainage holes, drill some, or use the container for something else. Your container must drain freely; that’s rule number one, at least for the majority of herbs. Many, if not most, of the culinary herbs that grow so well in containers require good drainage to survive; soggy roots can mean untimely death for many of the culinary herbs that hail from the dry Mediterranean region. Creativity always takes a backseat to practicality when it comes to drainage.

To allow the water to run through the soil, every container in the house must have a saucer to catch the overflow, and the gardener must water carefully. Outdoors, if you’re able to situate that container in a spot where the water can drain freely out the bottom, you’ve made the job of watering a lot more carefree.

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