Planting Herbs Gem's Way

This is my tutorial on planting herbs in pots. I replanted some spindly seedlings that I'd grown from seed along with a bunch of really nice herb plugs I'd got sent by post. I was quite surprized at the good results which is a great confidence booster for any newbie!

Parsley seedling

After planting I kept them on the south facing kitchen windowsill when it was sunny then moved them under the growing light in the evenings after sundown or when the weather was a bit dull. I find that this works really well. The little seedling sprouts grew their “true” leaves (a second set of leaves that shoot out after the first) in no time.

The following Gem method may not meet the approval of your average professional horticulturalist, but it brought me satisfactory results.

Planting Herbs That are a Bit Spindly

Seedling in plant pot

Let's deal with the spindly herbs first. I started my seed planting project all wrong and what I got were long spindly seedlings. I read in an article that all is not lost. You can still pot them and help them recover and it wasn't too difficult to do. A little bit of TLC did the trick and some sensible tips on how to plant them.

First, this is a must. Get the pot right! I was potting my parsley seedling and was surprised at how long its root had grown in only 1 ½ to 2 weeks. Parsley grows a long tap root hence why I stress putting it in a tall plant pot. Apart from that, think small! If the container is too large your herb plant will grow large too. That's fine in the garden but not on your kitchen window sill.

Herbs like good drainage so put some pebbles in the bottom of the pot. If you don't have small pebbles or stones as an alternative break an old clay pot into small pieces.

potting compost

When planting herbs that are young or are just seedlings use a good seedling compost. Your herbs will love you for it!

Fill the pot with the compost and with a dibber stick or any makeshift tool, make a hole. Make it deep if your replanting a spindly plant so it can be buried almost right up to the leaves. Make the hole shallower for a normal seedling.

Potting spidly herb seedling

Gently does it! You need to have a light hand when replanting your little specimens. Separate seedlings that are bunched up into single plants and lift them by the leaf. Lower them into the hole and tap the soil down around the roots and stem. Gently firm up the compost to give support. Label it and give a good soaking with tepid water and that's it for the seedling.

Another thing before I move on! Water from the water butt is great if you have one, not the water from the tap which is loaded with chlorine. All our other houseplants faired better when I stopped watering them with tap water so why not the herbs! Eh? Now for the herb plugs.

Planting Herbs Bought as Plugs

Plugs for planting herbsherb plugs

Look at these little beauties! When my plugs arrived they were in great condition. The roots were nice and moist so I could transfer them immediately into pots. Roots that are a little dry can be sprayed with water just enough to moisten them but not to drown.

Compost in pot

Your thumb`s a built-in tool. Use it and make a large deep hole. You do this by turning the pot around while you pinch the compost against the wall of the pot. The rest is child's play. You just place the plug into the hole and fill the compost back in like we did with the seedlings. Give it a good water but be balanced.

potting a herb plug

I mother-coddled mine every morning. If it was going to get warm on that windowsill when the sun came up my little herbs would need some water before the rays hit them. They would need partial shade if it got too hot. Protecting with a net did the trick. A little tip: keep handy a couple of those car sunshades with suckers and just stick them to your window. Problem solved!

In the evening I put them under a growing light. Grow lights are not essential but they do give indoor plants that little bit extra that they lack from being inside. Even when they are sat right at the window pane, plants do not get as much light as they would do outdoors in full daylight.

Foxley Thyme

Planting herbs outside on the balcony, patio, or garden is OK to do but be sure they are hardened off first. A drastic change in temperature and light will halt their growth for a time and hard frost will probably kill them. Smaller potted plants for balconies and patios can be quickly brought indoors or into a greenhouse but for those in larger heavier pots or in the ground they are at the mercy of the elements.

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