Fed up of buying expensive herbs from the supermarket in plastic packaging? Growing herbs is a simple and rewarding activity that anyone can do, even if you don't have a garden. Here are our top tips to help you create your own thriving herb garden at home.
Herbs are enchanting aromatic plants that can turn an average plate of food into a restaurant-quality meal.
There are thousands of varieties – from the Rumex scutatus (French sorrel) that tastes like apple and lemon to the gorgeous Agastache rugosa (Korea mint) that’s adored by bees.
These charming, practical plants can be found in almost all corners of the earth – on rocky mountains, in harsh northern climates and the oppressive heat of the desert. Yet they can also be grown in our very own homes.
Nothing can compare to using fresh herbs in the kitchen–but they can be pricey. I also find that herbs bought from the shop can be wasteful as I only need to use a small amount at one time.
These minor nuisances are two of the many benefits of growing herbs at home!
Tending to a herb garden is practical, cost-effective and adds a touch of attractive greenery to your home and garden.
A herb garden can be low maintenance, so you shouldn’t be deterred from the idea just because you don’t have green fingers!
Planning a herb garden – herb garden ideas
So, you want to start an aromatic garden. Now what?
First, have a vision of how you would like your garden to look. Will it be indoors (which means fresh herbs all year round) or outdoors?
Individual pots, in the ground, or planted all together in a large container? What herbs would you like to grow? And in what order?
In terms of location, herbs should ideally be grown as close to the kitchen as possible where they are easily accessible.
Browse websites like Pinterest to spark your inspiration. There are unlimited options for presenting your herb garden, even if you only have a balcony to spare. Here are a handful of options:
- Fill a hanging basket
- Hang pots from a balcony
- Line them up on a sunny windowsill
- Install a window box
- Plant vertically on a ladder or wooden pallet
What herbs to plant
When considering which herbs to grow, keep in mind the main varieties: perennials, biennials and annuals, as this may influence your decision.
Annuals die within a year, biennials last for two years, and perennials last longer than two years. Annuals and biennials should be sown or planted several times throughout the year to produce a continuous harvest.
So if you would like a low maintenance garden, you may want to stick to perennials, such as creeping thyme, mint, and oregano.
If you’re having trouble deciding which herbs to plant, start with the herbs you use most often.
I make Penne Alla Vodka almost every week, meaning that I need plenty of basil around the house – so that was the first herb I knew would feature in my garden.
Which herbs can be planted together?
In general, herbs that thrive in the same environments can be planted together; for example, Mediterranean herbs like rosemary, sage and thyme work well together as long as they receive plenty of sunlight.
Besides growth requirements, you could also consider height. For example, fennel can grow tall, so it may look best planted in the ground besides other tall plants, whereas trailing herbs, such as parsley and creeping thyme, may look good together in hanging baskets.
Be cautious of invasive herbs such as mint, as they will spread fast and potentially smother other plants.
Trailing herbs, such as parsley and creeping thyme, can be planted together in hanging baskets.
Looking for more tips to help you become green-fingered? Read these articles next:
- How to attract bees to your garden with plants they love
- Beginners guide on how to grow vegetables at home
- 5 simple steps to make your garden wildlife-friendly
Do herb gardens like sun or shade?
Most herbs are sun-loving plants that thrive when they get at least several hours of sunshine per day.
Herbs that require full sun include basil, coriander, and lavender, and if they don’t receive enough, they will likely become leggy and prone to pests.
However, if your house or garden lacks sunny areas, all hope is not lost! Certain herbs will tolerate less sunlight and even shade. Shade-tolerant herbs include mint, parsley, and chives.
My garden fence blocks sunlight and is shady for most of the day, so I have planted my herbs in movable containers meaning I can move them according to sunlight!
When to plant a herb garden
Spring is often the best time to start a garden. There’s not much risk of frost, and the weather isn’t too harsh.
You can technically start an indoor herb garden at any time of the year. But spring and summer may be best, as this ensures they’ll get plenty of sunlight while adjusting to their new home.
Spring is the best time to start your herb garden if you're planting outdoors, but indoor gardens can be started at any time of year provided your plants have adequate sunshine.
How to create an indoor herb garden/herb kitchen garden
First, think about whether you want to start from seed, plugs or established plants. If you’re a beginner, start from plugs or established plants.
Think about where you envision the herb garden: your kitchen, a bright windowsill, a conservatory, a greenhouse? Will the herbs receive at least a few hours of sunlight per day?
You can purchase everything you need to create an indoor herb garden at your local garden centre. You will likely need:
- Pots or planters (or even upcycled items such as mason jars) with good drainage
- Hand trowel
- Small watering can (this is optional as you can use anything to water your plants)
- Small wooden labels/wooden lollipop sticks (this is also optional)
Another option is to purchase a ready-made kit!
A bright windowsill is a great place to try your hand at growing a small indoor herb garden.
Best herb garden kits
Indoor herb kits
Veritable Smart Copper Indoor Garden
This Smart Copper Indoor Garden is a luxurious option for anyone who wants herb gardening to be an effortless experience.
The herbs in this kit include Sweet Basil, Curly Parsley, Chives and Thyme. Find it here.
Waitrose Kitchen Herb Garden Kit
This product is a brilliant starter pack for anyone new to growing. It fits perfectly on a bright windowsill, conservatory or even a greenhouse.
The herb seeds included are Basil, Chives, Coriander, and Parsley. Find it here.
Herb Corner – Outdoor Herb Garden
This stylish living wall kit is ideal for anyone with a small garden.
It comes with perennial plants, peat-free compost and built-in irrigation to make nurturing herbs a breeze. Find it here.
Herb Starter Kit
This kit has everything you need to start a small but mighty outdoor herb garden.
It includes a carefully curated selection of 8 dwarf and compact herb seed varieties for gardeners working with small spaces: Sweet Basil, Cilantro, Dill, Mint, Parsley, Chives, Oregano and Thyme. Find it here.
Peat-free compost is proving a popular choice with conscious gardeners.