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Planting your herbs: care guide

by dig the dirt editor

A helpful guide for planting herbs for your garden.



herbs | general care | drying herbs for cooking | transplanting herbs | annual herbs | perennial herbs  | tender perennial herbs| overwintering herbs |



1. Add a complete fertilizer to your chosen site. Use a digging fork to incorporate it into the top 2 to 3 inches of soil and to bring oxygen to the deeper layers of the soil.

2. Move the containers around your site until you find the best placement for your plants, keeping their spacing requirements in mind. Staggering the planting will make the most of the garden space in addition to giving a more natural look. Planting in blocks can conserve valuable space. Click here for ideas on laying out your garden.

3. Water the garden beds the day before transplanting.




In the fall, you can safely transplant up to 3 weeks before your area's average first-frost date. In the spring, do not plant herbs until all danger of frost has passed. If your area might experience an unexpected cold snap after planting, protect your plants with a floating row covers or even an old blanket. If your area is unusually hot, continue to protect your plants until temperatures moderate.

1. Water your plants several hours before planting so that the the rootball will be moist, but not soggy.

2. Plant on a cloudy day or wait until early evening in order to prevent excessive moisture loss due to evaporation. If this is not possible, temporarily cover your plants with shade cloth, a floating row cover, or even a cloth tent to shield them from sun until the roots are able to access water and supply it to the top growth.

3. Use a trowel to dig a hole in the soil. The hole should be somewhat larger than the plant's shipping pot. If you did not amend your soil already, add a handful of rock phosphate or bone meal to the bottom of the hole to boost future blooming and fruiting.

4. Space the planting holes according to spacing requirements. If rosemary is a perennial in your area, allow 2 to 3 feet of space around each plant. Control plants that grow and spread rapidly (such as most mints) by planting them in large (12-inch) plastic pots sunk into the ground or situate the plants in a place where they can spread freely.

5. Release the plant from the pot by straddling the stem with your fingers and inverting the pot. Gently squeeze the container and tap it lightly to separate the rootball from the sides of the pot. Avoid pulling the plant out by the stem because permanent damage may occur. Then use a fork to "scratch" the rootball and gently loosen the roots.

6. Carefully set the plant in the soil at the same depth it was planted in its grower's container.

7. Lightly firm the soil around the roots to remove any air pockets.

8. Label each plant with a plant marker.

9. Water the soil until it is evenly moist but not saturated. In general, water your plants before they become completely dry, but not so often that the soil stays soggy. After plants are well-established, a deep watering (that is, soil wetted 8 to 12 inches below the surface) every week to 10 days should suffice for most areas and conditions. Early morning watering is preferable.

10. Mulch the beds with organic matter in the spring once the soil has warmed or in the fall once the seedlings have begun to grow. Keep mulch several inches away from the stem or crown of the plant. Spread the mulch as soon as the seedlings are several inches high.

11. Fertilize at monthly intervals during the growing season (March through October). Click here for tips on fertilizing your herbs.

12. Pinch the growing tips early in the growing season to help encourage fuller growth and a larger harvest later on. Prune on a regular basis with pruning shears or scissors.

13. Cultivate occasionally to help keep weeds in check and to loosen the topsoil, allowing for better water absorption. Avoid damaging surface roots.

14. Transplant tender herbs from the garden into pots three weeks before the first frost and keep them indoors for the winter. 


planting herbs, growing herbs, kitchen gardening, care guide