Herbs grown in pots and in the garden have completely different requirements. Read seed package instructions or ask at your local garden center or nursery about your chosen plant’s specific requirements. However, here are some general guidelines on watering and feeding herbs that will keep all your plants healthy.
Beds: You can’t always fulfill all the preferences of all plants, but they will usually tolerate shared conditions as long as they’ve moist, well-drained soil. Add lots of compost into the soil to help it retain moisture and water it deeply when the top 2in (5cm) seems dry. The best time to water, if you are using an overhead sprinkler or a watering can, is in the morning, so that the sun has time to dry the leaves.
Pots: Herbs growing in pots should be watered more often than those planted in the ground, because their roots can’t travel as far to find moisture. On very warm and scorching days it’s best to water these potted plants daily, or buy drip irrigation systems and install them in each pot with set timers to automatically water them. You can help the soil conserve more water using special granules that absorb water and release it as and when needed.
Beds: Plants in open ground don’t require much feeding because their roots travel to find the nutrition they need. However, you can give them a helping hand by spreading a 2in (5cm) layer of compost over the soil surface as a mulch over winter, then working it into the soil in spring to restore nutrients. Herbs that are gathered frequently during the growing season benefit from the occasional fertilizer feed in midsummer too.
Pots: Potted plants also require more attention when it comes to food. It’s best to feed them with fertilizer in granules or liquid form every six weeks throughout the growing season, especially if they’re harvested frequently. Start feeding in spring when new growth appears, and scrape away the top 2in (5cm) of soil in the pot and substitute it with good, fresh soil. Stop feeding the plants in late summer, or you’ll encourage new growth when they should be slowing down before the dormant winter season.