Potting Up Herbs

This morning I took some time to pot up a small Berggarten Sage plant that I had picked up from a local nursery. I thought it might be a good opportunity to go through the process of transplanting herbs from their tiny temporary containers into a bigger, more permanent location. No, that underscore is not accidental. It is very important that the container you’re transplanting into is bigger than your plant’s current home. This allows room for new root development and continued growth. Otherwise, your plant will become “root bound”, a situation in which the roots become too crowded and there is no longer space for new roots to occupy. What I’m trying to say is, they will stop growing, be competing for limited nutrients and ultimately be unable to support your (now bigger) plant. Not good. Give them plenty of room and trust that they will fill out a bit in the months to follow. I’ll go through some general steps for potting up your baby herbs.

  1. Coffee. Or tea…or wine? Either way, get yourself a beverage and take your time. Enjoy the process, it can be very therapeutic.
  2. Select a good, nutrient rich soil. If you are not confident in making your own then a general potting soil from a local nursery or box store (i.e. Lowes, Home Depot, Walmart, etc.) should be sufficient to get you started.
  3. Put soil into your pot so that your herbs will sit just below the rim. Remember that the pot will require watering so it’s better if there is a lip to keep the water in rather than letting it run off onto the ground. ** Tip: If your pot has a hole in the bottom lay a paper towel down before adding soil. This will act as a biodegradable barrier that prevents soil from falling through the hole.**
  4. Carefully pull your seedling out of its temporary container. One way to facilitate this process is to gently squeeze the sides or, if there are holes in the bottom, push from the bottom of the pot.
  5. Once you have extracted your plant you may find that there is already a robust root system in place. If the roots appear to be growing over top of one another then you will want to break them up a bit. This encourages them to grow into the surrounding soil rather than in toward each other. THEY ARE DELICATE. I know they look strong but disrupting them is going to be hard on your plant so I encourage you to be gentle.
  6. Now that you have loosened the roots up a bit place your herb in the pot and fill in the surrounding areas with soil. You will want to gently press down on the newly added potting mix to ensure that the roots have good contact with the soil. Firmly, not so hard that you compress the soil and roots, but just until you get resistance.
  7. As always, give them a drink. Those roots are hurting a bit and they’ll need to recover and rebuild so make sure they have plenty of water to get that process started.
  8. Lastly, make sure you put them in their desired environment. Some prefer shade, others full sun. This is not to be taken lightly. If you want them to thrive, your containers will need to be placed in the appropriate location. Choose wisely.

It’s that simple. I’ve included some photos of my sage from this morning to give you an idea of plant to pot ratio and the root break-up. It is never to early or too late to start an herb garden, assuming you can move your pots to achieve a suitable temperature, so be courageous! If you have any questions feel free to reach out, I’m happy to help troubleshoot. Cheers, friends!

Therapy beverage 🙂
Grown by: A Thyme To Plant Herb Farm – Glen Allen, VA
Pre-root break-up.
Post-root break-up.
Give him a drink.
All done, with plenty of room to grow!

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