What I Learned About Planting Herbs Together

Posted on Sep 28 2009 - 4:45am by Mike Lieberman

I learned a good lesson about planting herbs together in the same container. It’s not best to do so. Similar to planting celery in the same container – nothing horrible will happen, but the herbs won’t grow as well.

When I first planted them in my backyard vegetable garden in Brooklyn, the herbs were planted two to a container.

It just happened to work out that my grandmother had just enough containers to accommodate that, and I didn’t want to buy any more.

So they were planted based on what I thought tasted well together. Made perfect sense to me. Rosemary and thyme, chocolate and spearmint and so on.

The thyme totally dominated the container and the rosemary barely grew. While both of the mints grew, they got entangled and didn’t last too long.

I definitely think that the herbs would’ve done much better if they were planted in their own containers.

Another lesson learned and no one or thing was harmed.

What’s your experience with planting herbs together?


21 Comments so far. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. marydelle September 28, 2009 at 1:18 pm -

    Either separate containter or larger ones. And, as you are learning, some are take-over herbs, while others will be dwarfed out. I think you've made a good lesson. Thanks for sharing it. Even having done this a while, I need to be reminded.

  2. Mike Lieberman September 28, 2009 at 1:53 pm -

    Thanks for the comment Mary. I just assumed rosemary and thyme grew together. This whole experience is about doing and sharing.

  3. robin ripley September 28, 2009 at 2:26 pm -

    You're exactly right about trial and error. I think the trick is to find compatible herbs–similar needs, compatible growing habits. Marydelle is right about herbs needing room. They will grow like mad. My wild and wooly herb bed: http://www.bumblebeeblog.com/photos/?album=24&p

  4. Mike Lieberman September 28, 2009 at 2:53 pm -

    Thanks for the comment Robin. Totally jealous of your herb garden. What do you do with all of that? What do you have growing?

  5. Kerry Michaels September 29, 2009 at 7:50 am -

    Hi Mike – I think part of it is what you are trying to do. If you want something to be decorative and edible, sometimes overflowing and crowed really works. Also, some herbs like mint are just plain bullies and will take over any container. I really like rosemary and thyme together – but in a big pot or bag.

  6. Mike Lieberman September 29, 2009 at 8:25 am -

    Cool. Got it. When I get my next round of plantings in will put in their own containers.

    This time around I planted together because of resources, but now realize that I have much more available like soda bottles, etc.

    Thanks for the advice.

  7. tildentom February 24, 2010 at 5:11 am -

    when passing by construction sites get friendly with the laborers the can snag you empty compound buckets, easier to clean than paint buckets and works well for tree seedlings and herbs and tomatoes

  8. Mike Lieberman February 24, 2010 at 6:53 pm -

    I prefer to get mine from restaurants, delis or the bodegas. Don't have to worry about all the gunk that was in them beforehand.

  9. Mike Lieberman February 25, 2010 at 2:53 am -

    I prefer to get mine from restaurants, delis or the bodegas. Don't have to worry about all the gunk that was in them beforehand.

  10. SSanf March 1, 2010 at 3:46 am -

    Herbs grow all different sizes. So, yes, you are right to plant them in separate containers until you know what each one is about. What a lot of people do not know is that many herbs make very pretty flowers and can add beauty to the garden as well as giving you great flavorings for your cooking. But, watch out. Some grow like weeds and you may find you have a lot more than you bargained for.

  11. Mike Lieberman March 1, 2010 at 1:52 pm -

    Totally hoping for more than I bargained for this year.

  12. Meemsnyc February 7, 2011 at 8:02 pm -

    I agree with Robin that it depends on what you grow and with the amount of space. I did an herb kit on my porch and I liked how it grew only because I knew it wasn’t going to take up much space. http://nycgardening.blogspot.com/2010/08/herb-garden-update-part-3.html

  13. Mike Lieberman February 7, 2011 at 8:53 pm -

    True dat. The space that I was dealing with was too small to cram so much into.

  14. Growfromhere March 8, 2011 at 9:51 am -

    Hello Mike – I find plant same types together re food water requirements – a good way to achieve the water is to prop up one end of the container wet at lower dry at top.

  15. powerdonuts March 8, 2011 at 9:52 am -

    I’m sure you already knew this, but herbs like thyme, or mint/basil, rosemary can be grown from cuttings! I easily regrew herbs for a second harvest by letting them sit in water for a week or so. I had many watermelon+mint shakes last year!

    So if you mess up by putting the plants in the wrong spots, you can always try again through cuttings. 🙂

  16. powerdonuts March 8, 2011 at 9:54 am -

    Also, rosemary hates being transplanted — which I’ve learned the hard way, and germinate at such a slow rate, it’s unbelievable. If you buy a rosemary plant, plant it in a larger pot in the container it came in, otherwise the plant would just die.

  17. Mike Lieberman March 8, 2011 at 2:53 pm -

    Cool. Appreciate the tip.

  18. Jessica Braun May 13, 2011 at 1:46 pm -

    I also learned that the hard way.  We had planted some in a community space last year and I was worried about it being cold hardy so I dug it up and brought it in for the cold months…it HATED being in a pot after being in a garden…it didn’t last long.  Good call on the cuttings (below) I’ll have to try that instead of digging the whole plant! 

  19. Finco July 5, 2012 at 1:06 pm -

    I have had success planting herbs together.  I plant them in a 4 x 4 circular raised bed.  I consider this a container.   Parsley ,sage, rosemary and thyme (what I like to call my Scarborough Fair quartet) along with summer and winter savory, terragon, salad burnet and lemon balm.  They seem to enjoy each other’s company without getting to terribly intrusive to each other.

  20. Pam Wood Kimsey July 5, 2012 at 1:14 pm -

    I really like them in there own pots too. They get so much bigger and fuller. I think they can hang out together by grouping the pots.Plus you can move them around to hang out as companions to different veggies your growing or just to get the correct lighting that each needs. Love you Herbs Mike!!!

  21. nmi1010 April 8, 2013 at 6:27 am -

    hats off to Finco, but I consider 4 x 4 a bridge too far. Thanks Mike, you’ve saved me from making a big mistake!

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