Want to know how to best care for the herbs in your Plant Nite terrarium? We chatted with Shawna Coronado, author and organic gardening expert, to get her best tips for helping your herbs thrive so you can get the most out of your plants.
Here’s what Shawna had to say.
What are the best places to keep herbs inside your home?
“Herbs prefer full sun in most instances, so keeping your beautiful herb terrariums near a bright and sunny window is essential for successful growth. Many people place the herbs on a windowsill, but a table close to a window will also work.”
How much sunlight do they need?
“Mediterranean herbs such as lavender and rosemary tend to need full hot sun for more than six hours of the day. More traditional herbs—and leafy herbs—like basil, cilantro, tarragon, and thyme can survive inside under grow lights or in front of a sunny window with bright light with little effort.”
What kind of temperatures do herbs do best in?
“Herbs generally need daily temperatures consistently higher than 65 degrees. Some perennial herbs can tolerate lower temperatures, but if you find your window allows light AND cold in, then you might want to consider moving your herbs to a warmer locale.”
How much should your herbs be watered?
“Typically, herbs crave consistent moisture, but don’t like wet feet. When watering herbs, always water at the base of the plant to prevent fungal issues on the leaves. Water regularly, then let the top of the soil dry completely out between waterings.
Most important is the need for good drainage. Make sure your planter has a hole in the bottom to drain. I choose to water all my houseplants about once per week—Monday is my watering day. Depending on the air moisture, you may need to water more or less than once per week.”
Should herbs be fertilized?
“Do not fertilize your houseplants in winter. However, once spring happens you’ll notice that more moisture will be present in the air and sunlight will also be more available. With this in mind, most plants go through a growth spurt. Fertilize at the beginning of spring following package directions. I prefer to use organic fertilizers. Over fertilization can result in lots of leaf with lesser flavor.”
What’s the best way to replant them when they outgrow their planters?
“Root bound herbs can perform poorly. Therefore, replanting when they outgrow their containers can help keep herb production up.
Choose a container a couple inches larger than your current container. Place your favorite organic soil mix in the container. Add fertilizer according to package directions anytime you transplant. Then loosen the roots and place the herb in its new home. Water regularly.”
Can they be moved outdoors in the warmer months?
“Yes! Basil prefers a sunny location that gets at least six hours of sun per day. Plant transplants in well-drained soil with rotted manure or compost. Wait until two weeks after the last frost to plant outside in order to prevent frost burn.”
What’s the best way to harvest them?
“To encourage bushy growth, prune back the leaves once per month if growing indoors and use in your cooking or cocktail recipes. Be sure to remove flower buds immediately upon their appearance.
Harvest by trimming one third of the plant off at a time. This way you still have attractive stems and leaves available to view, and the plant keeps growing even while you’re gradually consuming the leaves. Let the third grow back, then harvest a different third. Works like a charm.”
What is pinching and how do you do it?
“Herbs get leggy mid-summer, particularly in full shade. They grow tall and get stiff limbs and flowery tops. To promote more leaf and color, the best thing to do is to pinch the flowers off of the herbs so the plants continue to bush and grow more leafiness. “Pinch” is another term for “ripping the freaking tops off the plant”—in other words, don’t be delicate. One must be tough and heartless when pinching. Pinch like you mean it!
To pinch your herbs, grab the stem of the plant between your thumb and finger, just above the top leaves. Dig your fingernail into the stem, pinching the stem completely off the plant. Pinch at six to eight inches tall or when flowers develop. Herbs flower from mid-summer all through the end of the season, so continue to pinch off the flowering portion of the plant to encourage leafy growth.”
What should you do if your herbs start to droop or discolor?
“This is a sure sign that the plant is either too dry or too wet. However, the plant can also be suffering from a disease or might be placed in the wrong light conditions. There are a lot of possibilities.
Pull the plant into the light and really look at it. If the soil has standing water or is dreadfully parched, remedy the situation. Still no answer? Take a leaf or part of the plant to your local garden center and find an expert to give it a looksee and determine what is wrong with it so you can fix your baby up.”
Now that you know how best to care for growing herbs, check out our event calendar to make your own herb terrarium at a Plant Nite near you!