The Complete Guide to Countertop Herb Gardening

Fresh herbs are a fantastic complement to almost any meal. Homegrown basil on a beautiful pile of spaghetti or a pizza hot out of the oven? *Chef’s kiss.* Growing your own herbs for that extra flair to your meals is much easier than you’d think, even if you don’t have much of a green thumb. It’s super simple, and good news for all our city-dwellers: it doesn’t require much space. In fact, it doesn’t require much of anything! The basics of countertop herb gardening are easy, and you can get started with just a few baseline products.

Photo by NordWood

Getting Started With The Basics

There are a few key necessities to starting your garden. At the very least, you’ll need a container filled with potting soil, and, of course, your herbs. You’ll also want to find a decent spot in your home that gets plenty of sunshine.

As far as the number of herbs you use goes, the bigger the container, the more herbs you can pack in. Herbs aren’t picky about personal space; you can cram them together and they’ll grow just as happily. However, it’s good to group herbs together that enjoy the same type of soil. Herbs with woody stems, like rosemary, sage, marjoram, oregano, and parsley tend to prefer drier soil. Other herbs, such as tarragon, chives, basil, and cilantro fare best in wetter soil.

How To Plant And Care For Your Herbs

You’ll want to plant your herbs in a container that has good drainage. Though herbs can be packed together, don’t squish them too tightly; you’ll want to give them a bit of breathing room so they have space to expand.

When watering your garden, place the entire container in the kitchen sink and soak liberally. Allow it to drain completely before putting it back.

Once your herbs are planted and begin growing, you’ll want to trim them regularly to keep them healthy. Of course, this is likely the reason you’ve started an herb garden — to have fresh herbs ready on demand!

Photo by Walter Gaspar

Fun Countertop Herb Garden Ideas

Finding a bucket or a flowerpot will do just fine if all you need is a simple herb garden. But if you’re looking to get crafty with your countertop herbs, there are plenty of creative ideas out there. Here are some of our favorites:

Mason Jar Herb Garden

This is an especially good option if you’re tight on counter space. Fill mason jars with soil and herbs, then follow the tutorial to hang them by a window, and you’ve got your own magic, floating garden right in your kitchen!

Click and Grow Smart Garden

Click and Grow’s Smart Garden adds a twenty-first century twist to the ancient practice of gardening. This indoor garden works like a capsule coffee maker, but instead of making fresh brew, it grows plants (and yes, the plants actually come in little biodegradable pods). The Smart Garden is suitable for growing herbs and even vegetables.

Photo by Angèle Kamp

Vertical Picture Frame Herb Garden

HGTV is always coming up with the best home decor ideas, and this one certainly does not disappoint. Using a shadow box, a picture frame, and some chicken wire, you can create a DIY vertical garden that looks like a living, breathing photograph.

Vintage Tea Set Planters

If you own an old tea set that’s been collecting dust, why not use it to plant some herbs in? Both the cups and teapot can be used as herb containers. It looks adorable and definitely invokes a fairytale forest-like setting!

Ten-Minute Baking Tin Herb Planter

If you have an extra baking tin and a plastic sheet (like from the inside of a picture frame) lying around, this DIY garden will take only ten minutes. It looks super sleek and is great for small spaces since it’s easy to hang on a wall.

Looking for less of a DIY herb garden idea? Try Modern Sprout - a foolproof, hydroponic herb garden that is perfect for small spaces!

Cecilia Seiter
Cecilia is a freelance writer and contributor to Slow North. She writes largely about sustainability, especially as it applies to beauty, wellness, and the future of technology. She is a graduate of the journalism department at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo and is based in Los Angeles, CA.