Unique Containers for Herbs and Flowers
Unique Containers for Herbs and Flowers
Designed by Brenda Hyde
All Rights Reserved
I know we all wish we had unlimited space for herbs, at least I do! I have a small 10x10 foot kitchen garden, plus I mix my herbs into the flower beds and use many different containers. Today I wanted to share ideas for using unique containers and a few rules to follow.
First of all, herbs require a little different mix of soil for the most part, and most of them don't like to be kept too moist. You can use equal amounts of purchased topsoil, sand, peat moss and a little bit perlite if you wish. DON'T use vermiculite, which is a little like cork, and it retains too much moisture for most herbs. If you are using these containers for flowers then throw some in if you wish.
Terra Cotta Pots: My favorite still! They come in many sizes and styles. I mainly use the standard inexpensive pots-I find the 8-10 inch size are good for one herb and the 12-18 inch can hold 3-4 herbs or 1-2 large herbs. I tend to plant annual herbs in the containers and use perennials in the soil.
Porch and Windowboxes: I have porch boxes in the back and the front. Build them with pine-we used 1x8 pieces. Use 1 1/2 to 2 inch wood screws to put them together-nails don't work as well. Prime and paint before planting, unless you want plain wood that will weather. I lined with plastic the first year, but later didn't think it was worth the trouble. I grow my basil in a porch box each year. Windowboxes can be done the same, but scaled down.
Strawberry pots: These work great for herbs! One trick to make watering a little easier and more even is to place a paper towel tube or even a straight piece of PVC in the center of pot before filling. Once you've filled it with soil to the top of the pot, carefully remove the tube and add small gravel, sand or perlite to the hole all the way down. Water the pot using this rock center and it will disperse evenly to the entire pot!
Wooden Chairs: Old kitchen chairs, high chairs or stools can all be primed and painted with bright colors and designs. You can cut a hole in the seat of the chair to fit a clay pot, or simple sit a pot on the chair itself. Shorter, heavier pots work better if you opt not to cut a hole because they are more stable and less likely to tip over.
Old eaves/gutters: This is such a unique idea, and I missed out on this by not grabbing mine before my husband tossed them! Take a smaller section of eave-it's okay if they leak, this allows for drainage. Drill holes in the bottom of the eave and attach it to a deck, or drill them in the top on each side and hang from chains. You can leave them as is for a rustic look, or sand and paint with a brand such as Rustoleum that is made for metal.
Galvanized buckets: Old ones are great! But, you can buy new ones cheaply and these will age with time. Drill holes in the bottom for drainage and hang from hooks or set around the garden. Different sizes grouped together is a neat look too.
Wicker: I have done this for years, but beware, the wicker rots after one or two seasons. What I do is use wicker baskets that I've picked up for change at garage sales or thrift stores and use them as long as I can. One long thin basket lasted almost three years before it gave out. Nasturtiums or pansies look charming `in wicker baskets grouped together.
Old Farm Items: Feed or watering troughs are great finds, but unfortunately they have become a sought out items by antique hunters and dealers, so you may have trouble finding them. IF you happen upon any troughs grab them up! Some are made of galvanized metal, others of a type of cement. You'll want to drill holes if possible, or at least add a lot of rocks to the bottom of the trough for drainage.
Enamelware: The first year we bought our house and I was digging the flower beds I found several enamelware containers. One was about the size of a dish tub. It was fairly shallow but it works nicely for nasturtiums and other short plants and herbs. Old coffee pots and pans work nicely too and the more beat up the better! Remember to drill drainage holes.
Old Punch Bowls: I am afraid my old glass punch bowl became too chipped to use any longer, so I saved the cups and I'm going to use the bowl in the garden. I can't drill holes but I'm going to keep it on the porch and use rocks for drainage. It was headed to the trash, so this is worth a try!
Construction materials: This is not something everyone can do, depending on what type of supply stores you have around you. Drain tiles are opened ended, as are pieces material used for culverts. With a good primer they can be primed and painted with exterior paint and placed around the garden. Either of these would work well for mints and other spreading herbs if you try to bury the bottoms several inches into the ground.
Old Milk Cans: I've had one for years, and I don't plant anything directly in the can, but I use pots that fit snuggly in the top of the can and cascade over. I've painted it several times and it still looks great-though for the last few years I've kept it on our covered porch.
Mailboxes: They come in all shapes and sizes, and can be attached to fence posts, walls or porches. You can prime and paint them, or leave as is. Remember to drill drainage holes-though many of them aren't sealed that well and if you test by running water in it, you may not need to drill.
Wooden Boxes: I picked up several wooden boxes at an auction a few years ago and have used these for planting different herbs and annuals. I lined them with plastic and slit holes in the bottom through the plastic. The wood has slight gaps so I just slit through the gaps. All of the boxes are 8-12 inches tall so they worked great.
Remember, ALL containers will take more watering then the herbs in the ground. Yes, some of them like it a little drier, but on hot, windy days especially you will need to water daily. Grouping containers together on a sunny porch or deck where you can harvest them easily is a great solution when you don't have a lot of garden space.