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Top 10 Herbs for Container Gardens

August 8th, 2014
Center for Food Safety

Herb container gardens are great- they’re beautiful, easy and convenient, and are much cheaper than buying bunches of fresh herbs from the market. There is nothing more simple and satisfying than picking a handful of fresh herbs from your garden just when you need them. Herbs are among the easiest plants to grow, and you can grow almost any herb in a container garden that you keep indoors, outside your kitchen window, or even out on your back stairs. Many actually do better in a container than in the ground, because their prolific nature can be contained. Place them in or near your kitchen for quick access while cooking.

Here’s a list of our 10 favorite herbs to grow in containers, as well as helpful tips for successful growing!

















































































You can use almost anything for an herb container garden as long as it has drainage holes. That being said, the smaller the container, the less soil there is, so you have a smaller margin of error when it comes to watering. Choosing a larger container allows more room for growing roots, which will give you a bigger plant to harvest from. You can grow as many types of herbs in one container as you want, as long as you make sure that all the herbs in a single pot share the same sun, water and soil preferences.

Everyday objects can be repurposed as containers, which is a great way to use items that you already have. Use cinder blocks, wine boxes, vertical shoe holders, old grills, tin cans or colanders for a creative and fun garden! Just make sure you create drainage if the container doesn’t have any holes in the bottom.


Healthy soil is one of the most important elements of a thriving container garden. For herbs, use high quality, fast-draining potting soil, since most need good drainage. Look for a premium mix that includes lightweight ingredients to help loosen and aerate the soil such as perlite, which is approved for use in organic gardens. And remember, be sure to always buy organic soil.


Seeds or Plants

Some herbs grow better from seeds, while others should be purchased as plants (or “starts”) for a successful container garden. Make sure to check the recommendations for each herb, and remember to buy organic seeds or plants. Choose the herbs that you cook with the most frequently and try to find heirloom varieties whenever possible.



Light is key when growing indoors. Most culinary herbs grow best with an average of six hours of sunlight each day, though some can get away with only four or five. You'll need a bright space, such as a large sunny window, a sunroom or a room with skylights. If your home doesn’t get much sunlight, consider purchasing a grow light for your herbs. Choose a location with temperatures between 55 and 75 degrees with good air circulation. The area next to a window may be too cold for some herbs in the winter, so you may have to move your plants as temperatures drop.


Wait until the herbs are at least 6 to 8 inches before harvesting the first time, and never harvest more than one third of a plant at once. Make sure to pinch off flowers as soon as they appear to ensure vibrant flavor and continued growing. Do some research to find out the specific pruning needs for each herb, but a general rule of thumb is to harvest the outer leaves first.


Helpful Tips

  • In general, water less often and more thoroughly, and only when the soil is actually dry.
  • Make sure the plants drain thoroughly after watering- stagnant water is a plant killer.
  • Mark your calendar when you water. More plants die from overwatering than under!
  • Give plants plenty of room to grow in their containers.
  • Turn plant pots frequently to keep plants growing evenly on all sides.

Share pictures of your herb container gardens and join the CFS #HealthyHome Social Hub!
Have a great recipe using organically-grown herbs? A great found-object container garden? Just tag your photos with #HealthyHome on Facebook or Twitter to contribute them to our CFS Healthy Home Social Hub!