Plant a Herb Container

It’s lovely having a pot of fresh herbs outside your kitchen door and within easy reach for cooking. This handy little guide will show you how to plant your own. 

Many tender herbs won’t survive a British winter but don’t worry, if you harvest them in autumn they’ll store well and see you through the winter leaving you free to experiment with different herbs the following year.

Give it a go because a house truly becomes a home with a pot of herbs outside… Or in our case, a boat truly becomes a home with a pot of herbs on the back deck…

To plant up your own container you will need:

  • A large pot. I’m using a galvanised steel planter from Waitrose that measures 41 cm x 26 cm
  • Gravel or old pot crocks
  • Compost – a gritty, peat-free one would be best, but any compost can be modified to improve its structure (see below)
  • Sand or perlite to aid drainage
  • A selection of herbs (the duck is optional)

Have you got everything you need? Right, let’s begin:

1. Make sure there are drainage holes in the bottom of your container. If there aren’t any already, you’ll need to drill three or four into the base of your pot.

2. Next, add a layer of gravel or old pot crocks to cover these holes. This stops the compost from becoming waterlogged or washing away as water drains.

3. Mix your sand/perlite and compost together so your soil has an open structure.

A good base would be ¼ sand/perlite to ¾ compost.

Consider the type of conditions the herbs you are planting require to grow well. Rosemary, thyme and coriander all like well-drained soil, and I’ve learned over the years that nasturtiums can grow in basically anything!

4. Fill your pot with the compost mix and add your plants. Think about how you’d like your display to look – the tallest plants at the back, perhaps, and trailing ones at the front. 

If any of your herbs are pot-bound gently tease out the roots before planting to encourage them to grow.

I’ve used rosemary, thyme, coriander and nasturtiums. The coriander and nasturtiums are annuals (meaning they set seed within one growing season) so will need replacing next year.

To give your plants the best start, make sure they’re hardened off and the threat of frost has passed before you plant them out.

Don’t overcrowd your pot – remember to leave plenty of room for your plants to grow. My rosemary will eventually outgrow this pot, but I’ll have a good few years of use before I have to contemplate that.

Et voila!

If possible, raise your planter off the ground to allow it to drain rather than stand in water after rain or watering. The pot feet I’ve used are from Jardinopia’s Potty Feet range and can be found here.