Plant a variety of different herbs or multiples of the same type for visual impact.

Vertical Herb Gardens

by Jo Burns

A vertical herb garden sounds like something trendy and difficult to do, but at its simplest, vertical gardening is nothing more than growing plants on an upright support rather than letting them spread on the ground. Vertical gardening saves space and makes the most of a small garden. If you have no room to garden in the traditional sense, go vertical. No matter how much space you have, a vertical herb garden is a stylish way to grow fragrant, edible herbs.

1. Vertical Structures

Choices for a vertical herb garden include traditional gardening equipment and the creative repurposing of household items. For example, a large terra cotta pot might be filled with soil and plants with enough empty space left to place a smaller pot which is also planted and then another as room allows. With a few added boards a wooden pallet can be hung vertically and used as a planter. More unusual vertical structures include a multi-pocketed cloth shoe organizer, plastic bottles cut in half and hung from a support pole or rain gutters mounted to a balcony railing.

2. Placement

If you want to grow a culinary herb garden, keep in mind that it will be most convenient if it's near the kitchen, but the first priority is to choose a site where herbs will get enough sun. Most herbs aren't too fussy and can survive in a variety of environments. You might choose to use a vertical herb garden to provide shade, privacy and fresh fragrance around a deck or patio or to add beauty to an unattractive fence.

3. Plant Selection

Herbs like rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis), which grows in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 7 to 10, and lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), which grows in USDA zones 5 to 9, can be large when mature and may not be the most practical for vertical gardening. Small, tender herbs and annual herbs are the best choices. Some good options include thyme (Thymus vulgaris), which grows in USDA zones 4 to 9, oregano (Origanum vulgare hirtum), which grows in USDA zones 6 to 9, French tarragon (Artemisia dracunculus), which grows in USDA zones 5 to 10 and basil (Ocimum basilicum), which grows in USDA zones 9 to 11. A selection of fragrant mints (Menta spp.), which grow in USDA zones 5 to 10 would provide plenty of fresh scent morning and night in addition to providing you with leaves for flavorful teas. Selecting herbs that are suited to your site will ensure the best success.

4. Maintenance

The beauty of container planting is that is greatly reduces the amount of maintenance. Depending on the size and placement of your vertical herb garden, you can probably water it with a watering can or hose. If it's difficult to reach, consider installing an automatic watering system. Using a lightweight mulch, such as sphagnum moss, will help keep moisture in and reduce your watering chores. Because plants aren't directly in the ground, weeds are rarely a problem. Herbs are naturally pest- and disease-resistant, and require little maintenance.

Photo Credits

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