Miniature Herbs for Container Gardens
Answered by: Conrad Richter
Question from: Sherree
Posted on: August 5, 2000

I was wondering if you could give me any information on miniature herbs.

I have a retail store and have bought commercially from Richters and am looking for herbs to make miniature gardens for retail sales. I am having difficulty finding any information on the Internet and would appreciate any leads you could give me or suggestions on herbs you carry that would remain small and work well for these gardens.

Many herbs grow to be too large for container growing, or are too aggressive and will crowd out other herbs planted in a mixed herb container.

Quite a few herbs do well in containers. A book such as "Herbs in Pots: Artful and Practical Herbal Containers" by Rob Proctor and David Macke (available from Richters) is a big help to decide which herbs to select and how to care for them. Light, pests, watering, soil and fertilizer are all important issues when growing herbs in containers, and how you provide for them is very different from growing outdoors in the garden. "Herbs in Pots" provides specific information on these and many other topics.

Your question, however, is not concerned simply with what can be grown in containers; you are asking which of those herbs suited for containers are small and perhaps slower growing, and can be used to make a diminutive presentation in a container. The idea is to try to match the scale of the plants to the container so that the finished presentation has a pleasing, harmonious effect.

Herbs that come to mind that can be used to give a miniature look include: corsican mint; Green Globe basil; Blue Boy rosemary; compact english thyme; Orange Spice(tm) thyme; Doone Valley lemon thyme; and other creeping thymes. Green Globe basil is not particularly short, but the small leaves and bushy habit can be used effectively. Fingerbowl Lemon geranium normally grows up to 60 cm (2 feet) but with occasional pinching the tightly-wrought, succulent foliage can be kept down to miniature proportions. Other herbs to consider are the non-flowering english chamomile, Treneague, microphylla oregano, carpet pennyroyal, rupturewort, creeping savory, any of the santolinas, and woolly yarrow.

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