Question: How do you keep herbs alive in pots? My soil dries quickly. -Ken H.
Answer: Herbs growing in pots are easy to keep alive as long as you know what they need to thrive. Most herbs need at least six hours per day of sunlight, so make sure the pots are located in a spot where your herbs are getting enough sun. Windows that face west or southwest tend to be the best location. The pots you grow herbs in should have holes in the bottom to provide drainage. All plants need drainage holes in their pots, but it’s especially important for herb plants, which are sensitive to oversaturated soil.
You should provide your herb plants with water on a consistent basis, but be careful not to overwater them. Allow the top one or two inches of soil to dry out before watering your herb plants. The easiest way to test the moisture level of the soil is to simply stick a finger into it near where the plant is growing. If dirt clings to your finger, the soil is still wet, and you shouldn’t water the plants just yet.
Herbs also require the right kind of soil—soil that isn’t quite as heavy as what we use for growing flowers or vegetables. You can either use a commercial potting soil that’s formulated for growing herbs or mix up your own using two parts sterile potting soil with one part perlite and one part compost or other organic material.
Herbs growing in pots need occasional fertilization to make sure they’re getting enough nutrients. Either use a fertilizer specifically designed for herbs, or choose a general-purpose liquid fertilizer, an organic water-soluble fish emulsion or seaweed fertilizer. With fertilizers designed for herbs, follow package instructions regarding dosage and application schedule. With other fertilizers, you’ll need to reduce the dosage to one quarter of what’s recommended and apply it every six weeks in spring, summer, and fall. Herbs do not require fertilization in the wintertime. Liquid fertilizers should be applied to the base of the plant, and all fertilizers should be given in the morning. Water your plants before providing them with fertilizer, even if you use a fertilizer that’s dissolved in water, to prevent the roots being burned by the fertilizer.