Companion Planting Herbs in Pots

rabbithutch(9a from USDA map)April 22, 2013

Hello All!

This is my first post on any of these forums. I am retired and dabble in gardening using only potted plants (because I live in a drought area and because I'm old and lazy).

Usually, I buy herb plants and bring them home and pot them. Some flourish and some die. That is about the extent of my knowledge on the subject.

I bought several packets of seeds over the past weekend including basil, parsley, cilantro/coriander, tarragon, rosemary and chives. I will get a small bay tree and intend to buy seed for sage, as well.

The packaging instructions tell me that now is the time to plant the seeds. Instead of having each in its own pot, I was hoping to be able to plant 2 or 3 different herbs in an appropriately sized planter or pot. What I don't know is whether or not there are any that should not be planted together as companion plants. They will be in post in a location that receives full sun for at least most of the day with shading occurring in late afternoon.

Any advice you can share with me will be greatly appreciated and gratefully received. If you have suggestions for other herbs I might enjoy - it's a kitchen garden of sorts - please tell me.

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
fatamorgana2121(Zone 5/6)

Best advice I can give, give each type of herb its own pot. Depending upon the herbs and size of the pot/planter, you may be able to put more than one plant in the pot but make sure it is all the same kind of plant. Each plant has its own likes and dislikes - different soil, sun, and water preferences. Also, some plants make poor pot-chums - some are just too big or aggressive to play nice with others.

Search through the old posts here for more - this topic has come up often!


    Bookmark   April 22, 2013 at 4:27PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Aindra(8, BC)

Think about it in this way...

Basil & Cilantro
They're annual herbs. They last one growing season and they're done. If you don't harvest whole before it goes to seed, you'll see new basil and cilantro next year in unorganized fashion. The basil likes warmth but cilantro do not.

It's biennial herb. It'll last two growing seasons. It'll die in winter but return next spring to flower and seed.

Chives & Tarragon
They're perennial herbs. They'll die in winter but return to life next spring. They're hard to kill so if you managed to do so, you officially have a brown thumb.

Rosemary & Sage
They're also perennial herbs, but they don't die in winter. They're evergreen trees, but the cold winter may kill them. They're not like chives and tarragon; if the winter kill them, they won't return. I don't know your zone, so you might have to take them indoors during the winter to keep them alive.

Separate pots are best
Now you know what they are and you can plan your pots accordingly. For me, I keep every herb separate because it's too troublesome to ensure every plant have their requirements fulfilled. For an example, what if one plant grew faster than other plants and blocking the sun from them? What if one plant is stressed by heat and you need to move it to shady area, but it means other heat-loving plants will suffer in shade too? It's too much hassle.

If I'd to group, I can start with three: basil, parsley and cilantro. The cilantro dislike heat and it'll bolt in early sign of summer heat, and leaving basil and parsley to themselves. The basil will then start to flower and seed at late summer. The parsley should continue for a while until winter kills it (or you eat them all.) It'll return next spring, but you can pull it up and repeat with basil, parsley and cilantro. You can also keep a second pot for cilantro to put in shady area when it gets little warm, and maybe prolong its life.

Assuming if nothing bad or unusual happens to them.

And perennial plants in their own pots. They'll last long time if properly cared after so why stress them whole time?

This post was edited by Aindra on Mon, Apr 22, 13 at 17:44

    Bookmark   April 22, 2013 at 5:38PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
rabbithutch(9a from USDA map)

Thank you!

I had not considered the differences in growth cycles because I treat all herbs as annuals - or even periodicals, like cilantro.

I HAD considered the differences in sun/shade preference but my planting area is so small as to make that point almost moot.

I planted all of the see yesterday afternoon (22 Apr). I live in TX, US in what I think is USDA Zone 9a (although the software here tells me it is Zone 8). We are in a continuing drought but the pots are hand watered. It is the very high heat that generally gets to our plants and kills them.

I'll wait a few weeks until I start getting sprouts then post some pics of my results.

FWIW: I planted some garlic bulbs that had been in the kitchen and were drying out. I separated the cloves and planted each one in a 20" clay pot. All of them have grown shoots. I also planted segments of a 10-15 onion in the same size pot and it has sprouted and flowered. These were planted 17 Oct 2012. These pots are in the same area as the herbs I planted yesterday.

Can anyone tell me if a bay tree would be likely to survive and thrive in a large clay pot in my zone?

Again, thank you for the information to consider about companion planting. I shall carry that forward to my next planting - in the Fall.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2013 at 1:15PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
zzackey(8b GA)

Parsley is a cool weather herb and takes like 21 days to germinate. I think from what I have read that Rosemary is really hard to grow from seeds. I brought some cuttings in from my rosemary plant to make a tea with. Well if you knew me, I procrastinate alot. Anyway the Rosemary rooted in water, much to my surprise. I potted it up and it is happy. Good luck with growing from seeds. I grow most of my plants from seeds.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2013 at 9:44PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
rabbithutch(9a from USDA map)

Just a follow-up . . .

I planted sage and tarragon together.

Dill is in its own container because I know it will soon bolt.

Basil is in its own container because that is what I planted the most of.

Parsley and thyme are in a pot together.

Cilantro is in its own pot because I know that it will bolt too.

Rosemary is in its own large clay pot because I had a small plant from last Christmas that looked as if it needed re-potting. I bought the seed and did a ring around the outer perimeter. I doubt that it will sprout, but it was worth a buck 25 to find out.

Thanks again for all the responses.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2013 at 1:39PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Aindra(8, BC)

The tarragon and sage combo will be interesting to see, especially next year when tarragon grows again. :)

Ah, dill! It's still little too cold here to grow dills and I love them. Have to wait patiently. I tried to start the dills earlier indoors to see if it works but that went terrible.

As for the rosemary, personally for me, it's easy to grow. I started two rosemary plants with no problem whatsoever. I started one indoors for few months and it went fine. I started one exclusively outdoors and that also went fine, in fact, it's looking healthier and robust than indoor-started rosemary.

I'm not sure why people said it's hard to start from seed because it's not the case for me.

For a record, your big clay pot will look sparse for a long while. It takes a long time for rosemary to grow big. My two-years-old rosemary is little over a foot high and my one-year-old rosemary's about half foot.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2013 at 7:16PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
balloonflower(5b Denver CO, HZ 5-6, Sunset 2b)

You may have some problems with the parsley and thyme in the same pot. Thyme likes drainage, and parsley likes water. So, you'll either drown the thyme leading to root rot, or starve the parsley. Just a heads up that that may not work for long. Good Luck!

    Bookmark   April 24, 2013 at 10:59PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Once established Rosemary, Oregano, sage and thyme should do fine even in dry areas and less problems in the soil than pots. Plants or cuttings for me are the best way with Rosemary, and sage they are easy to start from those cuttings.

This post was edited by wally-1936 on Thu, Apr 25, 13 at 8:44

    Bookmark   April 25, 2013 at 8:41AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

Here is my take: Other friends here have ironed out botanic details pretty good. What I would want to suggest is: IT IS NOT WORTHWHILE FOR A POT GARDENER TO BE BOTHERED WITH STARTING FROM SEEDS, things like SAGE, ROSEMARY, THYME, TARRAGON. They will take a lot of know how and LOOOONG time to get where you can harvest them. Even having been a gardeners fot many years myself, I never start those herbs from seed. I jus buy established plants from nurseries.
By the way: Probably the tarragon seeds that you have purchase is not TRUE FRENCH tarragon. I have don that before...

    Bookmark   May 1, 2013 at 4:26AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
fatamorgana2121(Zone 5/6)

Patient gardeners, container or not, can grow much from seed. Especially so in more mild winter locations where overwintering isn't such an issue. I have grown both sage and thyme from seed. Like any perennial grown from seed, takes a few years to reach maturity. Some herbs are only available via seed - especially those ethnic or medicinal plants not commonly available in nurseries.

That said, for new gardeners, gardeners that want a harvest this season, and for hard to start from seed plants, buying perennial plants vs growing from seed is probably the best option.

Annuals and biennials, always grow from seed yourself.


    Bookmark   May 1, 2013 at 8:11AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
opal52(z7b GA)

I grow herbs in containers and also in a regular garden. Started Rosemary from seed about 20 years ago with little trouble. The original plant is alive and happy, and through layering and cuttings, we have seven more Rosemary bushes. I grow Thyme, Oregano, Sage, Chives, and Mint in containers, all started from seed. I bought cuttings of Tarragon at the Farmers Market, and rooted some of it, and it comes back each year. It is Mexican Tarragon and it tastes fine plus has the most beautiful flowers late in the season. I enjoy starting plants from seeds and cuttings, and I'm retired so time is not a problem for me. One of the reasons I keep herbs in containers is the years of drought we have been through. They are easier to care for and easier to get to when I need them for cooking. Over the years, I have tried combining different herbs in large containers. It can work OK for a season, and you can get some pretty combinations, but I have found it works best to have them in their own container. You have to watch Thyme if you place it near another container. I found out it will jump over and root itself in any soil it can touch. I plant multiple containers of basil each year, starting it from seed. It is very easy to grow from seed, but in my opinion should always have its' own container. The root system will completely fill any container in one season.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2013 at 3:41PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
rabbithutch(9a from USDA map)

Thank you, all, for the responses and great information. So far the only seed I planted that has not sprouted is the rosemary. Tarragon is coming along more slowly than the dill, cilantro, basil and thyme . . . but it is definitely sprouting. Even the sage seed has sprouted.

One of the reasons I wanted to experiment with starting plants from seed is that I cannot always find pots of some herbs or if I do they do not thrive. For example, I have not been able to find tarragon or even oregano as started pots. Perhaps they are too much in demand. Also, I grow 4 or 5 different basil types some of which I never see as pots.
My guess is that there might be problems in the supply chain at the big box stores where I have the most options but the least success with started plants.

Again, thank you all for the responses. I will try to get some pics soon and post them here.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2013 at 12:46PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
zzackey(8b GA)

It's worth it to me to grow everything from seeds! You just have to wait awhile to get your harvest. I have no income and my husband is retired, so we grow most everything from seeds. I just repotted my thyme that I had started 2 years ago in a windowbox to 6 one gallon pots. More than enough for the two of us. Beware, Basils main goal is to go to seed. Keep the seed heads pinched early and often. It will make your leaves alot smaller and they will stop growing if yo leave them on. I let one or two go so I can have seeds for next year and to trade.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2013 at 5:57PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

I did not read all the replies. But I would like to say a few words to RABBITHUCH.
1- you should start each kind of seeds separately. When they are potable , then go aheade and do companion planting according to the advices given to you here.

2- I would neve bother to grow things like ROSEMARY

    Bookmark   May 5, 2013 at 3:46AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

i found this to be a great help... hope others find it helpful too

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   March 31, 2014 at 9:39AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Bay and rosemary would both be well worth growing in the ground in your zone.

The rosemary would make a nice small shrub and the bay would grow into a small tree. They're both perennial. So would be pineapple sage, and lemongrass.

I'm not certain about the siting re, watering and partial shade needed due to your Texas heat, but some others may chime in on that.

It wouldn't be hard to dig a couple of small holes with a mattock.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2014 at 1:23PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Hello. This is my first post, and I'm not sure I am in the right place, but it is sort of related to this post about companion planting herbs in pots.
Can I "plant" pots of herbs in the ground to try to "contain" them from spreading, and then bring them in to continue growing under my sunlight all winter. Will this work?

    Bookmark   April 4, 2014 at 10:16PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Certainly can do that, but if you have it in a pot, then you don't necessarily need it in the ground, unless you just wanted to keep all your plants together (for easy watering).

I keep my mint in pots in the growing season (but the pot is not in ground). Though for the case of mint, it will return next year, but for other herbs, you can certainly bring them in for the winter (I've heard of people doing that with basil).

    Bookmark   April 17, 2014 at 4:25PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
What is attacking my basil? Whiteflies?
I have an indoor growlight which has allowed me to...
HELP!!! My mint plant is growing SMALLER!!!
Just over a week ago, I purchased a potted mint plant...
James Lim
Herb Seedlings Yellowing - Basil, Oregano, Chives
I just started some herb seeds and was wondering if...
Wanted: Herb seeds for SASE
Hello. I am trying to do a project with my daughters...
Brenda Lee
fruit flies
how do I get rid of fruit flies in my herb plants
Sponsored Products
Tom Dixon | Form Teapot
$200.00 | YLighting
19" Floral Copper Pedestal Planter - Antique Copper
Signature Hardware
Gold 41604R 23.8 ft M5 Green Wire 70 LED Christmas Lights
Decorative Rooster Pots - Set of 2
$47.99 | Dot & Bo
Stratus Indoor RGB Linear Wall Grazer
Science of Sleep Snore No More Pillow
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™