Herb Box Plans – Feedback Please!!

I’d love to hear some feedback on 3 deck-hung herb boxes I’m planning for next year. Unless otherwise noted, I plan to start plants from seeds indoors. I’m in Chicago (Zone 5b).

I’m trying to create groupings that will be attractive in the containers as well as bountiful for use in the kitchen. Each box will be about 48″ × 18″ and be arranged with a centerpiece plant and then 2 plants of the same type to either side and hopefully 2 trailing type plants spilling off either side.

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Box 1 – Excellent sun
– Hot Thai Pepper Plant (Center Piece Plant)
– Globe/Minnet Basil
– English Thyme (have one plant, may split it or buy a second about the same size)
– Violas interspersed for color

Box 2 – Excellent sun
– Rosemary Bush Trained to Xmas Tree Shape (center piece plant- I’d probably buy this one)
– Red Basil
– Chives
– Violas interspersed for color

Box 3 – Good sun
– Sage? Lavender? (center piece plant)
– Arugula
– Oregano
– Violas interspersed for color

I have a large, healthy sage bush right now given to me by a friend – it’s on our deck in a pot right now. It’s giant though, almost 3 feet high. If I could trim this down and train it to be bushier and more compact, I’d love to use it as the centerpiece in Box 3, but I’m not sure if it’s too lanky to survive getting trimmed back to about 18 in round. What do you think? Should I trim it now or in the spring? Should I leave it out or bring it inside for the winter?

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What do you think of my herb combos? Will these guys play nice together? Do you think these plants will be attractive in boxes like this?

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2 thoughts on “Herb Box Plans – Feedback Please!!

  1. I love your containers and think you’ll have a lot of fun growing herbs in them. I’d definitely bring in the sage because it won’t survive the winter outdoors in a container. I’ve had trouble getting herbs to survive winters in Illinois (even when planted in the ground). The only one that survived was chives and they were in a sunny, protected spot. I have very little experience planting herbs in containers and I’ve always planted the more common and easily grown herbs: basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary, chives, sage, parsley, dill, tarragon and lavender, but I’ll share what I can about those herbs. Box 1: There are lots of varieties of basil and I’m not familiar with the one you’ve picked. The thing to remember about basil is that it needs to be ‘pinched back’ to prevent flowering but that shouldn’t be a problem if you’re cooking with it. English thyme will be quite happy in Box 1. If you really want it so spill over the side, you might think about getting a creeping thyme plant . Box 2 looks like a good combination. I’ve had success growing rosemary in the ground, but have had less success with the Christmas tree plants. I can’t seem to keep them alive until it’s time to plant them in the spring, but that’s probably just me and you’ll have better luck with them. If not, you could always plant rosemary in the spring. The red basil is a smallish plant so it should do well in your container. It’s quite lovely and tasty in salads. Chives are easy to grow and will look great. (a bit like wheat grass). I’ve not grown violas, but they should do nicely with the others. Box 3. Lavender is a perennial It takes awhile for lavender to get established in the ground. I’ve not tried to grown them from seeds but apparently they are difficult to start and slow growing so you might want to buy a small plant for your container. You could transfer it to your yard toward the end of the growing season. Once established, they can become quite large. Here’s a site about growing lavender: http://www.mountainvalleygrowers.com/lavendercareandtips.htm If your sage survives the winter, it should work nicely in Box 3. I’m not sure about trimming it back. The info I found said to trim it in the spring, but that was sage planted in the ground. I don’t know anything about planting arugula, but it’s always fun to experiment with new plants. Oregano is hardy and should grow great in your container. Good luck with your herb garden. I’ve got a lot of her books you can look at next time you’re here.

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