Perhaps you’re new to gardening and have an interest in growing herbs. Maybe you have heard of the benefits of fresh herbs or you’re an experienced gardener looking for new ideas. You’ve come to the right place if you want to learn more about planting herbs.
Growing herbs is really not as difficult as you may think.
Simple Steps to planting herbs.
Know your climate.
Find out your growing zone or plant-hardiness-zone. Knowing your climate is tremendously helpful. I use this map:
Once you get to the site you will see a map of the United States. You can use your zip code or manually find your area on the map. You will notice the color and zone you live in and with that you will find information about your climate. You will see when to expect your first frost and the approximate date of last frost. If you look at plant package labels you will see a similar map on the back. This information will allow you to be wise when you choose plants, and to know when, what, and where to plant.
If you live in another part of the world, use the words: “plant hardiness zone for (Insert your country here)”. You will find similar maps for areas around the globe.
In addition to your area’s climate, every garden also has a micro climate. Some spots in your garden are warmer, some cooler, some more or less windy than the rest. For example: an area of your yard may be well sheltered from wind and therefore will be warmer than it would normally be in summer. You know your yard best. Take those micro conditions into consideration when you decide what and where to plant.
Get to know your plant.
When you are shopping for plants, the attached nursery labels are a great help. They will give you hints about the living conditions your plant prefers. Read the labels carefully before you buy a plant and make sure it will suit your garden and lifestyle. Once you bring your plant home, follow the advice on the label. Labels are great guides.
You will see some or all of the following on the label:
- Annual, Bi-annual. or Perennial
- An annual is a plant that lives its entire life cycle from germination to seed production within one year and then dies. Some will re-seed and come back the next year, however, it is an offspring, so not the same exact plant
- A bi-annual will live for two years.
- A perennial will live indefinitely, coming back year after year
- Preferred Light Condition
- How much sun does the plant need. Sun, half sun-half shade, or all shade.
- Temperature guide
- The temperatures that the plant prefers.
- Soil Type
- The type of soil the plant prefers. If your soil is not perfect for this plant, you can amend it to make it perfect. (We will discuss this in more detail later.)
- The size the plant will grow to once mature. Usually it will give height and width.
- Planting Depth and Spacing
- How deep and how far apart does this plant need to be planted.
- How often does your plant need to be watered? Does it need to stay moist or does it like dry spells.
- It will tell frequency and type of plant food your plant requires.
- Indoor or Outdoor
Pay attention to where the nursery placed this plant. Example: If a plant is kept indoors at the gardening center, it is likely that the plant is an indoor plant in your climate. Is it kept in full sun or shade? These are all great hints about what the plant prefers.
- Potted or Ground
Sometimes the label will give say “Potted”. But generally, if your plant is a perennial for your area you can safely grow the plant outside. Plant it in a suitable spot in the kind of soil your plant likes.
How do you know what kind of soil you have?
When you start to dig you may find thick, dark, rich earthy loam, or sand, silt, or clay. Visually that will give you an idea of the type of soil you have.
Example: My garden consists of pure clay. Since plants generally don’t care for clay, all of my garden beds have been amended with things like: compost, manure, peat moss, sand, and purchased garden soil. Giving my plants the soil they like allows them to thrive.
Even if you can see the type of soil you have, you wouldn’t be able to know the chemical balance, nutrients or minerals present in your soil. My recommendation is to either have your soil tested at a garden center or to purchase a soil testing kit and test it yourself. The results of the test will guide you in creating the perfect environment for your plants.
Once your soil is in good condition, healthy plants will thrive in your garden for years to come.
Some gardeners prefer to start out with seeds. When I grow vegetables I prefer seeds as well. For herbs though, I prefer to use a plant purchased at the nursery or garden center.
For this segment I will focus on an already started plant.
You’ve done your research and you are armed with the information you need. You’ve decided on the perfect place for your plant and have your purchased plant in hand. The rest is easy.
- Water your plant well.
- Dig a hole in the ground, at least twice the width / depth of the root-ball of your plant. Loosen the soil and add some of your plant’s preferred soil to the hole you have dug.
- Loosen the plant in the pot and pull it out. Loosen the roots of your plant gently, especially if root-bound (roots are very tight and had no more room in the pot.) Set your plant in the hole so that the level of the ground is even with the soil level of your plant. You may need adjust your hole by making it a little deeper or by adding soil. Once the soil of your plant is in line with the garden soil, you can gently add more soil around the plant, filling in the hole. Tap the soil down gently to ensure your plant is secure in its new home.
- Water your plant thoroughly and feed as required on the label.
That’s it. You’re done, ready to care for and enjoy your plant for a long time.
To learn how to plant a potted plant, watch this short video.