New to growing herbs with lots of questions!!!

coche1April 14, 2012

Hi all. I made up an indoor herb garden for my wife for her birthday this year, but we don't seem to be having much luck with getting anything to grow in it! The planters or pots are 5" diameter x 5" tall pots that hang on the wall. Since there are no holes for drainage I put about 1.5-2 inches of rocks in the bottom of each planter. We just cut back the cilantro and planted more based on what I read on here, but none of the other herbs seem to be doing particularly well. We have them arranged in 2 rows of 4 plots with grow lights above each row that we leave on all day while at work. We are trying to grow Rosemary, Thyme, Oregano, Parsley, Cilantro, Chives, Sage, and I can't remember the last one. Any ideas/suggestions of things that we might have done wrong or pointers??

We are both completely new to herb growing so any advice is greatly appreciated! Thanks!

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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Well....I'll bet that the pots are cute, aren't they? ;-) But I'm afraid that they are very ill suited for the growing of herbs. All of the plants you mentioned require a great deal more room than a 5X5 container....and very few plants will survive in a pot with no drainage holes.

The adding of pebbles in the bottom of those little pots does absolutely nothing to facilitate drainage but simply takes up a lot of room! You've neatly eliminated 1-2 inches of root system space in what are already very tight quarters. Excess water will pool in the bottom and stagnate, causing any roots that may enter that area to rot.

Lastly, if you go back a look though some of the titles of old threads, you'll see that there are many questions about indoor herb gardens...and 'what have I done wrong'. Generally speaking, most herbs just don't thrive indoors, period, even under much better conditions than yours.

My suggestion would be to find a sunny location outside to plant the herbs in the ground, and find some ornamental houseplants for the little pots. I'd drill holes in them first, though.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2012 at 10:41PM
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Your set up with grow lights sounds very impressive, and frankly many seed starters would give their eyeteeth for something similar. Also, although their growth may eventually be stunted, 5"X5" pots can keep herbs going for quite awhile, especially if harvested frequently.

Each herb has its own cultural requirements, though, including how much watering is needed. If plain potting soil was used, that dries out quite quickly, but as you know overwatering is also very bad for herbs. You really might profit from looking up the cultural reuirements for each herb you have.

I admire your persistence, and success with the cilantro. I have never had much success with growing herbs indoors, but if that is your only option right now, if anyone can make a go of it, it would probably be with your setup. If there is a way to install small trays under the pots so that the pots could be drilled for drainage, that would also be a plus.

You might try a little rooted bay tree sprig. They are more costly than many herbs because they are really a tree and it is difficult to get their cuttings to root, but they can frequently be kept alive in the winter and set outside for the summer.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2012 at 3:01AM
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Your set-up sounds beautiful but I have a Rosemary plant that is about 4ft tall...and a sage plant that is about 3ft x 3ft... way too big for an indoor garden unless you have very large pots..Several yrs ago, I purchased 8" hand thrown pottery pots for a indoor herb garden. I purchased small plants because I did not want to wait for seeds to sprout... The plants lasted about two months--not growing much and looking pretty sad. I had them under grow lights and in a bay window. I took them outside and popped them in the ground..NOT very good soil but they thrived and grew and produced all season... many returned for many seasons... most herbs need good drainage..

    Bookmark   April 16, 2012 at 8:57AM
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agmss15(zone 4)

A couple of things -

If you really can't set up pots with drainage trays - I would mix some charcoal into the soil and keep your stone layer. Both help with the stagnant water. And water carefully. You may want to have the lights on longer .

I would get some mint plants and any of it's relatives - they like moisture.. I think you will be able to have a nice herb garden inside but you will have to experiment about which plants will work best. You will have to turn over your crops more quickly because of your small pots. But anything fresh mid-winter would make me very happy. I would also try some salad greens.

Can you manage to put a few larger pots in your set-up? For example my mom has a bay tree, rosemary, ginger, scented geraniums, lemon grass and lemon verbena growing inside in bigger pots.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2012 at 12:43PM
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