Many of you reading this are already familiar with my work. If so, you know that I am a big advocate of growing herbs in containers. In fact, unless you have acres and acres of lands, grow herbs solely for their beauty (or you sell plants wholesale), and/or don’t have access to pots, urns, coffee cans, planters, or the like, I don’t see any good reason to grow herbs in a garden plot. There are simply too many great reasons for “containing” your herb gardens!
But that doesn’t mean I don’t believe in growing herbs outdoors. Quite the contrary… Since I split my time between sunny – and warm – Arizona and the cool mountains of North Carolina, my own herbs are outside (but very close at hand!) a minimum of ten months out of the year. They only venture indoors when frost is a danger or during particularly cold and rainy days.
Having said that, I am aware that many of you live in colder climates and you must bring your herbs indoors for much longer periods of time. However, the vast majority of you can certainly keep your herbs outside for many months each year – something I highly recommend for the following reasons.
1. More space and flexibility. Turn your balcony, fire escape, window box, deck, patio, front step or gate railing into a portable herb garden! These options increase the number of herbs you can grow as well as the amount of sunlight they get. This is much harder to accomplish if you’re constrained to smaller indoor spaces. And if your yard is bigger, your choices increase exponentially!
2. Less mess. I don’t know about you, but I’m a notoriously messy plant “waterer.” (I think I just invented that word.) Although I have every intention of lining all of my pots with coffee filters (something I always advise!) I don’t always remember to do so. The result is that when I water my herbs, I get messy soil run off. It’s a pain to wipe up inside my house, but when my herb containers are outside I just let ’em drip.
3. More natural sun and water. This one is related to the first, but I wanted to emphasis how much herbs love sunshine. In fact, if you had to err one way or the other, it would be better to give them more sunshine and less water (although I’m certainly not recommending that you forget to water your herbs!). In most situations, outdoor herbs will get a bigger and longer dose of sun than indoor herbs. Additionally, it’s wonderful when Mother Nature waters your herbs because she usually does so with a “gentler” hand and for longer periods of time (this ensures that the roots are saturated).
4. They’ll attract helpful and beautiful creatures. If you keep your herbs inside, you’ll miss out on one of the most delightful benefits of herb gardening – nature’s beautiful and abundant creatures such as butterflies, hummingbirds, and yes, even bees. Even better, these delightful helpers – as well as other insects – will keep herbs such as, basil, bee balm, anise hyssop, and chamomile healthier.
5. They’ll make your outdoor space smell and look beautiful. Herbs are not only useful and flavorful; many are also pretty and extremely fragrant. Your outdoor herb garden will provide you with color, rich textures, lush foliage, and a wide variety of flower form. Even better, most of these lovelies aren’t just pretty faces; rather, many of them make tasty seasonings and soothe body, mind, and/or spirit.