growing herbs in a box : LUSENET : garden project : One Thread

I'm about to move into a new apartment in the Pacific Northwest and I really want to get a window box or a planter pot of some kind and grow a few herbs on my balcony. However, I've never grown a thing in my life. What are your favorite herbs and what is easy to grow? Should I invest in some herb books or wing it?

-- amanda erickson (, March 19, 1999


I don't think you need a book to grow herbs. As for what to grow, stick mostly with small herbs that don't become woody if you want to be able to leave them in the box forever. I have successfully grown basil, catnip, lemon grass, coriander, chamomile, marjoram, thyme, and tarragon in window boxes. Basil, coriander, and chamomile have to be replanted every year. The lemon grass was an interesting contrast to everything else. Marjoram got really woody, and the tarragon dried out a lot in the wind (window boxes get a lot of wind). Thyme did very well, and catnip grows *best* in a windowbox, since it's safe from neighbor cats.

All in all, though, herbs are probably the easiest thing to grow in windowboxes. I have enough dried herbs to last me for a couple of years, all from a couple of windowboxes.

I also grew sage in a box, but I don't recommend it for a window box because it gets huge.

-- Xeney (, March 19, 1999.

(I'm replying to Jenny, and I'm now thinking that maybe a threaded message board would have been better!) The only indoor plants I've grown successfully in very little light are rubber trees. But I'm awful with indoor plants, so maybe someone else has a better answer.

-- Xeney (, March 30, 1999.

Chives, Garlic chives, basil, and parsley all do very well in fairly small containers. I have horrible luck growing thyme in containers, I think I may always water it wrong. Rosemary can work for a few years if you keep cutting it back when it gets too large. Mints in general work very nicely in a container, but not as well in mixed plantings (one will likely take over everything). I would recommend picking herbs you like (if you won't ever use chives, don't grow them), and just giving them a shot. Avoid expensive plants until you are fairly sure you won't kill them... I would recommend picking up a copy of the Sunset Western Garden book, since it is just about the most useful book you'll find for this region. And if you are interested in more about herbs (using them, growing, etc.), you might want to look at 'the Herb Companion' magazine, published by Interweave Press.

-- Ashley Lockwood (, March 25, 1999.

Though it seems awfully appealling ("just add water!"), I suggest you steer clear of the Chia(tm) Herb Garden kit.

I've tried it twice now, watering faithfully, and the little baby plants never make it past the two-inch stage. They wither and die eventually whether you repot them or not.

No snide comments please about ChiaGardening.

Btw, if anyone has any suggestions for good plants to put on my indoor windowsills that can survive the New York soot, I've got one available south/living space exposure and one north/kitchen exposure. I also have two of those office plants with yellowish-green leaves for the no-sun areas, but they're getting a little boring, what with spring just around the corner. Is there anything else that works in darkish living spaces? Or maybe something I could hang?

-- Jennie (, March 27, 1999.

I'm actually responding to Beth here and her query about low-light indoor plants.

If you go to any nursury and look specifically for the tropical-style rainforest plants, esp. the ones that *look* like coleus (but aren't), then you can usually set them in a room that gets 6-8 hours of indirect light, water often, and keep them growing.

I don't have the tags for the plants, or else I'd get more specific, but I've been clustering 3-4 smaller, varied shade plants in a shallow azalea pot with a layer of gravel, peat, and then regular soil, and a twice-weekly dousing with water-plus-fertilizer is working wonderfully.

-- Lisa Schmeiser (, April 24, 1999.

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