Debbie Roland, Master Gardener
As your summer gardening winds down, it is a good time to plant a few herbs for your holiday cooking. Nothing is better than stepping out your backdoor and picking fresh herbs. Parsley, rosemary, sage, oregano, cilantro and chives are all great additions to dishes for the fall. Lavender and mint can be used for cooking, as well as teas and essential oils.
Each of these grow well in pots. In fact, mint should definitely be grown in a pot because it is so invasive. Mint spreads by the roots and if you plant it in a bed or a garden, it will quickly take over where you plant and everywhere around it. You will be digging and pulling roots for years to come.
Most of these herbs can be planted alone or together. If you plant an herb alone, you will need at least a 6” pot with good drainage. Larger pots can be used when planting several herbs together. Rosemary is the easiest herb to grow and will provide you with as much as you will need plus you will be able to share with your neighbors. Place your pots in a location that gets at least six hours of sun per day and use good potting soil with perlite mixed in to lighten the soil. Chives and parsley like shade so they do well together. Read the plant label and research each herb you want to plant to be sure they require the same growing conditions.
If planting more than one in a pot, arrange them on top first to see how they will look. Tall plants will be placed in the back to middle of the pot, with creeping or trailing herbs close to the front. Add remaining plants as filler in between.
I like to water the plants and the potting soil before you add the plants. Next dig a hole the size of your herb. Be sure to loosen the soil around the roots, separating any roots that have grown together. Water deeply and add potting soil if necessary.
If you are growing indoors place in a south or east window. If your herbs begin to get “leggy” (long stems between leaves) or don’t seem to grow at all, they probably aren’t getting enough sun and need to be moved to a sunnier place.
Water only when the plant is dry to the first knuckle of your finger. Fertilize with a liquid fertilizer every few weeks to produce lots of leaves for your fall harvest.
If you have questions, please call the AgriLife office in Odessa at 498-4071 or in Midland at 686-4700 for more gardening information. Additional information is available at https://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu and westtexasgardening.org.