A balcony or a patio can be a great place to grow your favorite herbs for food. Here’s all you need to know on How to Make a Balcony Herb Garden!
The best thing about herbs is they are easy to grow, take less space, and are quick to harvest! If you have a little chunk of outdoor space–a windowsill, patio, porch, or just a balcony; you can start by following our guide on How to Make a Balcony Herb Garden!
Check out our article on the most exotic herbs around the world here
Best Herbs for Balcony Garden
While growing herbs depends on sunlight, space, weather, and climate. The most important point to note here is–The best herbs are the ones you like and cook with most often.
Some of the common annual herbs you can grow are basil, fennel, dill, coriander or cilantro, marjoram, parsley, and chives. You can also go for perennials like oregano, lavender, sage, thyme, mint, bay leaves, curry leaves, and our editor’s favorite–rosemary.
For more details on which herb to grow, you can check out our article here
Choosing a Pot for Growing Herbs
Herbs can easily grow in small pots; usually, 6 to 8 inches deep pots are fine for most herbs. You can also grow them in plastic bottles too or create a vertical garden. Mostly it all depends on your resources and the size of your balcony.
You can also grow herbs in hanging baskets. To know which ones, click here
How Should You Pot the Herbs?
Starting a herb garden on a balcony is a great way to have fresh herbs at your fingertips. Growing herbs can be easy, and the right planter choice can make all the difference. Depending on the size of your balcony, you may want to consider a variety of planter sizes to find what works best for you.
Railing planters, hanging baskets, grow bags, standard pots, buckets, vertical planters, and window boxes–there are plenty of options. Moreover, you can DIY your pots as well, as revealed here.
For year-round herb growth, it’s best to use a herb and salad cloche. So, you wonder, what is a cloche? It is a glass cover that protects plants from harsh weather conditions, such as frost during winter. Not only will the cloche protect your herbs, but it will also help your seedlings develop stronger root systems. This way, you can enjoy fresh herbs all year, no matter the weather. You can learn more about it here, and if you like, check out our list of mini greenhouse projects here.
Check out the Best Herbs for Protection here
How to Plant Herbs on the Balcony?
The best way to get herb transplants is from a nearby nursery or a garden center if you don’t have the time to sow them from seeds. Care for your plants more in winter to save them from freezing temperatures. You can buy a small greenhouse for this or make your own. If you live in the warm tropics, you need to care more in scorching summer. Keep your herbs in the shade and water them more.
Starting an herb garden on your balcony is a simple and rewarding process.
Things You’ll Need:
- Herb seeds of your choice
- A seed tray or one of these seedling pots
- Seed Starting mix
- Pots with proper drainage
Follow these steps:
- Germinate the seeds in the seed tray by keeping them indoors (if the temperature is cold) and spritzing them with water regularly.
- In about 7-10 days, the seeds should sprout. Transfer the seedlings into their main pot after 14-20 days once a set of true leaves appear.
- Slowly acclimatize the plants to outdoor temperatures by leaving them outside and bringing them back in. Then, keep increasing the time outside for over 7-12 days gradually.
- Most fast-growing herbs should be ready to pick and harvest in about 4-6 weeks.
Note: Strong and vigorously growing herbs like mint, rosemary, dill, and sage require plenty of space. Do not plant them near sensitive and low-growing herbs like thyme, marjoram, and creeping rosemary.
Learn How to Make a Windowsill Herb Garden here
How to Care for Herbs in Balcony?
The Best Position
Most herbs grow best in full sun or partial shade. If you have a south, southeast, or south-west facing balcony, you’re in luck! If you don’t have a bright balcony, don’t worry, this article will help you how to grow them in the shade.
Although herbs are tolerant of temporary shortages and excess water in the soil, herbs growing in pots are more sensitive to dry and waterlogged soil. To save your plants from this, water regularly and choose pots with drainage holes and be mindful of watering–never too frequently and never too late.
The best part about growing herbs is the fact that you don’t have to fertilize them much. You can use 5-10-5 or easily available 10-10-10 balanced liquid fertilizer, diluted half to one-quarter to its strength. Feeding them once in 2-3 weeks will be more than enough. Don’t feed in winter unless you live in a warm climate.
If you love organic gardening, you can also mix aged compost or well-rotted manure when planting in the potting mix and side-dress it again during the mid-season.
Pinching and Trimming
Pinching back the top part, along with the first set of leaves, just above the leaf node will allow the non-growing lateral buds to grow, and the plant will become fuller.
If you are growing herbs for use in the kitchen, they’ll be automatically trimmed when you’ll snip the leaves for consumption. Regular snipping results in more rounded and fuller leaves. Pruning herbs also encourages bushier and fresh growth.
We have a great article on pruning herbs here
Do make sure that the herbs have reached a height of 4-6 inches before you start to snip/harvest them. Start harvesting the herbs when the plant has sufficient leaves to sustain growth. Harvest herbs in the early morning before the day’s heat and before they flower.
Also, to increase the longevity of your herbs, keep cutting back the flowers as soon as you see them.
Follow the secrets of the most fragrant herbs here
Tips for Successful Balcony Herb Garden
1. Choose Smaller Pots
For slower-growing herbs such as rosemary, consider buying a small plant from a garden store or nursery instead of starting with seeds, and use a small pot because growing in a small pot will make the herb root bound, and it will grow at a fast pace.
2. Harvest Them Slow
When harvesting herbs, only remove what you need, leaving enough leaves for the plant to live and grow. Don’t harvest until the plant has several established stems, as this will help create a strong and healthy plant.
3. Germinate Seeds Early
You should germinate seeds in early to mid-spring so that the herbs can be outdoors in the summer. If you live in a hot climate, start seeds in the fall or early winter.
4. Pinch off Flower Buds
Try to pinch off flower buds when they form, as many herbs will die after flowering. Flowers can sap energy from the plant, reducing its overall health.
5. Provide Enough Room
Give each herb enough space to grow, as it’s important to leave 8-15 inches around the roots of each herb to prevent competition for nutrients in the soil.
6. Water Early Morning
Water in the cooler hours of the morning, as the best time to water your herbs is in the early morning when temperatures are high, ideally between 6 to 10 AM. It will help in reducing evaporation and promotes deep root soaking.
7. Maintain Healthy Soil
While watering and sunlight exposure is important, do not neglect the health of your soil. Taking care of the soil will ensure that your herbs receive the nutrients they need to thrive.
Other Plants You Can Grow in the Balcony Garden
Some other plants that you can grow in the balcony garden are:
1. Vegetables: Many vegetables can be grown in a balcony garden, including tomatoes, peppers, squash, cucumbers, and beans. If you have limited space, you may want to choose dwarf varieties or plants that can be grown in containers.
2. Fruits: Dwarf fruit trees can be grown in a balcony garden, such as dwarf apple, peach, and citrus trees. Some other fruits that can be grown in a balcony garden include strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries.
3. Flowers: Balcony gardens can be filled with beautiful flowers. Popular flowers for balcony gardens include petunias, impatiens, marigolds, and zinnias.
4. Succulents: Succulents are perfect for balcony gardens because they are low-maintenance and require very little space. Popular succulents for balcony gardens include aloe vera, jade plants, and echeveria.
5. Climbers: There are many types of climbers that can be grown in a balcony garden, such as clematis, honeysuckle, and jasmine. These climbers can provide additional privacy and can also be used to create beautiful displays.
Overall, growing herbs in a balcony garden is a great way to enjoy the benefits of fresh harvest in a convenient space. It not only provides you with a variety of herbs to choose from, but it can also help to promote a healthier lifestyle.