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Tips For Planting Your Very Own At-Home Herb and Succulent Garden

This month, we held an Indoor Gardening 101 live virtual event for several of our communities to help residents and tenants create their own at-home environment for growing herbs and succulents.

We’re recapping the basics of what you need to enjoy this fun and interactive event from home, including the top tricks and tips to set you up for success for your very own indoor herb garden and succulent sanctuary, customized with your favorite selections.

Getting Started: Selecting Your Herbs and Succulents

Before you begin, helpful tools that can aid you and make the job easier include a watering can, a misting bottle, trowel or scoop for digging up the plants, and sharp scissors/shears for trimming and harvesting the herbs. Select herbs that you know you will use often or succulents that inspire you. It can help to do a bit of research before narrowing down herbs in particular, as not all have the same requirements for light, temperature or growing season, for example basil, which can easily wilt with temperatures below 75 degrees.

Popular choices for herbs include:

  • Rosemary
  • Oregano
  • Parsley
  • Thyme
  • Basil
  • Mint

And popular choices for succulents and cacti are:

  • Burro’s Tail
  • Jade Plant
  • Aloe Vera
  • Reseum
  • Zebra Plant
  • Dudleya
  • Zwartkop
  • Pincushion
  • Hens & Chicks
  • Stonecrop
  • Ball Cactus
  • Plush Plant
  • Pig’s Ear

Let There Be Light

Your herbs and plants can’t thrive without sunlight, so it’s important to find a sunny place in your home, ideally by a window. Keep in mind any locations for plants that may be a risk to pets. Ideally, you want to opt for the spot in your home with maximum bright light (6 or more hours is considered the optimal amount of daylight needed). If you don’t have an area that receives that much light, you can still create the environment for it with using grow lights from your local hardware store. Growing lights can be affordable and a great alternative to providing light in intervals when the sun isn’t adequate enough.Herbs may require more Vitamin D from the sun than standard houseplants, so you want to make sure you aren’t depriving them of one of the most vital resources. If you have a window facing the South side of your home, these typically tend to be the sunniest locations.

Make Sure You Have Proper Drainage

A big mistake a lot of people make when setting up an herb garden is selecting vessels or pots that don’t allow for drainage. While many pots may look great, they don’t always have the appropriate setup to allow stagnate water to exit so that air is available to revitalize the roots. Without the drainage hole any excess of water can easily drown the plant. If the only vessel pot or tin you have does not have a drain, a workaround solution is to add a layer of rocks or shells at the bottom which can help provide some gaps for proper water flow.

Select the Right Fertilizer and Soil

Selecting the right soil is important depending on the unique needs of the plants you are trying to grow. The soil used in containers should be of a light density, and not too compact, which is why it is important to select a potting soil mixed with fertilizer, specifically for this purpose rather than traditional garden soil. While the soil plays a critical role in acting as a barrier to lock in essential nutrients for your plant and moisture to the roots, it also needs to provide enough air for the plant to breath. As you are watering regularly, the soil should be moist but not wet. If you go to water and the soil is still damp, hold off until it feels dry to avoid overwatering. A soil meter can also help you track to see if your watering too much or too little.

Great options for fertilizer and soil for herbs and succelents include:

  • Succulent/Cactus Soil
  • Miracle-Gro Cactus, Palm & Citrus Potting Mix
  • Flower/Plant Potting Mix

Choose Pottery With More Space

Another common mistake people make, is selecting vessels and pots that don’t leave ample room for the plant. Roots need plenty of room to grow and unless you want to spend a lot of money on a variety of different pot sizes, opt for something a bit larger than the plant so you don’t have to update the container as frequently. Keep in mind that as long as your plant is thriving, you are bound to need to update the container to fit the plant or herb better from time to time. If your succulent or herb roots are poking out of drainage holes or overflowing significantly from the container, these can be signs that it’s time for a swap to something bigger.

Popular vessels and containers for herbs include:

  • Teracota
  • Plastic Drained Pot
  • Tin

Common choices for succulents include terrariums and wide mouthed vessels.

Keep Temperature in Mind

Of course, along with light, water, space, and water flow, temperature plays a role in plant health as well. Most Herbs typically do fine in average home temperatures set around 70 degrees. While succulents can survive in more extreme climates, the ideal temperature for them is also more mild – between 60-80 degrees on average. Another benefit to indoor plants is a humid environment, so keeping a spray bottle to regularly mist plants handy is a tip to keeping them healthy.

Don’t Neglect Your Plants Once You’ve Started

While succulents tend to be pretty low maintenance, herbs on the other hand require a bit more routine maintenance such as pruning and trimming in order to produce more growth. The other helpful and fun fact with herbs is that, the more you use them the more they actually grow. So before you feel like you’ll use up an herb more quickly than it’s worth putting time into, remember that you actually stimulate more growth the more you use it. Another helpful tip recommended by Joyce Mast, in-house plant expert of Bloomscape, is to always trim off the dead flowers of herbs if you want to avoid seed production and harvest more leaves. She says that cutting off the old flowers tricks the herb into producing more leaves.

We hope you have the chance to enjoy these tips when creating your own at-home succulent and herb gardens! If you had a chance to follow along and try this on your own, be sure to tag us to show off your new indoor garden! For more lifestyle and health and wellness articles like this, be sure to also subscribe to our blog.

Catherine Rotman