Book on Compatibility Issues When Growing Herbs in Containers or Gardens
Answered by: Conrad Richter
Question from: Tanya Grygaski
Posted on: June 28, 2002

I was wondering if you could suggest a good reference book covering compatibility issues when planting herbs together in planters or in the garden. I recall reading one of the descriptions in your catalogue that said some varieties can cross-pollinate and shouldn’t be grown in close proximity to one another. I’m also looking for a good herbal or general reference guide on herbs. I ordered The Herb Book by John Lust but understand it’s currently unavailable. Is there an alternative you could suggest, that might also include compatibility information?

Cross-pollination is not much of an issue unless you plan to save seeds for replanting or unless the plant reseeds itself naturally. Even then there are very few herbs with which this is likely to be much of a problem.

More of a concern is the growth habit of the herbs that you combine in a container or garden. For example, planting a rampant spreader such as mint next to a slow growing rosemary is not a good idea because the mint will grow out the rosemary if allowed to grow unchecked. In a container getting the right mix of herbs is important because of the limited soil base and possibly limited exposure to light.

"The Herb Book" by Lust is an excellent guide to the medicinal uses of herbs but it has almost no growing information so I wouldn’t recommend it to you. Better choices for you are "Herbs in Pots" by Proctor and Macke and "Herbs in the Garden: Art of Intermingling" by the same authors. Both these books are available from Richters.

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