How To Keep Herbs Alive: Proper Potting
Growing herbs is a tricky business. Supermarkets often sell pots crowded with fresh, sprightly-looking herbs, but if you buy these and take them home, they often wilt and die within days. How can you keep herbs alive, especially if you live in a northern latitude where sunlight is scarce? Setting herbs by a bright window always helps, but there are many factors in the plant’s environment — its pot, soil, and light — that you can change to set yourself up for success.
Put herbs in the right size pot
Potted herbs in the supermarket may look big and beautiful, but the truth is that they are overcrowded. Single seedlings in tiny pots don’t sell as well, so producers overstuff pots with seedlings to create a “full” look. If you plan on using these herbs for tomorrow’s salad, this won’t make a difference. But if you’re planning on keeping and growing these herbs for longer, there are a few steps you can take.
Herbs need to go into the right size pot to keep them alive. Too small of a pot and the roots will get crowded. Too large and the soil might not retain the proper dampness, leading to the herb drying out. If you’re growing indoors it also means wasted space. The right size pot is typically about 4 inches per 1 to 3 seedlings. Since a supermarket pot can hold as many as 10 to 20 seedlings, you’ll need to divide all the bunches up into several smaller pots. Any seedlings that are wilting or dying can go into your cooking.
Put herbs in the right kind of pot
It’s tempting to go the mason jar route and put herbs in glass. They just look so pretty! But these Pinterest-worthy jars are not the best environment for growing herbs. Proper pots have drainage holes to prevent the soil from becoming too saturated with water. Your herbs will probably contract rot root and die after a week or so of being in a mason jar. Even if you can drill holes in the jars, don’t! Use a ceramic or plastic pot with drainage holes or a porous cloth pot instead.
Set up your pot with proper drainage
In addition to having a pot with sufficient drainage, the type of potting mix you use is also important. If you’re going to use a gravel or mesh on the bottom of the pot to stop the soil spilling out, make sure that it’s course enough to allow water to drain through. Avoid paper towel and newspaper as these can easily get clogged up.
A good pot is crucial to the survival of your herbs. Soil composition, water, fertilizer, and light are also important, but if you start with the right pot and drainage, you’re already well on your way.
What about our Garden Kits? Well, those work in glass bottles.
You may be wondering, if you’ve checked out our World’s Smallest Garden Kits, how we handle drainage. The answer is we don’t! Plants don’t actually need soil to grow. They need the nutrients commonly found in soil, and we enrich our smart soil inserts with all the nutrients your plants need. We also use a growing technique called hydroponics, in which the roots of the plant dangle into the water. Unlike the soil and pot examples outlined above which will need watering every day or two, The World’s Smallest Garden will water itself for up to a month at a time – meaning you’ve got time to go on vacation, have a busy week at work, or just go be you! But if you do get the urge to rescue some supermarket plants, go for it! Just make sure to pot them appropriately.