Rosemary, Lavender and Thyme are a beautiful choice of herbs to add to the garden, they’re fragrant, look stunning and will bring a buzz of wildlife through the summer. Read our herb garden care guide for all the information you’ll need on how to look after herbs.
Lavender, Rosemary and Thyme are all pretty low maintenance and will happily live out in the garden for many years with just a bit of pruning to keep their nice bushy shapes. All three herbs can be kept in containers or planted out in the garden, the choice is yours.
What is the best soil for Herbs?
Light, well draining soil with a neutral to alkaline pH is preferred by all three of the herbs. If your garden has heavy soil you can help improve drainage by creating a mix of organic matter and grit to add to the soil.
Best Garden Position for Herbs
Herbs enjoy a good amount of light and require around 6-8 hours of sunlight a day. Placing them in a sunny spot in the garden will ensure that they get what they need, avoid planting them under any type of leaf canopy or shade.
Planting herbs in the garden
Get ready to plant by adding some water to the pots compost, make sure that it’s moist but not wet or waterlogged. Next, you’ll need to dig a hole that’s big enough for the plant to go into, remove the plant from its current pot and placing it in the hole. Fill in the edges with the soil you previously dug up and firm down. Once planted and your herbs become established they will require little care. Make sure the soil doesn’t dry out too much straight after you’ve planted your herbs but do not waterlog the area.
If you’d like to test the drainage of your soil you can do this by digging a hole where you’re planning to plant and filling it with water. If the water drains away within 30 minutes then your drainage might be too good and this can cause plants to dry quicker than usual. If the water takes any longer than 4 hours to drain then this is too slow and you will need to improve this by adding coarse grit or organic matter to the soil.
Our mini herbs are perfect for growing in pots and will look stunning on patios and deckings, especially as a trio or pair.
Herbs grown pots require slightly more care as they need watering more often and either repotting or the compost replenishing.
Choosing the right pot is important for the well being of any plant. You’ll need one that has good drainage holes and has enough room for the plant to grow over the next year or two.
To transfer the plant to a new pot create a mix of potting compost, and coarse grit. Moisten the compost in the current pot then remove, add some of your mix to the bottom of the new pot and place in the plant filling around the edges with the compost and firming down lightly.
Some signs that your herb needs repotting include:
- Does the plant look less healthy than it used to?
- Are there roots coming through the bottom of the drainage holes?
- Does the compost dry out quicker than it used to?
- Has your plant stopped growing?
If the answer to any of these questions is yes then it’s time to move your plant to a new pot.
Rosemary, in particular, is known to become rootbound quite quickly and will need repotting at least once a year until the plant is fully grown.
As the plants grow and the compost is watered the nutrients in the soil will slowly become depleted. Herbs can grow quite well in poor fertile soil but adding some feed every now and again will help the plant stay happy.
How Often Do I Need to Water my Herb Garden?
Established plants that are in the ground will rarely need to be watered, let nature take its course and the rain will do the job for you. If you live in a particularly dry area or the UK sees a hot summer then a little help may be required. Try to keep the water away from the foliage and make sure that the soil doesn’t become waterlogged.
Potted plants will dry out quicker and will need watering more often especially if it’s a dry season. Again, make sure that the pot has good drainage holes as herbs hate having ‘wet feet’. You can test to see if the pot needs watering by feeling the topsoil with your hands, if the first couple of inches has dried out then the plant may need watering.
Feeding your herbs
Herbs require little fertilisation and can do quite well soil with low nutrients but adding a bit of feed once or twice a year will help keep the plant at its best.
In the spring just before growing season starts add a fish or kelp fertiliser to get the plants off to a good start. Then in the autumn you can add a layer of potash to the base of the plant. Try to avoid adding any high nitrogen feeds as these can cause the plants to grow leggy.
How to Prune your Herbs
Pruning your herbs is a way to encourage new bushy growth and slow down the process of the plant becoming woody. In the UK the best time to be doing this is in late spring, doing later in the year around autumn time can leave the new growth vulnerable to frost damage. A good rule of thumb for pruning herbs is to cut back the plant by a third.
Cut back the new growth stems by a third to two thirds but avoid cutting into anything woody as the plant will struggle to recover from this. Like with any plant, dead stems and leaves should be removed to keep the overall health and aesthetic of the plant up.
How to harvest your herbs
Make good use of the pruning season and keep your clippings together to dry and use at a later use. Once the stems have been cut there are two options. Use the herbs fresh straight away or hang in a dark room to dry out for use at a later time.
All three herbs are amazing for using in the kitchen. They can be used both fresh and dried and will provide an array of fragrant flavours and aromas.
Thyme and Rosemary are popular to use in the kitchen, fresh and dried can be used for flavouring recipes. Thyme is great when paired with fish and Rosemary with chicken. Lavender is more popular to use for its fragrance and aromatherapy purposes but can be used for cooking as well. Try Lavender in cakes or even homemade ice cream.
Lavender is highly regarded for its medicinal and aromatherapy uses. A well known antiseptic and amazing for relieving anxiety, stress and for helping to induce sleep. The oil produced from the plant is increasingly used in aromatherapy and when used alongside a massage oil it is able to relieve muscle tension.
Dried lavender can be used in bunches or bags as a natural air freshener, hang in wardrobes and draws to keep clothes smelling fresh. It also works extremely well as a moth and insect repellant.
Herbs like Rosemary and Thyme, in particular, are hard to grow from seed due to the slow, uneven germination but lucky for us they can be propagated extremely easily from just a few plant cuttings.
You can either take some new cuttings from the plants or use the stems taken when pruning. The cuttings should be at least 2 inches long and the leaves removed from the lower half of the stem.
There's two ways to get the roots started on your cuttings.
Propagating Herbs with Water
You can place a small amount of water the bottom of a container, place the end of the stem in the water and leave it like this for a couple of weeks changing the water every few days. You should start to see roots forming after around 10 days. When the roots have started to form you can transplant your cutting into some soil and watch as it grows into a completely new plant.
Propagating Herbs with Soil
You can also start the rooting process straight into the soil. Just get a small amount of compost in a pot and push the end of the stem about an inch below the top. To help start the roots you can dip the stem in rooting powder before doing this. When the stem is first in the soil and does not have any roots its main way of getting water is through its leaves. Spray the foliage and surrounding soil every couple of days to keep it moist but not wet.
Overwintering your Herbs
Our herbs are hardy plants and if you live in a mainly frost free area they will do just fine outside in the garden all year round. If you live in an area where the temperature drops below 0 your herbs may need to come inside, moving them into an unheated greenhouse will stop the damage from the cold. If you do have to move your herbs indoors you need to make sure that they are still getting at least 6-8 of sunlight throughout the day.
Your herbs should only need watering over the winter if the compost is noticeably dry.
Send someone their very own Herb Garden Gift and get them well on their way to delicious new aromas in the garden. The gift is perfect for birthdays, housewarmings and