Growing Herbs in Windowboxes

An array of culinary herbs growing near a kitchen door enriches the lives of cooks and creates a welcome range of colourful and attractively-shaped leaves around the bases of windows and in troughs on patios. 

Windowboxes and troughs are ideal homes for small, relatively low-growing herbs. Clearly, tall types such as Angelica, Fennel and Caraway are unsuited for growing in this way, but many of them are ideal and are illustrated here. If some become too large, they can be removed easily. 

They can be planted directly into compost in an inner, plastic trough that is put into a windowbox, but it is better to leave the plants in their own pots and just to stand them in a windowbox or inner trough. In this way, invasive herbs such as Mint can be restrained. Also, plants that lose their attractiveness can be replaced quickly by younger specimens, or even by other types. 

All of the herbs suggested here can be bought direct from nurseries or garden centres as young, established plants. 

  • Marjoram
  • Chives
  • French Tarragon
  • Thyme
  • Parsley
  • Golden-leaved Thyme
  • Rue
  • Spearmint
  • Balm
  • Hyssop
  • Applemint
  • Welsh Onions

Many well-known culinary herbs are suitable for growing in windowboxes and troughs on patios. Ideally, the herbs should be short and not invasive, either through their leaves, stems or roots.

Mints have invasive roots and therefore instead of planting them directly into compost in the windowbox leave them in pots.

Although most herbs continue growing from one season to another some, such as Parsley, are raised annually from seeds to ensure the best quality leaves are produced.

LOOKING AFTER HERBS

Use a windowbox in a warm, sheltered position, preferabley facing the sun from mid-morning onwards. In the cycle of using different dispalys in winter, spring and summer, instead of creating a summer display with floriferous plants, use one of herbs. Then, in autumn replace it with a winter display. This gives the opportunity of using fresh plants every year. 

Some of the herbs removed from the display, such as mints, can be divided in spring and used again. Keep the compost moist but not continually saturated. If dry, the platns soon suffer.