container herb gardening....

essenceofeclecticMay 1, 2008

I would like to grow some culinary herbs. Due to the fact that I live in an apartment complex, space is limited. The only place where it's feasible for me to grow the herbs is a small patio area outside where I would set up a small table where the herbs would receive adequate light. As a result of limited space, I have no choice but to do container herb gardening; planting the herbs in the ground isn't an option.

That said I need to know which size pots specific herbs need (obviously I realize this varies from herb to herb). Please provide the diameter of the pot in inches (12", 24", etc.) for each herb and how many gallons the pot should be for each herb type (1/2 gallon, 1 gallon, 2 gallons, etc.)

The reason I need

the the inch size in diameter is because pots aren't labeled by the gallon size where I live but by inch size (as in: 12", 18", etc.).

These are the herbs I would like to grow ( I'll be growing them from seed)









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fatamorgana2121(Zone 5/6)

When growing from seed, you gradually move up in pot size. You don't start out with full-sized pots to start with. This is especially true with the perennial plants. Start your seed in indoor flats for the oregano, marjoram, thyme, chives, and lavender. Transplant them to a little larger pot once they get their second set of real leaves. Graduate them to a larger pot when they tell you it is time.

Cilantro and basil are annuals. Sow each directly into separate big pots of your choice. The cilantro has a deep root so a shallow pot won't work for that. Do successive plantings for best results with cilantro.

Parsley is a biennial (2-year life cycle). Plant him by himself too. Their usefulness (culinary-wise) is pretty much only the first growing season so treat like an annual. Deep-rooted as well.


    Bookmark   May 2, 2008 at 8:28AM
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Your concept is a great idea. Thank you for posting on my thread. Unfortunately although you gave some very useful information, you failed to provide the information I needed.
I can understand the need to use a pot size that is equivalent to the size of the plant, and that when the plant outgrows that pot size, to transplant it to a bigger pot size.

However you have failed to tell me roughly what size pots to use when growing the herbs I listed in containers. I understand if you can't give me information regarding the pot size for all the herbs listed. However some information regarding that would be much appreciated. Please let me know the gallon and pot size for each herb I listed if possible. Also regarding the pot size for each of the herbs please tell me what size in inches the pots should be. That information to me is vital because pots are sold by what the pot is in inches and NOT how many gallons it is.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2008 at 11:09AM
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fatamorgana2121(Zone 5/6)

I guess I don't understand why the pot size is important. Perhaps you could explain why it is important to you and perhaps that will help us to answer. Because pots for plants is like clothes for children. They start out small and get bigger. There are no hard and fast rules on any sizes at any given time or even for any given child. You have to see what they grow into.

If you absolutely require a figure, none of your perennials should out grow a 4" or 1 qt. pot for the first 3 years if they are each in single pots. The basil, cilantro, and basil sizes depend upon how many you put in a pot. Container gardeners put multiples in a large pot. How many depends upon the pot size. So, use ANY SIZE of at least 1 gallon, you pick it and plant to it.


    Bookmark   May 2, 2008 at 2:44PM
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The reason I would like to know about this is because I'm new with gardening. I'm limited with space and I have to use containers to grow herbs. I have some 8" pots and I'm wondering if I could use those for planting the herbs I listed or would they be too big, or does it really matter since the pots are too big as opposed to too small.

With the gardening zone I'm at (it's 8 and I live in Georgia) the temperature is warm enough that I can plant warm weather vegetables and herbs without any real issues.

However all the seed packets I have for planting herbs
say to start them indoors prior to the last frost. You then transplant them to a bigger pot that's appropriate for the size of the seedling(s). Then you harden them off, and then you transfer to the young plants outside once they have acclimated to the climate.

My question is can I just plant the seeds from seed in the 8" pots I have or should I start them in starter pots? If I should start them in starter pots, do they stay in those starter pots for the duration of the 6-8 weeks or do you transplant the seedlings? If so when (at 2 weeks, 4 weeks, etc.)

    Bookmark   May 7, 2008 at 4:57PM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

Starter pots are small and are used for a better germination. The use of small pots also reduces risk of plant diseases. Transplating to larger pots after a few sets of true leaves is a good idea for some plants that are big (over a foot tall). You can plant several seeds in an 8 inch pot too. But make that pot only contain one type of herb, as a few herb types do compete. Too many transplantings can seriouusly weaken a plant. To gain more harvesting time, it is always a good idea to start as seedlings indoors. I start mine about 2 months before going outside, then a week or two of hardening off the leaves, then planted into the garden.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2008 at 3:51PM
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fatamorgana2121(Zone 5/6)

You can certainly use a bigger pot, if that is what you have, but it takes more soil/seed starter mix to fill those. That costs money. The little plastic starter flats are probably cheaper than extra bags of seed starting mix to fill the larger pots.

If you are trying to stay with what you have to reduce expense, many plastic containers that had food in them at some point can be pressed into service to start your seeds in. The containers need to be cleaned well, have drainage holes put into them, and be something you can get a plant back out of to move when the plant gets big enough. Yogurt containers and more have used.

You can go right from the starting flats to your larger pots once the plants have their first couple sets of real leaves, if you desire.


    Bookmark   May 8, 2008 at 10:58PM
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The reason people use potting soil at first is that the plants tend to not get fungi that kill them before the sprouts develop into larger plants. Potting soil frequently does not hold moisture that well, so watering is a bit more tricky than with soil. For your larger pots later, I recommend you purchase bags of topsoil.

Most avid gardeners have lots of tough black plastic pots left over from plants they have bought. If you know anyone like that or join a gardening group you could probably easily acquire some of those in various sizes, from one to several gallons. If you are starting from seed, you will have awhile to get those.

I have seen folks use styrofoarm cups as starter pots successfully, with a hole sliced in the bottom of each. Those cups easily tear in half, allowing you to get the plant out without disturbing the roots when you place them in a larger pot. When you transplant into a larger pot, if you fill the pot about half full of soil and then make a little hollow in the middle of the soil you can place your starter plant still in its soil into that, fill around it, and tamp the soil down gently with your fingers to eliminate air pockets, and water.

You can get quite a few styrofoam cups into a flat such as an inexpensive kitty litter box or any similarly shaped container to catch excess water--even an old baking pan would do.

You can find nice containers of all sizes to place your plants in at yard sales, and most plant shops have bargains on planters from time to time. As your herbs grow larger, you can always carefully make divisions of the perennial ones and replant in two pots, if you have none large enough. Many herbs tend to make do with the space they have and adjust their size accordingly.

Chives and Thyme will be happy with a quart sized pot (4 inches) for at least the first season. Oregano can spread more than that with the right conditions--maybe a 6 inch or two gallon pot, or even larger. Marjoram does not return in my climate, but its growth habit is similar to Oregano.

Basil and Cilantro are probably annuals, with a vertical growth habit, and Parsley is a biennial. The more sun you can give them, the larger the pot they can benefit from.

I've never had luck with lavender, but if you give it full sun it can eventually form a large clump, depending on the variety. It's a perennial, so you could try to obtain an 18 inch to 2 ft wide container for it eventually...but probably not the first season.

A lot of people purchase decorative pots without holes in them and then place the black plastic plant pots (which do have holes in the bottom) inside of them--if the plants receive too much water they can drain the excess into the decorative pots, which can be emptied of water if needed. If you go away for awhile, a bit of excess water will help keep your plants alive, as well.

Good luck with your project. I wish I had known about this site when I began to plant herbs. ;o)

    Bookmark   May 16, 2008 at 12:55AM
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