Gardening TipsPlant Care Guides25/05/2024by mabramczTop Herb Growing Tips for Gardeners

Growing your own herbs can be a rewarding and aromatic addition to any UK garden. Whether you’re an experienced gardener or a novice, understanding the basics of soil type, positioning, feeding, and watering can make all the difference. Additionally, knowing when and how to cut back, as well as the best ways to grow herbs in various containers, can ensure a bountiful harvest throughout the year. In this article, we’ll explore the top herb growing tips for UK gardeners, helping you cultivate a thriving herb garden.

Key Takeaways

  • Understanding the right soil type is essential for healthy herb growth.
  • Positioning your herbs correctly can maximize their exposure to sunlight.
  • Regular feeding and watering are crucial for maintaining vibrant herbs.
  • Cutting back herbs in autumn can promote new growth and prevent diseases.
  • Herbs can be successfully grown in raised beds, large containers, and even window boxes.

1. Soil Type

herb garden with various soil types in a UK backyard

Organic Gardening

Practice organic gardening, which means being respectful to the environment and working within natural systems and cycles. Avoid harmful chemicals and other harmful materials, such as using peat in your compost. Care for your soil, as it is full of life and supports healthy plant growth.

Soil Preparation

  1. Rake the soil level, removing any large clods or stones.
  2. Gently loosen plants from their trays by pushing them up from the base. Knock out plants from pots by giving a sharp tap to the bottom with the handle of your trowel.
  3. Handle plants by their leaves or rootball to avoid damaging their vulnerable stems.
  4. Plant so the top of the rootball is just below the soil surface.
  5. Firm in.
  6. Once planting is completed, water in using a watering can without a rose.

Shallow-rooted plants dry out quickly so water regularly when they are growing strongly.

2. Position

herb garden in UK with optimal sunlight position

Choosing the right position for your herbs is crucial for their growth and health. Many varieties will thrive happily as indoor plants, and a sunny balcony can be the perfect location to grow a few pots.

Sunlight Requirements

Herbs generally require a good amount of sunlight to flourish. Aim for at least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day. South-facing windows or gardens are ideal.

Wind Protection

While herbs need sunlight, they also require protection from strong winds. Consider using windbreaks or placing pots in sheltered areas to prevent damage.

Temperature Considerations

Most herbs prefer moderate temperatures. Avoid placing them in areas with extreme temperature fluctuations, such as near radiators or drafty windows.

3. Feeding

herb garden in UK with gardener feeding plants

Feeding your herbs is essential for their growth and vitality. Herbs require specific nutrients to thrive, and understanding their needs can make a significant difference in your garden’s success.

Types of Fertilizers

There are various types of fertilizers you can use for your herbs:

  • Organic Fertilizers: These include compost, manure, and other natural materials.
  • Inorganic Fertilizers: These are commercially produced and include balanced NPK (Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Potassium) fertilizers.

Application Frequency

The frequency of feeding depends on the type of herb and the growing conditions. Generally, herbs in containers need more frequent feeding compared to those in the ground.

Seasonal Feeding

Different seasons require different feeding strategies. For instance, during the growing season, herbs benefit from regular feeding, while in the dormant season, feeding should be reduced.

Proper feeding is crucial for maintaining the health and productivity of your herb garden. Neglecting this aspect can lead to poor growth and reduced yields.

Special Considerations

Some herbs have unique feeding requirements. For example, feeding border plants with dry blood, fish, and bonemeal can be particularly beneficial. Always research the specific needs of each herb you are growing.

4. Watering

watering herbs in a UK garden


Herbs require consistent watering to thrive. Shallow-rooted plants dry out quickly, so water regularly when they are growing strongly. Overwatering can cause the roots to rot, impeding the plant’s health and growth. Avoid overwatering by installing an automatic drip irrigation system.


  1. Use a watering can without a rose to water in newly planted herbs.
  2. Position the container onto the water trough and fill the water through the spouts provided. The herbs will draw the water they need from the trough.
  3. Consider using a water timer to ensure your herbs are consistently watered, especially during dry weather.


  • Watering can
  • Spray bottle
  • Drip irrigation systems
  • Water timers

Maintaining a regular watering routine is crucial for the health of your herbs. Pay particular attention during periods of dry weather to ensure the soil remains consistently moist.


  • Turfing: Ensure the soil is adequately prepared before planting herbs.
  • Ponds & fountains: Be mindful of water sources nearby that could affect soil moisture levels.
  • Lawn Care & Mowing: Regular lawn care can impact the moisture levels in your garden.
  • Planting: Proper planting techniques can help retain soil moisture.
  • Weeding & Pruning: Regular weeding and pruning can improve water absorption and reduce competition for water.

5. Cutting Back in Autumn

herb garden in autumn UK

Importance of Autumn Pruning

Cutting back herbs in autumn is crucial for maintaining their health and encouraging robust growth in the following season. Proper pruning helps prevent diseases and pest infestations.

Techniques for Different Herbs

  • Woody Herbs: For herbs like rosemary and sage, prune them into shape after flowering or in spring to avoid them becoming straggly.
  • Perennial Herbs: Herbs such as mint and chives die down in winter and should be cut to the ground in late autumn.

Tools and Safety

When performing hedge trimming or tree cutting, always use sharp, clean tools to make precise cuts and reduce the risk of disease. Wear protective gear to ensure safety.

Regular autumn pruning not only keeps your herb garden tidy but also prepares the plants for a healthy and productive spring.

6. Mint

mint plant in a UK garden

Mint is a versatile herb that can be easily propagated from cuttings, making it an excellent choice for gardening beginners. Although it’s possible to grow mint from seeds, germination can prove to be a slow and inconsistent process. Instead, purchasing a young plant is often a more reliable approach for establishing your own mint garden.

Planting and Growing Conditions

Mint plants flourish in moist, well-drained soil and prefer locations with partial shade. Be aware, however, of mint’s vigorous growth habit—this herb is known to spread aggressively. To prevent it from dominating your garden, consider confining it to containers or a designated area. Regular watering is essential for mint’s health, but be wary not to overwater, as this can cause root issues.

Varieties of Mint

There’s a huge range of mint to grow, from regular spearmint to chocolate mint and even ginger mint. Each variety has its unique flavor and uses, making mint a versatile addition to any herb garden.

Harvesting Mint

Mint can be harvested from May to October. Regular harvesting encourages new growth and keeps the plant healthy. Simply snip off the top leaves and stems as needed.


Mint relishes moist, fertile soil, but is not the happiest of herbs in a pot. Replant frequently, using generous pieces of root, into rich potting media, taking care to avoid overpotting. Whenever it looks straggly, lift roots and repot into fresh compost.

Mint is really easy to grow but best grown on its own in a pot, as it can take over other herbs growing alongside it.

7. Windowsill Herbs

herb garden on a windowsill in a UK home

Growing herbs on a windowsill is an excellent way to have fresh herbs at your fingertips year-round. South-facing windowsills are ideal as they provide the most sunlight, which is crucial for the healthy growth of most herbs. Here are some tips to get you started:

Choosing the Right Herbs

Select herbs that thrive in indoor conditions. Some of the best options include:

  • Basil
  • Chives
  • Parsley
  • Mint
  • Sage

Planting and Sowing

  1. Start early in the spring by sowing herbs under cloches and frames.
  2. Sow a few trays in a greenhouse, conservatory, or sunny windowsill and grow plants on ready for planting out when the soil warms up.
  3. Use new or used growing-bags, especially where space is limited.

Care and Maintenance

  • Water the compost when dry, about once a week.
  • Pot up herbs such as chives, mint, parsley, or tarragon grown outdoors and bring them in for the winter, standing them on a south-facing windowsill.
  • Keep a few containers near the house for easy picking.

Windowsill herb gardening is a practical solution for those with limited outdoor space. It allows for easy access to fresh herbs and can be a rewarding aspect of organic gardening services in London by Power of London Ltd.

8. Herb Garden in Raised Bed

herb garden in raised bed in UK garden

Creating a herb garden in a raised bed offers numerous advantages, especially for those with limited space. Raised beds allow you to control the soil composition, ensuring optimal conditions for your herbs. This method also adds an extra dimension to your garden, making it visually appealing and easier to manage.

Choosing the Right Spot

Selecting the ideal location for your raised bed is crucial. Ensure it receives ample sunlight, as most herbs thrive in well-lit conditions. Avoid placing it near areas prone to waterlogging.

Soil Preparation

Most culinary herbs require well-drained soil. If your garden has heavy clay, lighten it by incorporating well-rotted compost and horticultural grit. This is particularly important for Mediterranean herbs.

Planting and Arrangement

When planting, consider the height and spread of your herbs. Taller herbs like bronze fennel should be placed in the center, while low-growing varieties like curly-leafed parsley and chives make excellent edging plants. Contrasting leaf shapes and colors can create a visually appealing arrangement.


Regular maintenance is essential for a thriving herb garden. This includes watering, feeding, and occasional Garden Clearance to remove dead or overgrown plants. Raised beds make these tasks more manageable.

A well-maintained raised herb bed not only enhances your garden’s aesthetics but also provides a convenient source of fresh herbs for your kitchen.

9. Large Container

herb garden in large container UK

Growing herbs in large containers is an excellent way to manage your garden space efficiently. Large containers provide ample room for root growth, which is essential for the healthy development of herbs. Additionally, they can be moved around to catch the best sunlight or to protect them from harsh weather conditions.

Choosing the Right Container

When selecting a container, ensure it has adequate drainage holes to prevent waterlogging. You can use a variety of materials, such as terracotta, plastic, or even upcycled items like old tin baths or wine boxes. The key is to match the container size with the herb’s growth requirements.

Soil and Planting

Use a high-quality potting mix that offers good drainage and is rich in organic matter. Fill the container with the potting mix, leaving some space at the top. Plant the herbs at the same depth they were in their original pots, and water them thoroughly after planting.


Regular maintenance is crucial for container-grown herbs. This includes watering, feeding, and occasional pruning. Water the herbs when the top inch of soil feels dry, and feed them with a balanced liquid fertilizer every few weeks during the growing season.

Large containers are particularly useful for growing a variety of herbs together, as they provide enough space for each plant to thrive without competing for nutrients.

Waste Clearance

Proper waste clearance is essential to maintain a healthy growing environment. Remove any dead leaves or spent flowers regularly to prevent disease and pest infestations. Dispose of the waste responsibly, either by composting or using a green waste bin.

10. Window Box

herb garden in a window box in a UK home

Growing herbs in a window box is an excellent solution for those with limited space. A well-positioned window box can provide a steady supply of fresh herbs throughout the year. Here are some essential tips to ensure your window box herb garden thrives.

Choosing the Right Herbs

For a sunny window box, consider planting chives, oregano, lemon thyme, and creeping rosemary. These herbs thrive in sunlight and can add both flavor and beauty to your garden. On the shady side, opt for a salad herb window box with wild rocket, chervil, French parsley, and red mustard.

Positioning Your Window Box

A south-facing windowsill is ideal for most herbs as it provides ample sunlight. Ensure the window box is easily accessible for regular harvesting and maintenance. Keeping a few containers near the house can also make picking herbs more convenient.

Soil and Drainage

Use a high-quality potting mix that offers good drainage. Herbs do not like to sit in waterlogged soil, so ensure your window box has drainage holes. Adding a layer of gravel at the bottom can also help improve drainage.

Watering and Feeding

Herbs in window boxes require regular watering, especially during dry spells. However, be cautious not to overwater. Feeding your herbs with a balanced liquid fertilizer every few weeks can promote healthy growth.

Maintenance and Harvesting

Regularly trim your herbs to encourage bushy growth and prevent them from becoming leggy. Harvesting frequently not only provides you with fresh herbs but also promotes new growth. Remember to remove any dead or yellowing leaves to keep your plants healthy.

A window box herb garden is a practical and attractive way to grow your own herbs, even in limited spaces. With the right care and attention, you can enjoy a bountiful harvest throughout the year.


In conclusion, cultivating a thriving herb garden in the UK requires a blend of careful planning, diligent care, and informed techniques. From selecting the appropriate tools and preparing the soil to understanding the specific watering needs and pest control strategies, each step plays a crucial role in ensuring the health and productivity of your herbs. Additionally, regular pruning, maintaining soil health, and adhering to seasonal care guidelines are essential practices for sustained growth. By following the expert advice and tips provided, UK gardeners can enjoy a bountiful and aromatic herb garden throughout the year. Whether you are a novice or an experienced gardener, these insights will help you achieve a flourishing herb garden that enhances both your culinary experiences and your garden’s biodiversity.

Frequently Asked Questions

What type of soil is best for growing herbs in the UK?

Most herbs prefer well-drained soil. Sandy or loamy soil types are ideal as they provide good drainage and aeration.

Where should I position my herb garden?

Herbs generally prefer a sunny spot with at least 6 hours of sunlight per day. However, some herbs like mint and parsley can tolerate partial shade.

How often should I feed my herbs?

Feed your herbs with a balanced, organic fertilizer every 4-6 weeks during the growing season to ensure they have the nutrients they need.

How much water do herbs need?

Herbs need regular watering, especially during dry spells. However, be careful not to overwater as most herbs prefer slightly dry conditions.

Should I cut back my herbs in autumn?

Yes, cutting back herbs in autumn helps to promote healthy growth in the spring. Remove any dead or diseased parts and trim back the foliage.

How can I ensure a continuous supply of mint?

Mint spreads quickly and can be invasive. To ensure a continuous supply, plant it in a large container or a confined space and regularly harvest the leaves.

What are the best herbs to grow on a windowsill?

Some of the best herbs to grow on a windowsill include basil, chives, and parsley. They thrive in pots and require minimal space and care.

Can I grow a herb garden in a raised bed or container?

Yes, herbs can be grown successfully in raised beds, large containers, or even window boxes. Ensure they have good drainage and receive adequate sunlight.

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