Growing plants are not the same as using an open garden or raised bed in pots or containers.
That’s why using the best potting soil for herbs is so important to ensure that your herbs get exactly what they need to grow safe and solid.
When choosing the soil for herbs, you can be sure that your plants get the kind of soil that requires strong roots, enough water, and adequate drainage. Those are the most important features of potting soil.
What soil to use in pots for herbs?
It is essential to use potting soil, not garden soil, to grow the herbs in pots or containers.
Potting soil does have its name because it is specifically formulated for plants grown in pots. It’s not the same as garden soil and similar use of the two will cause problems.
There are a few differences between the two but the main reason soil potting is different is how water is absorbed. When you grow herbs or other potted plants this is really important.
Potting soil is built to maintain the correct amount of water for the pot while the excess drain is permitted. On the other hand, since garden soil should be spread over a large area of surface, it retains too much water for a container.
Not all of that, garden soils that contain clay can get even harder and pull away from the sides of the pot, essentially turning into concrete that is obviously not good for your herbs.
One downside to traditional potting soils is that they don’t have many organic ingredients in them. So, it’s important to choose a blend that has a nice mix of organic ingredients to ensure your herbs get everything they need.
Top Potting Soil for Herbs
There are plenty of choices when it comes to potting soil, but if you want to know which items in pots or containers are best for herbs, here are the very best ones.
1. FoxFarm Ocean Forest Potting Soil
The great thing about this potting soil on FoxFarm is that it is ready to use right out of the bag. Nothing needs to be mixed and the pH has already been adjusted to allow the best possible uptake of fertilizer.
This potting soil features a good blend of organic materials including earthwork castings, bat guano, and Pacific Northwest fish and crab meal to provide the micronutrients your herbs need to grow.
The texture is another reason why it is perfect for potted herbs. It’s a mixture of humus from the forest, sandy loam, and peat moss sphagnum that keeps it light and airy to allow excess water to drain through and establish a solid root system.
2. Foxfarm FX14053 Ocean Forest Organic Plant Garden Potting Soil
This potting soil from FoxFarm is yet another great choice filled with the organic ingredients that are missing from the regular potting soil. It requires castings of earthworms that remove toxins from the soil and peat moss to help supply nutrients and minerals.
The texture too is fantastic. A mixture of sandy loam, sphagnum peat moss and composted humus forest keeps it light and airy to allow excess water to drain easily, and roots may grow strong to provide better support.
Plus, since this soil is ready to go straight out of the package, at first you don’t have to think about adding any fertilizers for nitrogen. The pH is perfect for consuming fertilizer and also helps the plants grow and prosper.
3. Black Gold 1302040 8-Quart All Organic Potting Soil
Black Gold is an organic, all-purpose potting soil perfect for potted herbs. It features a rich, loamy mix that incorporates perlite and pumice to create a light, airy texture that creates pores and airspace for proper root growth and drainage of water.
As for ingredients, the mixture varies regionally but includes a blend of around 50 percent Canadian Sphagnum peat moss, prelit, worm castings, and various composted materials such as peanut hulls, rice hulls, pumice, cinders, or forest products.
This commodity is listed by the Institut for the analysis of organic materials. It’s quality checked and it has proven performance record that your herbs will love.
4. Espoma AP8 8-Quart Organic Potting Mix
This organic Espoma potting mix is a perfect alternative for indoor or outdoor potted herb gardens. It features a rich blend of peat moss, humus, perlite, and Myco-Tone sphagnum to help ensure proper water retention.
It is also loaded with plenty of organic ingredients that help offer everything they need to thrive to your herbs, including earthworm castings, alfalfa meal, kelp meal, and shrimp food. This 8 quarter bag also has an easy to store zipper.
5. Miracle-Gro Expand ‘n Gro Concentrated Planting Mix
When it comes to planting, Miracle-Gro is a well-known and respected brand and this Expand ‘N Gro potting soil is a good example of why. If you are searching for something to fill a large pot or container it is a great option.
It not only retains up to 50 percent more water than standard potting soil, but it also extends up to three times while adding water to create an airspace network that helps grow strong roots and remove excess water.
Keep in mind that this is a concentrated soil that can rise and develop. Combine it thoroughly with your potted herbs in a large container before the use. Be sure to follow the instructions for better results.
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What is the Best Potting Soil for Herbs?
While all the products we choose will help your herbs grow fast, FoxFarm Ocean Forest Potting Soil is the best potting soil. It is ready to use right out of the container, and the pH is already set for proper absorption of fertilizer.
Since it contains a mixture of earthworm casting, bat guano, and crab and fish meal, it contains the essential micronutrients to thrive your herbs need.
Not all of that, the texture is designed specifically for potted plants. Since it uses a mix of hummus from the forest, sandy loam, and peat moss sphagnum, it is light and airy to promote proper root growth and drain excess water properly.
Soil Depth Requirements for Herbs
It is the depth that is one of the most important things to remember when selecting a pot or container of herbs.
Although it depends on the particular herbs that you cultivate, the majority need soil depths of at least six to eight inches. Others need as many as 10.
Here are some of the most growing herbs to grow properly, and how much depth they need.
- Chives – 3 inches
- Oregano – 6 inches
- Tarragon – 6 inches
- Thyme – 6 inches
- Basil – 8 inches
- Parsley – 8 inches
- Cilantro – 8 inches
- Rosemary – 12 inches
- Mint – 12 inches
- Dill – 12 inches
- Coriander – 18 inches
- Sage – 24 inches
As you can see, the depth of soil varies considerably from one herb to the next. Also, you should keep in mind that these figures are the low end of the range and some of these herbs might use a few inches more.
How to Grow Herbs in Pots?
Growing herbs in pots or containers aren’t incredibly difficult but taking the right steps is important to help your herb garden succeed.
Here are a few tips to ensure you get off to a good start.
Choose the right Herbal Pot
There are two ways to tackle that. You can use a smaller pot for each herb if you’re just planning to grow one or two different herbs, or if you have a rack or planter that you want to use. Just ensure the pot is deep enough to grow the herb properly.
Another choice is to put together a growing, deep pot and group many herbs. If you want to grow multiple herbs and don’t want to keep each one in its own container, this is a good option.
It’s really important that you choose a container with sufficient drainage, particularly if you are going to have them outdoors where they’re going to be exposed to rain. Herbs do not like extremely wet soil so drainage is one of the most important things to remember.
Some herbs have specifications that are very unique. Mint, for instance, really likes spreading and needs a long space so a long, large window box is better than a small pot.
It is important to choose the right material too. You can choose something that is sturdy enough to put it outdoors but light enough that when the weather changes you can carry it in. It is important how well the material retains moisture too.
Terracotta is a great option because it is fairly inexpensive and lightweight, but make sure that in the winter you carry it inside because it cracks. Also, plastic pots are affordable and easy to move, but they can easily break.
Unless you live in a climate where you don’t have to worry about frost or if you have a permanent home in mind, avoid stone or cement pots. Those pots are great but very heavy and hard to move.
Which herbs are you able to cultivate together?
Growing multiple herbs in one big pot will save space, and actually save will make it easier to care for them if they are arranged properly.
One strong combination is to bring together herbs from the Mediterranean. Since they all come from the same region, they have similar growth requirements, such as lots of sunshine and a little dry soils. Try to group rosemary, oregano, sage, thyme, and marjoram together.
There are many herbs, too, that like a little more moisture than Mediterranean herbs. Consider putting together basil, cilantro, tarragon, and parsley and you won’t need to think about overwatering.
Often, you can plant multiple varieties of the same herb together and get good results. Try to bring peppermint, spearmint, and catmint together, for example, but note that mint actually spreads and needs space to expand.
Also, See How Deep Should Garden Beds Be Raised?
How to Plant Herbs?
Once the containers are in, fill each pot up to 1 inch below the ledge. Use one of the soils that we recommend here to ensure that it drains properly and incorporates the organic ingredients that your herbs need to thrive.
If you start from seeds, put them in the soil about 1⁄4 inch thick. Use your finger to dig underneath the earth, place about 5 seeds in each hole, and then cover them. If you are transplanting already existing plants, arrange these accordingly. Place tall plants around the rim with smaller ones in the middle of the bowl.
Whatever method you use, make sure you use a popsicle stick or some other marker to label them so you know when your garden begins to grow.
Water the soil once you have your seeds and plants put in. If the level of soil goes down, add more on top until the level is again 1 inch below the surface.
Maintaining a Herb Garden
As you see the plants begin to expand, remove any seedlings which do not appear to thrive. It allows more space and access to more nutrients to the tougher plants, since they don’t have to compete with other plants.
Keep your herbal containers in an area where they get at least 6 hours of sunlight each day, but keep them indoors if the risk of frost is high.
Don’t overstretch. Step your finger into the soil about 1 to 2 inches deep. When it feels hot, then it is time for watering. If you still sense a little moisture, let it be and search again later that day or the next morning.
Regularly prune any wilting or broken leaves so that the healthier ones can thrive.
One of the best things you can do to start a good container herb garden is to realize that potted plants are different from plants that grow in a greenhouse.
The biggest difference is that potted plants require easily draining soil which allows their roots to grow freely. Good potting soil for herbs has just the right mix of ingredients to keep the right amount of moisture and the organic materials your herbs need to grow.
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