Special Care for Herb Plants
Location, Location, Location
The thing about herbs is you can put them just about anywhere and they will thrive. Depending on the types of herbs you choose to grow your first herb garden can easily be a container garden on the balcony of your apartment or condo, or a dedicated space in your yard. Herb plants are so lovely you may want to put them in your flower bed and add a little curb appeal that’s as tasty as it is becoming.
Wherever you choose to start your herb garden, select a spot with the right amount of sun. Depending on the zone in which you live, make sure the sun isn’t searing in the afternoon. For areas of the country where the sun is more intense than others you can choose to plant your first herb garden earlier than in other areas. For instance in the southeastern U.S. you can typically plant your herbs earlier in the season. In the northern states your growing season is later and shorter, but you will experience success nonetheless. Know your zone.
If the area of your yard or porch is in direct afternoon sun you may need to move to a location that gets more filtered or early morning sun. Whichever area you determine is best for your herb garden make sure it’s easy to get to so you can tend it as needed or run out and grab a handful of basil for your spaghetti sauce or some mint for a refreshing mojito.
Pick which herbs are your favorites and read up on them. Usually the basic culinary bundle of basil, rosemary, sage, parsley and thyme are good beginner herbs. Herbs typically don’t need as much care as vegetables or flowers but you do want to make sure you understand specific needs of the herbs you want to plant. Each plant will have specific requirements for sun and soil. Some herbs do far better in dry climates and some thrive best in a more humid atmosphere. If you’re planting your herbs together in containers make sure they share the same soil and sun needs.
Soil and Drainage
Most herbs don’t require a super-rich soil. Compost-rich potting soil isn’t necessary. Regular soil is sufficient for your herbs, although you may wish to mix in some standard organic potting fertilizer if the soil isn’t already enriched with it. Simply dig the proper size hole, pop in your plant and surround it with garden soil and it should be just fine. The only time you should amend the soil is if you have heavy clay soil. You will need to mix in some garden soil to allow for proper drainage.
Watering Your Herbs
A good rule to go by for your first herb garden is to water once per week, in the cooler morning hours so the moisture won’t evaporate and the water has a chance to soak the roots. If you’re experiencing extreme heat or lack of rain you may consider watering your herbs twice per week until cooler temps and rain return.
Herbs don’t normally need much in the way of fertilizer, which is why they make such a great first garden. But, if your plants begin to look pale or weak and limp during the peak of the season when they should be thriving, apply an organic liquid fertilizer athalf strengthevery few weeks.
Pruning encourages new growth which is always good for herbs. The new growth will make your plants full and busy. Although pruning can be difficult for a gardener to cut perfectly healthy trimmings from the plant it is necessary to maintain the plant’s health. Herbs will eventually flower and when that happens no new growth will come from that stem. Regular pruning prevents flowering and extends the growing season of the plant.
If you do allow your herbs to flower that’s fine too! Herb flowers bring on the pollinators and that’s a good thing.
Tips for our Popular plants that are EXTRA-Extraordinary !
Dissolve 1 -2 tablespoons of mild flaked soap (Ivory) in a gallon of warm water
Spray the plants weekly, making sure to spray the undersides of the leaves
Well Drained Soil
Never let your plants dry out; water thoroughly but make sure that you have well drained soil. No wet feet! Cilantro HATES humidity, so make sure that they are planted where air can circulate freely.
Cilantro will reseed itself in your garden if you allow the plants to flower and develop seeds. Harvest coriander seeds as soon as they turn brown by shaking the seed heads over a paper bag. Allow the seeds to dry and store them in airtight jars.
Bays appreciate well draining soil, and will be perfect in a pot (remember, holes are essential for proper drainage). They can get a little root bound (cramped in the pot) – but if you want a bigger plant, keep on transplanting as your bay grows. And speaking of growth, it will grow VERY SLOWLY.
However, it is an extremely easy plant to grow indoors, as long as you provide it with enough full sun (6-8 hours a day). Well-drained soil is a must. So, if you are in Zones 8 or lower, keep it outdoors as long as your nights are warm. Full sun with a bit of afternoon shade is best, and bring your plant indoors when the temperatures drop below 60 degrees. Do not be alarmed if it drops some of its leaves during this transition. As long as you provide the plant with enough sun, it will begin to grow new leaves quickly.
Lemongrass needs full sun and warm weather to thrive; it is hardy in Zones 9 – 11, so below that you will need to bring your plants indoors when your night temperatures dip below 40 degrees. They will do well in a container, as long as they have enough full sun (6 – 8 hours).Then planting lemongrass outdoors, plant in loose, fertile and well drained soil. Clay soils, soil that retains too much moisture, will lead to rot and nutrient deficiency. Lemongrass needs a lot of room, so if you are planting lemongrass in a garden bed, make sure to leave at least 3 feet between plants. Lemongrass will do well in a container as long as it has enough room to grow – at least a 16 inch diameter to start. Keep lemongrass moist; it should never be allowed to dry out so water regularly during the growing season. Lemongrass will benefit from extra nitrogen, so feed regularly with a water-soluble, high-nitrogen fertilizer during the growing season. During the rest of the year, feed the plant monthly with the same fertilizer. Once your plant reaches 4 – 5 feet, you may want to keep the tops of the leaves cut down even more than what you are taking for an actual harvest. This can help keep the size of the plant down. Since Lemongrass doesn’t grow branches so no other pruning is necessary.
Full sun is a must for Eucalyptus. It needs to dry completely before waterings, and avoid humid conditions. Do not mist the foliage.