If you’re fairly new to growing your own food, starting with some fresh herbs is a great idea. This is because herbs are very easy to grow, especially if you don’t have a lot of space. Here’s everything you need to know on how to grow herbs on a balcony.
Of course, you can apply these ideas and tips to growing herbs in whatever small space you have available. You might have a nice sunny patio or a veranda. Even a sunny window sill in your kitchen can be used to grow a range of different herbs.
The best time to start your small balcony herb garden is in spring. This is the time when most herbs will start to grow quite prolifically.
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So, let’s get started.
Choose The Best Spot For Your Balcony Garden
The first step is to choose a location on your balcony for the variety of herbs you’re growing.
The best spot on your balcony, or anywhere else for that matter, is one that will get at least some sun during the day. Mediterranean herbs like rosemary and lavender, revel in as much sun as they can get.
However, there are other herbs that will do really well in partial shade. Parsley, chives and mint are good examples of this.
So, if there is a spot on your balcony that receives a few hours of morning sun, this is ideal for growing your herbs. Plus, because you’re growing in pots, you can easily move them around during the day so that your herbs get enough sun exposure.
Choose Some Nice Containers
One of the best parts about growing herbs in containers is that you get to choose from the hundreds of nice pots that you might find at your local garden center or even online. You can choose small pots for single herbs or larger ones for a combination.
The main thing you want to look for is that the pots you select have good drainage holes so that excess water can drain away. Or, consider using self-watering pots that have a reservoir below the root level. If you have the space, hanging pots are also great for growing a variety of different herbs.
Plus, by using these, you’re embracing the vertical gardening method which helps you to maximise the space that you have available.
Personally, I love terracotta pots. I think they go so well with herbs. However, if you choose this style of pot, you have to remember that terracotta is porous, so these will need more regular watering.
On the other hand, plastic pots work just as well and you can get some really nice designs.
For those with really limited space, check out this stackable vertical planter which absolutely perfect for growing a variety of different herbs.
Select The Variety Of Herb Plants You Want To Grow
Choosing the right herbs for your apartment balcony herb garden really depends on your personal preference.
My recommendation would be to start with a few herb varieties that you use most often in your kitchen. After all, herbs are meant to be cut regularly and used in your cooking.
The best way is to start with just a handful of herbs. You can always add to your collection later on once you’re more experienced at growing them.
Some of the best herbs to grow in your own herb garden include parsley, mint, thyme, oregano, chives, dill, basil and rosemary. You can grow some of these together in a larger pot but plant herbs such as rosemary and mint into their own pot.
Of course, this all depends on how much space you have. If the size of your balcony is quite small, growing a few varieties in one large pot might be your best option.
Perennial herbs such as rosemary can be grown all year round in more temperate areas while mint will tend to take over if you don’t keep it trimmed.
You can either purchase small starter plants from a garden centre or local nursery or you can start with some herb seeds and sow these in your pots. However, the easiest way to start is with small plants.
Fill Your Pots With Good Quality Potting Mix
Whenever I grow herbs in pots, I will always use a good quality potting mix that drains well and also contains a little added fertilizer.
I’m also careful to select one that doesn’t contain peat moss because I feel it’s important that the peat bogs are protected as a valuable part of the planet’s ecosystem. A better alternative is coconut coir which is a by-product of the coconut industry and serves the same purpose.
Once you have everything that you need to start your balcony herb garden, all you have to do is pot up your herbs and place them into position.
Then, you need to know how to care for them and I’m going to give you my easy tips for growing lush herbs on your balcony.
Keep Your Plants Watered
One of the most important things to remember is that the soil in pots dries out fairly quickly. Of course, this depends on the seasons and how hot the weather is.
You might find that during the main growing season in summer, some of your herbs might need to be watered twice a day. Especially, if your balcony gets lots of sunlight.
On the other hand, when the weather is cooler, you might only have to water every few days or even just once a week.
But, how do you tell if your herbs need water? My trick is to just poke my finger into the top of the soil to see whether it feels dry or wet. I’ve been gardening and growing herbs for many years and this always works for me.
You can use a similar method by just poking a wooden chopstick into the soil. If the stick comes out clean, then the soil is most likely dry. However, if you pull the stick out and it has damp soil sticking to it, then it still has enough moisture.
However, if you’ve never grown anything before, you can just buy yourself a moisture meter.
These are fairly inexpensive and will tell you if there is moisture in the soil or not.
I wrote an article about how these moisture sensors work that you might like to read.
Do Your Herbs Need To Be Fertilized?
In my experience, herbs in general, are not heavy feeders. This means that they don’t need a weekly dose of liquid feed to keep them growing.
If you’ve chosen a good quality potting mix to start with, this should have enough fertilizer in it to keep your herbs going for around six months.
To make caring for your herbs easy, I would recommend purchasing some slow-release fertilizer pellets. This is a good idea because they only need to be topped up every six months or so and will keep your herbs thriving.
Just one thing to remember if you’re going to use these. Make sure that you flush the soil in your pots at least once every 6 months so that the salts don’t accumulate and burn the roots of the plants.
To flush your plants, just water thoroughly from the top until the water starts to come out of the drainage holes in the bottom of the pot.
Trim And Cut Your Herbs As Often As You Can
One of the benefits of growing herbs is that you can just snip off a few sprigs or leaves as you need them for your culinary delicacies. However, don’t just stop there.
Your herbs will grow the best if you give them an all-over trim regularly, especially on the top of the plant. This is commonly known as tip pruning and something that is recommended for a whole variety of different plants.
Without getting too scientific, for most plants, when you prune off the growing tips and you snip these back to a set of leaves, it will initiate more growth. In fact, in most cases, two new stems will grow from where you made the cut.
So, when you trim your herbs all over often, you’ll end up with nice bushy growth instead of long leggy stems.
However, remember to never trim off more than one-third of the growth to keep your plants nice and healthy.
Want to learn more about growing herbs? Check out these other articles I’ve written on this fascinating topic:
Frequently Asked Questions
Keep them well-watered, ensure they get enough sunlight and trim them often.
Herbs will grow very well on a balcony as long as they get some sunlight and you keep them nicely watered.
You can grow a wide range of herbs on a balcony as long as the spot gets at least 6 hours of sunlight daily. If your balcony is a little more shaded, consider growing varieties such as parsley and mint that don’t require quite as much sun.
Growing herbs on a balcony is quite easy, even for beginner gardeners. They don’t require any expert care except regular watering and trimming. This is a great way to start your own balcony herb garden and reap the rewards of your efforts.