Even though I have plenty of garden space, I love the flexibility that containers give me: pots of basil, parsley and rosemary are standard on my kitchen counter all year round. I keep big pots of chives on my front steps for snipping into salads and soups. I have been growing herbs this way with relative success over the years. I wanted to know more though. Should herbs be intermingled? Do some varieties just need their own private pot to thrive? What kind of drainage should pots have? How much water? And sun?
I reached out to Gerald Palumbo, the owner of Seasons on the Hudson in Irvington, NY and Seasons: A Floral Design Studio in Manhattan for the answers.
Q: What are the biggest myths about container herb gardening? Is it true that you can grow a garden in a vessel as small as a teacup?
A: Myth: herbs will live indefinitely indoors. Many herbs like basil, parsley, cilantro, and dill are annuals and will only do well through one growing seasons. Other herbs like rosemary, thyme, sage and oregano are perennials and may live for many years if they are well taken care of. With regard to planting herbs in small containers such as a teacup, keep in mind that the smaller the container the smaller the plant will remain.
Q: What are the herbs that are ideally planted with each other? Which herbs should not be planted together and why?
A: You generally want to plant herbs together that prefer the same light and moisture conditions: For example rosemary, lavender, thyme, and oregano tend to like drier soil and lots of sun. Herbs like basil, chives, parsley and dill prefer moister soil.
Q: What are some considerations for containers with herbs which will be kept indoors?
A: With the proper light conditions most herbs can be kept indoors. Frequent cutting of the herbs and regular fertilizing will promote continual growth.
Q: What is the basic care of herb containers for outdoors living in the summer season?
A: When herb gardens are placed outside during the summer, proper watering is crucial. Plants tend to dry out quicker when in containers, especially terra cotta.
Q: What is the ideal container made of for herb planting?
A: I prefer terra cotta for the herbs that prefer a drier soil and I prefer plastic or ceramic containers for the moisture-loving varieties. Good drainage is always important.
Q: What are three rules of thumb for container planting?
A: Choose the proper container with good drainage. Use a good potting soil. Always water your container very well after planting.
Q: For herbs being mixed in container planters, does close proximity impact things like taste and growth?
A: Flavor of the herbs is not affected by how close they are planted to each other. I like to plant the herbs that I like to cook with and it is always nice to have fresh herbs on the kitchen window sill in the winter.
Seasons on the Hudson will host a container herb garden workshop on Sunday, June 19th, at “Celebrate Irvington” where you can learn how to create a beautiful herb garden for your kitchen table, patio, or as a nice gift for someone. The cost is $75 per person and covers the workshop and provided materials for an herb container garden you can take home with you. Timing is flexible. For registration and details visit: http://bit.ly/1S41O2l
Sunday, 19 June 2016 from 11:00 to 16:00 (EDT)
Seasons On The Hudson – 45 Main Street, Irvington, NY
–Contributions made by Sam Donsky