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Herb plants...now what?

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I went to Whole Foods the other day and bought 3 herb plants. Basil, flat parsley and chives. I've never planted before so I just watered then in their little pots and put them out in the sun. I bought a couple of bigger pots to place them in. Do I need special dirt. Can I use the herbs right away when they are small? Do i need to do anything special? TIA

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  1. There is a gardening board for this help. But more than happy to give advice. Ground if possible, depending on where you live, St Louis should be able to plant in ground, semi shade/ sun both. I wouldn't do full sun, but a nice mix would be idea. Pots work great. I prefer clay and least 2-3x the size of the original pot. You can use one large pot for all 3 of them if you like. They are all compatable. I use a regular potting soil, nothing fancy, but I do fertilize with just miracle grow every 2-3 weeks, nothing much, just a little. Bugs shouldn't be a problem. A porch or lanai with good air movement and sun should be fine too.

    I would not the herbs right away. Let them get established 2-3 weeks. Just cut the chives. Pull the cut the stems off the basil and use the leaves the parsley the same. Keep up by using them all summer, they should grow well. They do like the outside if possible, but direct sun can be hard on them.

    Let me know if any other questions.

    1. I'm using plastic and resin pots because they slow down moisture evaporation and are a little easier to move around when planted. You can pay big bucks for ones that resemble stone and terra cotta at the home improvement stores or you can find good sized ones that look like stone and terra cotta at the dollar stores for under $15. I plant in Miracle Gro moisture retention soil and they sit in full sun (south side of the house lining the front walk). The soil already has 3 months worth of time release fertilizer in it so I don't fertilize at all until near the end of July and then just once a month after that. I do water daily unless it rains. Let them get some good growth on before you cut them the first time. Your parsley and chives are perennials so you'll be able to overwinter them. Parsley is actually biennial so next year you'll get some leaves but it will bolt to flower sooner. Buy another parsley next year and then when one is in it's off year the other will be providing leaves. Basil is an annual. It will keep producing leaves for quite awhile if you keep it pinched back but eventually it will flower and become bitter, look poorly and die. Basil is really easy to grow from seed so buy a packet of seeds for $2, plant them in a pot, keep moist until they sprout and off you go! I find that a dozen plants give me enough fresh for all my needs including pesto.

      When it gets cold (I'm in sw VA) around mid-late November, I bring the pots into the unheated garage and sit them on shelves in the south facing window. I water lightly and continue to lightly harvest into January when they go dormant for a couple-few months. When they show new growth and the major spring frosts are over they get repotted and moved back outdoors. I usually have to divide them at this time so the extras go to friends, the local food bank garden, and plant swaps for varieties of herbs that I don't have. Bringing them in has the advantage of prolonging the harvest, protecting the herbs from winter wind burn, and preventing the roots from freezing and heaving. I don't bring them into the heated house because even with all the light we have it's not enough for good growth. So I prefer to let them go through an approximation of their outdoor cycle and I usually have so many herb ice cubes, butters, vinegars and dried herbs that I need to use them up while the plants are dormant and before the cycle starts again!

      2 Replies
      1. re: morwen

        My chives are like bushes planted in the ground in my garden.

        But my Basil (all varities) thrives better in a pot/huge container. Parsely in the garden is mediocre but again thrives in my large contaner pot.

        1. re: Smachnoho

          My parsley and basil don't do well in containers but thrive in the garden. It all comes down to location, soil and how much sun vs shade, etc.

          I have one basil and one end the other at the opposite end. One is great, the other not. Just the location and soil. I had some cilantro in a pot and did lousy, then I moved it 4' and presto. Same amount of sun, but just a bit different in the suns time.

      2. 2 summers ago, I bought some chives at the grocery store as I needed them for cooking. They still had the root in tact, so after cutting off what I needed, I gave the "root" portion to a friend. He mindlessly planted them an existing pot (about 6" dia) with who knows what soil already in it. They are still alive and well today with water and perhaps a splash of occasional fertilizer. They have taken full summer sun as well as overwintering in an outside shed in N. Central TX - temps 100 - 30, with an occasional low 20's thrown in.

        This spring, I planted parsley, sweet and spicy basil in 6" pots - so far full sun, but temps are forecast for low 100's for the forseeable future, so may move to a more shaded area. The spicy is growing like a weed, the sweet is a little dwarfed and the parsley just sits there doing nothing.

        Bigger pots would proably help.

        1 Reply
        1. re: CocoaNut

          Thanks everybody for your replies. I got some miracle grow soil and mg fertilizer and potted the plants. They get full sun most of the day and I have been watering them everyday because its been so hot.
          The basil needs a lot of water, it seems, since it's been so hot. I have pinched off some of the basil leaves and cut a little from the dill and parsley at the base. They seem to be doing fine.

        2. When you plant your basil, make sure to cup down to above the second leaf. If you keep doing this every four weeks or so you will have beautiful full plants. My basil is in an Earthbox, and grows like mad, along with everything else in it, but my chives have been in the ground for many years and are huge.

          6 Replies
          1. re: Mother of four

            Do you put the basil out in full sun? I have mine under my tomato but it gets a lot of sun anyway. It looks burned. Basil hates me intensely. Is it because it gets water on the leafs? I used to grow basil in FL in the shade because of the heat and intense sun, but here (PNW) it is not intense. Why is it brown???

            For parsley growers: You could rip parsley by its roots, walk around with it in your hand for an hour and then poke a hole in the garden and jam said ripped parsley into the hole and then flood it with water. One month later you will have lovely bunchy parsley. It is bomb proof.

            1. re: Sal Vanilla

              My parsley gets brown if too much water without drying out. And then too much hot sun. Mine is mostly sun but 1/2 and 1/2 during this time of year but it has great drainage and does not stay dry, but it also likes to stay moist. Mine thrives. I can't pluck enough.

              But like any plant, it is location. 2' from where a plant is may be great and 2' the other way, horrible.

              1. re: Sal Vanilla

                I grow Basil both in FL and MI in almost full sun. What is really wonderful are the Earthbox's. You should look into them. I haven't planted anything in them that hasn't flourished!

                1. re: Mother of four

                  I have an earthbox and love it but word of warning, they retain water and if as in my case the apt has a sprinkler system, it has to be away from it otherwise too wet. They are great, but do not set next to a sprinkler head. Natural rain is ok but daily watering from a sprinkler doesn't work.

                  1. re: kchurchill5

                    No where near a sprinkler!! The problem with the box is, if it is a problem, is that everything grows so fast!! I can't seems to use the herbs fast enough!!!

                    1. re: Mother of four

                      I can relate. Mine grow so fast I am always cutting, drying and freezing. Pestos, lots of frozen bags and lots of dried jars.