For the last few years I’ve bought fresh herb plants to keep in my kitchen. The fantasy was that when needed, I could add a sprinkle of oregano onto grilled pizza, muddle sprigs of fresh thyme into a cocktail or use leaves of fresh basil to top my caprese salad.
And every year I’m disappointed that I manage to kill these pretty plants. Every. Single. Year. So instead of repeating old mistakes, I’ve done a little research to help out those of us (raises hand) that might not have the greenest thumb. Here are five helpful herb growing tips I’ve discovered:
1. Decide whether you want to grow your herbs inside or outside. In the past, I’ve opted for indoors but be cautioned that some (not all) herbs need at least four to six hours of direct sunlight. This year I planted my herbs that need direct sunlight in a terra-cotta pot outside so I can eventually bring them indoors at the end of the season. So wherever you plant them make sure they are getting adequate amounts of sunlight. Read up a little on each herb you purchase to see if they need direct or indirect sunlight.
2. Adequate drainage is important. If you’re planting them in a container make sure that the container bottom has holes and/or add a layer of small stones to the bottom of the planter. It ensures that the plant is getting what it needs but not being drown by extra water in the bottom of the pot.
3. Always repot your herbs. Even if they come in little plastic containers replant them into a larger container with room for them to grow and a mix of healthy potting soil. You’ll be surprised how large hearty herb plants like basil, rosemary and mint can get.
4. Don’t overwater them. Wait till the top layer of the soil is dry and then water until the soil is moist. Again see above tip about proper drainage.
5. Be careful when you go to take clippings from your herbs. Don’t cut all of the leaves off, but instead take a mix of mature and new leaves from the plant. Make sure that you don’t clip the leaves off of just the top or bottom. The plant photosynthesizes using its leaves and will die if there aren’t enough leaves to get the job done.
What are your favorite herbs to cook with at home? Do you grow them yourself? Here’s hoping we have more herbs than we know what to do with this summer!