Tips For Growing Herbs in the Landscape or In Containers

Growing Locations:

- Ground beds – great companion plants, natural pest control

- Raised beds – max 4ft. wide, any length, & 1ft deep or deeper

- Containers – great for culinary herbs.

- 1 gallon of potting soil per herb

- container 12” deep or greater

- Terecotta containers are ideal

Cultural Requirements:

          Good Drainage

- Amend top 12” of soil w/organic materials to increase drainage

- In containers use light soil-less mix


- Herbs like neutral pH 6.5-7

- Test soil to determine pH, general recommendation is 10-20 lbs per 100 ft2  

- In containers, add ¼ cup of lime per gallon of soil, mix well

- Dolomitic lime is ideal – provides calcium & magnesium to herbs


- Fertilize every 2 weeks w/ water soluble fertilizer during growing season

- Use lowest recommended rate to encourage herbal flavor & aroma


- Most herbs require 6+ hours of direct sunlight per day

Watering Tips:

- Watering too often can cause fungal infestations (wilting when soil is wet &    stunted growth)

- Watering too little will cause wilting & scorching

- Water when the first 2” of soil is dry

- Water in early morning or evening

Pest Control:

- Scout for aphids, caterpillars & spider mites

- Use insecticidal soap or horticultural oil, 1 tsp. per gallon of water every 3-4 days until pests are gone

- Remove dead leaves to avoid fungal growth

Harvesting Tips:

- Regularly & gently prune plant tips to encourage branching & growth from the base

- Cut herbs in mid-morning before the sun wilts them

- Cut lightly during hot weather & during dormancy

- Don’t cut more herbs than you can handle at one time

Preserving Herbs:


- Wash lightly w/ cold water, pat dry & lay flat in a cool, dry, well-ventilated area

- Faster they dry the better color & flavor they will have

- Herbs dry in 3-7 days depending on humidity and leaf size

- Once dry, strip leaves from stems and store in air tight containers


- Wash lightly w/ cold water, pat dry, chop leaves into small pieces

- Mix herbs with just enough oil to bind them together ( 2 cups leaves to ½ cup oil)

- Pack into freezer bags or small containers and freeze

Commonly Grown Herbs:       

          Drought Tolerant:

             Lavender, Catnip, Fennel, Oregano, Thyme & Rosemary

          Herbs that prefer more moisture:

            Basil, Borage, Chives, Dill, Lemon Balm, Mint, Parsley & Sage

          Perennial Herbs:

            Catnip, Catmint, Chives, Dill, Fennel, Lavender, Lemon Balm, Mint, Oregano, Parsley, Sage,Tarragon & Thyme

          Annual Herbs:

              Basil, Cilantro & Rosemary

Written by: Jessica Groleau

Amherst Nurseries