A balcony or a patio can be a great place to grow your favorite herbs! 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, here is everything 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
Growing herbs depends on sunlight, space, and weather. Some of the best annual herbs you can grow are basil, fennel, dill, coriander, cilantro, marjoram, parsley, bay, and chive. You can also go for perennials like – oregano, lavender, sage, thyme, mint, and 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. You can also grow them in plastic bottles too! 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.
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.
Check out the Best Herbs for Protection here
How to Plant Herbs on the Balcony?
The best way to get herbs is from a nursery or a garden center if you don’t have the time to grow 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 cut toilet roll tubes
- Multipurpose compost mixed with compost and sand in a 60:40 ratio
- Pots with proper drainage
Follow these steps:
- Germinate the seeds in the seed tray by keeping them indoors and spritzing them with water once a day.
- In about 7-10 days, the seeds should sprout. Transfer the seed and soil into its main pot after 14-20 days.
- Slowly acclimatize the plant to outdoor temperatures by leaving it outside and bringing it back in. Then, keep increasing the time outside for over 7-12 days gradually.
- Most fast-growing herbs should be ready to harvest in 4-6 weeks.
Note: Strong and vigorously growing herbs like mint, oregano, and sage require plenty of space. Do not plant them near sensitive and low-growing herbs like basil, marjoram, and rosemary.
Learn How to Make a Windowsill Herb Garden here
How to Care for Herbs in Balcony?
Sunlight and Position
Most herbs grow best in full sun or partial light 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.
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 its strength. Feeding them 2-3 times a year will be more than enough. Don’t feed in winter unless you live in a warm climate.
You can also mix aged compost or well-rotted manure when planting in the potting mix and side-dress it again after 6-8 weeks intervals.
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, pinch off the top set of leaves to encourage lateral growth.
Follow the secrets of the most fragrant herbs here
Tips for Successful Balcony Herb Garden
1. Choose a Smaller Pot
For slower-growing herbs such as rosemary, consider purchasing a small plant from a gardening store or nursery instead of starting with seeds.
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 spring so that the herbs can be outdoors in the summer.
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 cooler, ideally between 6 and 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.
V nice post on herbs, it seems easy to grow my own herbs now.
Some very good information in the article but the title is misleading. It is anything but complete. There are lots of items covered in generalities that are not sufficiently informative on their own but need additional investigation by the reader. For example, your advice on pruning is very incomplete, and the proper method of harvesting basil is very different from chives. Your guidance on growing year round also varies greatly with location. Additionally, the hardiness of plants varies both among species and variants. Someone new to herbs may well think Rosemary is one plant and Basil is another but have no idea that there are temperature ranges for Rosemary that vary to being quite winter hardy into freezing temperatures while others have problems once the temperature drops below forty. Basil comes in both upright and prostrate varieties, and just like tarragon, not all variants are culinary. If you are in a humid area, lavender will be extremely difficult to grow, but lavenden, or “French lavender” can do quite well.
For anyone trying to grow herbs, balcony, in pots, in the garden, or wherever there are a few basic recommendations I would pass along.
1. The Herb Society of America has a web page, portions of which are open to non-members and is an excellent source of information. They can also advise you as to whether there are any HSA chapters, or Members at Large in their area who would also be good sources of information.
2. Many states have extension agents (mine is VA Tech) who typically have websites, offices and help lines that are good sources of information
3. It is true as the article stated that herbs in pots need more water than those in beds, but at the same time, overwatering kills more herbs than anything else I’ve seen. Combine that with improper soil mixture and you have a guaranteed recipe for failure.
4. It is worth spending some additional time online or in the library doing research on growing conditions in your area and plants that will do well in your growing zone.
Herbs are a great source of enjoyment to my wife and I. They look nice, we use them in culinary recipes (fresh always better than dried, but rule of thumb in recipes is 1 tsp dried is 1 Tbsp fresh). and if you have extra in season, there are a variety of ways to preserve them for use. Though again, drying, freezing, or other methods will vary by herb. You can enjoy them as well but knowing what you need to know makes things much more likely to be successful
It is very windy the higher up one lives in a condo; I’m only one level up! The building was just painted, so I thought now I’ll have pretty plants out. I didn’t realize that cheap trays would stain the floor and smaller pots would fall over spreading dirt all over the place!! One needs plants that withstand wind and heavier pots that won’t fall over.
Even if you’re careful about making your fire escape garden safe, you may still get in hot water with your landlord or the relevant authorities if it’s easily visible to people on the street. And your little herb friends deserve a safe space! So, basically, don’t be stupid. If the fire escape isn’t behind your building or is too small to safely fill with pots, think about some other apartment-friendly gardening options instead .