How to Look After Herbs

Thursday, 30 July 2020 09:37:51 Europe/London

How to look after herbs in a planter


The last few months have brought the joy of gardening to a wider audience than ever before, and a whole new group of people are now discovering that you can not only grow flowers in your garden, but edible plants too! We covered growing vegetables some time ago, so our Gardening Angels are now looking at herbs. 


If you’re looking to get started with herb gardening, and would like to learn a bit more about how to look after herbs, then you’re in the right place!


Starting Out


Basil plantChoosing Herbs


When you’re choosing herbs, you’ve got plenty of options. Basil, Chives, Dill, Mint, Oregano, Rosemary, Sage and Thyme are some great choices for newcomers to herb gardening, but don’t feel you have to be limited by those if something else is definitely on your list. You can find more details about individual herbs in our Herb Growing Advice guide.


Top Tip: If you’re not starting from seed, then make sure you buy healthy-looking plants. Don’t settle for herbs that already look the worse for wear, and don’t accept any signals of bug infestation, no matter how small you think they might look.


Picking Your Spot


Herbs really only need two things to grow well: sunlight and well-drained soil. When you’re choosing a spot in your garden to plant herbs, you should definitely take these two things into account. Even though it might be tempting to fill a shady corner with some herbs, they’re often not the best fit. Stick to sunlit areas and fill shaded nooks with better suited flowers.


Your herb garden needs a couple of inches of water each week, so do keep an eye on your plants in the heat of the summer, as the type of places you’ll plant herbs tend to get dry. Early morning watering around the base of your herbs is best, as this minimises evaporation.


Top Tip: Herbs you plant in containers will dry out faster than anything else, so if you see a potted herb beginning to wilt then water it immediately so it doesn’t keep suffering.


Preparing Soil


Once you’ve chosen the site for your herb garden, the next task is to prepare the soil. We highly recommend turning your soil and making use of compost when you’re growing herbs, as it provides a regular source of nutrients. Nitrogen-rich composted manures should be avoided though, as these tend to sap the flavour of your herbs. 


Top Tip: If you don’t keep on top of weeds, then all of those nutrients will go to waste. Weeds also compete for water and attract insect pests, so make weeding a weekly habit.


Top Tip: If you’re planting herbs in pots, then avoid potting with garden soil, and instead use potting soil or a lighter and fluffier mixture. Pots and planters prevent your herbs from getting a little too over enthusiastic and taking over the rest of your garden, so they’re worth considering!


Herbs in a planter

Tending to Herbs


Around this time of year, we always advise gardeners to deadhead their perennials. New gardeners are often reluctant to do this, but it genuinely increases their flower yield.


Well, herbs need to be pruned regularly too. We suggest that you do some pruning every month, as this will stop them going to seed in large numbers. 


Top Tip: Let a select few of your herbs flower and go on to seed. This will not only let you enjoy some flowers, but also create the opportunity for some natural reseeding.

Herbs also benefit from being “divided” every other year (if not yearly). This involves bisecting the plants and their root systems, and then replanting each half as separate plants. Watch out for overcrowding though. If your herb garden starts to get cluttered, then you should either look to expand it, or perhaps pass a few divided plants to friends or family!


Finally, there’s harvesting in preparation for the colder months. More harvesting equals more foliage, so don’t be shy doing it. You can dry or freeze the harvested foliage you don’t need at the time, so none need go to waste. Bring delicate herbs inside pre-harvesting, and cut them down to a few inches of growth. Any lower to the ground than this and they may not recover.


Hopefully you’re now feeling more confident to explore herb gardening if it’s something you haven’t looked into much before. Our handy FAQ covers a few more details that you may find useful. And don’t forget that Greenhouse Sensation has all of the gardening supplies that you’re likely to need as well, with speedy delivery times to get you started as soon as possible.

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