How to stop killing your herbs, according to an expert

Do you struggle to keep your herbs alive? We asked an expert for their top tips on growing happy, healthy plants at home.

Keeping herbs alive can be surprisingly tricky.

How many times have you brought a basil plant home from the supermarket, only to find it looking less-than alive just a few weeks later? As much as we’d all love to have a kitchen windowsill bursting with herbs, in reality, it’s not always that easy.

With that being said, herbs aren’t too tricky to care for once you get to know them. Although some types are harder to grow and look after than others (we’re looking at you, thyme), just a little bit of research will put you in good stead to keep your herbs happy and healthy.  

To find out more about the trick to keeping your herbs alive, we spoke to Luke, co-founder of The Terracotta Herbs Company, a brand that sells at-home herb kits to help you grow your own herbs from seeds, to find out more about the tricks they use to keep their plants alive and thriving.

From finding the right spot in your home to avoiding overwatering, here’s what he had to say.  

1. Get the light right

Most herbs love light, so make sure you put them in a spot where they’ll get lots of it. “South facing windowsills are ideal,” Luke explains.

If you don’t have a south-facing windowsill in your home or want to grow them in the kitchen away from a window, consider a variety that needs less light.

“Chives, mint and parsley can get away with slightly less light than other herbs,” he adds. 

Herbs need lots of light to grow and thrive, so a sunny, warm windowsill is the perfect spot for them.

2. Keep them warm

Although the windowsill is a popular place to grow herbs because of how much light they get, it can also be a chilly spot – something that isn’t good news for your plants.

“The ideal soil temperature is 18-22 degrees celsius, so avoid draughty places and cold rooms,” Luke explains. “This can be tricky if your herbs are next to a window, so make sure it’s a well-insulated one!” 

3. Avoid overwatering

Overwatering can be deadly to any plant, so try to hold back from giving your herbs too much water. According to Luke, the best way to do this is to avoid pouring water into the pot altogether. 

“It’s better to use an old plastic spray bottle (washed out first)” he recommends.

In short, you’ll want to give your plant a spray whenever the soil gets dry, but avoid giving it so much water that the compost is completely soaked through (especially if the pot your plant is in has no draining holes).

If your herbs are dying, you could be giving them too much water.

4. Don’t let them flower

A flowering herb is a happy herb – but you shouldn’t let things get carried away.

“If flowers develop, remove them immediately so the plant’s energy is focused on those tasty leaves,” Luke says.  

5. Choose a good pot

Whether you decide to grow your herbs from seeds or pick some plants up at the supermarket, the best home for your plants is in a good-quality, terracotta pot. 

“Good terracotta pots help keep the roots cool in summer and absorb excess moisture,” Luke explains.

“In terms of supermarket herbs, if you have better pots than the plastic ones it’s definitely worth moving them,” he adds. “We’ve had mixed results with this because the supermarket ones don’t seem to last long anyway, but all else being equal, it’s better to get them out of their small pots.” 

For more information on taking care of your herbs, you can check out The Terracotta Herb Company’s growing guide here.

Images: Getty

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