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Garden Herbs: the Perfect Container Garden Plants

Many garden herbs are perfect container garden plants. In some cases, it would be hard to design a better container plant:

  • Many herbs are naturally small, and even those that grow somewhat larger can be kept to a reasonable size if kept in a pot.
  • Those herbs that hail from Mediterranean climates develop their most intense flavor and aroma when kept somewhat dry and in poor soil – which tends to develop in containers if you aren’t religious about your watering and fertilizing. Like most plants, you shouldn’t let them completely dry out.
  • Culinary herbs are something which you don’t need in large quantities, and that you want close at hand for cooking.
  • It’s also nice to just run your hands over your herbs and sniff your fingers if you are feeling down.
  • Many herbs have flowers you can enjoy in season.

Container herb gardens should be placed in the sun, as the vast majority of culinary herbs are full-sun plants.

Containers for herb gardens can be almost any shape or size, depending on what type of herbs and how many you are planning on growing in the garden. You can grow herbs individually in pots, but they often look nicer with multiple herbs placed in a larger container. The different shapes, leaf shapes and colors complement each other.

Whatever type of container you choose, you will need to choose one that has holes in the bottom for the water to drain out. Like most plants, herbs do not like to be in standing water. If a container does not have holes already, you may be able to drill holes in it or use it as an outer container to cover up the container the plants are actually growing in. Functionally, an outer pot without holes is a fancy saucer.

Container garden herbs:


  • basil (all varieties)
  • thyme (all varieties)
  • oregano
  • chives
  • garlic chives


These get rather larger and should not be kept indefinitely in 6-inch pots. They do better in large pots once they’ve outgrown the small pot you probably bought them in. Lavender, rosemary and sage are woody-stemmed small shrubs. Mint and lemon balm are not, but are vigorous growers. Parsley and dill get tall if you let them grow to full size. It is actually an excellent idea to grow mints in a pot even if you have plenty of space in the ground because they tend to be invasive.

  • lavender
  • rosemary
  • marjoram
  • sage
  • mint (all varieties)
  • lemon balm
  • parsley
  • dill


  • bay laurel

The bay laurel is actually a small tree, and as such it will need a very large pot if you are to grow it for more than a couple of years.

Winter Hardiness for Herbs in Containers

One thing to bear in mind when growing herbs in containers is that some herbs are not frost-hardy. Basil is an excellent example. If you want these herbs to survive the winter you will have to take them indoors. Also, plants grown in containers are more likely to have their roots freeze than plants grown in the ground. This means that container-grown herbs need to be 1 or 2 zones hardier than the hardness zone you are actually in if they are to survive your winters.