Home & Garden

Plant a pot of herbs

By: Jo Calvert

Author: Canadian Living

Home & Garden

Plant a pot of herbs

By: Jo Calvert
There's nothing like the taste of fresh herbs. Many thrive in full sun and soils on the dry side, so a terra-cotta strawberry pot makes a perfect summer home (the unglazed clay absorbs heat and lets any excess water evaporate). Set it on a balcony, deck or patio – or even in a flowerbed – and it will keep their roots warm and well-drained.

What you need
9-hole terra-cotta strawberry pot
2 to 3 plants of each herb from selected mix (see below)
Potting soil
Compost (optional)
15 cm (6-in) square of landscape cloth or 3 or 4 large terra-cotta pot shards
Spray bottle of water

1. Soak strawberry pot in water for about half an hour to thoroughly moisten. Cover drainage hole with landscape-cloth square or pot shards. With soil, fill to about 2 cm (3/4 in) below bottom holes, mounding soil in centre of pot.

2. Gently knock each plant out of its pot, set in hole, gently pushing root-ball down into soil and firmly tamp down. With soil, fill to about 2 cm below next holes, mounding soil in centre of pot. Plant holes, tamping down soil around root-balls, then fill to about 2 cm below rim. Plant top opening, tamping down soil around root-balls.

3. Generously spray herbs in holes to soak soil around roots (continue watering these plants with spray bottle until roots stabilize potting mix), then water top plants.

4. If desired, top-dress top opening with thin layer of compost.

• Most herbs prefer not to be fertilized; simply start with a rich, lightweight potting soil.
• Plant the most compact, cushion-type herbs in the bottom holes, trailing herbs in the next holes up, and one or more upright plants (such as chili peppers, dill, chives and rosemary) or those with long tap roots (such as parsley) in the top opening.
• Many herbs, such as basil, lavender, mint and sage, are available in various cultivars and hybrids that offer slightly different colours, tastes and scents.
• To check if the soil inside needs watering, tap your terra-cotta pot. You'll hear a sharp "ring" if it's dry and a dull thud if it's wet. Mint likes moist soil, so give it a little extra water.
• Harvesting herbs with regular trimming helps keep them thick and healthy; on woody herbs, though, prune off only tender new growth.

Tasty mixes
Middle Eastern mix: coriander* (Coriandrum sativum), dill* (Anethum graveolens), mint** (Mentha), parsley* (Petroselinum crispum)

Provençale mix: chives** (Allium schoenoprasum), lavender** (Lavandula), summer savory* (Satureja hortensis), thyme** (Thymus)

Scarborough Fair mix: parsley* (Petroselinum crispum), sage** (Salvia officinalis), rosemary* (Rosmarinus officinalis), thyme** (Thymus)

Thai mix: chilies* (Capiscum), coriander* (Coriandrum sativum), mint** (Mentha), Thai basil* (Ocimum basilicum ‘Siam Queen’)

* Grow as annual.
** Perennial (check hardiness zone of cultivar on label).

Read more:
Have a plant swapping party
Small trees for small gardens

This story was originally titled "Plant a Pot of Herbs" in the July 2007 issue. Subscribe to Canadian Living today and never miss an issue! 

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Plant a pot of herbs