Herbs in Pots and Summer Heat

Wilted Lemon Balm

When temperatures heat up watering your herbs becomes crucial- especially when you are growing herbs in pots.

Pots can dry out quickly. If you are using unglazed terra cotta pots, they will dry out even faster. Add a little breeze or wind and you can have an order of extra crispy herbs in a hurry!

Some potted herbs can take a little dry soil, but even drought tolerant herbs like Sage and Lavender will die if left in overly dry containers for long.

incorrect watering

Watering FAIL!

Plants suffer heat stress just like people.

OK, not just like people, but they certainly feel the heat and wind. Keeping your potted herbs well watered when conditions are hot will help them survive.

A few tips to keep your container herbs happy and hydrated:

  • Poke ’em. Stick your finger in the pot! If you feel dry soil in small plastic or glazed pots 1/2 ” to 1 inch down- water it! In larger plastic pots water if they feel dry when you poke 1″ to 2″ down. In unglazed terra cotta you need to soak the pot thoroughly. This make take several passes with the hose or watering can so don’t be lazy!
  • Water early, water deeply. Passing the hose over them for a few seconds does more harm than good. Water well. Make sure the plant has absorbed the water and has not just passed down through the pot.
  • Keep a dish or tray beneath your plants to catch water and help hydrate the soil during the heat of the day.
  • During hot spells a little shade can help-particularly during the later hottest part of the afternoon.
  • Try self watering pots. These are not hard to find and they do a great job of cutting down on watering chores.
  • If it is very hot and you are growing herbs in clay pots, you might put ‘watering twice a day’ on your to-do list to keep your herbs and potted plants alive!
Potted Rosemary

Happy Rosemary


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  1. jayne, 11 May, 2011

    Wish we could get of massive water trays for all of our potted plants – it’s taking hours every day at the moment to water them and they certainly could do with more 🙁

  2. Greenthumb, 11 May, 2011

    Oh, I feel for you! And you’ve not had much rain at all. Do you have a good well?

  3. Patty Hicks, 11 May, 2011

    Love that photo of the dry roots! Nothing is as descriptive as a picture for folks. I have one thing to add that I have found very helpful and more effective that watering dry pots from the top. If the containers get that dry its hard to rehydrate them by watering from the top so what I do is put the pot in a bucket of water and let it sit until the soil is saturated again…sometimes that can take a couple of hours.

  4. Greenthumb, 11 May, 2011

    You are so right, Patty- I don’t think many people realize how damaging it can be to water lightly! The bucket soak is good tip, thanks! 🙂

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