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Your herb garden cheat sheet

12th Aug '16 • By Emily Ayers

Garden like a professional this season with your very own gardening cheat sheet.


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All herbs can adapt to life indoors and outdoors. It all depends on:

  • The plant’s hardiness
  • Time of the year
  • Temperature
  • Soil type

Herbs can be planted as seeds or as existing plants — seeds are more cost-effective, but plants are easier to grow.

You can either plant them in pots, or in a garden bed:


This is the ideal option if you only have a balcony, limited space, or prefer the appearance of pots.

  • Make sure your pot has good drainage – if it doesn’t have holes, create your own.
  • Group pots together to insulate them from extreme temperatures.
  • Porous materials, such as terracotta, dry out faster than ceramic.
  • Pots in general dry out faster than garden beds.
  • Black pots attract more heat than lighter colours, so may need to be placed in a position that’s protected from summer sun in the hottest part of the day.

Watering Plants in Pots:

  • Water newly-planted herbs every day for the first week, then regularly.
  • To determine if it’s time to water, stick your finger at least 5cm deep into the soil — if it feels dry, water, if it feels moist, don’t water and continue to check daily for the first several weeks.

Raised Garden Beds

This is the perfect option for those with back problems or difficulty bending down.

  • Keep in mind they use a decent amount of soil, depending on their height.
  • Minimise the amount of soil required by adding rocks or gravel to the bottom half, or even branches and sticks (these will break down over time and need replacing).
  • Use high-quality organic soil mix to top up the raised garden bed. 

Ground-Level Garden Bed

This is the standard garden bed in the ground. You can either use an existing one or start one fresh.

  • If you’re starting a new bed in a spot that has weeds and grass, these will need to be treated first — cover the area with plastic for several weeks in summer to kill them off.
  • Place a thick layer of cardboard over the area, then cane mulch, followed by building up soil by adding compost and fertiliser.
  • This type of garden bed needs sun in summer and winter.
  • Choose a position that doesn’t hold excess water and has decent drainage, otherwise your herbs will rot.
  • Herbs grow most successfully in light, crumbly soil.

Watering Plants in Garden Beds:

  • Water newly-planted herbs every day for the first week, then twice a week.
  • Herbs planted in the ground need to be watered less frequently than those in pots. 

General Tips and Tricks


  • Herbs need 4-6 hours of direct sun every day to grow healthy indoors.


  • Once the herbs have been planted and initially watered, spread some fertiliser around the herb’s base, avoiding getting too close to the stem.
  • You can use pellet fertiliser or liquid fertiliser. Liquid is a better alternative if you have pets that eat the pellets or your herbs need a quick boost.

Take Cuttings With Care

  • Snip off a 4-inch section, measured back from the tip. 
  • Strip the lower leaves and place the stem into a moist, soilless mix. 
  • Cover the cutting with glass or clear plastic and keep it medium-moist.

Propagate from Existing Plants

  • Many herbs, including thyme, rosemary and sage, are best propagated for indoor growing by taking cuttings from outdoor plants.

Give the Roots Proper Drainage

  • During winter, herbs will drink slowly. To prevent root-rot, make sure they have proper drainage, i.e. drain holes, rocks or plastic foam.

Don’t Eat Their Solar Panels

  • Larger leaves are the plants’ energy providers — make sure you cut off a mix of mature and brand new leaves (but never all the leaves at once).
  • Harvest the herbs frequently to encourage more foliage growth.

For more assistance with creating your ultimate garden, get in touch with local gardeners today.

Further Reading

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