Both new gardeners and avid home cooks should dabble in growing herbs. After all, these versatile plants have many uses, and their flavor is far superior when harvested fresh from the garden. Fortunately, even apartment dwellers can grow herbs in containers.
If you don’t have the space for an expansive outdoor herb garden, containers will come to the rescue. These 13 herbs grow well in containers, allowing you to produce whatever you fancy with limited space.
Mint is particularly suitable for container growing due to its invasive nature in garden beds.
When looking for easy herbs to grow – not just in containers, but in general – mint is usually at the top of the list. This vigorous grower is incredibly adaptable, so much so that you’ll have more trouble getting rid of it than growing it successfully.
Mint is wonderfully versatile and beneficial in everything from savory and sweet dishes to delicious teas. It’s a go-to herb in the kitchen, and growing it in containers makes it even more accessible.
Its rapid growth habit makes mint an even more ideal candidate for container gardening. Left unchecked in the garden, it becomes invasive and brutal to remove, smothering nearby plants. But when growth is confined to a container, it’s far more manageable and easy to maintain.
Although mint adapts well to different soil types, it grows best in moist and well-draining soil in full sun to partial shade. Look out for exciting varieties like chocolate or apple mint that add a flavorful twist to any dish.
Basil adds sweet and savory complexity to dishes and pairs well with various ingredients.
Basil is synonymous with Mediterranean cuisine – a pasta, pizza, or classic pesto staple. Complex in its sweet and savory flavor, it pairs wonderfully with many kitchen ingredients (especially tomatoes). As a bonus, it is one of the easiest herbs to grow in containers, whether on a small balcony or large patio.
Basil doesn’t mind being confined to a small container, managing size. Although they grow into much larger bushes when planted in the ground, they don’t suffer in production when restricted to a pot. Whether planted in a window box or a patio container, basil adapts.
Freshly harvested basil from the garden is also much tastier than store-bought varieties. You can even tailor your choice by trying unique varieties like Lemon Basil or Sweet Thai Basil.
Place your basil in full sun, providing around 8 hours of direct light daily. High light levels will increase leaf production and stop the stems from becoming leggy. Also, pinch off flower buds as they appear to encourage bushier growth and tastier leaves.
Thyme thrives in containers due to its compact growth and need for quick drainage.
Thyme’s tiny leaves pack a surprising punch of flavor, meaning you won’t need to use much to make the most of this plant. The compact habit also translates to easy container growth, regardless of the variety you choose.
This plant grows happily in confined spaces, suiting small container gardens or window boxes containing a combination of herbs. Plus, containers help facilitate the quick drainage that thyme prefers, thanks to its Mediterranean habitat.
Good drainage does require suitable soil. Amend a high-quality potting mix with more perlite or sand to ensure the roots never become waterlogged. Also, place the plant in full sun to develop a stronger flavor in the leaves.
Rosemary is a versatile and resilient herb for both garden and culinary applications.
Rosemary has many uses in the garden and kitchen, making it a must-have. Whether you’re looking for the perfect foodscaping plant or something to add depth to your dishes, this woody shrub is the answer.
Rosemary doesn’t mind being a bit rootbound, and its hardy nature allows it to thrive in many conditions (even with some neglect). It is a slightly larger plant than some of the other options on this list, but it will be perfectly happy in a pot that is large enough and drains well.
Like thyme, drainage is one of the most essential factors of care to consider. Choose loose and well-draining soil placed in a pot with drainage holes to avoid root damage. Water sparingly, allowing the soil to dry out between watering. If temperatures drop below freezing in winter, bring the container indoors to protect the leaves from damage.
Cilantro is suitable for container growth near the kitchen due to its compact size.
Cilantro is quite a controversial herb in the kitchen. But what’s not up for debate is its ability to grow well in containers. Fast growth and compact size make cilantro an ideal choice for growing in pots, keeping it close to the kitchen for regular harvesting.
Cilantro is, unfortunately, relatively short-lived and doesn’t produce prolifically for long, especially without regular harvesting. But that’s the beauty of growing in containers. You can change it once the plant slows leaf production or introduce a new container with a fresh, young plant ready for harvesting.
Full sun is recommended to avoid leggy growth and encourage the development of plenty of flavorful leaves. Cilantro appreciates consistently moist soil to stop the thin leaves from wilting, but it’s important to avoid overwatering.
Parsley thrives in various conditions and grows well in both full sun and partial shade.
Although parsley is somewhat overlooked in the kitchen, considered a simple garnish, you can get much more out of this plant when you grow your own. Between flavorful flat-leaf parsley and delicate curly parsley, you’ll always find a place to use these varieties in the kitchen.
Parsley grows well in both sun and partial shade and doesn’t require a lot of space, making it suitable for small patios or balconies. You can also try growing indoors, although grow lights are usually needed to supplement the lower light levels indoors.
For the most robust growth, choose a rich and high-quality potting mix to fuel quick growth. Keep the soil evenly moist by watering often, and be patient as parsley can be slow to germinate. Regular trimming once the plant matures will promote bushier growth and more leaf production.
Oregano is a versatile herb for cooking and ornamental use.
Oregano may not be one of the first herbs to come to mind when building a herb garden. But it’s worth planting as a staple on pizzas and pasta sauces. The leaves also have fantastic ornamental value and quickly fill out empty, large containers.
True Greek oregano is the type avid home cooks should look out for. The leaves are flavorful and often feature in Greek or Italian dishes. Common or wild oregano is the go-to if you want its medicinal benefits. The flavor is much milder, and the larger leaves work well for drying.
Oregano’s spreading growth habit and drought tolerance make it a winner in container gardens. It’s not too fussy about soil and thrives even in less-than-ideal conditions. This herb is great for beginners looking for something a little different in the kitchen.
Chives are versatile and easy-to-grow herbs with an oniony flavor.
Chives are part of the Allium genus, closely related to the kitchen staples garlic and onions. Chives are a must-have in the garden – you can throw them on almost anything. Sprinkle some chopped leaves on your scrambled eggs or into your mash, and the subtle oniony taste will have more of an impact than you expect.
Chives are incredibly forgiving and ideal for growing in containers on a balcony, patio, or indoors. They are among the few herbs to grow well from grocery store scraps, as long as a few roots are attached. Their slender stalks and pretty purple flowers make them an attractive addition to any container garden. Plus, the flowers are edible too.
Plant chives in a small, well-draining container with rich soil. Water consistently, but keep the soil from becoming soggy as the base can rot quickly when waterlogged. Trim the leaves often to keep the plant productive and prevent it from becoming too dense.
Container-grown savory offers complex flavors for convenient kitchen use, especially in limited garden areas.
Savory is a unique herb with complex flavors that will become the first thing you reach for in the kitchen. Growing savory in a container allows you to explore the benefits of this underrated herb, even in small garden spaces.
Summer savory is widespread, with a versatile peppery taste that pairs well with many meats. It is also an essential component of Herbes de Provence mixes. Winter savory has a more subtle peppery kick with a bitterness softened by a freshness reminiscent of mint.
Both plants have outstanding ornamental value in container gardens, producing lush and dense leaves throughout the season. It doesn’t require particular soil or excessive care, making it an excellent option for those new to gardening.
Marjoram, a milder alternative to oregano, enhances dishes and bread with its sweet flavor.
Marjoram is closely related to oregano but offers a milder and slightly sweeter flavor that works well in soup and stews. It’s also a great herb to add to homemade bread, lending a complex flavor that doesn’t overpower.
Marjoram grows happily in confined spaces and doesn’t require extensive care. It doesn’t handle cold well (growing best in USDA Zones 9-10), but even this isn’t an issue when grown as an annual. Starting with the right environment will make the care of this herb in containers a breeze.
Plant in rich and well-draining soil and place the container in a sunny spot that receives a minimum of 6 hours of direct sun daily. Pinch back the ends early on to encourage bushier growth, making space for even more leaves for you to harvest later on.
Lemon balm is a versatile herb for relaxation and culinary enhancement.
Lemon balm is known for its relaxing and citrusy scent, great for use in the kitchen and around the home. A few leaves crushed into a summer cocktail add a refreshing touch of lemon with a wonderfully earthy aftertaste.
Lemon balm is related to mint, sharing the same vigorous growth that causes trouble when planted in the garden. But when confined in a container, the plant is easily controlled and won’t be able to smother its neighbors.
For rapid growth and plenty of lush leaves to harvest, plant lemon balm in rich soil and position the container in full sun. They can also handle some partial shade, especially in warmer climates with intense afternoon sun in the summer.
Sage thrives in well-draining soil with occasional pruning for lush growth.
Sage’s earthy and slightly peppery flavor is a cornerstone in many traditional dishes, especially during the holiday season. It has a unique taste that may not work with all ingredients but shines when it does.
Despite its large size, Salvia officinalis is still an excellent container option. It’s a resilient herb that doesn’t mind being too confined. A large pot – preferably terra cotta to aid in drainage – will keep the plant looking lush throughout the growing season without struggle.
Plant sage in a full sun area in well-draining soil. Allow the soil to dry out between watering, as sage prefers a drier environment similar to its Mediterranean origins. Regular harvesting will keep the plant in shape and encourage new growth without becoming too woody.
Chervil, a French herb, grows rapidly in containers with moist soil and sunlight.
Also known as French parsley, it’s no surprise that chervil is a staple in French dishes. Like savory, it often features in French herb mixes, with a unique anise flavor that makes it stand out from regular parsley.
Chervil’s compact growth fits well into containers, with plenty of delicate leaves ready for harvesting. It grows impressively fast and doesn’t require any special attention to thrive.
Starting with the right conditions is vital to container-growing success. Plant in rich and consistently moist soil and keep in full sun to partial shade.
Growing herbs in containers is both a practical solution for those with limited space and an easy-access way to harvest your herbs often for use in the kitchen. You’ll have no trouble in containers when growing any of these versatile options.