Spacing for container grown herbs

kurt_in_sw(7A-high desert)February 27, 2011

Hi, I'm trying my hand at container gardening and my question is in regard to spacing for herbs in containers. Specifically Genovese basil, mint, cilantro, and dill (Tetra). I am looking for advice on how many plants per container. I will most likely use an 8"-10" clay pot, or I might combine them into a larger bowl.

Also, is Tetra a good variety of dill for containers? I was looking for "fernleaf" locally, but couldn't find it.


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calistoga_al ca 15 usda 9

More than one species herb per container never worked well for me. The difference in vigor always resulted with a take over. Al

    Bookmark   February 28, 2011 at 7:57AM
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jojosplants(9/ Tucson, Az.)

Mint is very evasive, and should be kept by it's self.

As far as the others go, you need to picture and keep in mind the finished size of the plant.

I mix herbs all the time, but I harvest and use it constantly so the plants don't become crowded.

Basil can get very large! I have one out in the garden that would easily fill and 8" container on it's own.

Dill will grow very tall, and has a large canopy. So I would think only one of those in a container too.

Cilantro grows busy.

If mixing herbs, make sure they all have the same growing requirements.

Some like more water than others, and light requirements.


    Bookmark   February 28, 2011 at 9:36AM
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I agree with JoJo... anything in the mint family can be considered invasive in its growing habits. It's important to only combine those herbs with similar requirements, and as JoJo says, keep in mind what the plants will look like as they mature.

I've grown mixed pots of herbs before, but not in anything as small as an 8" pot. I usually go for something a little larger... like a patio pot bigger than 16". A window box shaped container may be an option, and it would give you more space for the various plants.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2011 at 10:19AM
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kurt_in_sw(7A-high desert)

So to make sure I understand the spacing issues (assume separate 10" pots):

Basil and dill one plant per pot.

Cilantro and mint, it seems that mint can be sown as a small patch, perhaps 5-6 plants per pot? Cilantro 2-3 plants per pot?

(I am starting seeds indoors; Cilantro and dill will be started in peat pots to avoid transplant shock. That's the real reason for my question--I'm planning how many to start.)

Thanks for your help.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2011 at 11:25AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

I agree with the others that 1 plant per 8 inch pot is all you should place together. And 8 inches will be very tight for some of those plants!

Be careful with the peat pots; they really hold on to water.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2011 at 12:02PM
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jojosplants(9/ Tucson, Az.)

Hi Kurt,
Mint's way of being evasive is it spreads fast! And it's sneaky!. It will send shoots under the soil and they pop up everywhere. To be honest, one or 2 would fill an 8" pot by the end of summer, unless you really keep on top of it, and cut the shoots out.
I just got 2, 4" pots last week, and they are about to bust out! It will not stay a small patch.

Yes, Basil and dill should probably go one plant per pot. Now with the dill, I would ,and have planted smaller herbs around it, or maybe greens. I do 90% of my garden in containers due to a gravel landscape, and take advantage of what space i have.

Cilantro may do O.K. with 2-3 per pot. It's been a few years since i've grown it. So don't quite remember how big it got. If your going to be harvesting it should be O.K.

Like any other plant, they need air circulation, so it's important to keep them harvested if grown close together.

I find peat pots to be a royal pain, and they just don't 'rot' away like they should .

Have you used them before? If not, one bit of advice I can give you is to cut slits carefully in the sides and bottom before planting in the ground. That will help some .


    Bookmark   February 28, 2011 at 12:07PM
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kurt_in_sw(7A-high desert)

Jojo, thanks, that's helpful information. I like the idea of combining something else with the basil, not sure what that will be yet but I'll work on it. I might start 2-3 cilantro per pot, and then just harvest an entire plant if it looks tight.

I generally don't use peat pots for all the reasons mentioned, I despise them. (They are mostly pressed paper.) However, I am starting the dill and cilantro inside to avoid the hottest weather, and they don't transplant well. I am using the so-called peat pots to get around the taproot issue. I plan to carefully poke some holes and remove some material before transplanting. I love growing from seed indoors--for me that's one of the most entertaining parts of gardening; I grow everything from seed. Buying plants feels like cheating. The heat here is tough; July isn't much of a gardening month. It's an experiment, I'll learn from it.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2011 at 1:03PM
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I think this pot is 12" but not completely sure. It is planted with 1 Basil, 1 Parsley, 1 Sage and a couple of marigolds. You can see how large they grew. You should note that the parsley gets cut regularly as I use it often in cooking. Basil needs to be cut regularly or it will go to seed. As a result it bushes and can take over the pot.


    Bookmark   February 28, 2011 at 2:36PM
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jojosplants(9/ Tucson, Az.)

Hi Kurt,
More than glad to help. :-) I love herbs! I do cheat and buy a few in the spring. Some Thyme followed me home today. ;-) and I do alot from seed, it spaces out the harvest.

We have a very long growing season, so I have plenty of time to start seeds and still benefit.

June and July are rough here and into aug. but the plants do pretty good if given a little shade and taken care of proper. They slow down and then kick back into growth come fall.

I'm glad your familiar with peat pots, that helps. And I can understand your concerns with tap root. I've transplanted a few with long tap roots, but you really have to be careful.;)

The plans for the cilantro sound fine.

As far as companion with Basil, i've used parsley, thyme, and turnip tops,& bunching onions. things that stay low and harvest often, so it doesn't become crowded, and keeps good air flow.

Keep us posted on how it goes, and ask away if you have any more questions. :-)


    Bookmark   February 28, 2011 at 5:52PM
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