15 Tips for Herb Gardening in Small Spaces

I as soon as grew over 60 species of herbs and greens on a tiny 5-foot-by-10-foot condo patio. If you issue within the windowsill herbs, develop gentle shelving, railing planters, and hanging baskets, there have been practically 100 totally different edible vegetation in (and round) my one- bed room condo.

You may develop an abundance of herbs in 10 sq. toes or much less if you happen to plan and keep your backyard properly. If you’re restricted on area, huge rosemary shrubs, lavender bushes, and rhubarb vegetation are out of the image.

However most culinary herbs simply adapt to container rising or could be pruned to remain small in limited-space floor beds. Listed here are 15 ideas for rising the most quantity of herbs in a small space!

Choose Purposeful Containers

High quality containers with drainage and enough depth are important to stop root rot and guarantee herb survival.

Most small-space herb gardening occurs in pots indoors. For those who’re fortunate sufficient to have outside area, contemplate a Birdies Raised Mattress for an aesthetic addition to your patio.

Both method, go for purposeful containers over the dainty herb packing containers you see on Pinterest with out drainage holes. Herbs solely survive in these ornamental packing containers for brief intervals. For a long-lasting herb backyard, you need to develop in high quality containers with drainage holes and enough depth to permit natural roots to thrive.

Drainage holes are important for comfortable potted herbs (and, for that matter, any plant). Water in a container has nowhere to go besides down and out. Whereas some ornamental pots could also be fairly, they may produce an unpleasant mess of root-rotten herbs in the event that they don’t have drainage holes!

Depth issues as a result of the above-ground harvest of any plant is proscribed by its root development. A 6” deep container is the minimal measurement for thriving herbs. Nevertheless, herbs like parsley, basil, and cilantro desire even deeper. Perennials like lavender and rosemary want a minimal 5-gallon pot not less than 12” deep, however bigger is all the time higher.

When you’ve got small in-ground beds, you’ll be able to benefit from them by sketching your structure prematurely. Generously amend your soil to make sure strong development, and select extremely productive herbs from the record beneath.

Plant Compact Herbs

Top view, closeup of potted herbs such as basil, rosemary and thyme. Basil has medium oval, cupped leaves with a smooth, glossy texture and a bright green color. Rosemary has upright stems covered with narrow, oblong, needle-shaped green leaves.
Compact herb varieties are appropriate for small areas.

Plant breeders have already finished a number of the laborious work for small-space gardeners! They developed dwarf and compact varieties particularly suited to restricted areas. Dwarf herbs are broadly accessible in seed catalogs and nurseries. Keep in mind that pruning and extra upkeep could also be required to maintain them compact.

A few of my favourite compact herbs embody scrumptious chives, versatile thyme, and candy stevia.  

For those who’re restricted in area, keep away from massive or flowering herbs like dill, borage, rosemary, sage, lavender, or chamomile. Alternatively, discover dwarf cultivars of those herbs.

Guarantee Adequate Daylight

Close-up of a variety of herbs growing on a wooden raised bed with a layer of mulch and full sun. Rosemary, basil, mint and other vegetables and herbaceous crops grow in the garden.
Daylight poses a problem for indoor herb gardens as most want 6-8 hours of full solar.

Daylight is essentially the most limiting consider indoor or container herb gardens as a result of most herbs require 6-8 hours of full solar. This may be tough to perform if you happen to don’t have a south-facing window or patio. East and west-facing home windows typically suffice if nothing is obstructing the solar.

A bunch of herbs preventing for restricted sunshine shouldn’t be a fairly sight. Inadequate gentle could cause leggy development, wimpy stems, pale foliage, yellowing leaves, and a lack of the natural aromatics we crave!

A develop gentle is one of the best resolution for indoor gardeners. In case you are herb gardening in a small outside area that receives partial shade, you might have to decide on semi-shade-tolerant species like mint, thyme, oregano, dill, lovage, cilantro, or chives.

Transfer Issues Round

Close-up of female hands hanging a pot of growing basil on a balcony, next to blooming lavender in a hanging pot. Basil produces upright stems with medium oval, slightly cupped leaves. The leaves are shiny, bright green.
In winter, develop herbs indoors; in summer season, transfer them outdoors for more room and daylight.

Bear in mind this motto: Inside within the winter and outdoors in the summertime. If you must maximize your area, go for a transportable small-space herb backyard.

Many herbs die again when uncovered to frost, however if you happen to develop them in containers, you’ll be able to convey them inside for the winter! This protects some area (and electrical energy, if utilizing develop lights) through the summer season season for rising extra annuals! Furthermore, herbs develop shortly and abundantly beneath the outside solar.

Develop baggage with handles are superior for seasonal transport as a result of they aren’t breakable or heavy like clay and terracotta pots. A rolling platform is nice for bigger pots you don’t wish to carry. When the chance of frost has handed, you’ll be able to clear off your windowsill by shifting sun-loving herbs outdoors onto your patio or porch. Then, plant a fast indoor crop of veggies or flowers.

Cilantro can function on an reverse schedule: Develop it outside within the cool season and convey it indoors through the warmth of summer season when it tends to bolt.

Harvest, Prune, and Pinch

Close-up of female hands pruning a mint plant in a sunny garden, on a raised bed. The gardener is dressed in a yellow apron and pink gloves. The mint plant produces upright, thin, square stems covered with oval green leaves with serrated edges. The raised bed also grows rosemary and thyme.
Frequent harvesting enhances herb development, prevents seed manufacturing, and maintains compactness.

Common harvesting is essential to a thriving herb patch. It could appear counterintuitive, however most herbs profit from constant reducing. Correct harvesting strategies gasoline extra development so your herbs repeatedly produce the aromatic leaves you need reasonably than going to seed or turning woody.

Pruning additionally retains herbs compact and wholesome. Thankfully, you’ll be able to mix your harvesting and pruning in a single. For instance, while you harvest basil, don’t reduce from the bottom of the stems. As a substitute, pinch all of the higher leaf clusters and use the basil ideas. 

This promotes bushier, leafier development as a result of it removes the higher meristems (development ideas) of the plant, signaling for it to develop extra leaves reasonably than lengthening its stems up. Bear in mind to pinch or reduce simply above a node (the little bump the place leaves intersect with the stem). As a bonus, you don’t have as many stems in your pesto! Use this identical technique for mint, lemon balm, and different leafy or bushy herbs.

Equally, you’ll be able to prune and harvest chives on the identical time to encourage new development. Seize a handful of chive leaves and use sharp scissors to chop 1-3” above the bottom of the plant. So long as the decrease rising ideas are intact, it should regrow inside a few weeks. Use this technique for thyme, oregano, and tarragon.

For woody herbs like rosemary, sage, and lavender, a as soon as or twice-annual pruning retains them small and comely. Use sharp pruners to take away as much as two-thirds of the plant, shaping it in any method you need. Don’t reduce into the woody core! Prune solely the delicate, inexperienced development. Take these prunings and use them to root new cuttings or dry for herb and spice blends.

Herbs like cilantro and parsley do greatest while you harvest the decrease stalks from the bottom. It is a comparable course of to harvesting kale or chard. Gently take away a stem by snapping or reducing it from the bottom. Keep away from pulling upward or you might uproot the plant. Whereas this isn’t like your customary pruning, it nonetheless promotes recent, new development within the heart of the plant.

Use a Develop Gentle Shelf

Close-up of a Grow Light Shelf with various growing herbs. Shelves are white, with diffused daylight for plant growth.
Add develop lights to a rack shelf to supply additional gentle in your indoor herbs.

For those who don’t have a south-facing window, or your window sill and outside area are already full, contemplate an indoor develop shelf! Although generally used for seed beginning, you can too make a powerful vertical herb backyard with a steel rack shelf and a few indoor develop lights.

Recall that gentle is the foremost limiting issue for herbs. A develop gentle fixes two issues concurrently: Your indoor herbs get loads of gentle, and you’ll hold your window sills open for houseplants or decor. 

Easy steel rack cabinets from a ironmongery store are good for a DIY indoor herb setup. Dangle a develop gentle on each shelf layer and organize your vegetation beneath. There are additionally rising cabinets specifically made for vertical gardening with synthetic lights. These could be extra aesthetically pleasing however functionally accomplish the identical targets.

Divide or Prune the Roots

Close-up of female hands transplanting a thyme plant against the background of potted basil and mint. Pots are large and clay. Thyme is a low-growing herb with small, green, oval-shaped leaves and thin, slightly curving stems.
For container-grown herbs, common division could also be important to stop overgrowth.


Annual or semi-annual division and pruning is crucial in case you are rising herbs in containers. Finally, each herb will outgrow its pot. If you don’t have any more room for bigger containers, you’ve two choices:

  1. Carry the plant from its pot and divide it in clumps, then discard or replant the division.
  2. Carry the plant and prune the foundation zone to maintain it compact and wholesome.

Division is a typical technique of propagating herbs, however the precise technique is dependent upon the species. For instance, thyme and chives develop from clumps that may simply be chopped in half or pulled aside yearly. However, rosemary is a woody herb that can not be dug and divided such as you would with an herbaceous perennial.


For woodier vegetation, root pruning is the best way to go. Pruning the roots helps hold the plant comfortable in a small container with out changing into root sure. We will take some notes from the Bonsai neighborhood. They frequently prune the roots of bushes to maintain them compact whereas selling mature development up high.

Root pruning can be an excellent alternative to test your herbs for indicators of root rot. It requires a mild hand, so take care to not hurt your plant:

  • Take the herb outdoors or on a patio the place it’s OK for soil to fall.
  • Grasp the herb from its base with one hand and maintain the pot within the different.
  • Gently shimmy the roots out of the container.
  • Ruffle the roots along with your palms to launch any unfastened soil.
  • Examine for any indicators of root rot, like a foul scent, blackened zones, or mushy root tissue. 
  • Use clear, sanitized pruners to prune away contaminated or broken roots.
  • Use your fingertips to loosen any rootbound areas gently.
  • Lower away as much as one-third of the outer roots, leaving a robust rootball heart.
  • Replant in the identical pot, optionally refreshing the soil.
  • Water totally for every week or so after pruning, however don’t overwater.
  • The plant could droop or present indicators of transplant shock however ought to bounce again shortly.

Select High quality Soil

Close-up of a gardener's hand, wearing a green and yellow glove, smoothes loose soil in an oblong flower pot. The soil is dark brown, loose. The flower pot is dark brown.
Some herbs require nutrient-rich loamy soil, whereas others, similar to Mediterranean herbs, desire well-drained soil with much less fertility.

In a restricted area, soil high quality is extra vital than ever. Until you develop in a profoundly loamy outside backyard mattress, your herb roots gained’t have many additional locations to hunt vitamins, minerals, water, and oxygen. Excessive-quality soil is especially vital in small containers.

Some herbs, like basil, scallions, and cilantro, demand ultra-rich loamy soil with numerous compost. Others, like mint, lemon balm, and parsley, aren’t as choosy however nonetheless take pleasure in a pleasant fluffy potting combine.

However, Mediterranean herbs like rosemary, lavender, thyme, oregano, sage, marjoram, oregano, and tarragon are likely to desire additional well-drained soil with much less fertility. They don’t want very a lot moisture retention and like to be somewhat on the dry facet. Some horticultural sand or limestone pea gravel might help mimic their native soil.

Most indoor and potted herbs can profit from including perlite to extend drainage. Drainage is one other big limiting consider any container backyard. Crops rising in pots are weak to root rot if water will get caught within the decrease soil profiles. Perlite and natural matter guarantee water strikes by means of the foundation profile and out of the underside drainage holes.

Use Minimal Fertilizer

Close-up of pink-gloved female hands with a handful of granular fertilizer, over a raised bed. Granular fertilizers are white, round. Herbs such as oregano, thyme, mint grow in the garden. Thyme produces thin, upright stems with tiny, oval, bright green leaves. Oregano produces upright stems with oval grey-green leaves.
Keep away from extreme fertilizer in small areas to stop the lack of fragrant oils.

It’s possible you’ll be tempted to dump on the fertilizer to maximise development in a small area. Don’t do it! The vast majority of herbs are grown for his or her fragrant important oils. An excessive amount of fertilizer, significantly nitrogen, could cause a lack of perfume and taste. 

Select balanced, slow-release, natural fertilizers and apply sparingly. If compost is built-in into your potting blends, fertilizer could also be pointless.

Use the Margins

Close-up of growing Chives, basil and rosemary on a white railing planter in a sunny garden. Chives produces upright, tubular green leaves with pointed tips. At the tops of the stems there are rounded pink inflorescences. Basil has large, cup-shaped leaves with a glossy, smooth texture. Rosemary produces upright stems with narrow dark green leaves.
Maximize biodiversity and transitions by using borders.

The borders and margins of any area are sometimes essentially the most wasted. In permaculture, there’s a key ecological precept about utilizing the sides to maximise biodiversity and create a purposeful transition from one space to a different. 

The one method I might incorporate such a variety of vegetation into my condo patio backyard was by utilizing each sq. inch of the area, together with the railing surrounding it. Have a look at partitions, fences, railings, and different borders as alternatives for innovation.

In a small area herb backyard, there are numerous distinctive methods you can also make use of the sides:

  • Set up railing planters on fence rails or balcony railings. Some are specifically made for fence posts.
  • Dangle vertical material develop baggage on partitions or fences.
  • Prepare raised beds as a barrier alongside a patio or deck.
  • Trellis climbing herbs (like vining rosemary, climbing roses, or jasmine) to avoid wasting floor area.

Observe Succession Planting

Close-up of a female hand with a pink glove holding vegetable seeds in paper packets near a raised bed with growing various herbs. A variety of basil, oregano, thyme, mint, and other herbs grow in the raised bed.
Rotate herb plantings for freshness, utilizing succession planting for steady harvest.

Not all herbs produce without end. When you can keep a steady provide of basil or mint, typically it’s good to refresh (significantly in case your herbs look wimpy or ragged after a number of months of harvest).

Succession planting is the follow of staggering a number of crop plantings all year long. It’s generally utilized in vegetable gardening to make sure a steady crop provide. For instance, you’ll be able to seed carrots each 2-3 weeks so that you all the time have roots to reap.

Within the herb world, contemplate succession planting cilantro within the spring, summer season, and fall to take care of productive vegetation. The summer season vegetation could have hassle within the warmth, however you’ll have a fall planting able to go by the point they bolt. You keep excessive manufacturing in a restricted area by re-sowing your herbs a few instances per yr. 

That is solely vital in your favourite annual herbs. Perennials ought to solely want a refresh each few years.

Add Hanging Baskets

Close-up of a blooming lavender plant in a sunny garden, on a balcony. Lavender plant in a hanging gray pot. Lavender produces upright stems with thin, narrow green colored leaves with pointed tips. The flowers are small, purple, collected in spike-shaped inflorescences.
Develop planting to ceilings and awnings with hanging baskets, using stable helps.

Hanging baskets aren’t just for flowers! Many individuals neglect to take a look at the ceiling or awning as a possible place for vegetation. If you’re making an attempt to get essentially the most out of your area, it helps to visualise herbs rising actually all over the place!

With the correct {hardware}, you’ll be able to dangle a basket virtually anyplace. First, test that there are wooden studs or one other stable place to safe hanging hooks. Alternatively, you should buy or construct a ground-mounted railing to hold baskets from.

The perfect herbs for hanging baskets are low-growing or creeping varieties. Some drape elegantly from the basket, whereas others can flop over the perimeters. Nice choices embody trailing rosemary, nasturtium, oregano, and alpine strawberries.

Plant Shut (However Not Too Shut)

Close-up of two rosemary and oregano seedlings in a raised bed, ready to be planted. Rosemary has woody, upright stems with small, needle-like leaves. Oregano has oval green leaves on thin vertical stems.
Maximize shut spacing for herbs however keep away from crowding to take care of yields.

Shut quarters name for nearer plant spacing! Nevertheless, you have to be very cautious to not crowd your herbs. In any other case, their yields can be compromised.

Earlier than cramming herbs collectively, guarantee you’ve the highest high quality soil doable and ample daylight. Extra herbs in a small area means there can be restricted assets. You need to additionally keep constant moisture and prune your vegetation to stop them from impeding one another’s development.

Most species, like basil, mint, thyme, parsley, or cilantro, want a minimal of 6-8” of area per plant. In case you are interplanting, it might require some experimentation to see which herbs are prepared to remain lush in tight quarters.

When doubtful, go somewhat wider as a result of it’s higher to have a productive plant that takes up just a few additional inches reasonably than a number of wimpy vegetation that hardly develop as a result of they’re cramped.

Observe Interplanting

Close-up of female hands in green gloves planting parsley in a large oblong pot with growing basil. Parsley has bright green, flat, curly leaves. The leaves have ruffled, slightly serrated edges. Basil has large oval leaves with smooth edges and a glossy texture.
Mix creeping thyme with potted rosemary, group oregano, sage, and thyme, and contemplate measurement for companion planting.

For instance, creeping thyme makes a superb “floor cowl” beneath potted rosemary or lavender. It could possibly even cascade from a dangling basket! Moreover, you’ll be able to develop oregano, sage, and thyme in the identical pot as a result of they’ve very comparable wants. 

Think about the peak and width of every herb you wish to companion plant. You may sneak in scallions nearly anyplace. Basil and cilantro develop about the identical top and depth, to allow them to be grouped in a pot alongside one another so long as they’ve 8-10” of area between them. 

Lease Neighborhood Backyard Area

Close-up of Community Garden Space with rows of raised wooden beds with growing herbs. The beds grow a variety of herbs, including rosemary and Lemon Mint. Rosemary produces upright, tall stems covered with many small, narrow, green, needle-shaped leaves. Lemon Mint has lush, bright green, oval-shaped leaves with a textured surface. The leaves are serrated at the edges and arranged oppositely on the stem. Lemon balm flowers are lavender, small and tubular, clustered at the top of the stem.
Neighborhood gardens supply budget-friendly growth for small-space herb fans.

Neighborhood gardens are an excellent alternative for limited-space herb lovers to broaden their repertoire and discover fellow plant lovers. You may normally lease a neighborhood backyard mattress for pretty low cost or supply to have a tendency a neighbor’s herb backyard at no cost (in trade for limitless harvests). 

For those who don’t have the funds to spend money on a bunch of containers and indoor rising gear, that is essentially the most budget-friendly choice to get your palms soiled with out a lot threat.

Last Ideas 

Anybody can develop herbs in the event that they’re prepared to suppose outdoors the field. When you’ve got a south-facing window, fill it with potted herbs and hanging baskets. Develop lights are the best way to go if you happen to don’t have a brilliant window. Maximize your vertical area and use these railings you probably have a patio. Don’t neglect to prune and harvest frequently, and luxuriate in your herbs!

Leave a Reply

GIPHY App Key not set. Please check settings