Container Garden Ideas

Here we are in the dog days of August. Loose clothing, open toed shoes, and lots of iced tea are the tools of survival.  Both I and my garden are doing our best to stay hydrated and wait for shorter days and lower temperatures. Once fall arrives, my herbs will be more active outdoors. Besides the usual rash of transplanting, this is a good time to start a new container garden. Even if you have little or no solid ground to plant, containers will allow you to grow a few herbs with minimum work and maximum pleasure. Here are the three basic rules for creating a container garden.

Rule 1: Planning a container garden is like planning a dinner party – you want the guests to all get along. An herb that grows big and acts like a bully shouldn’t be planted with a shy little plant that is easily overshadowed.

Rule 2: Group plants (whether herbs or not) by similar water and sunlight needs. Once plants are in the same container they are “joined at the hip,” so to speak, and will get the same amount of water or light.

Rule 3: Keep the mature size of the herb in mind when selecting a pot. Garden fennel (which can grow to 6 feet) will look downright silly if placed in a 12-inch pot.

So with fall come the flu season and a general up-tick on the aches and pains we suffer. In honor of this dubious event, I thought I’d conclude with a few suggestion of herbs to group together based on their medicinal virtue. The list is based on information found in Herbal Remedies in Pots, by Effie Romain and Sue Hawkey, available through

Fever and Flu – yarrow, purple coneflower, false indigo, broadleaf plantain
Irritable Bowels  – agrimony, lemon balm, pot marigold, Roman chamomile
Tension – betony, lavender, lemon balm, Virginian skullcap, German chamomile
Depression – lavender, lemon balm, St. John’s wort, betony
Cold Sores – lemon balm, garlic, pot marigold, purple coneflower
Sleeping Problems – German chamomile, lemon balm, catnip, lavender
Cuts and Bruises – arnica, yarrow, pot marigold, comfrey


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