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Small Space Gardening: Best Compact Herb Varieties for Containers

Even if you only have a small space like an apartment balcony or patio, you can still enjoy fresh herbs by growing them in containers. Choosing compact herb varieties allows you to grow a productive indoor or outdoor herb garden.

Certain herbs are naturally small in size and thrive in pots or planters. When cared for properly, container-grown herbs will provide a continuous harvest throughout the seasons. Here are some of the best compact herb varieties perfect for small space gardening.

Benefits of Growing Herbs in Containers

Growing herbs in containers has many advantages:

  • Convenience – Pots can be placed wherever you need easy access to fresh herbs. Move them to capture optimal sunlight.
  • Control – Manage soil quality and drainage. Customize potting mix for each herb’s needs.
  • Portability – Easily relocate pots to respond to changing conditions. Bring them indoors or outdoors as needed.
  • Productivity – Selected varieties will continuously produce herbs within a small footprint.
  • Aesthetics – Herbs add beauty, fragrance, and texture to gardens or patios. Pots come in endless colors and shapes.

With the right herbs and proper care, even the smallest space can support a thriving container herb garden.

Best Herb Varieties for Small Containers

Here are excellent compact herb varieties that grow well in small pots:

Thyme

Thyme thrives in hot, sunny spots. The miniature leaves remain flavorful throughout the growing season. Compact varieties like creeping thyme and woolly thyme work well in small spaces.

Oregano

Greek oregano and compact oregano are smaller, bushy varieties perfect for containers. Oregano needs full sun and good drainage. Pinch back tips to encourage bushy growth within a tight space.

Basil

Dwarf basil varieties grow to 12 inches tall. Sweet basil, spicy basil, and lemon basil will flourish in a pot with at least 6 hours of sun. Pinch off flower buds to prolong leaf production.

Rosemary

Upright rosemary varieties like Blue Spire and Arp fit nicely into compact pots. Rosemary wants full sun and dry conditions. It can survive some drought once established.

Mint

Spearmint, peppermint, lemon balm, and other mints thrive in containers. Mint spreads vigorously and should be isolated in its own pot. Keep soil moist but not soaked.

Sage

Garden sage and culinary sage varieties are bushy herbs perfect for small spaces. Prune back their growth to keep them compact. They need at least 6 hours of sunlight.

Parsley

The curly leaf parsley variety is more compact than Italian flat leaf parsley. Provide consistent moisture and partial shade in hot climates.

Chives

Chives grow in slender clumps up to 12 inches tall. Regular harvests of leaves will keep growth tight. Chives grow well with other herbs.

Cilantro

Cilantro has a shallow root system ideal for containers. It can bolt quickly in heat so provide some afternoon shade. Succession plant for continual harvests.

Tips for Growing Herbs in Small Spaces

Follow these simple practices for successfully growing compact herbs in pots:

Use the Right Pot Size

Match pot size to an herb’s expected mature size. Allow at least 6 inches depth for adequate root development. Shallow pots dry out quickly requiring more frequent watering.

Choose a Potting Mix for Drainage

Purchase quality commercial potting soil or make your own mix using compost and perlite for drainage. Herbs hate wet feet so ensure the pot drains well.

Fertilize Regularly

Herbs in pots need regular feeding since they lack access to nutrients in open ground. Use organic liquid fertilizer every 2-4 weeks during the growing season.

Provide Enough Light

Place herb pots in the sunniest location available. A minimum of 6 hours a day of direct sunlight is needed for most herbs to thrive.

Water Carefully

Check soil moisture frequently, watering when the top inch becomes dry. Take care not to overwater, causing root rot. Let soil dry between thorough waterings.

Herb Pairings for Container Gardening

Certain herbs grow well together in tight quarters. Try these complementary pot pairings.

Basil and Tomato

This classic combo boosts growth and flavor. The tomatoes also provide some shade for moisture-loving basil.

Cilantro and Chives

Let these herbs complement each other in meals and in pots. Chives help repel pesky insects that may bother cilantro.

Oregano and Rosemary

These Mediterranean herbs share similar growing needs and make great companions.

Thyme and Sage

Both thyme and sage thrive in hot dry conditions. They add lovely scents and flavors when potted together.

Mint and Lemon Balm

These vigorous mints combine nicely for tea. Contain them together in one pot to limit spreading.

With creativity and care, tiny spaces can support surprising herb bounty. Select compact herb varieties suited to container growing and tend them consistently. In no time you’ll be harvesting garden-fresh herbs within arm’s reach, even in a small apartment.

Conclusion

You don’t need expansive garden space to have access to fresh herbs. Compact herb varieties are perfect for growing in containers, allowing you to create a productive urban herb garden, even on a balcony or patio. Pay attention to sun exposure, soil drainage, and regular care when cultivating herbs in pots. With the right conditions, small-space herb gardening can provide a satisfying continual harvest of flavorsome foliage. Get creative combining your favorite herbs in decorative containers that fit your unique space.

FAQs

Can herbs grow in small containers?

Yes, many compact herb varieties thrive in small containers, pots, or window boxes given adequate sunlight, drainage, and care. Select dwarf or miniature versions of popular culinary herbs.

Which herbs do best in containers?

Oregano, thyme, rosemary, basil, parsley, sage, mint, and chives are excellent choices for small space container growing. Avoid mint or oregano spreading types unless isolating them.

What herbs grow well in a container together?

Compatible pairings include basil with tomato, cilantro with chives, oregano with rosemary, thyme with sage, and mint with lemon balm. Group herbs with similar sunlight and water needs.

What herbs can go in small pots?

Ideal compact herbs for small pots include dwarf basil, thyme, oregano, parsley, rosemary, chives, sage, and mint. Use at least 6-inch deep containers and provide adequate sunlight and drainage.

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