9 Best Herbs for Containers

You don’t need an abundance of yard and garden space to grow a useful herb garden. There are many herbs that can flourish on your deck, patio, or front steps. All you need is a sunny, warm place and containers large enough for plants to grow with adequate root space. 

Container herb gardening has us hooked for many reasons. Growing herbs in containers is great if you’re short on space, have poor soil conditions, or just want to keep your herbs close to the kitchen! 

Getting Started

Soil

Most herbs prefer nutrient-rich, fast-draining soil. We recommend E.B. Stone Edna's Best Potting Soil or Gardner & Bloome Potting Soil, both high-quality, organic soils. 

Light

Remember to find a sunny home for your herbs. Most herbs prefer full sun (at least 6 hours of direct sunlight), but some can tolerate partial shade (3-4 hours of sunlight) and still do just fine.

Fertilizer

Frequent watering tends to wash nutrients from the soil, but you can replenish them with fertilizer. An organic fertilizer we recommend is Grow More Herb Food, an all-natural slow-release mix. The instructions recommend mixing in fertilizer when transplanting (including planting starts for the first time), and then monthly after. Always follow the directions on your product's package for the most success! 

Planting in a Container 

It’s best not to leave herbs in the small plastic containers they come in. As a first move for your herbs, we recommend replanting them into larger pots so their roots have room to grow. Leave several inches between plants so they can grow into their space.

Almost any type of container will do, but herbs will be most successful when the pots are at least 8” in diameter. As long as the container has adequate drainage holes, you should be set to start growing. It’s tempting to plant as many seedlings as you can into the available space but keep in mind they won’t stay small forever. If they’re crowded, the plants are likely to produce less.  

If you’re planting more than one type of herb in a container, it is a good idea to make sure you’re combining herbs that have the same care requirements. For example, parsley and cilantro both like water a little more often. However, rosemary and thyme are plants that prefer to be watered thoroughly but left to dry out a little in between waterings. 

And now, to the fun part! 

9 Best Herbs for Container Gardens

Basil

Pictured: Genovese Basil 

This ever-popular Italian herb flourishes in full sun with fertile, evenly moist soil. The best leaves are from younger stems that have not yet grown flowers. 

Chives

Pictured: Common Chives

A grassy, clump-forming perennial with fragrant edible purple flowers that are edible! Chives prefer full sun but can tolerate partial shade. 

Cilantro

Pictured: Common Cilantro/ Coriander

Plant cilantro for its tangy leaves or dried seeds (coriander). If you plant from seed, it’s best to successively sow the seeds a couple weeks apart since cilantro bolts (goes to seed rapidly) so quickly in the heat of summer. Many opt to purchase new plants as the old ones go to seed for a continual harvest.

Lavender

Pictured: Madrid Blue Lavender

Lavender can grow into a small bushy perennial shrub. Most varieties prefer full sun, but some tolerate partial shade. Be wary not to over-water, lavender prefers to be on the dry side. 

Mint

Pictured: Kentucky Colonel Mint and Mojito Mint

Mint is a vigorous grower and may become invasive unless confined to a container. Mint thrives in rich soil and full sun or partial shade. 

Oregano

Pictured: Dark Leaf Oregano and Italian Oregano

This shrubby perennial loves sun. The more sun it receives, the more pungent the flavor of the leaves. Be mindful not to overwater, oregano does not tolerate sitting in wet soil very well. 

Parsley

Pictured: Flat Italian Parsley

Well-suited for container growing, parsley is a low–maintenance herb that is easy to grow and harvest. Parsley does well in full sun and also partial shade and grows best when soil is kept lightly moist. 

Sage

Pictured: 'Grower's Friend' Sage and Golden Variegated Sage

A favorite herb for poultry seasoning! This perennial is best grown in full sun with care not to over-water as it has little tolerance for continually moist conditions. 

Thyme

Pictured: Dot Wells French Thyme and Gold Lemon Thyme

Easily dried, refrigerated, frozen, or preserved in oil or vinegar, this herb has an abundance of culinary uses. Thyme does best in full sun and when not over-watered.