Growing herbs at home is great for summer eating and enjoyment. They help us make mint-infused water, caprese salads, and add zest and flavour to almost any dish without added calories. Plus, the plants add texture and fragrance to our gardens, windowsills or porches. But how do you keep them alive and thriving in the hot summer sun? How much — and how often — should you water them?
Here are 10 tips to make it your best gardening summer yet — and, if it’s your first try at growing herbs, to help you do it like a pro.
1. Water Thoroughly Right After Planting Your Herbs. This will help the soil settle in and the plants to take root. Early to midsummer is a great time to plant herbs, but as long as the sun is shining and the evenings aren’t frosty, you can get a plant to grow.
2. Water Herbs When the Top Inch of Soil is Dry. This will vary depending on how much sun they’re getting, if they’re in a pot or in the ground, etc. But as a general rule, you don’t want all of the soil to dry out before watering again.
3. Allow for Draining. Your best bet: make sure you have a drainage hole (rocks at the base, under the soil, can help) and water a moderate amount each day.
4. Soak Dry Soil. If your soil does completely dry out, you’ll want to soak it long and slow to help the soil re-absorb water.
5. Give Potted Plants Extra Water. Herbs planted in flowerpots tend to need watering more frequently than those in the ground, as the soil dries out quickly.
Tip: If you’re planting your herbs in flowerpots, keep in mind that glazed pots will retain moisture in the soil better than unfinished terracotta.
6. Water in the Morning. It’s best to water first thing in the morning — the plant can absorb some of the water before being hit by the hot sun, and the sun will aid in evaporation, as moisture sitting for too long can mean fungus.
7. Herbs Prefer Full Sun. Plant them (or place the pots) in the brightest spot you can find. On average, they need a good four to six hours of sun per day. If the summer is a real scorcher (and you don’t want to be spending all your time watering), find a spot that gets some afternoon shade, or where a tree helps block out just a little bit of the sun.
8. Feed Your Herbs! When you water, nutrients in the soil wash out — especially with potted plants. Choose a food-friendly fertilizer or plant food, and mix it in with your watering routine once every couple of weeks.
9. Use Mulch to Lock in Moisture. To help keep moisture in the soil, cover the top with a layer of mulch, or add a bit more potting soil to the top every once in awhile.
10. Herb Secrets to Know.
- Mint: This herb grows like wild and has been known to commandeer a garden plot or two. As a result, it’s better to plant it in a pot, rather than in the ground.
- Basil: Pinch off basil buds and blooms as soon as they appear. This will help the plant focus on growing leaves, not going to seed, and you’ll get more out of the plant.
Tip: Did you know that basil is a natural mosquito repellent? Grow a basil plant or two and you’ll have more protection every summer!
What’s your secret for growing herbs and keeping them healthy? Tell us in the comments below.